When was the last time you went out for a meal at either a pub or restaurant and received acceptable service? I am not talking about good service, or even excellent service, but acceptable service? I honestly cannot remember the last time I received polite, courteous behaviour while visiting a restaurant or pub. And possibly the worst service I have ever received happened last Tuesday evening, the 7th August, at the Liquorice Gardens, a JD Wetherspoons, here in Worksop.
As the resident High Priestess, for the Bassetlaw Pagan Group, this is where we hold our moots. Anyway, I ordered a dinner – chicken kebab skewers with lettuce, as I am still on my diet – and a bottle of sparkling water.
It was cold.
It was undercooked.
I sent it back with the waitress who went to get me a replacement. She brought it and it was in the same condition and by this time, I was feeling really quite ill. I know that this is a frozen pre-cooked pub, but, come on, there are limits. The chicken was again undercooked and though warmer, it didn’t last long. The peppers were slimy, as if they were off and the lettuce was limp. I called the waitress over again and told her I wasn’t happy. She offered me another meal, and I told her that there wasn’t really anything I wanted and that I was a bit put off the food at that point. Two uncooked, awful dinners.
She had to go and ask the manager. When she came back, she told me that there was nothing else they could do when I asked for a refund, she said I would have to speak to the manager. So, I apparently, had to go up to him at the bar with my complaint.
I did a bit of a double take then, my head spinning around owlishly, as if it didn’t belong to my body at all. Why should I, the customer, the person who paid for the meal, have to approach the manager, with my complaint. Surely, he should come to the table.
Anyway, determined that I was going to get my money back on this dreadful and now belittling treatment by the “manager”, I took my plate over to the bar, upon which he was casually slouching.
“Hello”, I said, to be greeted with a glare from this imposing man. “I’m really sorry, but I have already sent back one meal and now this one is dreadful and I just can’t eat it.” He then asked me what was wrong with it. I told him it was undercooked, cold and that the salad was poor quality, with the leaves wilting. He took some of the chicken off the skewer (with his fingers) and lifted up a limp piece of lettuce, muttering “There’s no dressing”, I filled him in on the fact that I did not want dressing at all, as I don’t eat it. I eat my food plain (mostly due to being on a diet).
“Well, I can find nothing wrong with it”, he said. My jaw dropped. By now, I was in total shock at the attitude I was receiving from this rude individual, let alone the horrible “food” Something I wouldn’t even give to my cat! I asked for a refund and was told it was not their policy. In fact, he then went on to tell me that the food is pre-cooked and packaged to them. That the food is fine. In my mind, I am thinking ‘Who the hell is this person to determine if this is edible and if it is fine or not?’ I asked my question again, and was told no, that no refund would be given. In fact, three times I was told that no refund would be given.
By now, I had reached the end of my rope with this obstinate, rude, arrogant moron and decided there and then that it was no use arguing with him further. That I was going to have to go down the threatening route of taking it to the press and of course blogging about the dreadful service I had received. I also decided to take a photo of the horrible meal, to illustrate my point and so I picked up my plate (yes, MY plate, as I had paid for it and was not being given a refund, therefore, it was still MY meal), and headed back to the table. I didn’t have to be psychic to know that he was following close on my heels, I could feel his breath on the back of my neck. I put the plate down on the table and he snatched it back up, knocking over my glass of sparkling water, which went all over one of my friends.
“Sorry,” he said to her. “I’ll replace the drink.” This man obviously had a high intelligence to notice that he had knocked over the drink (which was mine, hers was clearly still in front of her) and then, he turned round and accused me of knocking over drinks. Again, my jaw dropped at this imbecile’s idiocy!
And this is the good part, he then assumed bouncer stance, stood toe to toe with me, giving me the “Rocky” stare and folded his arms, saying “That’s, it, I am throwing you out, or I am calling the police”.
Never, in my life, have I been thrown out of a restaurant for complaining about shoddy food and second rate service.
By this time, I was ready to cry and felt truly bullied and intimidated by this so called person, who seemed to think he was correct with his demeaning and belittling behaviour. He then went on to say “I was going to refund you anyway”????????
“No you weren’t!” I said, raising my voice “three times, I asked for a refund and three times you denied it, so you were not going to refund me”. I began to gather my belongings together, saying: “Never, in my life have I been treated this way in a restaurant. The service is dreadful! What a terrible place it is. I shall never be coming back!” and I walked out. One of my friends came running out to me, as I had left my diary and some notes on the table.
I pulled out my phone and rang the husband. I just wanted him to come and meet me. I knew, that if I had been a man complaining, this would not have happened. I also knew that if I didn’t have pink hair and dressed normally, this would not have happened. The husband came to meet me. By now, all I wanted to do was get home. I was crying, hungry (although, I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat) as well as humiliated. I related my story to my hubby as we walked home, but as I got to the part where he had intimidated me with his bouncer-brawn, he decided that we were going back and I was going to get a refund.
So, turning around on our heels, we headed back to the last place I wanted to visit. As soon as we walked in, all eyes fell on us and the bar staff immediately called the “manager”. Once again, we had to go to the end of the bar, his little domain, obviously, the place where he feels he is the “BOSS”, instead of him approaching his customers. My husband started speaking to him and again, this obstinate, fat, bully refused to refund me. He also said that I had been throwing drinks around and that it was all on camera.
“That’s great,” I said, “I am so glad, can we see the footage”. Immediately, he back peddled and said that no, we couldn’t. Again, my husband tried to reason with this Neanderthal, but it was no use, he was determined to remain the prat that he was.
Eventually, the kitchen manager (at least we think that’s who it was), stood in and took him aside. She came back, minus the monkey, and listened to my complaint, telling me that the food is pre-cooked and packed – yes, we know this – and that they stuck thermometers into it to check the temperature before it went out – I should hope they did – and that the chef was crying – well then, why are you a chef, you clearly can’t do your job properly. She decided to refund the money, again, after much argument. I then went on to tell her that the issue was now beyond the food. That the “manager” had acted in a very unbecoming manner for a “manager” and that his abusive behaviour would not be left at this measly £5.49 refund. I feel that I deserve a written apology from this man.
We left returned home, where I went on line and lodged my complaint with the JD Wetherspoons website. I rang them the next morning too, to make sure they had received the complaint. I also rang them again on Friday morning, as I had still not heard anything back. In fact, I have rung them today, Wednesday, as I have STILL not heard anything from them. The customer services representative, Gemma, tells me that a letter was posted on the 10th – still not here yet!
And the worst of this? I know that nothing will happen to this dreadful man. I had to walk past him in the street the other day. Luckily I was with the husband, but what will happen when I am on my own. Unfortunately, this restaurant is on the main street into town, so I pretty much have to walk past it. I also rang the police and they came out to me, only to tell me that there really wasn’t anything they could do, but reassured me that it was on file, so if he ever does anything to me, well, it will already be noted.
I shall probably receive a namby-pamby letter in the post from JD Wetherspoons, more than likely with some vouchers. These will get posted back to them with a very irate letter, explaining to them, that neither I nor any of my friends or family will ever use these vouchers, as I wouldn’t want them to suffer the same belittling, customer service that I did.
Tim Martin, you should be ashamed of yourself!
It seems, that we in Britain, have become a nation of acceptors. We accept that food is sub-standard and while we may complain between ourselves while sitting at the table, let the waitron come around and ask how the food is, everyone unanimously says “fine”. We just don’t complain. If we don’t complain, how can we ever hope to receive the customer service we, as the PAYING CUSTOMERS deserve? Come on England, unite and stand against this dreadful industry. Start to demand decent food and decent service!
UPDATE 27 August 2012
I just thought I would give everyone a quick update on this story. I doubt there will be any more updates, as will become apparant.
I received the obligatory apology letter (a copy of, as it appears the original was “lost in the post”) and it reads;
10 August 2012
COPY – Without Prejudice
Dear Mrs Reeves
Thank you for contacting customer services.
We try hard to provide good service and standards and we are really sorry to hear of your disappointment with your meal and the way in which the duty manager dealt with the issue on your recent visit. We do make mistakes and we are sorry that you feel we have let you down.
All your comments were passed to the Area Manage who looks after this pub for her urgent investigation and any action deemed necessary will be taken by her.
As a gesture of goodwill please find enclosed £10.00 Gift Vouchers for you to spend in any of our pubs, hotels or bars. We hope these will go some way towards restoring your faith in us.
Once again, we apologise that this incident occurred and do appreciate you writing to bring this matter to our attention. We can assure you that this is not indicative of the service we aim to give our customers. We have taken your comments seriously and this issue has been fully investigated. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to improve.
(Customer Service staff)
JD Wetherspoon plc
Well, how lovely to receive £10.00 worth of vouchers that will never be used (in fact, they were returned with a letter explaining why I don’t want them). Can you imagine me going back into the pub with the vouchers, while the “Duty Manager” decides to throw me out? I think not. In view of the fact that:
a. I don’t drink.
b. I will never eat in one of their restaurant/pubs ever again in my life (and please note that this is not the first bad meal I have eaten there. I once ordered a medium to rare steak, which came well done and was returned).
c. The only JD Wetherspoon establishment in this town is the Liquorice Gardens on Newcastle Avenue. Now, why would I subject myself to the onslaught of abuse the manager would no doubt wish upon me and the possibility of my food (questionable) being spat on by the “crying” chef.
In my research into this cheap and sordid chain of establishments, I have discovered that I am not the only person to have undergone such aggressive treatment by a “manager” of a JD Wetherspoon. It just goes to show that thugs and previous bouncer experience is obviously required as part of the job description.
So, here is a copy of the letter which I posted back to them. I also rang them to inform them that I was sending back the vouchers and that a copy was being sent to Tim Martin himself (although I doubt that he will ever receive it or even be aware of it or the problem. Or to be honest, if he even cares).
19 August 2012
FAO: (Customer Service Staff)
Tim Martin – Chairman
I have received your letter of apology, dated the 10th August 2012 (Copy), and frankly, I am offended.
I have enclosed the £10.00 worth of vouchers that you have sent to me “as a gesture of goodwill”, as I have no intention of ever visiting one of your establishments again. This was clearly stated in my email complaint as well as the conversations I have had with you over the phone. This just proves to me that while you state that you are investigating my complaint, you clearly have not even read it or listened to me correctly.
I am quite surprised by the lack of personal interest in my complaint, especially in view of the nature of it and the statements made on your website, which I quote below.
The first part of the complaint was against the food, which was undercooked and cold, not to mention the limp lettuce and soggy, slimy peppers on the chicken skewers. I was informed by the “Manager” of the Liquorice Gardens, at the time, that the food is pre-cooked and packaged and then warmed up on the premises. I strongly suggest that this matter be taken up with your supplier, as the fault may lay with their production process. Of course, speculating on this, if I had eaten the meal, I may have been admitted to hospital with salmonella poisoning, so perhaps this is something the Environmental Health Service may need to investigate.
The second part of my complaint was against the “manager” – Daniel – and his treatment of me, as a customer. He was rude, aggressive, obnoxious, intimidating and flat out refused a refund. He then, stood in my personal space, folding his arms and shouting at me to leave the pub or he would call the police, claiming, that I had been knocking over drinks (which he had actually knocked over). I would like to state that the drink in question was sparkling water, and was mine. I do not drink alcohol. I left the restaurant in tears, terrified.
I rang my husband, who came to meet me and we returned to the pub, to obtain a refund for the food I had paid for. He again, flat out refused to refund the money to me, claiming that it was all on camera (which I strongly advise you watch to see who was at fault here). Eventually, a lady stepped in and after yet another 15 minutes of discussion, refunded the money to me.
I do have to laugh at the final paragraph of your letter to me, as you state “We can assure you that this is not indicative of the service we aim to give our customers”. I beg to differ. In my investigations into your establishments, I have found many similar complaints pertaining to nasty, angry and aggressive “Managers” within your group. I wonder if your managers are employed on their ability to “bounce” clients?
I have also read on your website, that “He (Tim Martin) still visits numerous pubs, looking at the smallest details, talking to customers and ensuring that the business is always seeking to move forwards”. I suggest that he visit this pub and have a good look around. The pub is dark, the staff rude, obnoxious and very unfriendly and the toilets are disgusting. As I have visited this establishment many times for meals with various friends and groups, I avoid using the toilet facilities.
I also refer you to the section on your website, ‘our pubs’, which states “…provide a comfortable, attractive and welcoming environment.” Frankly, you don’t and I did not feel welcome in your pub at all. Under your ‘our suppliers’ section, you state “…we listen constantly to our customers…”. Really? Is all I can ask here.
You can rest assured that neither myself, my family, friends or the various groups and charity organisations that I work with and belong to will be visiting any of your establishments again.
As I live very close to the restaurant and have to walk past it on my way into town, I often see the “Manager” in the street. I do actually cross the road and avoid him as I am now afraid of him, and his aggressive behaviour. I have reported the matter to the police, who unfortunately are not able to do anything about the incident, but the information is on file, in case this happens again. I strongly suggest that you look into this individuals behaviour as he is certainly not management material.
In closing, the only apology that I will accept from your firm, is a hand-written apology from the “Manager”.
Mrs Deborah Reeves
And so, I leave the matter up to the Universe and Karma.
UPDATE 11 September 2012
It seems that I was wrong and I did actually receive a further response from the “we really don’t give a shit about our customers, as long as we get paid”, JD Wetherspoon.
Apparantly, they “do take all feedback very seriously” and had “passed my comments of *disappointed regarding the issue raised to the Area Manager….” (*their grammar). Well, clearly, they have, I say with an exasperated and confused look on my face. It seems the staff need educating.
They are also “sorry to hear that our apology on behalf of the company in our letter dated …. your refund from the pub on the day and our gift vouchers sent to you are not sufficient an apology”. Well, NO, they are not! Really, Mr Martin, would you have been impressed if YOU had been treated this way in an establishment? I think not!!
“On this occasion it seems we are unable to resolve this matter and we are sorry for this. We consider the matter closed and will not be entering into any other correspondence on this matter.” (The grammar really is appalling). Well, of course you consider the matter closed as the only step available from here is a letter of apology from either “Daniel” or Mr Martin – which of course, I will not receive.
This just proves that Mr Martin really doesn’t give a rats ass about his company, as long as he lives in his mansion and has plenty of £££ in the bank, why should he care. Tread on the little people, rip them off and treat them like trash.
Not a happy face
Ah well, I don’t eat microwave food at home, why should I pay +- £6 in a pub with dreadful service? Eat at home Debs!