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Bad service? Just text the waiter’s boss

Could the end be nigh for that hipster waiter who looked you up and down, ignored your table and then threw out your doggie bag?

A new service called Talk to the Manager lets diners send their complaints directly – and anonymously – to the restaurant owner and manager, all by text.

"Every cellphone is a comment card," according to the service's website. Restaurateurs who sign up can respond to their patrons' texts, ideally intercepting complaints privately, before they get retweeted or surface in vicious prose on Yelp. The service can also replace those comment cards that "accidentally" go missing from the bill when the feedback is less than glowing.

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Restaurants display a special phone number on the premises, which presumably sets servers shaking in their boots. When that number is texted, grievances are beamed straight to the head honchos' phones, all for just $15 (U.S.) a month.

"Fun, like having a constant stream of bad reviews in your pocket," is how Eater's Paula Forbes described the service, which was launched in March from Bellevue, Wash.

But is it open to abuse by anyone with a bone to pick? Sure, although Talk to the Manager's founders insist users can block "abusive" customers.

That still leaves the issue of subjectivity – what if text-happy diners are also exceedingly needy or simply in a bad mood that night?

"It's up to the manager's experience and knowledge of the servers on staff," founder and chief executive officer John Washam said in an e-mail. "But I believe that business owners, and servers and employees both would rather these negative comments be voiced within a private channel … instead of publicly on Yelp, Urbanspoon or [another] review site."

What about griping the old-fashioned way? "You, know, you could just tell your server the women's room is out of paper towels to her face," Ms. Forbes points out.

Of course, you could also just send a compliment.

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Would you slam a bad waiter or waitress in a text to the manager if you could?

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