Wednesday, August 26, 2009

When Free Just Isn't Good Enough

In an attempt to gain some control over the effects of the recession, restaurants like IHOP have been offering special promotions.  IHOP, specifically, is offering "Kids Eat Free" where you get one free kids meal from the "Just for kids" menu with the purchase of each adult entree.

Yum, IHOP.  I decided it sounded like a good plan for dinner because, well, I didn't have anything thawed and didn't want to cook anyhow.  And IHOP was offering free dinner for the kids.  I love free.

So we headed off to IHOP, with Miss M exclaiming she wanted pancakes AND some of what Dad usually orders.  Miss K proclaiming that she only wanted what Dad usually orders.  What does DH usually order?  Country fried steak with pancakes, hashbrowns and eggs.  Think they have it on the kids menu?  We hoped so.  Did they?  Unfortunately not.

So we asked the kids what they wanted instead.  Miss M agreed to just have the chocolate smiley face pancake but Miss K stood her ground.  She can be a difficult eater and if she doesn't eat well then DH and I don't enjoy our meal.  It's frustrating, a waste of money and a pain because then she wants to eat something else when she gets home.

So we had a plan.  I would order what I wanted and get Miss M her pancakes as part of the "Kids Eat Free" program.  DH would order what he wanted and get a second entree free using a coupon from either the paper or our restaurant book.  Everyone would get what they wanted.  Sure we would end up with leftovers but that's okay because both kids would eat well and we would all enjoy the meal.

You know what they say about the best laid plans... When the server came to take our order, he said that we couldn't combine the offers.  It says so on the coupon and on the sign.  He explained that it's their policy that even if we split the check, the fact that we were at the same table prevented combining of coupons.  He was polite, but we were frustrated. 

We asked for a few minutes so Miss K could decide what she wanted and she decided she wanted Chick-Fil-A which was just two building over.  Miss M agreed.  DH knew I was in the mood for IHOP but I said to him "Yeah, but I won't enjoy my meal if she's going to be difficult."  So we agreed to leave.  We hadn't ordered anything except water at that point so IHOP wasn't out anything except our business.

But as we walked out, a gentleman (who had been seated at the booth right next to us shortly after we sat down) stopped DH to say he overheard the entire conversation.  "Good for you. It's hard enough to afford to take kids out to eat; I thought it was ridiculous that they wouldn't honor the coupon.  I left too.  I just wanted to let you know that you have my support."  So I guess IHOP was our business and his.

Yeah, I realize that IHOP has their policy, but we weren't asking for two free kids meals at the price of one entree.  We were simply trying to get the foods that the kids would eat utilizing the resources we had on hand.  If their goal is to bring in business then they need to think outside the box because if it isn't something you want, then free just isn't good enough.

...and as a bonus, Chick-Fil-A let us use two B1G1F coupons from our restaurant book.  Nice.