Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Some Things Never Change..............

As I've mentioned before, I regard myself as a mid Atlantic Brit as I spend 6 months of the year in America and 6 months in the UK.

This is all very well as it sort of gives me an insight into the attitudes and characteristics of both countries but it can also work against me.

Two examples come to mind today - the weather and customer service when eating out.

Today, and for the last 2 days really, temps soared in sunny Leeds to the dizzy levels of........68F.
People were collapsing in droves and by this afternoon many were moaning it was just way too hot and how they missed the snow and the strangely relaxing gurgling nosies that their central heating systems put out.

Well maybe not but the weather WAS the main topic of conversation today as indeed it usually is in the UK. I'm sure people were leaving work early or booking a short seaside break as more of this weather is forecast for the next few days. Summer is here and hurrah for it. Maybe tomorrow it will peak above 70F and the country will come to a halt.

Being the mid Atlantic asshole that I am, I can't quite see what all the fuss is about as during my winter months in Florida, 68F would have me searching for my pringle sweater and moon boots.
I didn't step outside unless you could fry an egg on my head and believe me, when you're out and about and get hungry, that's a very handy trick.

As I type this, the temps in Sebring over the next 10 days never fall below 90F. I miss that.

Anyway England has much more to offer than hot weather and that brings me to the other difference I came across today. Customer service. Or lack of it.

Again I've become used to always being right when it comes to getting what I ask for in a restaurant and that seems only fair. If I ask for a sandwich without a pickle and then get one WITH a pickle, I don't expect to get a scathing look and 'attitude' when I take it back and ask for them to try it again. A new sandwich if you please. And again that's only fair and keeps the lawyers out of it which is always a good thing.

Today I went with 2 friends to my favourite local pub, The Wellington, on Wetherby Road which I have heartily recommended several times in previous posts. I asked for my usual drink, a diet Pepsi with no lemon and no ice. Yes I know, 68F and I don't want ice ! It's just not natural but there you go.

So I took my drink with the 2 others and placed them on the table without much of a look as I was more interested in checking out the length of the line at the carvery and as it was short, we immediately headed over to get our food. Sadly although the line was short, the turkey had run out and there was a long delay while the next breast was brought out from the kitchen.

We returned to the table and got settled and that's when I noticed the lemon wedge floating on top of my drink. Ok I wasn't going to make a fuss as a slight flavour of lemon wasn't a ball buster. Having removed it I saw several blocks of ice pop up to the surface as they'd been cowering under the lemon slice hoping I'd not notice them. This was too much.

I went to the bar and got the same barman and calmly said......"I asked for no lemon and no ice and you've given me both. I've removed the lemon but I draw the line at getting ice".

He looked at me like something he'd found on his shoe after a walk in the countryside and took my drink from me. He walked over to a corner of the bar, took some ice tongs and one by one, removed the ice cubes from my drink. He then returned and offered me my drink again.

I said "I could've done that at the table if I just wanted the cubes removed". I added that the whole point of not wanting ice in my drink was to save the already well diluted drink (it came from a 'gun' dispenser that gives as much froth as liquid) from being even more watered down.......literally. As we'd been waiting for our food for about 10 minutes, the ice cubes had practically melted to nothing (remember the stiffling temps today !!) and so the damage had been done.

He gave me a look I've never seen from someone holding down a regular job who has to interact with customers. Total bewilderment. No words were spoken and in an effort to snap him out of his coma, I asked if this meant I wasn't going to get a new drink, sans ice of course ?

He said nothing but took my drink away and placed it further down on the bar (to presumably drink himself as he was obviously a manly man who could crunch ice cubes with his teeth) and poured me the new drink I should've been given in the first place.

Now I know this seems all very petty and there will be those of you who think I should've just uttered a few tut tuts and drunk my drink, ice and all. Maybe so but you see, I've been to the land of customer service where I'd have been given a new iceless drink with groveling apologies and the perpetrator taken round the back and knee capped for good measure.

I expect better now and I'm like a loaded gun when I go out for a meal.

Steak not done how I ordered it ? New one please.
Pickle on my Whopper ? New one please. (No Daphne, that not me being rude again !!)
French fries like rocket shrapnel ? New ones please.

We Brits don't complain enough, if at all, when we get bad service. We bitch about it like crazy AFTER we've left the establishment and tell our stories to friends ad nauseam........but as for doing anything about it at the time when it COULD be rectified, we put up and shut up. This is ironic really as we DO complain about the one thing we can do little or nothing about......the weather.

But give us crap food and bad service and we usually say nothing. Change is long overdue.

We need to wake up and smell the pickle !

3 comments:

Daphne said...

Well, of course, you're right, and I'm one of those reticent Brits who doesn't complain enough. More grist to your mill and less pickle on your Whopper, say I. (I know that last phrase isn't rude in any way, of course. I just wanted to type it for myself.)

Jennyta said...

I agree completely, Ian. The only time customer service comes close to being good in Britain is when unemployment is high, which is pathetic really.

Honey said...

hmmmm visit Brussels is all I can say.. it's all relative. When I go back to the UK I'm overwhelmed by the excellent service. I get pleases and thank you's not ignored and snapped at. ne shop actually reduced me to tears when I first arrived here (I'm no longer a novice and have become pretty thick skinned). Basically shop assistents act as if you are bothering them if you dare to ask a question here, and a complaint? You are lucky they don't sue you!

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