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The Scourge of the Wobbly Table.

The Scourge of the Wobbly Table

I had been asked out on a date!  I was really over being single and so was very excited to have been asked out by this particular eligible man.  I was floating on a cloud and getting carried away with dreaming of our future life together.  All week I was planning what to wear so I would be sure to impress him. All week I was also driving my close friends’ crazy with nervous phone calls.  A lot was riding on the success of this one date.

The evening came, he arrived on time to pick me up We drove to the ‘chic but not too upmarket’ restaurant he had chosen for us to dine at.  The ideal restaurant choice to say, I want to impress you, but let’s keep it a little relaxed.  Conversation flowed, eyes flirted, meals were ordered and wine was poured.  I was over the moon to be there on this perfect date with this attractive man who seemed to only have eyes for me.

And then it happened.  The devil appeared in the form of our wobbly table.  All I did was bump the pedestal table base with my knee as I was crossing my legs.  The next thing I saw before my horrified eyes was red wine cascading in slow motion from his toppled glass and onto the front of his crisp white shirt.  An accidental disaster had been created on my perfect date.  A plethora of apologies were quickly given. The waiter rushed for soda water, and my disappointed heart sank.  Why did this have to happen?  Why didn’t the restaurant have furniture that was stable?

Beer Coasters and Sugar Sachets.

Reporting back to my friends about my disaster date went a little like, “Oh, it went really great.  I threw red wine all over him”.   And then I went on to tell about the reason my handsome date ended up wearing his wine… a wonky wobbly table was to blame.  And it was in these conversations with my friends that they also shared stories of their own wobbly table experiences.

They told of their annoyance at spilled coffees and ruined Sunday brunch newspapers, at not being able to cut their food on a see-sawing wobbly table, of using beer coasters, napkins and sugar sachets to jam under the table bases in an effort to stabilize the bothersome wobbly tables.  There was also a general frustration as to why in the 21st Century we in fact even have tables that aren’t stable.  Why should this be such a common everyday issue?

So it was that I began my mission to investigate this almost unbelievable everyday annoying lifestyle hindering fact.  Why do hospitality venues continue to have wobbly tables?

A Wobbly Investigation.

My first inadvertent market research results through my friends told me that this was, indeed, a genuine issue.   I next turned to Twitter to find out what the broader public thought and was again surprised at what I found when I searched “wobbly tables”.  There was international frustration, annoyance and even anger about cafes and restaurants that had wobbly tables.  It seemed to be a begrudgingly accepted dining furniture flaw!

TWITTER users speak out:

Crazy Z ‏@zacincaudo  Sep 5
Wobbly tables ruin everything when I’m trying to enjoy my food

Molly Schaub ‏@Mollyoftheday  Sep 7
My aesthetic is quickly becoming notebooks with coffee stains mostly because the tables at this damn coffee shop are wobbly

Mark Lauerman ‏@mark_lauerman  Sep 10
Wobbly tables should be taken out back and shot.

Richard L Jenkins ‏@rljenkarchi  Aug 28
Thanks to reduced smoking rates and a shortage of matchbooks, wobbly tables now a major health danger. #TCMPartyre

And through a Google search of “wobbly tables” I found that talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, and NBA Stars Jeremy Lin, Nick “Swaggy P” Young, and Dikembe Mutombo are also speaking out against Wobbly Tables through this entertaining video where the message is, “Enough is Enough!”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYQrF7PrI2o

Clearly, the world at large is letting restaurants, cafes, hotels, bars and anywhere where customers drink or dine at tables know that they want a solution to this obvious furniture irritant if these venues want to keep their customer’s business.  Would I dine at the ‘chic but not too upmarket’ restaurant again after the wobbly table red wine date disaster incident?  I would certainly think twice about it, no matter how fine their food or service was.

Wobbly Tables Need Danger Signs!

What do cafe and restaurant staff and owners think of the wobbly table issue?  Surely they must have many customers complaining about food and drink spills and asking for something to put under the leg to stabilise the wobbly table?  My waiter could not have been more apologetic and helped as best he could by cleaning the table, providing soda water for my date’s ruined shirt, and providing a big discount for our trouble; but it wasn’t his fault.  It was the table’s fault albeit assisted by a jolt from my knee which should not have caused the table to topple to one side as it did.

So back to Google to investigate again and what I found where numerous court cases that confirmed wobbly tables could potentially create a huge financial blow to a business and that for small businesses could possibly lead to financial ruin.  Spills from hot beverages appear to be a common source of complaint leading to litigation, with some plaintiffs being awarded millions of dollars in compensation damages.

  1. Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurantsburn from hot coffee spilled into a customer’s lap
  2. Starbucksburn from hot tea spilled due to loose lid and wobbly table
  3. Wendy’sburn from hot coffee spilled from a wobbly table
  4. Hookah Loungeburn from hot coals due to a wobbly table

And these example cases are just the ones we hear about.  What about the everyday issues that do not reach the media or are not acted upon?  Cafe, hotel and restaurateurs must surely be aware of the dangers of serving food and drink on unstable tables, so why do they continue to do it?  Is there no solution to tables that wobble?  Aside from the concern of costly lawsuits, how much revenue does a venue lose due to refunds, staff time, and because customers find their tables so annoying they choose to go elsewhere?

My quest to understand the issue of wobbly tables was deepening, and the further I searched the bigger the problem of wobbly tables appeared to be!   There must be a solution to this modern day dining scourge.  With the zeal of a mission that must be undertaken for the benefit of all mankind, I armed myself with my weapons of laptop and search engine and  set forth to find the solution to wobbly tables.

The Solution to Wobbly Table Woes.

To my joy, I almost instantly found there were a number of solutions to fix the wobbly table.  Some were quite simple while others were purpose built.  My research revealed the almost obvious reason why tables wobble was simply due to uneven table legs.  It didn’t seem to matter if they were wooden tables, metal tables or trestle tables, tables with four legs or a pedestal base. The fact was that commercial furniture manufacturers designed furniture and not solutions to wobbly tables.

A further revelation was that once the table was in service at a venue it would be frequently moved and so eventually created loose fittings and wear and tear on the table legs.  Over time this would cause the table to be wonky or wobbly.  But by far, I found the biggest reason for wobbly tables, was uneven floor surfaces. No matter how well the table had been manufactured, the table could not balance evenly on paving, cobblestones, floorboards, tiles, cement, carpet… it just wasn’t what a regular table was designed to do.

Thankfully, I found there were three main solutions on the market to solve wobbly tables:

The Quick Fix:

Free and readily available is the Quick Fix which comes in any form you choose that will work as a temporary solution to a wobbly table.  Just look around almost any cafe or restaurant and you will find coasters, napkins, cardboard, sugar sachets under table feet that have been placed there by frustrated customers or staff dealing with wobbly table complaints.

There are also Quick Fix solutions made of cork and other materials that are shaped into table wedges available to purchase, but is this really a true solution for wobbly tables?  It is a temporary solution at best and as soon as the table is moved the problem is back again.  These items are also easily lost or swept up and thrown out during normal routine cleaning, and so leaving the venue with the ongoing issue of remedying their wobbly tables.

The After Market Add-on:

Known as “table adjusters” and fixed on to the existing feet of the table, the After Market Add-on can level a table where its legs are not all the same length but they don’t level out uneven floors.  So you will still need either an even floor or a table with legs all the same length for these gizmos to work.  Assuming you have one or the other, you can get up to 10 mm of steady grace by adjusting the gizmo on the table feet until the wobbly table is even or stable.

An issue for venues using this solution is that the adjuster creates a table height difference and so you cannot put two tables together evenly and creates an uneven table surface.  Another issue is the need for manual correction by screwing the adjuster on the table leg or twisting the table to activate the adjuster which is not always easy in a busy venue.  Once the table is moved the adjustment needs to be done again to even out the floor.  So again, this solution is only a temporary solution for wobbly tables and not what I consider a true solution.

The Purpose Built Solution for Wobbly Tables:

It was with some excitement that I found two Purpose Built solutions to wobbly tables; Gyro Bases and Stable Table.  Both of these companies produce table bases that automatically self-adjusts to uneven surfaces, however, it is Gyro Bases that can self-adjust up to an impressive 45 mm to level out the most uneven of floor surfaces making it the “4WD of Table Bases”.  Designed and developed by an engineer and furniture designer, the product was purpose built to solve the problem of wobbly tables.

Scanning Gyro Bases’ website I realised that this product was being developed as long ago as 2002 and was first launched in 2007!  Why don’t more cafes and restaurants have them is my question?  The table base is engineered to cleverly self-adjust by using a mechanism of two opposite feet to level the table; watch this video to see how it’s done.  This is totally different to adjusting one foot as After Market Add-ons or Quick Fixes do.

And no matter where you move this table, its feet will adjust to the landscape it is resting upon, and there is no possibility of having one leg shorter than the other as the legs are inbuilt to adjust to uneven surfaces.  I was also impressed that Gyro bases have been factory stress tested to double the industry load standard to ensure wobbles will not ever be an issue for restaurateurs or diners.  The product components are also non-corrosive and so the self-adjusting mechanism is guaranteed to never cease up.   Wobbly Tables are gone for good!

Demand a Stable Table – Say NO to Wobbly Tables!

So, my investigation found there really is a Total Solution to the public menace of wobbly tables.  It is now apparent that is it up to the hospitality venue to buy the solution to wobbly tables in order for their customers to enjoy their food and drink without battling their furniture.  Beer coasters and wedges will simply no longer do.  Now I am wise with wobbly table knowledge, I will be educating every restaurant manager who dares to sit me at an unstable table, and I will be definitely requesting a stable table if I am out on a first date!




Content by INK PLUM

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