Bad Customer Service: way to cruel a perfect meal and a restaurant’s reputation

I dined yesterday evening at one of my favourite restaurants, Moo Moo, in Brisbane. Let me start by saying this: I have never had a bad meal in the at least 15 times I have eaten at Moo Moo. I love the food and I love the restaurant.

Unfortunately though, for the second time in two dinner visits, I received the message from the staff that they really didn’t want me there. And here is how:

We will need you to be finished by 8:30pm as we have a busy night and will need your table.

That is the message that was delivered as we announced that we had arrived for our 6:30pm booking. Talk about a way to make your guests welcome: the experience of the restaurant started with a surlily delivered message that we had to eat quickly and get out.

Now I have no problem with a busy restaurant trying to push through its diners. Therein lies the rub of my complaint here: when I went to the bathroom at 8pm the restaurant was half empty. This was after being reminded by our waiter not once, not twice but thrice that they were having a very busy night.

Needless to say that after desert finished at around 8:45pm and as my pen hovered over the tip section of the credit card receipt my feelings of charity towards the staff were gone.

If this had been a once off I would have been more charitable but given that the last time I had dinner at Moo Moo I received the same message at the same time in the evening and again it was not lost on me that the restaurant was half empty for the totality of my meal I was, frankly, more than a bit irritated.

I am not sure if it is a restaurant policy to tell diners to eat quickly or a bad habit that particular wait staff have gotten into but it is nothing short of the height if rudeness.

I will repeat: I love the food and the setting of the restaurant. So much so that whenever I am asked for a recommendation for a restaurant I always point them in the direction of Moo Moo. Well, at least until last night that is.

Frankly I do not like eating where I am made to feel like a hindrance or a burden and whilst the food is brilliant the next time I feel like a steak I will go to my butcher for some and cook it on the BBQ and save myself a couple of hundred dollars in the process.

It is a shame that yet again bad customer service has ruined my experience of a restaurant that I had previous loved.

And retailers wonder why more people are shopping online everyday?

I have been ranting a bit this afternoon on my twitter feed (@shumpty77) about some poor customer service I have received today.

For those who missed it: I tried to buy a camera in JB Hi-Fi at Mt Ommaney and was ignored by sales staff despite me standing just 3 metres away from a staff member who felt his time was better spent talking to an older gentleman who said on at least three occasions that he was just waiting for his wife to buy something. I then went to the Nike Outlet store at the DFO in Jindalee and, having tried on shoes that I had found myself and been satisfied that I would buy them could not get any staff member to serve me and tell me about a deal they had running. Ironically, the sign spruiking said deal asked shoppers to “ask our sales staff for more details”.

In both situations I describe I was not in a busy store and I knew what I wanted and was ready to buy (indeed in the case of the camera I have undertaken at least 6 weeks of online research). In the Nike store the same staff member walked past me holding my shoes on four occasions and despite me waving at him twice he ignored me. At JB Hi-Fi there were at least nine staff working but none would deign to help me.

Now at this point some of you will be saying: why didn’t you go up to one of them and ask for help. I immediately concede that that is something I could have done and if the products I was buying were essential rather than discretionary I would have. However, last time I checked I was, in both situations, the customer and the service staff in both establishments were employed to serve me as a customer.

With all of this going on this afternoon I kept thinking to myself: how can retailers in this country continue to run the “woe is us” line they trot out seemingly on a monthly basis that the internet is killing their businesses when they do not employ people who are capable of or inclined to actually serve customers? I was ready to spend $250 on a camera (a cheapie but a supplement to my good camera) and $200 on the Nike deal I had seen advertised and neither store ended up getting the benefit of my trade and nor will they in the future. I wonder how many other sales they lost out on today or lose out in a week because of bad customer service?

I also had reverberating through my mind a question that I have posed in an earlier blog: would I have received the same service if the staff at both establishments were on commission only rather than an hourly rate? I am more than a bit certain that I would have been served virtually immediately as I must have been fairly obviously a motivated buyer (I had the shoes in a the box in my hand for 10 minutes before I put them down and left the store). Maybe that is the answer for Gerry Harvey and his cohorts who bemoan the online trade: make your service staff earn their wage!

I have, in the hour that I have been home, purchased the camera online at an alternate store to JB Hi-Fi for a cheaper price and have reconsidered my purchase of another pair of training shoes. I can’t say that I will never go into a JB Hi-Fi store again (I have a $50 voucher from Christmas to use up) nor that I will not buy another pair of Nike shoes again however I concede that after today I think I will be much more likely to shop online than hit the shops.