A new survey has found that over-attentiveness is top of the list of irritating practices in the eyes of UK diners.
Servers who top up already full wine glasses and take away plates while the patron is still chewing topped a nationwide poll of consumer complaints.
However, the poll by restaurant critic Barry Verber makes it difficult for the restaurant by revealing that for a third of respondents “uncaring” waiters have also ruined a meal.
The survey shows that in 95% of cases, customers who have a bad experience of any sort don’t leave a tip, and 41% will post a message about it on Twitter or Facebook there and then.
When they get home, a third will share their experiences on social media and the same number will upload a negative review on Tripadvisor.
None of those questioned would return, and all said they would advise family and friends to give the restaurant a wide birth in future.
Verber said: “The research reveals that while it’s important for waiters not to neglect customers, being too eager to please can prove even more annoying.
“Dining out should be a time to relax and enjoy good food with pleasant company, so it’s not surprising that having a meal constantly interrupted leaves a bad taste in many diners’ mouths.
“Restaurant owners who want to stay in business would be wise to make sure their customer service is as appealing as their menu, as it’s clear from the study that Brits don’t give second chances.”
Verber questioned 894 men and women from across the UK in a bid to uncover the best and worst restaurant habits.
Of those polled, the majority dined out once-a-month (53%). The vast majority (67%) said value for money was the main characteristic that would attract them to a new restaurant.
Over-attentiveness attracted 49% of the criticism, with the remainder made up of an untidy appearance (4%), a patronising or uncaring nature (34%), body odour (9%), coughing (3%) or overfamiliarity (1%).
Double tipping – when a restaurant asks for a tip on the bill, after having already included a service charge – and overpriced food or drinks were also found to frustrate diners.
Verber said: “The rise of social media has changed the face of dining out forever as it’s now much easier to read about diners’ experiences, good and bad.
“Restaurants need to fully consider the impact of negative reviews in a social context as personal recommendation and word-of-mouth are key to driving new business.”