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.