Quality is the responsibility of all

By Gene Hall

Today, you all get a look at the cranky consumer in me. My wife and sons tell me it’s getting worse, and perhaps that’s true. I only know that all who participate in the delivery of a product are responsible for the quality of it. I am especially passionate about this when it comes to beef.

Last Saturday, on my birthday, my wife, as is our custom, took me to a well-known Waco, Texas, steakhouse, the name of which I will not mention. Two of my sons came along. They never miss a steak dinner.

It has become a habit of mine to order a small filet. It is reliably tender and juicy and not too high in fat. It’s a good choice, even if it’s more than the three-ounce recommendation of many diet experts. I’m convinced what came to my table was not a filet.

When my plate was placed in front of me, I looked suspiciously at it. The serving of beef was irregularly shaped, not at all like a filet is supposed to look. It was thin, about a half inch. I cut into it—with some effort. It was slightly pink, medium like I prefer, but that’s the last thing that was right.

The golf shirt I had on would have been juicier. I eventually choked down about a third of it, but the best use would have been saving it for the next time my boots need new soles. I complained to the waiter, who sent for the manager. A young woman came out and offered a truly bizarre explanation. “Some people think they are ordering filet mignon,” she explained. “This is filet of beef.” Excuse me?

Now this young manager did not know my history of working in animal agriculture and having a son who works for the Texas Beef Council. I know, for example, that a filet is cut from the tenderloin. Think of a porterhouse or T-Bone. The filet is above the “T,” the tender part. I am better than 90 percent sure the portion I received was cut nowhere near there. I told her, “You can call it whatever you want, but it’s ‘filet of tough.’ It’s either a filet or it’s not.”

I was not offered another serving or a discount on the truly awful meal that was served to me. I travel some and eat out a lot. This sort of thing is happening more and more to me, and I am concerned that indifferent restaurants are slipping into a false sense of comfort in a cost control policy that is sacrificing quality. To be fair, I still get excellent cuts of beef in many places, but this kind of thing is going to cost beef some customers.

I’ll leave you with one more thought. Has anyone but me noticed how NICE business is becoming in dealing with complaints? I am overwhelmed with nice. They explain, so very nicely, why they have no intention of even trying to address my complaint. I’ve found this to be true with everything from cable TV and financial services to an indifferent and cheap restaurant that I’ll never visit again. Save some of the nice. Fix my problem, please.

Photo © Joshua Resnick | Dreamstime.com

Gene Hall

Public Relations Director
Texas Farm Bureau
I believe that the only hope for a food secure world is capitalism and reasonable profits for America’s farm and ranch families–that the first element of sustainability is economic survival.
Follow Gene on Twitter and Facebook.

5 Responses to “Quality is the responsibility of all”

  1. Coleburn Davis says:

    Gene,

    I agree a filet is a filet–A beef tenderloin steak. I won’t ask on this forum where you were served this “filet” but I had a similar experience. I ordered a ribeye. Ribeyes are usually round with a strip of very well marbled beef around the outside. What I received was a narrow, tough, triangular shaped steak–definitely not a ribeye.

  2. Sometimes businesses and their employees forget who makes it possible for them to stay in business and to have a job… Many times, you see the customer perceived as an interruption to their business rather than the reason for their business. Thank you, Gene. Your comments are appreciated.

  3. I couldn’t agree more with two kids in college one on the collegiate meats team, one studying ag. communications we always seem to find ourselves looking for the best cut of beef in that nice restaurant. Service and quality are poor, I tell my kids in class many times I really believe that money can be made by many of them because they understand how to communicate with others, respond to problems, and do the right thing, something that is not being taught anymore.
    Just go to a big box store and try to get customer help.

  4. Gene, It ain’t just restaurants doing over-nice ignore. We stayed at a Holiday Inn (franchisee) in Houston, all around a bad experience. Told website booked it through, figuring they would want to know to not associate.

    They advised sorry contact the hotel let them know. I did and am buying a Birthday cake has been almost a year since their auto-reply we will be in touch approaches it’s birthday

    This is not a plug, this is just an example of how businesses can do it. We went to Cotton Patch Cafe for dinner, over next day we were both sick. I called them and they sent 2 coupons for 2 free meals good at any location and did in a few days respond that they had spoken with manager on this situation. No smiley faces we so sorry just addressed problem and showed they valued me as a customer.

  5. Les Hartman says:

    I agree with you 100% and, as a cattleman, I worry that people’s perception of “good beef” ends up being after an experience such as that. I, a couple of years ago ordered a rib-eye at a well known chain resturaunt while on a business trip to Virginia. It was MAYBE a half inch thick, shaped more like a round steak, and had a ring of fat going right through the middle of it. I have it the “good old college try” but the truth is I ate better things than that (ramen noodles maybe) when I was IN college!

    I’m sure many will agree that we take too much pride in what we produce and, when a place serves something like that, it can’t help but shed a dim light on us. Yes, there are many outstanding places that only serve the best and have never left me disappointed…but one bad apple….

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