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Win a €35 GBK voucher: Cheapeats Customer Service Charter competition

customer-service-charterCompetition closed.

CheapEats is compiling a Customer Service Charter, outlining the standards that customers should expect from restaurants, cafes, and takeaway, and we want your help. In return, you could win one of four vouchers from Gourmet Burger Kitchen.

Here’s how the competition works.

Submit your suggestions – any suggestions are welcome – for the charter. How should a customer be greeted? What should happen if you’re waiting a long time for your food? What if your order is messed up? How should children be welcomed? And how should a customer behave towards the waiting staff?

We’ll pick the best suggestions and feature them in our list, which will be published on this website. The list will be compiled based on a mix of the best, most imaginative, and most popular suggestions. Everyone whose idea makes the list – and we expect that many people will submit the same the same or similar suggestions – will be included in our draw to win one of four €35 GBK vouchers.

This competition is a bit trickier than our usual ones, so please be sure to read the terms and conditions. Any incorrect entries will be deleted. There will be no second chances!


Why GBK? Last week, I chose it as a restaurant with consistently good customer service. Later, I got in touch with GBK’s PR and asked them to provide a competition prize, which they have generously provided. Cheapeats has not received any payment or payment-in-kind from GBK or their agents.

How to enter

Readers can enter in one of three ways:
  • Pop your suggestion in the comment box below. One comment per entrant; multiple entries from the same person will be deleted. As we said above, we expect to get many entries that have the same or similar suggestions – this is fine, just make sure that you have only submitted once. Two vouchers will be given away through the website; one for the best comment and one drawn at random from the suggestions that make the final list. The more original your suggestion, the better chance you have of winning!
  • Follow us on Twitter and send us your suggestion in a tweet addressed to @Cheapeatsdotie, using the hashtag #cheapeatscharter. One voucher will be given away via Twitter.
  • Like our Facebook page and leave your suggestion on the wall. One voucher will be given away through Facebook.


  • The selected entries will be chosen by the Cheapeats editors. Their decision is final.
  • Entries into this competition become the property of The Customer Service Charter, compiled from reader suggestions, is the property of the Cheapeats editors, and may be used in local, national, and international media without acknowledgement of individual reader entries. In return, applicants will be entered into a draw to win one of four GBK vouchers.
  • You can enter on Twitter, Facebook and to increase your chances of winning, but the prizes are limited to one per person. See below for the rules for entering on Twitter, Facebook and
  • All selected entries will be assigned a number. The winners will be chosen using a random number generator.
  • The editors will remove any entry that we deem to be potentially libellous.
  • There is no cash alternative for this prize.
  • This competition is only open to readers in the Republic of Ireland.
  • The competition will close at 5pm on Monday June 13, and the winners will be announced a few days later.

For website entrants:

  • One suggestion and comment per person. Put your suggestion in one single comment. Multiple entries will result in disqualification.
  • Don’t email in your answer. Leave a comment on this post using the form below. Emailed answers will not be included in the draw. If you need to contact us, send an email to
  • Please make sure you leave a working email address with your comment (email addresses will not be publicly displayed or used for any mailing lists) so we can contact you for your details if you win.

For Facebook entrants:

Leave your suggestions as a post on the Facebook wall. Put your suggestion in one comment. People who leave multiple comments will be disqualified. People whose ideas are used in the customer service charter will be entered into the draw for the prize.

For Twitter entrants:

Follow CheapEatsDotIE, and send your suggestion as a reply to CheapEatsDotIE, and use the hashtag #cheapeatscharter. One suggestion per entrant only, people who enter multiple times will be disqualified. People whose ideas are used in the customer service charter will be entered into the draw for the prize. You will need to keep following CheapEatsDotIE on Twitter for the duration of the competition so we can contact you if you are the winner.


  1. This is more pre-customer service and it would seem to be a no brainer, but how many businesses have you rang on the phone to hear them answer “hello?” I should not have to ask if I’ve reached the XYZ restaurant. The phone should always be answered in a courteous manner telling me who I have rung and with whom I am speaking. Not rocket science. And on that note, don’t use a mobile number as your main restaurant line, it smacks of unprofessional.

  2. Suffer little Children ( with a smile), It is probably a big ask to take on the might of McDonalds but not every parent wants to succumb to garish red and yellow and would happily flock to the gourmet version of the golden fallen arches if the smallies were more than just tollerated. just a thought !

  3. When you are with customers smile. Smiles should reach your eyes, anything less is a grimace.

    If you’re anywhere ‘front of house’, smile don’t scowl – customers notice.

    If you have a cold please don’t sniff/snuffle wetly over me: blow your nose before you take my order/serve food.

  4. For me it’s the small things that count. When the customer is seated they should be asked if they would like water this should then be immediatley supplied. It always amazes me how few places do this. A customer should not have to ask for something like this.

  5. Tell the customer the specials – it’s usually too late to tell them when you come to take the order, we’ve already decided

  6. Offer ‘proper’ food on the childrens menu. If I suggest ‘chicken nuggets and chips’ to them, they’re bound to say yes to it every time – I’d like some healthier, tastier and more imaginative options

  7. Menus should clearly state complaints proceedure and encourage same

  8. A smile on arrival in any restaurant!

  9. I recently celebrated my Dad’s birthday with him and we treated ourselves to a night out (without any of the kids). We choose an upmarket, classy Dublin restaurant, which had received good reviews. Well, let me tell you that we had the most enjoyable experience from start to finish. It was an occasion that we will always remember and they can count on our repeat business! It was the little extra touches that will encourage us to spread the word about this restaurant.
    First good sign – when making the reservation, the phone was answered within two rings. You could tell the woman on the phone had a smile on her face by her tone (unlike many restaurants you call and the person on the phone makes you feel like you just interrupted them). The woman on the phone asked me if it was our first time dining with them, and if we were celebrating a special occasion. When we gave her our name at the restaurant that evening, she looked up and said, “We would like to thank you for celebrating your birthday with us….Happy Birthday.”
    After a most delicious and absolutely flawless meal, came dessert. I always think that customers remember the first and the last thing about their dining experience so having great desserts are important.
    While we both felt like we had no room, the waitress described a chocolate cake that was “to die for.” She also said it was so large she would bring two forks for us to share. She wasn’t kidding … this dessert was the size of a small cake! And, true to her word, it was just sublime!
    Then came the icing on the cake – to top off our wonderful evening, the server came over to tell us that dessert was on the house and again thanked us for choosing to celebrate our special occasion with them and that she looked forward to seeing us again very soon.
    So, I think a few little things that would really make a good restaurant stand out would be:
    – answer the phone quickly and with a cheerful tone
    – ask the customer if it is their first time to dine at the restaurant and if it is a special occasion
    – Alert staff of any guest’s special occasions so they may greet them appropriately
    – Decorate the table with perhaps a card or small note of welcome
    – Make desserts special with a complimentary dessert for special occasions.
    – Always invite customers back!

  10. There should be clean colouring books, with enough fresh pages left, and enough colours for the to choose from, and magazines for older children.

    There should be clean, well-kept easy-to-use highchairs available for use, and booster chairs for toddlers.

  11. Where possible, patrons should be given a choice of table, either at the time of booking, or on arrival.
    In addition, the fine American tradition of doggie-bags should be introduced more widely in Irish restaurants. There seems to be a stigma attached to taking away leftovers and I have certainly never been offered a doggie-bag in Ireland. There are several ways this could be implemented, maybe by changing the name itself, ‘doggie-bag’ has somewhat negative connatations. If it were introduced as an eco-friendly initiative it might prove more popular, as we should all be concerned about food waste. From the restaurants’ point of view it would make sense, as they have large waste charges and food waste must make-up a sizeable proportion of this.

  12. Menus should clearly state allergens and be clear in their description of the dish. Not everyone knows what a bouillabaisse or Dublin coddle is, and it’s frustrating for people with allergies to have to ask if every dish contain nuts or other allergens

  13. Welcome comments from your customers and act on them, whether they be good or bad. Communication is key!

  14. All customers should be treated equally, whether we are spending 10 euro or 100. For most of us, eating out is a special occasion, and to be treated well and made to feel welcome is part of the experience. This is the main reason I will return to a restaurant – food is very important but it’s that special memory of a great night out that really matters.

  15. Fill up! If someone asks for tap water, and especially if they’re not opting for wine, provide a jug, or keep filling those glasses. Many establishments keep wine glasses very well topped up but tend to forget about the non-drinkers!

  16. When customers have been served, waiting staff should be prepared to keep eye contact with them and not look as if they are trying to avoid being asked for anything eg.more water or black pepper!

  17. For me it is to be greated with a smile and the waiter or waitress to able to make some small talk with the guests!! while be shown to the table. A big point is to be told about the specials that are on offer for the night. The waiter or waitress to be friendly, it does not cost to smile!

  18. Computers these days make it easy enough to set up a customer database. I think it’s worth maintaing – it can tell servers if the customer is a returning one and also alert them to any previous complaints made by the customer so the same mistakes can be avoided.

    I think it’s nice to be recognised as a regular customer and it can useful to the restaurant to see any patterns in complaints.

  19. Employ happy, friendly people. People who can have a bit of a banter, without being over-familiar. The first time I went to the States, I thought the waiting staff were falsely friendly, they seemed so unbelievably nice. Now I think we’re just used to dour faces here, and they’ve got it right over there, that friendly service matters. They’re obviously spurred on by the prospect of a tip, but that’s fine – over here some would seem to think a tip is obligatory without having to actually DO anything to earn it.

  20. Tap water on the table when you arrive. You shouldn’t have to ask, and you shouldn’t have to ask to have it refilled.

  21. As I’ve have a bit of waiting experience myself, I sure know what customers do or do not like! 🙂
    The first impression is the key! The customer must feel welcome. That means full attention from the waiting staff to the door at all times. The customer must be greeted and acknowledged, then seated. Of course, that has to be done with a smile.
    At this point the waitress/-er can ask if the customer would like to see the menu because sometimes they might already know what they want or perhaps they are there just for a cup of coffee.
    If they do want to see the menu then it is an opportunity for the waitress/-er to inform the guest of the daily specials (if they do wish to have a meal), give recommendations, sometimes even based on waitresse’s/er’s personal taste – I find that customers love it, it makes them feel special.
    It is important for the waitress/-er not to forget about the customer after the menus have been handed over, even if it a busy night – there is no excuse.
    If the customer only order drinks, the waitress/-er should ask if the food menus can be taken. Sometimes the tables may be small and food menus can pile it up, making it look messy and there is no need to keep them there if the customer do not wish to order any food.
    If the customer only order food, the waitress/-er should provide some water.
    If the customer orders water, the waitress/-er should specify if tap or bottled water should be provided. A lot of people do not wish to pay for their water but feel embarassed to order tap water. They are however happy to accept it if such option is provided. It is important to make the customer feel like the waitress/-er is not trying to squeeze out as much money as possible. By treating all customers the same way – no matter what is the size of their bill, you are more likely to see people giving bigger tips and returning again and spending more money at the restaurant.
    If there are for example two people sitting at the table but only one of them orders food, it is a nice gesture from the waitress/-er to provide two plates and two sets of cutlery as people often like to share their food but it might feel awkward to do so if only one plate have been offered.
    Also, the waiting staff must know their menu. This is probably one of the most common mistakes, yet most unforgivable ones. If the customer informs the waiting staff about having an allergy to a particular thing, i.e. flour, the waitress/-er should know which meals/sauces etc. contains it and what alternatives could be made. Information regarding the allergens should also be made clear in the menu.
    Before serving food, the waitress/-er should make sure that all the sauces and spices the customer might want to use with the particular dish are on the table, for example, if you serve fish and chips – there must be at least salt, pepper and vinegar provided.
    The waitress/-er should always come back after the food has been served and ask if everything is alright. If there is a baby with the guests, it is good to ask if there is anything that could be done for the baby – milk warmed up etc.
    During the meal, make sure that there are no empty glasses/dirty plates on the table. The sooner you get rid of them, the better. Keep refilling the drinks. The waiting staff should also pay attention to the occasion – if its a birthday party then it is a nice gesture to provide a small piece of cake on the house to the person.
    After the main course, the waitress/-er should ask the customers about the dessert/extra drinks and provide a menu if they seem interested. If not, collect the dishes and return in a while. It is very important not to make the guest feel like he/she has to leave once the food is eaten. If there is any leftover food, ask if the customer would like to have it packed.
    Regarding the restaurant itself, it always have to be clean and have enough of staff on the floor. Many restaurants try to save many and employ less staff which results in poor attention simply because of lack of time from the waitresses/-ers.
    The restaurant should also provide high chairs for babies. Make sure that the toilettes are always clean and there is enough of toilet paper. It is embarrassing for both the restaurant and the person to ask for it..
    There should be music in the background but not too loudly. Also, pay attention to what kind of music it is. Bad music will attract the wrong kind of people and annoy the rest.
    Personally, I don’t like animals to be allowed at any place where food is served.
    Make sure that the waiting staff are well dressed, look neat, clean and appropriate. Hair for girls should not be loose and nails cut short with no varnish.
    Never put the chairs up on a table (when closing) if there are people sitting at the table next to it. It feels disrespectful and sends a ‘get out’ message to the guests.
    Always answer the phone in a respectful manner, state where the customer has phoned to, if a reservation is made, ask if it is for a special occasion.
    That’s everything I can think of at the moment. Please excuse my English – it is not my native language. 🙂

  22. Ensuring a restaurant is well-staffed so customers aren’t neglected in any way and the restaurant itself is kept clean and orderly. The customer should be served water without having to ask. Order taken within ten minutes of receiving the menus. Check in early on in the meal, this way if the diner needs anything, ketchup, black pepper, more drinks, they won’t have to wait to catch your attention. On that note, all restaurants should make sure they have a good array of condiments, sometimes people want ketchup with their stir-fry, so it’s not the norm but be ready to oblige. A big thing that I’ve noticed in Ireland and never abroad is the timed seatings, ie: “book for 7 you HAVE to be gone by 9”, I think this is a little unfair, most of the time you’d be finished within two hours anyway, being told that you may have to rush the end of your dinner upon booking/arriving is a bad start to any meal. People should feel comfortable and relaxed when dining out. I think all restaurants should welcome children, but it is also up to the parents to be respectful of the servers and ensure their children stay in their seats and behave well, the server is within their rights to request this should the children be running around disturbing other diners and getting under the servers’ feet(something I saw ALL too often in my years as a waitress). A tip is not a given, servers should have to earn it, and adding a service charge to small parties should not be allowed. Complaints should always be received graciously and dealt with in a professional and friendly manner.

  23. If there’s a prolem with the order or a delay, let the customer know. It’s terrible to be kept there waiting indefinitely. Communication is key!

  24. This comment is more relevant for cafes (or more particularly for a sandwich bar that I frequent regularly) – if you have a loyalty card system, encourage people to use it and don’t make it seem like a burden to reward your customer. The staff at the establishment I’m thinking of NEVER ask if you have a loyalty card or would like to have one. When you produce it, they deal with it, but certainly don’t encourage its use. Makes you wonder why they have it at all.

  25. When the wait person arrives to our table, I respect their arrival, I pause my conversations with fellow diners, and I order clearly and politely. As anyone would.

    When the wait person arrives back to our table with the food ordered, they seem to have forgotten who ordered what.

    “Steak. Who ordered the steak?” they announce importantly. No problem interrupting any conversations.

    “Now, now. Your food has arrived. Its hot. Its in my hand. I must deliver it. Drop everything” they seem to say.

    Must I really stop all conversation for the next few minutes to help the wait staff deliver the food? At a larger table where some diners deep in conversation fail to notice their being announced, the wait staff are then to be seen walking up and down the table, like its a lottery. “Fish. Fish. Did you order the fish? Anyone for the fish?”

    Yes folks, watch out for this techique. You’ll be surprised how many reputable restaurants think this is a reasonable system. Take the time to politely tell them it is rude to interrupt, and that they need a better system to deliver the food, especially if they’re busy.

    I have an alternate suggestion.
    Maybe diners could stick a post-it on their heads with their orders on it? It would be simple and non-intrusive. Wait staff may then match the food in their hand to the order written on my head. Easy.

    Or how about they just write down who ordered what the first time? Is there really a need to ask me what I ordered twice?

    Thanks for reading

  26. Like some of the above posts, this is probably straying from what belongs in a charter but…

    I’ve spent a lot of time in Germany, and in any bar/restaurant, when a group asks for the bill, a waiter _always_ asks: ‘paying together, or separately?’. If it’s a group, the answer is usually ‘separately’. It’s weird at the start, but after you get used to it, it’s so much better than home.

    In Ireland, the group tends to pay as one; There’s always someone who starts working out the amount per person: ‘ah sure, let’s split it’. This person is usually the one who hasn’t noticed that there’s one person who had a salad and a 7up, and another who had the steak with a beer.

    Given our reluctance to make a scene, that person with the salad stay silent, and pays for an expensive meal. In Ireland, I’ve also experienced (several times, especially if the place is busy) that the waiter/waitress will sigh when you ask to pay separately from the main bill. From my experience, the staff get a larger tip from individual tips, than collectively, due to most people’s generous rounding.

    My request for the charter is (in addition to the ‘be friendly, be attentive’ basics), when a group asks to pay a bill, always ask if the group wants to pay together, or separately. It puts the offer out there, and makes it easier for the more timid not to get screwed.

    Caveat: In Germany, unless it’s a really fancy restaurant, you pay cash. Given we’re all card lovers, I can see how any business would want to avoid many smaller CC transactions..

  27. Nice clean well run restaurant is the main one for me serving good wholesome food at reasonable prices.

  28. Very good suggestions indeed. I like Beatrise’s comment, very useful tips there. For me, the key to an excellent customer service is respect. Respect your customers, respect them with a smile, politeness, attentiveness.
    Don’t make them feel uncomfortable if they order the cheapest thing on the menu, it’s there so I’m entitled to order it!
    Treat all your customers in the same way, regardless of their bill.
    Don’t wait too long before coming back to take the orders, but give your customers some time! And always ask if everybody is ready to order.
    Be prepared to answer any question about your menu: how food is cooked, what are the ingredients, what changes can be made, how much spicy/salty/sweet is a dish.

  29. I think all restaurants should have a policy whereby if for some reason you cant finish all your meal, they provide you with a “doggie bag” to take it home. On a recent trip to the States I was delighted to see that this is done over there all the time without any hassle. We were provided with lovely boxes to take our food home in and we thoroughly enjoyed it the following day. The one time I dared to ask for a box in a restaurant here it caused such a fuss I was sorry I asked
    So, come on restaurant owners please provide us with our “Doggie Bags”

  30. Training is the key thing. If you own or manage a restaurant it is up to you to set the tone of service. Have an established procedure for dealing with customer complaints and train in your staff on it accordingly. Have a set person or persons who deal with the complaints to ensure an understanding and civil reception for any complaint as well as to ensure each complaint is dealt with in the pre-established manner. Staff should be understanding not defensive. Remember a complementary dessert or drink might cost you (although only a quarter of the actual selling price most likely) but how much does bad word of mouth cost you. You’d be surprised how quickly a complainer can be turned into an advocate when met with an understanding ear, followed by speedy resolution

  31. When children reach a certain age they hate to be given the children’s menu. At age 12+ I think there should be another menu, perhaps call it the teenager menu. Sometimes when kids reach this age they just get half portions of the normal menu. I think a separate menu for this age group with larger portions of the kids menu and smaller portions of the normal menu would be a great idea! If this was too much work for the restaurant then at least have a different name for the children’s menu so that 13 year olds don’t grimace when they’re given it!

  32. Smile & say Hello.
    Ensure table clean & properly set up.
    Bring water & top up water glasses.
    Remove plates in a timely manner.
    If food is delayed, let customers know.

    No chewing gum, hair away from face,
    Facial/tongue piercings can be off putting or some so remove them

  33. When a jug of water is brought to the table, it should not be lukewarm, surely it is not too much to expect it to be cold, with ice cubes in it.

  34. Have to echo the comments about general friendliness. It’s amazing just how many staff members get away with being surly and unobliging when presented with a simple request or query – though it’s probably to do with the Irish psyche of just putting up with it. While everyone has bad days there really is no excuse for downright rudeness when serving and anywhere with good, friendly staff is immediately in my good books!

  35. Communication. The waitress shouldn’t be afraid of the customer – tell them exactly what is going on. Tell them there is a wait in the kitchen. Tell them if something is off the menu before we decide to order it. Tell the customer what the soup of the day is. Communication is the key.