Friday, October 28, 2011

Customer irritations

Well now that it’s the New Year i.e. post Diwali, why not contrast my previous post of Customer Delights with Customer Irritations and Aggravations. 

Overly obsequious and fawning

We cannot stand this kind of behaviour. This is especially prevalent in South East Asia. Prolonged welcomes, `Namaste’s’ or their Thai equivalents and the particularly disgusting and distressing trait of kneeling on the floor when addressing you. The moment you ask a hotel staff a question you are offered a chair/sofa to sit while the staff disappears to get an answer to what would by now have been a routine question for the staff. On securing the answer, the staff will kneel while you are seated and provide you with an answer. This manner of wanting to show that you are an honoured guest for whom they will lay down their lives is to my mind being unnecessarily fawning. I mean, come on you are a professional, act like one, don’t fawn.

Tip mongering

This is another disgusting practice which many in the hospitality industry and the areas around it [taxi drivers, guides et al] are often guilty of. I can understand government officials wanting bribes, baksheesh, speed money, call it what you like. That problem will be short lived if you believe what Kisan Baburao Hazare says. However this tip mongering and telling you stories of how hard they work, how incomes have disappeared, how children, parents wife’s are dying, all to extract a tip, are irritating. Quite often we see thru the bullshit. Once again, you are a professional, act like one stop moaning.

Pushy waiters

A long established tradition in restaurant menu writing is that the most expensive dishes appear on the top of the section, followed by the cheaper dishes. Thus in the meat section, for example the Australian Steak will be at the top, as will be the New Zealand Lamb chop, then Pepper Steak [Indian meat], then some chicken dish. Following so far? Now, after looking at the menu you are confused as to whether to order the Pepper Steak or the Chicken. You make the mistake of asking the performance monkey masquerading as a waiter for a selection out of your shortlist. He promptly recommends the Australian Steak. Hey, that was never on my radar!! I was not born yesterday. I do not want a frozen piece of meat. I am happy with Indian meat. I am unwilling to pay stupid prices, I know how to read, are some of the responses that come to my mind. Stop pushing expensive food.

Incorrect menus

It’s now trendy to not only list but describe in excruciating detail every ingredient in a dish. This is especially true of our fancier restaurants. What I find is that in many restaurants the dishes presented are not what was promised to you on the menu. Problems could be (i) that the ingredient does not exist in the form it is described, like, soggy noodles on a soup that has to have crisp noodles, or, (ii) a minuscule quantity or often not giving you the ingredient at all, like, Asparagus or bacon on a Pizza. Often these dishes are priced at a premium so you feel doubly cheated when the exotic ingredient does not show up in appreciable quantities. This problem assumes myriad forms, I am listing but two of them.


Fortunately, incorrect billing is now on the decline. However, actually getting a bill after a meal is a difficult proposition. One would think that the conclusion of a meal would be something every waiter and restaurant exists for. It is payback time; it’s when the waiter will be rewarded for his efforts by the punter leaving a tip. It’s time to get rid of a miserly complaining customer and get a fresh set of suckers in. But alas, no. Restaurants take ages to give you your bill. After finally getting the bill, its ages till the credit card or cash is collected. Then it’s a long wait, while you wriggle in your seat desperately wanting to go to the toilet and get rid of all the beer in your bladder but you are paralysed. The waiter has not got the card or change back. Finally, it looks like things are done and you can charge to the toilet and exit. Why does all this take so long? Can you not get remote card swiping machines? Finish the charade then and there, get rid of the punter and turn the table. No life is not so simple. Also mind you, the Shettys in Udipi restaurants don’t play silly buggers like the trendy restaurants. They know how to turn around tables.

These are my peeves. Would be glad if you dear reader could add some of your favourite irritations.

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