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FYI, for any of you not from the metro Detroit area, the Whitney is one of the finest restaurants around. A 2 person valentine dinner cost $231 (I went with the $32 wine sampler to go with the $76 per person dinner and automatic 20% tip). I called ahead to verify that the $150 in gift certificates I had would be honored on valentine's day. I was told they would be. Well, when it came time to pay, they weren't. So I've written (faxed) a letter.

February 17, 2004

The Whitney
4421 Woodward Avenue
Detroit, MI 48201

Dear Manager,

Unfortunately, the purpose of my letter is to complain about my Valentine experience at the Whitney. However, I would first like to complement the owners and staff on a tremendous meal and lovely atmosphere. The five course dinner was delicious. We were seated on the second floor, left of the stairs in a cozy room set with six tables. We were the first to be seated in the room so it gave us the opportunity to really look around at the beautiful architecture, design, and furniture without appearing rude to the other guests. By the time we were through eating the room had filled with other patrons, yet, it was not loud or overcrowded by any means. It was a lovely dinner.

My first complaint is about the gift certificate we planned to use as partial payment of our bill. When I made reservations, I specifically asked if the certificates I had would be honored on Valentine's Day. The receptionist assured me that they would be accepted and that Valentine's Day was no different except for the special menu. However, when it came time to pay, the gift certificates were not accepted. We were informed that while the restaurant would accept gift certificates, they would not accept ours because they were promotional. After careful review of our certificates, which we received from a client, it does not indicate anywhere that these are promotional certificates. In fact, in several places on the certificates it shows that they are gift certificates. I have attached copies of the certificates we planned to use and highlighted appropriately.

My second complaint is the manner in which our situation was handled. When the bill was delivered to the table, I placed my two gift certificates in the folder along with my American Express card. The server came to pick up the bill and I informed her of my intention to pay with the gift certificates and the remaining balance on the AMEX. She mentioned that gift certificates were not being honored for Valentine's Day but would check with the manager. The manager and server promptly appeared in the doorway of the room where we dined. The server was finishing describing the situation and my fiancée and my appearance to the manager in a voice that the entire room could hear. The manager, Victor, then came over to us to explain that the gift certificates we had would not be honored because they were promotional. While Victor was pleasant, it was quite embarrassing because he was not using an appropriate voice volume for the situation. It was clear to everyone in the room that we were having difficulty with our bill. In order to assure that all other patrons had an enjoyable Valentine dinner, I ended the discussion with Victor and paid with my AMEX.

I am very disappointed in our experience at The Whitney. For such an elegant, well-reviewed restaurant, I expected more professional service. I would like to be contacted by you to explain why our certificates are promotional, why they do not say such, and how as a recipient I was supposed to know. I would also like assurance that you will credit my AMEX the $150 in gift certificates that I was assured I would be able to use on Valentine's Day.



Enclosure: Copies of Gift Certificates
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