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Revealed: Bad Customer Service More Off Putting Than Low Hygiene Ratings

Mice found in food, decades-old grease lining countertops and insects crawling out of dishes, it’s the stuff of nightmares but if you read the papers, these are commonplace tales from eateries across the country. As the spotlight focuses on restaurants and takeaways who fail to live up to expectations, we’re looking at whether these horror stories actually stop people from ordering their favourite dishes. 

A recent survey has revealed that customers are more put off by bad service than unhygienic activity when it comes to visiting their favourite eateries. Respondents stated that a low hygiene rating would not necessarily put them off visiting their favourite food establishment, but bad customer service would cause them to avoid ordering food again or revisiting the establishment.

This comes after it was recently found that the touch screens in McDonald’s restaurants tested positive for traces of deadly bacteria and faecal particles. A number of the company’s outlets were tested in the UK, with infection-causing bacteria, including Staphylococcus which can cause blood poisoning and toxic shock syndrome, found on the touchscreen kiosks in McDonald's restaurants. 

Although this news story comes as an alarming fact, it doesn’t seem to have had a negative effect on the company, with plenty of customers still choosing to eat in the popular fast food chain. But McDonald's isn’t the only restaurant to have experienced bad press of this nature. KFC came under fire a few years ago after a customer discovered what appeared to be the remains of a chicken’s head with the beak still attached in their meal. Although a number of people were disgusted by the discovery, it did not have a negative effect on the popularity of the brand.

This type of press is becoming more and more regular in the news, but do readers actually pay attention to these findings and does it change customer’s attitudes towards the company? A recent survey found that the majority of people who read the McDonald’s faecal story said that the findings did not put them off visiting the restaurant

The survey also found that the majority of people read reviews of food establishments, but only if they had not visited the place before and that a bad review would not put them off visiting their favourite restaurant or takeaway but many would be wary about what they ordered in the future. 

Another interesting statistic found, was that only 16% of people said they would avoid their favourite eatery if it had a low hygiene rating and that 33% would wait until the hygiene rating improved before visiting again. 33% of participants in the survey also stated that if they witnessed unhygienic activity in a food establishment, they wouldn’t mention anything to the manager and wouldn’t complain about it to staff. 16% stated that if they did happen to see something unhygienic in a restaurant, they would be more likely to write a bad review rather than speaking to the manager directly.

Of those who had previously left a bad review of an eatery, only a small number stated that they had received a reply or an apology from the place in question. When asked ‘what would cause you to stop visiting your favourite restaurant or takeaway’, respondents said that bad customer service or a bad experience would be more likely to put them off revisiting again.  

One respondent even started that although they once experienced food poisoning from a restaurant, they still revisited the same eatery a number of times after the incident. Another participant also explained that one of their favourite restaurants often received low hygiene ratings yet this did not put them off revisiting the establishment on a regular basis.  

Along with these statistics, it has also been found that a number of highly rated establishments on TripAdvisor actually have low or zero hygiene ratings. 20 food establishments in the York area were assessed with a hygiene rating of 2 or less. 18 had a Tripadvisor rating of 4 or higher. Proving that even though the eateries had been deemed ‘improvement necessary’ or ‘major improvement necessary' customers still gave them a high rating. 

Would a low hygiene rating put you off eating at your favourite restaurant? Or is bad customer service more off putting when it comes to choosing somewhere to dine?