On the Border Tries to Apologize

On the Border Tries to ApologizeI am a huge fan of Mexican food. I might not love Mexican as much as Chinese, but I would say it is pretty close. I love the chips and salsa, the rice and refried beans, and the burritos literally as big as your head or bigger. There is just something about a good Mexican place that excites, whether at lunch or dinnertime. And just as with Chinese buffets, the dirtier the establishment, the better the food will taste.

Every year the month of May brings us a holiday giving us an excuse to eat Mexican food. On the 5th of May, or Cinco de Mayo as they call it in Mexico, people get dressed up, head out to his or her favorite Mexican joint, and drink margaritas until they can’t see straight. We pig out on chips and salsa, spend too much money on tequila shots, and spend most the night laughing and having a good time. So good that we completely lose sight of the reason we celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Or wait; is there a reason that we celebrate this holiday?

This year my girlfriend and I decided to go out to On the Border for our dinner and drinks. The place usually has great food, they have some of the best salsa in the city, and they are pretty cheap considering the amount of food you get. So we meet there after work to have our dinner. We were going to have drinks but they were not running any specials that night. Yeah, what a way to start off a night that is designed to get you intoxicated. No drink specials.

By the time our server comes back with my water and Sheryl’s margarita, we were ready to order. But did she take our order? Of course not. She had other tables and acted as if she was too busy for us. Granted, the restaurant was pretty busy and we actually had to wait almost a half an hour for our table, but that is no excuse. I have served before and you have to learn to serve more than one table better than she did.

Of course, later while she was trying to create that awkward unwanted communication that all servers try to create, she admitted she had only been serving for a few weeks. Yeah, we sort of guessed that. Anyway, outside of the fact that she was not the best server I have ever had, and that our food took almost an hour to be made, I was still upset on the fact they had no drink specials.

When our food finally arrived, that apparently meant to our server that our water glasses didn’t need to be refilled and that she could just simply disappear. We did have a couple of servers stop by the table and ask if we needed anything, but that is not the point. They are not our server and were not getting the tip that I would later be leaving for said service. Note that the manger walked by numerous times and never made the slightest hint of wanting to ask how everything was. He was too busy walking around looking busy.

Regardless of all of that, we had various other issues that simply made our night uncomfortable. From the sleeves of tattoos from passing servers to the dirty booth and floors surrounding us, we just did not enjoy our evening in the slightest. The food was great, don’t get me wrong, but the experience was anything but. When we were leaving our receipt asked for you to log on to their website and provide any feedback you could from your evening. Oh, I did. I did this that next morning first thing. On Monday, May 10th, 2010 I received a letter in the mail from On the Border and their corporate headquarters.

The letter was from Guest Relations Manager, Julee White. She had this to say:

Dear Mr. Potts,

Thank you for taking the time to contact us regarding our Castleton Mall On the Border. We know you have made dining options and we appreciate that you chose to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with us.

Please accept our sincere apologies for your experience. We work hard to maintain the highest standards that our reputation is built on, and it is very disappointing to hear we did not meet our expectations. We have forwarded your comments to the Area Director for review and training purposes.

Guest feedback is vital to our success and we thank you for your part in bringing these issues to our attention. As a thank you for your comments, we hope the enclosed will assist you with your next visit, and allow us the opportunity to demonstrate a great dining experience.


Julee White
Guest Relations Manager

What do you find wrong with a letter like this? Sure, it sounds sweet and caring and makes it seem like they actually give two cents about what I think. But the signature on the letter from Julee White is not a signature at all, it is a hand written font of some sort. The letter only expressed the time in which I visited the restaurant and the exact location in which I visited. Nothing else. They did not make comments on anything that I expressed concern about nor did they state how they were gong to fix these issues besides throwing me a few gift certificates. The certificates that they sent me totaled a mere $15.

I am not saying that they needed to send me anything. They did gain a few bonus brownie points for even bothering to respond to my guest survey comments. But they solved the issue how every single restaurant does. They sent me free food. They lose no money, I get the excuse to go back and obviously spend more than what they have provided, and turn me from a pissed off customer into a repeat visitor. I will go back, don’t get me wrong, the chips and salsa are too good not to. I just wish that they had handled this a little bit differently.