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To be enormously disappointed in Pizza Express?

(95 Posts)
Fillybuster Wed 30-Oct-13 17:45:09

Please don't flame me...I'm still quite upset and trying to figure out whether I'm over-reacting!

I went to Pizza Express for a celebratory lunch with some work colleagues last Wednesday: they took me out and chose it because I'm vegetarian (for religious reasons).

In fact we all ordered vegetarian options (by chance) and I went for the new 'calzone verde'. I double checked (as I always do) that the waiter had written down the veggie option (they had).

Half way through my lunch, I realised that what I had thought was the base of the pizza (bear in mind it is folded over and full of gubbins, so hard to tell) was actually a bloody enormous slice of pig shock shock.

Opened up the remains to discover this wasn't an 'accidental' piece of meat, but was in fact a meat pizza...totally full of stuff that I would never ever ever eat sad sad

Spoke to the waiter (politely!), who called over the manager, who didn't say anything, just walked off with my plate. Left everyone else finishing their lunch, unsure of what was going to happen.

Eventually (about 10 mins later) he came back to the table to apologise, said he didn't know what had happened but wasn't the real manager so could only report to head office. He took my contact details and told us he wouldn't charge for lunch, then quickly cleared the table and said goodbye to us.

Didn't offer me a replacement meal, or a drink, or a dessert or anything, and pretty much hustled us out of the restaurant.

Bit weird? We thought so... We ended up going somewhere else for dessert, which felt very odd!

Pizza Express phoned me the next day. Apologised for the error (fair enough), said they were investigating process with the kitchen (fair enough) and offered me a single free pizza for my trouble. I thought that was a bit mean, but life is short, so I accepted (nicely!). The guy on the phone made a big fuss of how he wanted me to get in touch when I had been for my 'free' pizza to let him know how I found the service hmm, and said he would email me a voucher immediately.

AIBU to be quite pissed off that a) a week later he hasn't emailed me any blinking voucher and b) that I was only offered a single pizza after a major kitchen cock-up?

I'm holding off on phoning them up to complain until I get sanity checked by the MN crew grin !

friday16 Wed 30-Oct-13 19:38:56

What if you were allergic to meat?

Then being a human being is going to be a bit of a challenge, isn't it?

I had a very similar experience - pizza express head office offered us a free family meal after a new chef got confused and put spicy peppers on DS(2)'s pizza rather than tomato slices. I didn't notice blush until DS started retching from the spicyness.

I'm still waiting for the voucher two years on .... I wish they'd not offered us the voucher then forgot tbh, it feels worse than if they'd just apologised nicely.

mumteedum Wed 30-Oct-13 20:19:02

You have just reminded me of meal at PE earlier this year. Was enjoying lovely lunch, they'd Bern great with ds, all my usual experience I have to say, when there was a kerfuffle at nearby table.

We were wondering what the matter was (manager had been called over, staff looking worried talking at back of restaurant), when ladies explained that they'd found the word FUCK written in their lettuce in biro, half way through eating salad!

NuggetofPurestGreen Wed 30-Oct-13 20:21:42

friday I think the point the pp was making was what if the restaurant made a similar mistake with an allergen which exactly what I was thinking about. Not to belittle the OP's experience which a horrible thing to happen but at least it wasn't likely to kill her. I know someone that's allergic to fish and seafood and was given crabcakes by accident rather than tofu cakes.

NuggetofPurestGreen Wed 30-Oct-13 20:23:26

And I think you can be allergic to meat anyway!

WilsonFrickett Wed 30-Oct-13 20:33:29

This happened to a friend of mine at a similar chain restaurant.

She got:

A profuse apology from the manager, both their meals comped, a free desert platter. They paid for their drinks, not sure if alcoholic or not. She was assured if she ever felt confident enough in trying the restaurant again, there would be a free bottle of prosecco for her. The restaurant automatically got in touch near her birthday with an automated email offering a free bottle with a booking for 4 people or more, so she booked. She got the birthday bottle free, the make-up bottle free, a platter of free starters and 20% off the bill.

THAT is how you do things.

honestpointofview Wed 30-Oct-13 20:33:29

I think Lila is right . He said I won't charge "you". You said of of course you won't charge "us". He was rightly was saying he would not charge you for your meal but you said not charge for all your group. That's the most likely reason for him looking confused. Why did you think the whole group should not have paid?

ILoveAFullFridge Wed 30-Oct-13 20:46:46

Because, as happened to WilsonFrickett and me, the customer then ends up returning to the restaurant and probably recommending it to their friends, rather than starting a justifiedly aggrieved thread on a huge website, putting other potential customers off, and probably never giving them their custom again.

ILoveAFullFridge Wed 30-Oct-13 20:48:34

Oh, and it's not just a netter of bringing one person the wrong dish. That sort of thing puts a damper on the whole meal for everyone in the group, and possibly makes them wonder what is in their food...

friday16 Wed 30-Oct-13 20:49:06

I think the point the pp was making was what if the restaurant made a similar mistake with an allergen

Given the preparation methods in a Pizza Express, with all the ingredients kept in open bowls and the cooking all done in a single oven, with a single wooden paddle used to handle all the pizzas, anyone who actually had an allergy to one of the ingredients they used would be taking something of a risk if they just ordered without telling them.

I think in this case, that the OP is a vegetarian isn't the restaurant's problem. She ordered a pizza. They made a mistake, which she didn't notice. She's hardly the first person where a restaurant has made a mistake, nor will she be the last. Someone who was allergic to an ingredient would notify the restaurant at the point of ordering, so that they were on notice that they needed to take extra precautions (or refuse the order if they didn't feel able to do that). I suppose a veggie could tell them in words of one syllable that a whiff of meat would be a disaster, but it doesn't appear she did.

I've ordered meatless pizzas on Pizza Express, just because I didn't fancy meat, and if they accidentally brought me an American Hot, I suspect I'd just eat it and then complain to get it free. That the OP happened to be a vegetarian, and therefore being brought meat by accident is a bigger deal, is something they can't possibly know, so I don't see why they should make any bigger fuss about it than they would for a non-veggie who just got the wrong pizza.

Spikeytree Wed 30-Oct-13 20:56:49

I've been a veggie for 17 years and eating meat makes me throw up (which I found out when an ex-friend 'accidently' gave me a meat burger instead of a quorn one because she couldn't be bothered catering for me, I suspect she regretted that when she was cleaning her carpet later). They'd have been clearing a lot more than the plates from the tables if they'd given me meat.

YANBU OP, and thanks for sharing - I'll know to avoid them now.

ILoveAFullFridge Wed 30-Oct-13 20:56:59

I've had the wrong dish brought to me in a restaurant. Reactions have ranged from a belligerent "What do you want me to do about it?" to "I'm so sorry, I'll check what happened in the kitchen" followed by "Would you like a complimentary glass of wine while your dish is being prepared?"

Which restaurant do you think continued to receive my custom?

I've twice had the food bill waived for the whole group (once in PE!) when the food was not wrong but contaminated. IMO, when a vegetarian dish is ordered, and the customer double-checks that the waiter noted it down correctly, and a meat version is served instead, that is contamination.

ILoveAFullFridge Wed 30-Oct-13 20:59:20

Actually, no, the PE incident was not contamination, they simply forgot to bring my food, despite being reminded. Eventually it was too late for me to start eating, because the others had finished.

Fillybuster Wed 30-Oct-13 21:00:54

Um Friday I don't mind posters disagreeing with me (this is AIBU, right? grin) but just to be clear:

a) I told them I was a vegetarian when I ordered the food

b) I double checked that they had captured the vegetarian nature of my order (ie "you've got 'calzone verde - the vegetarian one - down haven't you? great"

c) I never drew a link between food allergies and being a vegetarian. Someone else did. Obviously there's a world of difference. BUT if you advertise specific dishes on a menu as vegetarian (as PE do), and if you make a point about being vegetarian friendly (as PE do), then it is not unreasonable to expect them to produce a vegetarian pizza (without standing in the kitchen watching as Inclusionist suggests wink)

More to the point: I accept accidents happen - see my original post, what I question is whether Pizza Express handled the situation, or the follow up, particularly well.

In answer to those posters querying whether those with me should have had a free meal - if PE had instantly said something along the lines of 'oh gosh, we'll bring you another one' or 'can we get you something else instead' or, actually, pretty much anything at all, then the meal wouldn't have been spoilt. Instead, we sat there, all of us, trying to figure out what was going on..they weren't sure whether to carry on eating, or wait for someone to bring me something etc etc....As a result, a fun meal became a bit of a weird, let's just sit here and wait for someone to tell us what to do experience. So yes, their meal was definitely spoilt as well, and it would have been odd for them to be charged at that point. Again, there were only 4 of us, we only had a fairly cheap main course each, and no drinks - it wasn't a windfall for anyone smile

maddening Wed 30-Oct-13 21:04:34

no coffee it really doesn't matter - he dismissed them when he said goodbye and walked off - regardless of whether he cleared the plates the restaurant had made a big food faux pas, dismissed the customer unceremoniously and have since offered a shite apology and failed to actually apply said shite offer.

Lomaamina Wed 30-Oct-13 21:05:17

OP I am enormously sympathic with what you've been through. I'm also a veggie for religious reasons and if that had happened to me* I would have felt awful and it would have ruined my meal and that of my companions to see me as upset as I'd be in those circumstances.

I suppose there are people reading this saying that you shouldn't eat in a non-vegetarian restaurant, but what do you do if you go out to work?

I think you should have been offered at least a meal for two in compensation and indeed that you should have had the voucher by now. I also sympathise with your embarrasment at pushing for the voucher now. And if you feel you're making too much of a fuss. NO YOU'RE NOT.

* actually it has happened to me with a work conference. The platter labelled vegetarian had sandwiches decorated with bacon bits. I thought they were sun-dried tomatoes. Took one bite and retched as soon as I tasted the meat. When I wrote a letter of (mild) complaint, my then boss told me not to make such a fuss as 'you know, we have to use this catering company and we don't want them to be offended'. hmm thanks mate for the support. Swine. (No pun intended) grin.

Write your email and don't hold back on how you feel.

maddening Wed 30-Oct-13 21:10:39

Friday - why is it ok to dismiss someone being vegetarian ? Just as you eat meat and wouldn't mind accidentally being offered a meat pizza doesn't mean that is the same as giving someone who has stated that they are vegetarian a meat pizza.

yes mistakes happen - the op didn't go ballistic and was very polite - you'd think pe would be better at dealing with mistakes when they do happen- it seems that here they have failed.

AchyFox Wed 30-Oct-13 21:16:21

Sounds like they'd run out of veg calzone and couldn't be arsed to change your order.

ie it was a deliberate action not a mix-up.

They didn't want to offer you a non-veg-calzone-other-meal for it would dawn on you that they had deliberately and wittingly given you the wrong meal.

Hence the 10 minutes of umming and erring and booting you out without the offer of a free meal.grin

Wonderful, eh ?

maddening Wed 30-Oct-13 21:17:28

and Friday -re the allergic to meat / difficult being a human being comment - there are humans allergic to water - more water in humans than meat so I reckon it would be possible to be allergic to meat products.

WilsonFrickett Wed 30-Oct-13 21:18:00

Friday I don't often say this on MN because I accept that everyone has their own pov but on this you are just plain wrong, sorry.

The OP is a veggie. PE sells veggie food. If she orders a veggie dish then she has a perfect right to expect it to be veggie. If they make a mistake then she has the right to expect that to be put right. PE also make a big thing about having gluten free options, weight watchers options etc, etc - their positioning is very much mid-market brand, they're not just slopping out pre-prepped bulk cooked slop where no-one knows what's really in the sauce.

She also did check he had written it down correctly.

I am not a veggie btw. I just think a restaurant should serve the food it promotes and sells correctly and make amends when that goes wrong.

friday16 Wed 30-Oct-13 21:31:26

and make amends when that goes wrong.

Like, for example, not charging for the meal at all? As happened?

maddening Wed 30-Oct-13 21:32:41

and doing so graciously - which didn't

Lilacroses Wed 30-Oct-13 21:41:38

Does sound like they had completely the wrong attituse Filly which spoilt the lunch beyond the mistaken pizza. I once sent back a pizza in some horrible travel.lodge we were staying in because it was still frozen!! The waitress reacted like I'd done something wrong myself and whisked it off me in an annoyed manner. I complained (much to my Dp's embarrassment, as she hates "fuss") and they couldn't give a monkeys!

You sound like a very reasonable person, I think they handled this poorly and I hope you get your voucher.

Lilacroses Wed 30-Oct-13 21:43:15

Still find it odd that they didn't offer you a replacement and just left you sat there!

Pennyacrossthehall Wed 30-Oct-13 21:51:19

So you got a free meal for everyone, several apologies and another free pizza you're still fuming?

I'm not a vegetarian. If I ordered a pizza with meat and got one without, I'd tell the waiter, they'd give me another one and that would be it. If I asked for a free meal for all my friends, they'd laugh at me (with reason).

I accept that you feel more aggrieved but the mistake is the same, and quite an easy one to make in a busy kitchen deciphering a waitresses scribbles.

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