Restaurant group deal promotion is a joke.

Yesterday, I brought my boyfriend to eat at a steak house, using vouchers I had purchased from a group-buy website. The voucher was a deal of RM39.90 instead of RM79.90 for 3-course meal with refillable drinks.

# – The “deal”.

Earlier last week, I called a published number to make my reservation and the call was received by a man who seemed to be in a mighty rush. I could barely hear him. Halfway through saying my name and details, he cut me off by saying “Text me”. I was still half-way speaking when I had to stop to clarify with him, “You mean to SMS you the details?”. He said, “Yeah, I’m not in restaurant now, just use this number”. I said OK and texted him my details. He replied with another SMS..

# – Our SMS correspondence.

Reservation was efficient and swift, almost downright robotic. Interestingly, I felt mildly abused.

So yeah, yesterday I took my bf to the restaurant. Honestly, I didn’t have supremely high expectations but I did expect fair service for RM40 a person.

Well, at this point, I really don’t feel like elaborating my experience there, why don’t I just list it down in point form?

1. We we were seated by a toilet.

Okay, first of all, the restaurant was not full. Not even close. As to why he sat us by a toilet when there were plenty of seats elsewhere available baffled me. On top of that, I made a reservation a week prior so seriously, he could have seated us somewhere more comfortable.

2. He asked to see my vouchers barely 10 seconds after I sat down.

“Can I see the vouchers?”. I obliged him. Okay, it’s efficiency, I tried to remind myself. But there it was, the unfamiliar lingering sense of being abused washed all over me again.

3. He gave us a piece of laminated menu with only the dishes offered on the deal printed on.

I didn’t give much thought to this at first. I selected my choice of appetizer, main & dessert but as I was beginning to be inundated with feeling of dissatisfaction at my “Flame Grilled Sirloin Steak (Australian grain fed beef, served with baked potato, sweet corn and a tangy side salad)” courtesy of the amount of inedible & chewy fatty bits, I started to wonder whether they had better stuff on the menu and then it hit me…

They didn’t even bother to show me their full menu. They didn’t care whether I’d return or not. Nice one :)

4. Clearing up plates really fast.

Wow, lightning speed clearing up of plates. Good thing I guess till our next point……

5. Bringing dessert really fast.

My bf has finished (or stopped attempting to eat, depending on how you look at it) his main course while I was still trying to eat mine. The efficient waiting staff cleared his plate. And then they brought him his dessert.

And mine too, while I was still eating my main.

It was ice cream atop an apple crumble. I was pissed mad.

6. There were no refillable drinks.

In all the times they approached us to clear our plates, not once that did offer to refill our drinks. NOT ONCE.

# – Free flow? What free flow?

We resorted to putting our empty glasses by the edge of the table hoping to attract some attention but yet, none noticed. Or none cared…I wonder?

At the end of dinner, I truly felt I had overpaid my dinner. RM39.90 for bland, tasteless mushroom soup or 2 pieces of miserable brushetta and the laughable stringy, chewy, fat beef they market as Australian grain-fed sirloins? The only decent thing I had eaten from the deal was the apple crumble dessert, but it wasn’t enough to sweeten the bitter taste I had acquired in my mouth.

As for the customer service? Wow, I’ve never felt so slighted in my life. I mean there are places in Malaysia that you don’t expect to be treated as a paying customer but this restaurant, with it semi-classy setup should not be one of those places. Not especially with the prices they’re charging.

In comparison, I went to Jake’s (a family steak house known for its rich & famous guests as well as its delicious but expensive steaks) dressed in a free t-shirt, sweat pants & dirty sneakers with NO reservation during their peak times and yet I did not feel remotely slighted. And most importantly, they did not seat me by the toilets. And they kept refilling my ice water.

Unless these restaurant owners are properly educated that these deals are platforms for them to prove that they’ve got it, I don’t think I’d ever buy a restaurant voucher from any group-buy website anymore.

43 thoughts on “Restaurant group deal promotion is a joke.”

  1. hmm sorry to hear about your bad experience. on the contrary, i’ve had good experiences at the restaurants where i purchased the mydeal vouchers. laziz, bellygood and es para ti.

  2. Castell used to be good but their service and quality deteriorate over the years. Never been there after my last experience, which was similar to yours.

  3. Castell used to be my family’s regular drinking joint AGES ago when I was too young to follow them :P But management changed, standard dropped and we’ve never been back since …

  4. Sorry to read about your experience, I guess that’s off the list for a while! I Have tried a few places in Malaysia where the website says something completely different to the reality, needless to say the best food reviews are always on blogs!Thanks for the write-up, hopefully your next restaurant trip will be much much better!

    1. Yeah, I guess we have to take ad copy with a pinch of salt. Like you, I believe in bloggers’ reviews too. Interestingly, I decided to try out this restaurant after reading a raving review on another blog but ended up with such unsavoury experience.

  5. OMFG!!! I can’t believe they could do that – like they grabbed a book of “Five Hundred Things You Never Do To A Customer” and then picked the first few on the list to do to you…

    I’d been curious about the place since I pass by quite often. This has pretty much killed my curiosity.

  6. Sorry to hear about that Kimberly. They have group buy deals in NZ too and so far I am really happy with the restaurant deals. I have tried 4 different restaurants so far and they are all awesome. They certainly understand that this is to keep the crowd coming and their service was excellent albeit the fact I am only paying fraction of the price. This Malaysian guy in your story has got to learn!

  7. I’ve paid Castell a visit a number of years ago and their service was remarkably appalling (and disturbingly similar to your dining experience!)! When my dining partner and I arrived, we got seated right next to the loos despite the place being half empty. After I asked if we could move to a different table, the waiter gave me a curt “Cannot!” in reply. Since we’ve never been there before, we asked the waiter if he would recommend some mains and he replied “Our steaks lah. Our steaks are famous in KL. Never heard before isit??”

    We couldn’t even finish our mains. The steaks were dry pieces of leather (“This is medium lah…Want me to bring the chef out?”) and we had to continually remind the waiter that we had ordered more drinks (“Wait lah, got other customers”)

    Needless to say, that was the last time I’ve ever gone to Castell. It seems that the place used to be really good back when it first opened. What a shame!

    1. wow, even to customers paying full price? how atrocious! it’s a shame, and i believe the front-liners’ behaviours reflect the management’s attitude.

  8. Finally tried de food there…gosh…i think de steak house near my place is nicer than de mix grill set….RM39.90 is just for once….not goin to visit there anymore….kind of overpriced for the so-so food….sad case!

  9. De service is abit annoy…went in then seated and give them de voucher (i bought 1 only) so i ask for menu for additional order. less than 5min the guy come to us n ask how?? wat to order? i said can i have a look n he just stand there waiting…so annoy..then he said can you guys order those on voucher menu 1st….i was like..ok funny part is when he serve us the drinks (i ordered the lime juice) he din said lime juice but ‘limau ice’ *gosh*
    overall service might be slightly better than yours but i still dun think the staff should layan customer tat way lo….if they r my workers….i will said ‘de door is over there..plzz’

    1. Omg! Limau ais??? Are you serious?? Hahaha. U see what I mean right, they treated coupon customers like lepers, like they couldn’t get rid of us fast enough like that!

      1. yea limau ais n tat bcome the joke for de nite….i was wonder how come my other fren said the restaurant food is damn good (w/o coupon la) i thik those coupon offer by tis com is not so good compare to de others…..

  10. Poor you! I would be mad pissed too. rif and I went to Castell slightly more than 2 years ago. The steaks were not fantastic, and prices were not cheap. I think it was RM128 per steak.

    Service was already shit back then. And apparently, it’s gotten much worse from what you’ve described.

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