Waiting ages to be seated, poor customer service, cold food and mistakes with the bill are just some of the common complaints Brits have about eating out just before Christmas.

Food and Drink on Female First

Food and Drink on Female First

During the busiest month of the year, diners are forced to endure long waits for their meal, have struggled to get the attention of staff and when they are finally served are commonly met with a rude or discourteous response.

A quarter of people have been so disgusted with the customer service they have received in a restaurant, they have actually walked out without paying.

Jeremy Michael, managing director, SMG, a customer insight agency, said, “We have been experiencing Christmas for over 2,000 years so this busy time of year should not come as a surprise to restaurants.

“Customers should not have a reduced customer experience because the industry is not prepared.

“Restaurants need to ensure that they have hired sufficient staff and provide training for staff to better deal with customer queries.”

The study shows 12 per cent of diners have had food dropped on them while eating out in December, and a fifth have had crockery or glassware accidentally smashed next to them.

One in 10 unfortunate Brits went even gone home with food poisoning after a particularly bad meal out, while a quarter have received a cold meal.

Just under a quarter of people have sent food back that wasn’t up to scratch, while many have waited for well over half an hour before getting anything to eat – four in 10 people have even had their order completely forgotten.

Stressed out staff have ruined an evening out for 65 per cent of people, while 18 per cent have experienced a particularly rude waiter or waitress.

Paying the bill also seems to cause huge problems in the run up to Christmas – with many people finding it hard to attract the attention of staff, and then finding the bill is wrong once it does arrive.

A fifth of people have even refused to pay the bill because the whole restaurant experience was so bad.

Unsurprisingly, half of those polled think that restaurants massively underestimate the amount of staff they need in the run up to Christmas.

When eating out in December, a massive 54 per cent go in the knowledge that they will have to wait longer for food that probably won’t be as good as usual when it does arrive.

A third of people will probably drink less on nights out during December, because they can’t be bothered to get the attention of staff and then wait for the order to come through.

While 34 per cent will simply avoid eating out altogether before Christmas, because the whole thing is more stressful than enjoyable.

Jeremy Michael added, “Restaurants should be taking advantage of this opportunity by focusing efforts on providing first class customer service and nurturing customer relationships.

“By doing this, restaurants are turning those customers into ones that not only return, but recommend.”