It’s always nice to have a meal out, the occasional treat at the end of a busy week. On Saturday night Miss A and I decided to pop down to Freeport Braintree in the hunt of some dinner. Our original choice of Pizza Express was rammed and estimated a 30 minute wait, so we chose Chimichanga instead, I’ve been there once before and remembered the service was a bit slow, but the food was fantastic.

When we got in the door, we stood – waiting. All the staff appeared to be wearing blinkers and not acknowledging our presence at all, it was getting to the point where we were going to turn around and leave. Just as we were ignored for just a bit too long, thankfully a member of staff greeted us and told us we’d have to wait around 20 minutes for a table. As there was a tiny bar area, the wait was made a little easier by a drink. As we stood there, several other groups of people entered the restaurant and were ignored in the same way we were, some persevered, others left.

After about 10 minutes we were collected to the bar and led to our table, we weren’t offered drinks, the waitress just flew off and left us.




The wait began.

After around 15 minutes a waiter came over and took our order, two mains and a pint of beer. The restaurant didn’t seem to be a happy place, lots of people looking disgruntled, hardly anyone eating and just a generally grumpy ‘cloud’ in the air. Twenty minutes passed and there was no sign of the beer, but our food arrived, Miss A asked for some mayonnaise and said

“We’ve ordered a pint of beer ages ago and it’s still not arrived”

She huffed and ran off , and moments later came back and dropped a bill on the table, Miss A and I looked at each other, rather puzzled..

“We asked for a Beer – not the bill!”

The waitress huffed again and snatched the bill away and ran off. She returned moments later and shouted, rather aggressively “Well, you didn’t order with ME, there’s nothing on the till – What did you order?”. I’ve never been spoken to like that before in a restaurant, it was horrible. I explained I wanted a pint of beer and she stormed off again. We tucked into the food, which, as well as being beautifully presented, tasted delicious. Our conversation interrupted by the waitress slamming a pot of mayonnaise down, she even rolled her eyes at Miss A.

The only positive of Chimichanga ? The food.
The only positive of Chimichanga ? The food.

As we ate, the table next to us were complaining about an incorrect order, the table beyond that had cold food, and a table behind actually had to wave and shout to attract the attention of the waiting staff. It genuinely felt like the staff in the restaurant had been dragged off the streets and told to get on with it. There was no customer service, no one checked we were happy with the food, or offered more drinks, it was like the customers were an inconvenience.

Our empty plates sat on the table for nearly 20 minutes, we’d discussed walking out, it was appalling, and the moans of nearby customers who were in similar situations filled the air. The table next to us had waited nearly 30 minutes for drinks, they’d finished their meals by the time they finally arrived – they sent the drinks back as they just wanted to leave. The only member of staff that seemed vaguely switched on was a girl in a checked shirt (Anabela?) – she was running around clearing tables and dealing with complaints. It was her who eventually came and took the plates away, we asked for the bill, it arrived quicker than anything else!

We gave them 5 minutes to come and take payment before we’d walk out, they hadn’t charged the drinks we’d had at the bar (although I think that was probably an error and not gratuity). With seconds to spare she returned with the card reader – she looked like she’d had enough, I didn’t blame her, the rest of her colleagues were a disgrace and she was single-handedly making up for their failings. Miss A asked for the name of our aggressive, eye rolling, huffy, plate slamming waitress – Irena.

You could probably dismiss terrible customer service from a stand-alone restaurant, but Chimichanga is owned by the Prezzo group. You’d expect a large chain with an even larger parent company that the customer service would be second to none, but there just wasn’t any. Our check shirted saviour was the only member of staff who actually smiled, or seemed to care about the customer experience, the others, well, should either be kicked out or given an intensive customer service course immediately. A quick look at TripAdvisor suggests that our experience isn’t isolated, and judging from our fellow diners having such an appalling time too, it’s a common theme.

I’m usually pragmatic enough to allow somewhere to have a bad day, and would happily return without prejudice, but Chimichanga Braintree won’t receive our custom again – angry staff and such poor service are unforgivable.

Avoid it.

Soooooo.. After a while, they actually responded to the complaint – this is what they’ve said..

It was interesting to read the details of your blog post regarding your visit and I’m sorry to hear about the poor dining experience you received. It goes without saying that the service you’ve described is unacceptable.

I have spoken to the Area Manager for the Braintree restaurant and he is now paying special attention to making guest experiences better. He will pick up your specific points about the poor service with the team and make sure this nature of service doesn’t happen again.

We don’t want this experience at Chimichanga to be your last. So, by way of restoring your confidence in us and to offer an apology, we’d like to give you £30 off your next meal in the form of a unique code when you next decide to visit.

When you’re ready to book, either email me or call *number omitted* with the time, date and the number of guests and I will make all the arrangements for you.

Looking at the online reviews, this ISN’T an isolated case and I don’t imagine that’s the first £30 they’ve given out to a disgruntled customer. Not entirely sure I’ll take them up on the offer – especially if it’s something they will book – “This customer complained – give them the ‘special’ treatment” 😉

Still good to have some resolution. Ish.

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