Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Naming and shaming

Last week I cited three examples of shockingly bad service I'd encountered recently in trying to get a pint (well, a half-litre it usually is over here) of draught beer in Beijing.  And I challenged my readers to hazard a guess as to where each of these horror stories might have taken place (a number of friends responded in person, mostly correctly; but the comments have been deafeningly quiet around here for a while...).

Here are the answers.

1)  Where were my companion and I repeatedly presented (well, twice - over the space of about 40 minutes!) with an old glass of Stella that we had previously returned unwanted?

That was in Tim's Texas Barbecue.

I hope it's not 'official policy' there.  I rather doubt it.  But this illustrates how essential it is to maintain close supervision of your staff - otherwise they will start doing daft, reputation-harming stuff like this on their own initiative.  Many Chinese serving staff seem to live in terror of having to pay themselves for any mis-orders etc.  (I imagine it's quite common practice in Chinese-run establishments.)  It takes a lot of training to persuade them that mistakes are OK, that they're not going to have to pay for returned drinks themselves, that they're not going to lose their job over it.  Even if you can get this point across, there's still a danger of 'Chinese thinking' taking over at times: the typical Chinese business mindset seems to be one of maximising profit by cutting as many corners as possible, penny-pinching all the way.  Most Chinese people seem to find it inconceivable that it might actually be better business to just pour a drink away sometimes.  [Tim, your staff - or some of them, anyway - are attempting to re-sell stale beer by putting a bit of a fresh head on it.  Please put a stop to this!]

2)  Where did I struggle to get the Chinese staff to replace a pint of beer that had gone bad (and then get charged for a replacement which I had been promised would be 'complimentary')?

That was in the (new) Stumble Inn.

Oh god.  I think it was the fatuous (and almost certainly just outright dishonest) excuse for the overcharge - "not being able to work the computerised till" - that was the camel-back-breaker for me here.  I've only been to this place 4 or 5 times, and I don't think I'll be going back again.  It SUCKS in just about every way imaginable... but the service is some of the worst I've ever encountered here.

3)  Where are they still trying to sell a keg of Stella that is now at least a month (possibly two or three months) old?

That - of course - was Ginkgo.

Good grief!  The place was comically disorganised and unreliable under the old, foreign management - but now.....  AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE.

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