Breaking the Golden Rule at El Toreo's

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© Siiri Sampson 2010.
Plating up the usual Texas-sized portions with enough heartburn to go around, El Toreo's will keep you warm this time of year.
When you're out and about, running errands, taking back that ugly sweater your Uncle Kenny got you (wasn't that the same sweater Grandma June gave him last year?), all you want to do is stop somewhere for dinner that will fill the void, taste great and have good customer service. El Toreo's may fit the bill upon first inspection, but don't get excited - just when you're unbuttoning your pants with a sigh of fullness and relief, they break the golden rule of customer service.

The bright colors and upbeat music that greet you at El Toreo's Family Mexican Grill in Bellevue (1360 156th Ave NE) are enticing enough to get you in the booth. They have a sizable menu boasting all the classics you would expect at a Mexican American joint, from Chicken Carnitas (yum, get this if you know what's good for you) to combos you've seen everywhere like the Enchilada and Relleno. They even have some less famous cousins like Lamb Borrego if you're feeling adventurous. All equally tasty, huge and zesty - just what the doctor ordered.

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© Siiri Sampson 2010.
Saucy, hot and filling...almost takes the edge off of being denied. Almost.
The food is fine, honestly, you'll get exactly what you expect, and your main course will be floating in a sea of fatty, delicious refried beans with a dollop of rice for good measure. You'll even take home some left overs, unless you're eating for two, or have no self-restraint. So how is this seemingly normal Mexican restaurant breaking the golden rule? The food didn't take a long time, the server was nice enough....what gives?

Here's the dish: we recently bought a gift certificate on Tippr.com for El Toreo's, thinking we'd give it a shot and expand our horizons of chimichangas. The deal was pay $25.00 and get a gift certificate for $50.00. We had four people at our table. When the bill came, we gave the server our gift certificate (that had been purchased the week before), and were told, "we're not honoring those, sorry." This was the first we'd heard of them not taking the gift certificates, so obviously we asked what the problem was. El Toreo's told us that after the Tippr.com deal ended, they were sent a check for their half of the profits. When they went to deposit the check, it bounced. They haven't received any word from Tippr.com since then, after many attempts at trying to reach them.

All things being equal, they did remove one entrée from our bill, and gave us a two for one coupon for our next dinner...but still. The golden rule of customer service is "The customer is always right." If they weren't honoring the gift certificates, they should have said that from the get go, or had a sign posted, or a note in the menu even! Furthermore, we don't need the back story on the ordeal; we just want you to honor the stupid gift certificate. Why should your patrons (new or returning) be punished for some legal BS that's going on behind the scenes.

Even with the good food, this left us with a bad taste in our mouths. Not only were we out of pocket the dinner cost, we also have this stupid, worthless gift card burning a hole in our wallet. While it's understandable El Toreo's is trying to make ends meet, passing that cost on to your customers means no more customers.....it's just that simple.

 
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