Article: “Gripers throng the Internet” (Mar.2006)

excerpt:
"Sites like BitterWaitress have been on the Internet since the beginning, but now they reach more people than ever. That's partly because the Web is becoming such a staple in people's lives: 72 percent of all U.S. adults use it, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

"Before blogs, very few people had means to express their ideas," he said. "Now, people have a distribution method."

Fehlinger, a veteran New York City waiter, started the site as a newsletter. He added celebrity gossip, tidbits from servers about stars' tipping habits, and a section where waiters and waitresses could post their own "war stories" about managers and customers.

Those war stories, which are anonymous, range from reasoned complaints to wild rants. Individual restaurants aren't frequently named, although some could be identified by details given."

source: "Gripers throng the Internet" by Mike Hughlett and Eric Benderoff (Chicago Tribune, Mar. 26, 2006)

WaiterBell Angle: The article above is significant because it highlights the perspective of the restaurant worker, which is often ignored in restaurant industry news. The following are links to sites where content is written by restaurant workers:

WaiterRant
BitterWaitress
The Stained Apron
Server Stories
The Insane Waiter
Waitress On the Sea
Restaurant Gal
Restaurant Girl Speaks
Manhattan Waitress
Shameless Restaurant
Waiting Tables
The Food Liberation Front
Red Lobster Hates Its Employees

While researching restaurant customer service, as well as talking to restaurant owners, servers about WaiterBell, there seems to be an issue of mutual respect and consideration between servers and customers. Many times, servers are debating with customers in message boards or forums about the nature of the profession. Servers will talk about customers who lack patience, respect, and consideration for servers. Customers who have experienced bad service will remark on servers who are uncaring, unprofessional, and inconsiderate of customers. The relationship between customer and server is put on eggshells when there isn't consideration and mutual respect.

The WaiterBell system is does not empower the customer at the expense of the waitstaff. WaiterBell provides a service safety net for the waitstaff, so if a customer needs assistance, they can discreetly and effectively get a message to the waitstaff. A server is not always perfect, nor should they be expected to be. WaiterBell is meant to supplement the waitstaff so that empowered customers can help the staff know when they need additional assistance.

Customers have partial responsibility in communicating with the waitstaff. Customers signal for assistance in various verbal and non-verbal ways (some methods being respectable, while others are questionable), however miscommunication can happen due to noise, table location, lighting, busyness, or misunderstanding. WaiterBell helps make signaling discreet and reliable, so that service gaps or frustration doesn't develop.

An example scenario would be if the check was already paid at a table, however the customers are still conversing and decide that, on second thought, they would like to get dessert after all. How would the waitstaff know? The waitstaff might tending to their other tables, and there is potential here for a service gap. WaiterBell prevents that service gap from happening and allows timely restaurant customer service.

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