Waiting for service

Discussion in 'Cultural Discussions' started by blancalaw, Feb 3, 2006.

  1. blancalaw

    blancalaw Senior Member

    Detroit, Michigan
    USA, English
    Put yourself in this scenario...

    You walk into a shoe store to look for a new pair of shoes. In the store you selected, the only way for you to try on shoes is to be waited on by a staff member. Unfortunately, no one notices you are there. Instead, the staff keeps helping other customers.

    The question is...

    How long would you stand there waiting for service before you get mad from not being noticed?

    Now change this scenario from shoe store to restaurant. How long would you wait now?

    Imagínate en este senario...

    Entras una zapatería para buscar un nuevo par de zapatos. En la zapatería que seleccionaste, la única manera para probar zapatos es esperar que un empleado te sierva. Desafortunadamente nadie se da cuenta que estas allí. En cambio, los empleados siguen sirviendo a otros clientes.

    La pregunta es...

    ¿Por cuánto tiempo quedarías esperando servicio antes de enojarte por no haber hecho caso?

    Ahora cambia este senario de zapatería a restaurante. ¿Por cuánto tiempo esperarías ahora?
  2. Sirène

    Sirène Senior Member

    France - français
    In the shoestore, if the staff really looks too busy, I won't wait at all, just walk out and go to another store, maybe to come back later.

    In the restaurant, it really depends on whether I'm in a hurry or not, whether I'm in good compagny or not, so usually I'm patient, but if I tried to attract the waiters attention and they kept ignoring me - I don't see how that could happen as I can get really LOUD :D- I'd walk away after a very short time (5 minutes).
  3. VenusEnvy

    VenusEnvy Senior Member

    Maryland, USA
    English, United States
    I agree with Sirene; if the store seemed very busy, I'd just come back later. How long would I wait unti I left? I'd probably wait for about 10 minutes before I got up and left.

    Am I waiting for a table, waiting for a server to greet my table, or waiting for my server to return?
  4. blancalaw

    blancalaw Senior Member

    Detroit, Michigan
    USA, English
    Let's say waiting for service. Each would produce a different reaction. Someone waiting for a table probably would walk out. But once you are at a table, you are expected to be served.
  5. VenusEnvy

    VenusEnvy Senior Member

    Maryland, USA
    English, United States
    Maybe it matters that I am a server, but I'd probably wait about 15 minutes sitting at a table before a server approached me. At that point, I'd ask a nearby employee if my server knew I was there.
  6. kevinleihuang Member

    Maanshan, China
    Chinese Madrin, P.R.China
    In China, people tend to lose their patience after 30-minute waiting when they have dinners in the restaurant. And it is absolutely impolite to have the guests wait for more than half an hour.
  7. Roi Marphille

    Roi Marphille Senior Member

    Catalonia, Catalan.
    I think it's important not being ignored, I mean, I assume that the staff is very busy but in certain moment they can notice that you are there and wave at you or say something like: "sorry, I'm coming in a minute"...if they do that, it's quite different.
    If they ignore people waiting, c'mon, I go to another place.
  8. Zakalwe

    Zakalwe Senior Member

    If i'm asking for the bill, i would expect to wait maximum 5 minutes.
    If i'm waiting for the meal, it depends the number of people in the restaurant. I can wait 20-30 minutes, then i will ask the server for my meal.
  9. ampurdan

    ampurdan Senior Member

    jiā tàiluó ní yà
    Català & español (Spain)
    That's what I would do too.
  10. langalejandro Senior Member

    Argentino, vivo en España.
    I always say hello to the waiters, and they have to say it too. always it works because If you are glad with them, they will be glad with you.
    Best regards.
  11. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    In a shoe shop, like others I'd walk out if it looked so busy I'd have to wait. I never buy shoes in a hurry so it's no bother to me to wait until I find a quiet shop.

    In a restaurant, once seated I would expect the server to be there within 5-10 minutes.
    How long would I be prepared to wait for food to arrive? Well that depends on the restaurant and the food, but if it's more than about 15 minutes I would expect an explanation. After 30 minutes I have walked out unless there has been sensible and courteous explanation - and a free drink:)

    I think that is being generous.
  12. langalejandro Senior Member

    Argentino, vivo en España.
    I love drink for free. I would wait for a day if i had free drink. you are right panjandrum.
  13. anamadrid Member

    I'll give you an advice:
    If you go somewhere and they dont caught your attention, then start asking how is going your order, or if it's going to last much longer, If you are tedious, they will attend to you earlier. Don't you know that if you dont ask they will hurry with other clients, the only way to get notice is to keep asking!!
    It really works!
    I hope you understand, sorry if my english is not good enough
  14. blancalaw

    blancalaw Senior Member

    Detroit, Michigan
    USA, English
    I'll give you some advice:
    If you go somewhere and they don't catch their attention, then start asking how your order is going, or if it's going to take much longer, If you are persistant, they will attend to you sooner. Don't you know that if you don't ask they will busy themselves with other clients, the only way to get notice is to keep asking!!
    It really works!
    I hope you understand, sorry if my English is not good enough.

    anamadrid, thank you for your comments. Even if you ask for help/attention, people still have a limit of how long they would wait before they get mad. There is a show here called Boiling Point, where the whole show is about seeing how long a person can withstand conflict without becoming upset and start cursing. They purposely have people placed in strategic locations to do something that would annoy a normal individual. For example, a customer orders food at a restaurant and the server gives him the wrong dish. When she complains, the server insists that what was given is what she ordered, and he cannot return the food. Then they give him a time limit (without him knowing) where he debates about this problem with the server, and if he does not curse or walk away before the timer goes off, he wins a monetary prize. They have a large variety of scenarios.
  15. anamadrid Member

    thank you for the correction!
  16. jjisneo New Member

    if that was me it would take me five to ten seconds to ask in a polite voice about the shoe however if this is a recurring incident i would never come back to that shop again. the same applies to the restaurant.
  17. cheshirechat

    cheshirechat Senior Member

    lost in wonderland
    English USA
    I think that a lot of it depends on why I am being ignored. I have been in places that were really busy and waited up to half an hour. On the other hand, I have been to places that were not busy at all and been ignored because of the way I look. Context has so much to do with it, and if the context and mood are comfortable for me, I am willing to wait longer.
  18. GenJen54

    GenJen54 Senior Member

    Downright Pleasant, USA
    USA - English
    If they cannot bother to acknowledge my presence in some manner – even eye contact and a smile – within the first few minutes of my being there - I’ll leave. Depending upon the situation, I may either return or decide those shoes aren’t worth my time and money.

    On a side note: this is a very rare occurrence where I live in the US. Typically, where I live, one encounters two distinct scenarios:

    1) sales people clamoring over one another to help the customer;
    2) part-time sales clerks (usually teenagers – sorry) who are there to pick up a few dollars worth of pocket money and do not really care about service. I’ve had them ignore me when the store is empty – so to me, this is a managerial problem – and is probably one of the reasons the store remains empty.
    It depends on where I am and what I expect that service to be.

    Generally not very long. Again, if I am not acknowledged (even a quick hello) within a few (usually five) minutes of my arrival, I’m starting to get antsy. By about seven to ten minutes (no hello, no menu, no water), my husband is usually off to find the manager. I’m ready to leave and not spend my money there.

    This is not usually the case in smaller, locally-owned restaurants, where mom, pop and all of the kids are doing the cooking, serving and bussing. There the service may not be as “rapid,” but the experience in my book is much more pleasant. I tend to be more patient in this type of scenario.

    I think we need to put a Cultural spin on this. What is deemed expected and acceptable in one country/culture, may not be the same in other countries.

    Americans in general tend to be an impatient lot when it comes to service. This is partly because of the hurry-scurry lifestyle we lead, and partly because of the influx of large corporate chain and authentic “theme” restaurants such as “Ruddy Crustacean” and “The Mediterranean Tree Fruit Garden,” which push a chirpy, happy and rushed level of service. The key in these restaurants is volume: 1) volume of food ordered (are you sure you don’t want to try some of our authentic Cheezy Mozeralla Pancetta Rustica Breadsticks?); 2) volume of customers served (who ordered the Spaghetti? Ah, very good. And here’s your check. I’ll be your cashier when you’re ready.) and 3) volume of tips produced (the more tables “turned over,” the higher percentage of tips a waiter in one of these restaurants can earn.)

    Americans try to impose these “heightened” standards when dining in other countries. I don’t believe this is necessarily fair, especially when the cultural norm in that country is for diners to enjoy a leisurely meal (read: slow service). In these countries, waiters are not reliant upon tips for part of their salary, so to them this “speedy” service is not a priority, nor a cultural norm.
  19. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    It doesn't always come down to counting the minutes. In a restaurant with good staff, you never feel that you have been kept waiting, and you never feel over-attended.

    Let me give you an example. On Sunday, my family had dinner in a nearby restaurant. We were there for almost three hours. We can't have been eating for all of that time, but we didn't ever feel we were kept waiting. I don't remember anything about the serving staff. My conclusion? They were excellent, and were tipped accordingly.
  20. judkinsc

    judkinsc Senior Member

    English, USA
    In the more than eight months I've spent in France (and trips to other countries), I don't remember a single time when the service was notably slow. The major thing is that they let you finish one course (everyone at the table) before rushing you into the next one. The longest I've waited for food after ordering is about 30-45 min, but that was with wine, water, bread, and whatever.
    The servers I've met have all been very efficient, even fast. They whisk a plate away and ask if I'd like coffee or whatever.

    In the US, I found worse service sometimes, (admittedly I've lived there 22 times longer), but it was usually in a bar, even if it was during lunch and the place was dead. Those have been the few times I didn't tip, or just left.

    The US servers tend not to judge when to clear a course, as well. And I don't like being asked multiple times how everything is.

    I've been a waiter and bartender both while I was studying...
    Usually, if someone wants something, I know. I can see they're out of water, or need more drinks, or they want something else and they're looking around and they flag me down...and as long as I'm not hiding in the kitchen the entire time...that works just fine.

    As for the shoe store. I'd just walk up to the counter and wait for a few minutes. If they ignored me, then I'd ignore them and leave. I'd probably be back later if I really wanted some pair of shoes that was only sold there. Business in shoe stores has been fairly dead, as far as I've noticed. I've had more trouble getting the fellow to come out from the back room, where he was doing something, then being actively ignored.
  21. cheshirechat

    cheshirechat Senior Member

    lost in wonderland
    English USA
    i think the other thing to keep in mind with american restaurants and service is this: unfortunately, waiters'waitresses in the us get paid 2.13$ an hour. what we live off of is our tips. i constantly feel rude pushing people out of my restaurant and making them hurry; unfortunately, i have only so many tables and if a table is there for four hours, then i can't pay my bills that week. i know it is horribly rude -- maybe sometimes it is better to be ignored.

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