This is a letter I wrote to IHOP after a rather miserable visit to one of their establishments. I put it here just to show what a well-written letter can accomplish over a corrosive "rant and rave" letter. It worked because I got all that I asked for and a coupon for a party of four.

November 15, 1996

Dear IHOP Restaurant Operations,

I am writing to inform you of the severe dissatisfaction at the enormous lack of service I just received from one of your restaurants. My wife, two children, and I have often enjoyed excellent service from this particular establishment but were just insulted with a level of maltreatment that will result in our boycott of your restaurant.

Upon arrival, we waited over 1/2 hour for our table which is understandable considering the amount of patrons present. When we were finally seated, we received no water nor inquiries concerning our needs. It was another 20 minutes before the waitress, who was obvious flustered, came over to get our order. At this time we ordered and it was the first opportunity to ask about coffee. It took another 10 minutes to get the coffee which set our time in the restaurant at one hour.

The next time we saw our waitress was 45 minutes later when she brought our food. At this time, we asked if it would be too much trouble to get some water. Another five minutes passed before we got water and condiments. My wife also had to wait for her pancakes because according to the waitress, they "took longer to cook." That was an insult to our intelligence because I very much doubt that you make up individual batches of batter for each order and that one type of batter takes much longer to cook than another.

Everything was cold and the two strips of bacon I received looked as though it was one piece broken in half. We never saw the waitress again. After we finished, we left without so much as a glance from our waitress. The total time in the restaurant was just over two hours. It was the worst $10.00 we ever spent but more important than the money, it was an unforgivable waste of my family's time.

I assume that they were shorthanded but this was ridiculous. It seems to me that we paid the same amount for this meal and service regardless of the employment situation. I view the restaurant business as a contract. I receive reasonable service and a meal in return for monetary payment. If I must "be patient" and overlook bad service because the restaurant is shorthanded, then it follows that the restaurant must "be patient" and overlook the bill if I do not have the funds to pay. Of course, this is not acceptable and neither is the service my family and I received.

You may ask why we did not inform the manager. First, no employees were around to speak with. Second, we were trapped because the process of getting up, talking with a manager, leaving, going to another establishment, and starting the process over again would take longer than our appetites would allow. We were put in a position where we could not win. For this, I find this particular restaurant irresponsible and reprehensible.

I would appreciate your action on this matter. I would hope that you contact this particular restaurant and hold the manager accountable for this heinous service. We were not the only ones who were treated in this manner and I truly hope that no other "guests" receive such treatment. Furthermore, I would like a response to this letter confirming that positive action has been taken.

The restaurant is the IHOP in downtown Renton on Rainier Ave. I do not know the serviceperson's name but she was working the no smoking section, had short black hair, and looked like she was in her early forties. The time and date was Friday November 15, 1996, from 10:00 A.M to Noon.

Thank you for your time.

Jason D. Grose