When I was 20 my friends and I went and worked America or the summer on our J1 visa – a rite of passage for Irish students who go and work in Nantucket and Cape Cod, with groups of 30 people crammed into 3 bedrooms. We were much classier: we lived in Boston, with 5 of us sharing a 1-bedroom apartment. One of my friends remembers hearing a very blonde and haughty customer in the restaurant where she waitressed observe to a friend in a loud voice, ‘The service here is HORRIBLE’.
Last night we went out for dinner in a pub in Holborn as part of L’s hen party, and it was like something out of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. We arrived at 7pm, having booked a private room. The person who took L’s booking had emailed her the set menu, saying that we had to choose from that as we were a big group (12 of us).
When the waitress (who was about 16, poor thing) finally appeared, she had no idea we were ordering from the set menu and said she’d go and ask what to do. Some time later the manager came up, looking very annoyed, and told L that there was no possible way we could have the set menu, and that someone (not him) had messed up. She asked him what we could do and he reiterated it wasn’t his fault, before finally going to ‘sort it’ – how, was unspecified. It was now 8 pm and we’d been there for an hour. So H decided to go down and speak to him.
I don’t know exactly what she said but I gather there was lots of horse-whispering, soothing him, compliments, and flattery, combined with ‘my friend is very upset, how can we fix this?’ In short, she managed him and steered him towards a solution, the way he should have managed us. He came back up transformed at 9 pm and offered us all free wine with our a la carte food. We finally ate at 10 and the food was great.
The irony was if he had had a titter of wit, or been less defensive, he could have sorted it in ten minutes flat. Instead, because he was embarrassed, he went on the aggressive with us. Which is a great way of dealing with customers, isn’t it?
Have you had any HORRIBLE service lately?