Sunday, February 26, 2012

Customer service and er, cooked food.

Mr S and I live just outside of town in the southern part of Tasmania. Our fast food options are somewhat limited, especially so on a weekend. That said, whilst there are few options there are some absolute gems. We always enjoy eating at the Red Velvet Lounge in Cygnet, Lotus Eater's Cafe in Cygnet, Little Treasures Bistro in Franklin, Great Southern Pizza at Cradoc and there's a brilliant fish and chip in Franklin whose name I'm forever getting wrong... I think it's Edge Cafe though...
Because we are that little bit out of town everywhere is a drive and as a result we mostly eat our takeaway by the river in Huonville or in the establishment itself.

Before I continue let me tell you about some fantastic service I've received in Tasmania. Red Velvet Lounge are always the most awesome people to be around, Lotus Eater's Cafe have super friendly staff, The Boat House Cafe in Huonville are always lovely, Little Treasures Bistro once took my order over the phone from my car sitting outside their restaurant (sleeping baby) and gave me a wave when it was ready, and the folks at DS Cafe are always delightful.

I'm a bit of a pain in the bum of a stickler for customer service and more than once I've asked 'To see your manager please', or written complaints about poorly cooked food or atrocious service that is all too common in Tasmania. I truly believe that your manager wants to know that your customers are unhappy and potentially won't walk their money through your door again. Word of mouth is king, especially in a state where business don't seem to embrace the internet as much as the rest of Australia.
The general rule of thumb is that customers might tell 10 friends about poor service, and they'll each tell 10 people, who'll tell 10 people. In Tasmania it doesn't take long for that to add up, and in a state where a lot of businesses staunchly refuse to have a web presence (my hairdresser doesn't even have her name in the yellow pages... 'I don't do "that internet" darling') it's word of mouth that both helps and hinders you.
So a month or so ago I had heard about a great new gourmet burger joint I hit the internet to find out where, when and perhaps a menu? Nada.
As in, no mention at all.
Sorry, one hit where someone had tweeted about the joint opening.
A phone number?
White pages listing?
Perhaps this should have been my red flashing light?Like a sucker hungry mama with a sad baby at home I jump in the car and drive 8km to where I know said burger joint is on the main drag of a small town.
Two face meltingly expensive burgers later I head home again to Mr S and Millie. Expensive burgers are fine, the place has 'Gourmet' in the title.
Our burgers are piping hot on the outside, lukewarm on the inside and our meat patties are pink and lukewarm in the middle. We cut our losses and toss the meat, leave the bacon on and have two very unsatisfying burgers on stale buns. I wouldn't class them as 'Gourmet'. Not even a little bit. The menu doesn't seem particularly Gourmet. Giddy like a schoolgirl, I imagined somewhere where I had to choose between chicken and brie on my burger, not a burger with the lot, or a burger without the lot, squid and chips or a chicken schnitzel. Menu disappointment aside, I'm seriously disappointed about expensive burgers that aren't cooked to any food safety standard.

I'd love to call the manager and complain. In fact, I was given a number by a Twitter friend previously, but they weren't answering when I was trying to find out if they were open. Further web hunting provides a blog that was last updated in November, but still with no contact details.
So complain I cannot.

I am sad about my experience. My part of Tasmania has a dinky reputation for fast food (restaurants and cafes excluded - they are not fast food) and I was so hoping for a nice change. It was suggested to me by a friend who owns a great cafe/restaurant in the Valley here to give it another try... but I'm not willing to part with $25 for poorly cooked unsafe food again.
I'm just sitting in my hot house, somewhat hungry, wishing I had my $25 back and I'd had vegemite on toast instead.

I wrote the above rant about three weeks ago. I filed it and forgot about it, until last week when I went to buy hot chips (sometimes you've just gotta...) and was charged $3.50.
'Sorry, did you say $3.50?'
'Oh, did you know your board still says $3.00?' Fumble fumble for more change in purse.
'Oh yeah... well... you know... chicken salt and all.'
'Sorry? What?'
I've met a with a 'Well, what do you?' kind of shrug. I raised my eyebrows and forked over the extra 50 cents. It's only fifty cents. The rest of my dinner is in the oven at home, almost ready for eating. And I'm hungry.
But really... fifty cents for salt?

Am I here with my head stuck in the sand about the state of our economy? Is this normal? What do you do when you don't receive good customer service?


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