Bad day at Steak ‘n Shake
So today (Tuesday, March 3, 2009) for lunch we went out to the Steak ‘n Shake in Kennesaw, Georgia to take advantage of a couple of their current promotions.
One promotion was for a $0.75 Steakburger, and the other one was for a half price shake / drink from 2-4 pm (their “happy hour” special).
Because of our encounter with who appeared to be the store manager at the end of the experience, I will never set foot in that restaurant again.
One thing we need to point out is that Steak ‘n Shake is expensive. It may look like a diner, but it’s nowhere near what diner food should cost.
The food is usually pretty good, but the serving sizes are so small that an average person can easily handle a multi-item combo and still have enough room for a drink and a shake. The high prices don’t seem to bother most people since the Kennesaw, GA location is always packed on the weekends and in the evenings.
Hence the specials to bring in customers during the early afternoon.
To start out, our service was fine. The waitress was prompt and handled our order without any problems. She then brought out the food as soon as it was ready and later stopped by to see if everything was fine.
Having been in various customer positions before, I’m a person who is big on customer service. This waitress was great the way she was pleasant and made sure everything was fine later in the meal. One thing I cannot stand is being ignored by a waiter or waitress. In the service industry, good customer service is critical.
Things got out to a bad start when the Steakburgers arrived full of mayonnaise. I’m not a fan of the stuff and will always ask for it on the side for sandwiches and burgers. In this case, the menu itself forgot to mention it when it listed the other ingredients. If it was just a little bit of mayo I would have just scraped it off, but it was globed on there big time. The only solution was for a new set of burgers for us.
We flagged down the waitress and brought this to her attention. She didn’t seem surprised since her explanation was that “all burgers come with mayo. It says in the menu.”
Sorry, but in the section that listed the ingredients it did not mention anything about mayo. The waitress was very polite and quickly brought us out correct Steakburgers, so we were happy. Because of the politeness of the server that little incident could easily be forgotten.
While finishing off the shakes we looked at the bill and noticed it was a bit high for two reasons. One being that none of the shakes were at half price as advertised, and the other being that my shake was charged at a high rate than advertised on the menu.
Again, we brought this to the waitress’s attention. She explained that the happy hour discount would be taken off at the register, and the reason for my shake being more expensive was that there was a glitch in the computer. That problem would also be fixed at the register.
Okay, that sounded fine. We had our doubts about it being fixed correctly, but her excuse was a valid one. Of course, if there was a problem with the computers then they should of had a different way of writing out the bill.
So we finished our lunch, I left the server a decent tip for her service, and we stood in line up front to pay for our food. The customer in front of us was about to pay when he also noticed that his final total was too high. The manager on duty took a moment to figure out the problem when he realized that he didn’t take off a free item. He was holding the customer’s coupon in his hand and “forgot” to use it. The correction was made and the customer paid the correct amount for his meal.
And then it was our turn.
The manager on duty rang up our order and sure enough, the happy hour discounts were automatically applied to the total. However, my shake was still charged at the higher rate. We tried to explain it to the manager on duty, but because of his foreign accent I don’t believe he understood us. That’s when the lady who appeared to be the store manager stepped in to assist. This woman was out front of the counter on a chair at the time of the incident and not wearing a name tag or uniform, but she quickly went behind the counter and acted like she knew what she was doing.
Her excuse for the higher price was that we were charged the new price. The drive-through billboard apparently had the new price listed but the menu inside the restaurant wasn’t updated. That was her reason for justifying the higher cost.
“Well, the drive-though has the correct price outside. It’s just that we haven’t received the new menus with the new prices yet.”
This was quickly countered that we should only be charged the rate that was ON THE MENUS INSIDE OF THE RESTAURANT (after all we were eating inside and not going through the drive-through). We were sitting in there. The menus had prices listed for each item. Therefore we should be charged at the rate listed on those very menus.
The logic that we should not be charged with the hidden menu price didn’t sit well with her. She kept insisting that she was correct in the higher price. That’s called false advertising. It’s also dishonesty and a sign that you really don’t know how to earn repeat business from customers.
Seeing that she was losing that battle of logic, the lady manager switched tactics and began talking about how we already saved over $3.50 (off of their already high prices) with the savings. She wanted us to overlook their error and make us feel sorry for them because we used their own in-store promotions. She was acting like it was okay to charge us more than the advertised price since we were using a special offer.
No, we didn’t fall for that one either. The manager then went back to talking about how the new menus are supposed to arrive next week and will have the correct price.
Since we were talking about the new menu and them listing the new price, I asked her about the use of mayo on the burgers. She said that all of the burgers came with mayo. “It says so in the menu.”
“No, it doesn’t. It lists everything but that item.”
“Well, it mentions it on the drive-through billboard. There’s a small sign that lists all of the ingredients.”
“That doesn’t help the customers in here very much. Those are two flaws that you have in your current menu.”
I guess my last comment did it. She got frustrated and quietly told the other manager to make a change to the receipt since “it’s only about a twenty cent difference.” Her math was a bit off as it was more like a fifty cent difference, but that’s besides the point.
Whatever. She probably went in the back to complain about us to the other workers.
We paid our correct amount and left the location.
Was it worth the fight for only fifty or so cents?
Yes. It’s the principle of the matter.
The problem here was that we were charged the wrong price on the menu (makes me wonder how many other people have been ripped off like that) and the fact that the lady who appeared to be the store manager did absolutely nothing to correct their error. She made one excuse after another and did not want to help us in any way. It shows how they think of their customers. It’s a lack of respect.
I know that they won’t go out of business because of us not going there any more. We gave them a fair chance to earn our business, and in the end we saw what they thought of us. That Steak ‘n Shake in particular is a cash machine with all of the evening and weekend business that it receives, and we were just a drop in a big bucket. It’s a numbers game to them, and they want to keep it as high as possible even going as far as arguing with the customers when the store itself was wrong.
I honestly don’t believe that it was a simple mistake with the manager forgetting to use the previous customer’s coupon. We have had multiple problems using coupons there in the past with receipts ringing up for higher than what they should have been. With the “money first, customers second” policy that the location has adopted over the years, stunts like that may very well be a common occurrence. It’s easy to believe after dealing with the manager who fought us over a matter of fifty cents. They can correct what they want to with receipts, but for the customers who don’t pay attention and notice the mistakes, that’s just free money for them.
Are all Steak ‘n Shakes that way? Certainly not.
We’ve had excellent times at a location in near-by Alpharetta, GA.
But the location in Kennesaw, Georgia has been consistently questionable. And as it was stated earlier, because of the poor attitude by the management I will not go there again!
The Steak ‘n Shake that we used was at 825 Barrett Parkway in Kennesaw, GA. For those of you who know the area, it’s on Barrett Parkway near the intersection of 41 over by CarMax.
And to any of the corporate managers at Steak ‘n Shake who read this article, you guys may want to change the look of the Steak ‘n Shake company website. That bright red background is painful on the eyes when viewed in a dark room, late at night, or even when you’re battling a headache. For those of us with widescreen monitors, that’s an awful lot of bright red right in front of you, especially with all of the website content being left-oriented (it should at least be centered).