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Posts Tagged ‘Wetherspoons’

Once again, I need to have another moan about my experience of customer service in this country.

Friends and family often don’t notice the same issues as me and that itself is indicative of what has become accepted here as customer service.  Being served in this sense, comes in many guises:

  • we queue to pay for groceries and the like at supermarkets,
  • we ask to be served in a wide variety of other shops (grocers, butchers, car parts etc.)
  • we stand at bars and coffee shops asking to be served drink or to order food,
  • we queue to buy take away food,
  • we sit at restaurant tables and wait to be served with all manner of comestibles.

These are just a few examples of what calls itself a service industry.

customer-service

In many ways, I accept the dour faces and lack of communication from folks who have to sit by a cash register all day, monotonously scanning goods and asking if you’re paying by card or cash. I know that there are many examples of cheerier till operatives, but they are not the norm.

What does grip my gall are the girls and boys who decide that working in a bar or pretending to be a waiter/waitress is the easiest way of earning a few extra pounds. They don’t want to be there, the just want the money that comes their way after completing their shift.

16864721353_dc47ce9c27_zThere are very few places in this country where we find food/drink service personnel who see their work as a career.  In other countries, being a camarero, serveur or Cameriere is seen as a career and something one needs to work at. I’ve mostly found food/drink service to be unobtrusive and polite (if not always prompt) in other European countries but not here.  Furthermore, where I have found good food/drink service in the UK it has been invariably presented by people from elsewhere in Europe, often Eastern Europe.

My current gripe was with being served gin and tonic the other night.  My simple request for a “Strawberry Gin and slimline tonic please, without ice” was not simple enough:

which gin is it?” [server]

I don’t know – the last one I ordered was simply served to me, I wasn’t aware you had more than one.” [me]

it’s usually Gordon’s” [manager – who happened to be passing – to server]

ok, single or double?” [server]

single, please.” [me]

And off the server went.

ice-cubes

She returned from the other end of the bar with a goldfish bowl (i.e. large bulbous drinking glass) full of ice with a strawberry gin in it.

did you say slimline tonic?” [server]

yes, I also said ‘no ice’!” [me]

At this the server looked completely blank; first of all at me, and then her manager, who simply walked away without offering a solution other than “use the tongs”.  I was then stunned to see the server walk to a sink and lift out all of the ice with tongs.  When she returned her face was like thunder.  She completed pulling the pint we’d also ordered and plonked that down with such force that I thought the base might crack.  She turned her sour face to me and said what it all came to (££) …

can I now have that extra shot in there please?” [me]

you can if you pay for it!” [server]

I have no objection to paying, but as you’ve now thrown half the gin down the sink, I’d better take it back to the table with SOME flavour in it” [me – now not being as pleasant as I prefer to be]

And again, she stormed off with the glass and when she returned, she banged that down too.

I found her attitude completely irrational as she’d made the mistake in the first place.

The manager should have stepped in at the outset, but she too would probably not have been trained properly either.

Some previous grumps:

https://saturdaywalks.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/margate/

https://saturdaywalks.wordpress.com/2012/06/08/city-centre-food/

https://saturdaywalks.wordpress.com/2012/06/09/city-centre-food-cont/

https://saturdaywalks.wordpress.com/2013/07/13/wetherspoons/

https://saturdaywalks.wordpress.com/2018/04/01/curmudgeon/

Image Credits:

http://www.thebluediamondgallery.com/handwriting/c/customer-service.html

https://www.flickr.com/photos/96223380@N02/

https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/en/view-image.php?image=15694&picture=ice-cubes

 

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I’ve always been a fan of Wetherspoons.

Their (apparent) ethos of selling good quality products at reasonable prices have always suited the Yorkshireman in me.

However, of late, this has changed.

Menu
I’ve not been over-impressed with the newest menu – it’s too burger-ridden and the vegetables have (almost) disappeared and for me, the new menu has become the really boring pub-grub menu of years gone by. The chicken burgers I’ve tried on several occasions, in different pubs, have been dry and tasteless – just like other pubs used to serve.  So whilst other pub/food places are upping their game, Wetherspoons seem to be ‘downing’ theirs. Nevertheless, because the Yorkshireman in me still holds sway, we go to the ‘special menu’ evenings from time to time.

Service
I’m also used to praising the customer service I find at Wetherspoons – certainly that found in Huddersfield’s two pubs and in various Wetherspoons up and down the country (Blackpool being a recent exception) has always been good. We’ve been to the Brighouse Wetherspoon pub twice in recent weeks. We have not been impressed with the customer service there (or the food – later).

The Brighouse pub is a drinkers pub really, but on Thursday’s ‘curry night’ it fills up. The first time we went, we had to sit at a dirty table until someone eventually came and removed the detritus – it was never ‘cleaned’. I put up with this on this occasion, I’m sorry. This week however, I was not happy with the only available table being littered with a pile of discarded poppadums and associated debris and glasses. My friend Tony asked one of the servers if it could be cleared. So far so good.

Eventually, a server came and lifted all of the debris (in his hands) and took it away. Not on a tray – he just lifted it and removed it. Someone came and removed the glasses. No one came to CLEAN the table. So I queued at the bar (a time-sapping task as they were obviously understaffed) only to be told that “we” can’t help you – “you’ll have to ask one of the servers on the floor”. Bear in mind that the servers also ‘serve’ the food from the kitchen – so that takes up lots of their time and effort.

Angry now, I caught one of them and asked if our table could be ‘cleaned’. She came and wiped the table with the same cloth she’d used on the previous ‘x’ amount of tables, simply flicking debris on our laps. No sanitiser, no soap (as far as I could see). No care.

Luckily I had put a clean hanky in my pocket that evening – so I soaped and moistened it in the loo and cleaned the table myself (drying the hanky under the hand dryer to wipe down afterwards).

Food
Now, I’ve had rogan josh at Wetherspoons before. It’s tasty enough, it comes with buckets of rice, a standard Tesco-style nann bread and a couple of poppadums. And some chutney. And, it’s always been ok – even here in Brighouse on the other visit. On this most recent visit (last Thursday, 11th July) my rogan josh was such a tiny portion that I was visibly unimpressed. My colleagues said to complain but having been so unimpressed with the customer service and the cleaning regime – I said “no – there’s no point, they don’t care”. Tony however, did complain to one of the servers (pointing out the difference between each person’s portion size) and the server said “we don’t portion it – it comes portioned”.

Well it might come portioned, but not surely not individually portioned – that would be a ridiculous waste of space and material. I suspect that food DOES come in portion packs (e.g. 12/20 portions etc.) and that the ‘chef’ in the kitchen simply individualises from there. In the case of Brighouse, last Thursday I suspect that they had been over generous with previous portions or, more worryingly – were trying to get more portions from the pack.

Whatever the case, I left very disappointed.

My colleagues said that I should write to Wetherspoons and complain but what’s the point? It would take me the best part of an hour of my time to write (like this blog post) and I’d simply get a reply saying sorry – here’s a voucher. Sadly, I don’t want a voucher (at the moment I don’t want to eat at Wetherspoons again) – I just want the pub chain to take more care with training staff and a little more though about menu compilation.

I’d also like to hear what others have to say.  You never know, I might be wrong!

I’m still happy with Wetherspoon’s beer choices and prices.

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As some of you may have read, I’m not a fan of city centre food establishments. It’s not that there is anything wrong with them as such, it’s just that they are often careless and sloppy AND given the prices they charge, they shouldn’t be so careless and sloppy. See previous post: (b.t.w. Andrew was also ill in the night)

In counterpoint to, and following on from my previous post we ate in Glasgow again the following night. This time we chose a Wetherspoons pub opposite the Radisson Blu, alongside the Central Railway Station. It was heaving! (translation: full of customers, full of noise, full of life). We were hard pressed to find a table but we managed, even without the help of any charmless flunkies.

Now, I know that Wetherspoon food is not gourmet food, but then it doesn’t pretend to be. Wetherspoons manage to turn out edible food at sensible prices without any fancy flourish or fanfare*. Their food is nothing more than it says it will be on the (still plastic) menu. Just like I did in Wales, I tried the local specialities from what was otherwise a menu card that can be found in any Wetherspoons from Lands End to John o’Groats.

Cullen Skink and then Haggis with Neeps and Tatties.

They were fine, a bit heavy on the tatties but fine.  And tasty!

Now I know that the soup and the haggis was probably made many miles away in a central processing unit (CPU) somewhere and that there’s a good chance the tatties were ‘Smash’ (although I couldn’t be sure) but someone, somewhere had taken the care to make sure that the food was a) Hot, b) tasty (well done CPU) and c) brought to our table with a smile.

And, to cap all that; whereas the previous night’s disaster had cost almost £80 for the four of us, this night’s cost less than £30! Money isn’t always the point of my epicurean excursions and I’ll gladly pay £50-60 or more for the right food but paying £20 for carelessly prepared, sullenly served food really winds me up.

*footnote: We returned to the same Wetherspoons for breakfast. Bad mistake! They failed to match the product quality of any ‘Greasy Joes’ on this occasion. We still had good service and the coffee was lovely but everything else was sloppily prepared. The bacon was anaemic  and the fried eggs looked (I can’t say ‘tasted’ because I had lukewarm porridge) like they had been made last night and warmed up to order. Quite nasty reallyso take a gold star for last night and a sharp slapped wrist for this morning.

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