Monday, May 10, 2010

Cafe Service

Saturday was yet another bank holiday here in France (and we still have another Thursday). I met some friends in town for a coffee and got a whole tour of French customer service. In France the tip is automatically including in your ticket by law, and on top of that the servers actually have a real paycheck from the restaurant, not $2 an hour for example. Therefore, table turnover and good service is not a priority. This usually is not too bad, you just have to wait a long time to take your order, get your food, and then get your check (another reason lunch is 2 hours everyday). Saturday was a day full of bad service though and I thought I should share the comical experience.

My friends and I visited the only coffee shop in the area that sells Starbucks type coffees: big, latte flavors, in to-go cups. Being a bank holiday it was very crowded but we were able to steak out a table in not too much time. After not seeing each other since March, we had a lot to catch up on, so we're chatting and enjoying our Saturday. Some time after we had finished our coffees one of the baristas came up stairs and asked us to leave the restaurant because "its Saturday and we're busy and you're not buying anything else" we were shocked! We of course were not offered a free coffee to go or anything to compensate for their rude behavior, just a simple Au Revoir. We hiked across town to another quaint cafe that one friend had heard about. This cafe had specialty teas and I was up for a new spot to try. We grabbed a two-top by the window and pulled up a chair for the three of us, and were very promptly asked to move to an appropriate sized table. We moved, and proceeded to order a kettle of tea to share, upon asking for a second mug for the tea we were told sharing was not allowed even though the kettles held easily three cups of tea. We adjusted our order and got back to chatting while we waiting, only to notice another group of three come in and grab the same window table we tried, except this time the waiter seemed unbothered (even though the cafe was relatively empty).

We laughed it off, none of us pressed for time or stressed enough to be bothered by it, but we were all in unbelief of the terrible service constantly tolerated in this country. I even have a French friend here who, after her trip to NYC in January, was raving to me in disbelief of the amazing customer service she received everywhere she went. She asked if this was normal, and was stunned that so many workers would go so out of their way and be so friendly to her. I just laughed.

Do you have any good travel stories with customer service?


Cafe Fashionista said...

I love this story; though I can't think of any stories I have involving customer service!! :P

Michelle Elisabeth said...

When I was in Venice last Summer, we ate at this tiny pasta place, had a fabulous waiter, a guy with a great sense of humour. The next night we went to a different restaurant across the city. And guess who our waiter was? Apparently he splits his nights between the two restuarants, what are the chances? I love the group photo we have of us and his beeming smile!

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