Friday, 4 January 2013

What has happened to customer service in London?

I’ve blogged before about manners and people getting ruder. My latest gripe (yes I know it’s a new year and I shouldn’t be moaning already!) is with customer service.

Over the last few weeks I can name three situations which particularly stand out and thought I’d share with you all. These involve 1 restaurant, 1 nightclub and 1 shop – all are business to consumer establishments/businesses.

First off we need to rewind back to 2012 – namely December – and my work Christmas party. We ended up going to this club called Kanaloa (never been before, I think it’s the sister club of Mahiki and is Hawaiian themed, I’m not cool enough to know anymore!) Anyways bearing in mind we were one of many business choosing this venue for our Christmas do I was really shocked at how rude the staff were.

We seemed to have our own bar to go to and after eventually managing to squeeze my way into our area (space was tight, very tight and it was very hot and sweaty!), people informed a few of us we needed to go to the bar and go and grab our free welcome cocktail which wasn’t available for much longer.

Off we went squeezing and ‘excuse me’-ing our way through. We get to said bar and an abrupt woman who looks like she hates us already stated they were just in the process of making some. Fair enough. So we stood nearby and waited – she didn’t like that. Whilst waiting (and throughout the evening at various times) staff members regularly barged past me and knocked me with whatever they were carrying at the time. Eventually the ‘head barmaid’ or whatever she was that was assigned to our party told us to move away and they’d be bringing the drinks out shortly (adopt a school teacher/telling off tone and you get the point).

Aside from that it wasn’t the worst place in the world but the white wine and food provided left a lot to be desired!

Anyway that was December and they were probably busy at Christmas I guess. Excuses excuses…

So let’s move on to incident number two. This one involves us springing back into 2013 and happened this week. I decided to go to Bella Italia off of Leicester - the small cosy one on the corner, opposite a new steak restaurant. I’ve been here a few times and always liked it, even if it is a tad cramped. We thought it’d be a nice meal to have before we headed to the ballet nearby.

When we first got into the restaurant, we were one of maybe five or so tables, it wasn’t too busy. Yet we were given menus on sitting down but nobody came over to ask about drinks or any olives etc whilst we waited/decided. Eventually we placed our orders and then shortly before our starters arrived our drinks appeared (a shared baked cheese ensemble which was a tad disappointing since it was pretty small, not that hot and the Italian ham it was meant to be wrapped in was simply two pieces dumped on top).

None of this is that bad I know, just not ideal and the main course was yummy. It was when we got to dessert that I got a bit fed up. At this point the restaurant was pretty busy (however it was a Wednesday evening at around 630/7pm so not exactly in the full swing of things). I went through the menu and being a chocaholic narrowed my options down to two choices – a molten chocolate brownie offering or a white chocolate mousse cheesecake served with chocolate tagliatelle. Of course that won me over.

I love to try new things and had never had chocolate pasta before – what a treat and something very different. We sat waiting for our desserts and chatting about the ballet and then I saw some desserts arrive (they then got left on a side area for the next 5 minutes or more whilst people made drinks around them, new customers walked past etc). Then our desserts were bought to the table. In front of me I had a bit of rectangular cheesecake with the top covered in lots of chocolate powder and sugar. The tagliatelle? Nowhere to be seen.

In the end I mentioned this to the waitress and asked where it was – she looked at me clueless and then walked away to a colleague. On seeing the other girl’s shaking head I didn’t hold much hope, our waitress came over and simply said “It’s all finished, we don’t have any.” Right.

So midway through the week in a new year you already have run out of food? You have run out of something and not told people about it before ordering their meal? When this was queried you simply say it’s run out and that’s it?

This made me stroppy. I went on to say okay fine well we’ll have a discount. To this I got a confused look. To cut a long story short we didn’t get a discount, the waitress tried to get me to pick something else off the menu and then bought me a mini pot of chocolate sauce. Not good enough I’m afraid.

Finally, we move on to incident number three, I can’t say too much here as this wasn’t my experience. It was that of a friend at work. A friend who ordered a new phone from the Carphone Warehouse online with promises of free next day delivery, who then received an email to say the item would be delivered in two working days and then another to say delivery to be confirmed and it would be next week.

To try and get this sorted off he went to Carphone Warehouse on Bishopsgate. Surely when talking face-to-face they’d be able to shed some light and be more polite and helpful than a standard email?

Wrong. The staff were abrupt and downright rude. As my friend went to describe what had happened he was cut off and told “I don’t want to hear your story”. I actually can’t believe this happened. Then he went off and came back with half hearted answers and then told my friend to “come back on Friday, or come in on Monday”. No answers, no reassurance of delivery, no apology.

Is this really what we can expect now from these sorts of ‘services’ – grumpy, clueless staff who just don’t care?

I’ve just placed an order to set up a home phoneline in order to try and set up broadband in my flat and I had a call with my mobile phone provider regarding the broadband itself. Both were pretty good experiences – let’s hope there’s hope left yet!

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