Friday, 21 August 2009

Sucky service rant and word verification

Thanks again to everyone who helped make my birthday awesome.

I had a great facial at Dischem, despite the therapist being unfriendly to the point of it actually being rude. It's the first time I've had a laser facial (hell, it's the seocnd time I've ever had any sort of facial) and it was quite pleasant. I may just have to do it again sometime.

You'll see I've turned the word verification on in my comments. I'm sorry, I know it's a pain. But I have a spammer, Ric, leaving messages on all my posts, so I'm trying to deter him. I've also turned on the comment moderation on all posts older than 14 days.

Right, now for the part where I rant... (I so love having a blog to vent on!)...

I chose Primi Extreme for my birthday supper because I was craving pasta and a cosy fire, and Design Quarter is a mere 5min from our place, so it seemed like the obvious choice. Hah!

We enjoyed our food. Pity the service was so rubbish.

Bad service frustrates me enormously. As far as I'm concerned, if I'm paying good money for something, it needs to be what I'm expecting. And at restaurants that means good food in a pleasant atmosphere served by a polite waitron.

I have mixed feelings about the Primi Piatti chain of restaurants. The first Primi I ever visited was the one in Menlyn in Pretoria, which was lovely. Set in a quiet part of the shopping centre, it had a great atmosphere, good food and the service was perfect.

I also enjoyed eating (and drinking cocktails) at the one in the Waterfront in Cape Town when we lived there. But I've had bad food or poor service at one or two other branches and gone off Primi a bit. Especially since they stopped serving gnocchi, which was one of the main reasons I visited.

Last night's experience left me with a particularly bad taste in my mouth, not because of the food (which was lovely), but because of the non-existent service. See, according to its website, Primi motivates staff through a rank system with a performance-based structure. Really? You could have fooled me.

We barely saw our waiter the whole night. He seated us and asked how we were. I said I was well - it was my birthday. But he wasn't listening to our answer at all and replied with an "uh huh" before rushing off to watch one of the athletics events that was showing on the TV. That's what he did most of the night, actually. He must be an avid athletics fan, because he was glued to that screen for 95% of the time we were there.

He took our order and served us our bread, but didn't bother bringing us olive oil or balsamic vinegar to eat it with. We tried to catch his eye to request it, but he was engrossed with the athletics.

A different waiter brought our drinks, and later our food. Nobody cleared our bread basket and side plates from the table, so there was hardly any room to eat comfortably. Nobody asked if the food was ok. Nobody asked if we'd like another drink. Nobody came near. One would have sworn we were lepers.

I waited 10 minutes to get our waiter's attention to ask for some parmesan cheese for my pasta. When he brought it, the cheese tasted awful (like it had been moulding in its plastic wrapper). When a different waiter took our plates, I told him the cheese tasted funny. He said he'd look into it. We never saw him again either.

After our meal, we sat for 20 minutes waiting for our waiter or someone else to remember we existed. Nobody offered the dessert menu. No-one asked if there was anything else we'd like.

Finally, after watching the manager laughing and chatting on his mobile phone for about 10 minutes and our waiter watching the athletics, we'd had enough. We managed to catch the manager as he walked past us.

"Seeing we haven't seen our waiter all night, would you mind finding someone to bring us our bill?" I asked.

"Oh... Ok," he said, and shouted for our waiter. No apology, please note.

When the waiter arrived, TSC and I calmly told him that we were unimpressed with his service. It wasn't a busy night (he only had our table and one other), so I said I wondered why he wasn't trying his darndest to make a decent tip by giving us proper attention (I waitressed for years and that's what I would do). He made excuses, saying he had checked on us and that we'd seemed fine. Bull! We paid and left.

On our way out, we spoke to the manager, who was lounging around at the front door again. I mentioned that it might be an idea to get his waiters to wait on tables instead of watching TV. All I got in response was another, "Oh... Ok." Once again, no apology.

Thankfully, I have a lovely husband who didn't let our bad experience spoil my birthday. He took me home and cuddled me and offered me chocolate (smart man). But I really wish I had chosen somewhere else to eat on my special day. And I really don't care if Design Quarter is walking distance from my house, I'm NOT eating at Primi there again.

Right. Rant done. Have a great weekend! I plan to ;-)


Spear said...

I always write a letter of complaints to the corporate headoffice or to the franchise (which ever they have). I follow these guidelines: State your problem and how it affected you. Use the strongest possible language without swearing. Then get wax lyrical about previous experiences and compliment them on those. Finally ask for specific action.

I always get good results with this. Once they sent out a regional manager to meet me at the tyre and exhaust outlet where I had shocks fitted (and had been unhappy with) because of my letter of complaint.

Helen said...

Wow, I can't beleive it! I've only been to design quarter once, but it wasn't bad. I've noticed that it' shardly ever busy when I drive past in the evenings though, maybe that's why? I would totally hellopeter them!

Primi in Melrose Arch has always been awesome, maybe go there next time?

And I have Ric as well, he started last night... here's hoping I won't need word verification!

Damaria Senne said...

I agree about a letter of complaint. Or you could send a link to this post with a short note. I've done that, when I ranted about poor service of a company, and they phoned me, apologised, and offered me a free meal at another restaurant in their chain [I had no interest in interacting with the previous outlet].

Louisa said...

What a bunch of assholes! *makes a note never to eat there*

Anonymous said...

That is SO upsetting. Especially as it was your birthday. I agree - you should write a letter of complaint.

Sorry the service was awful. :( I definitely won't go there.

Anonymous said...

oh wow. hectic. I will spologise on their behalf for that appalling behaviour. I'll digi-smack them for you too :)

I'm glad the hubby was there to brighten all ills (with chocolate... yummmm)


angel said...

I've been to Primi a couple of times now, and whilst the service wasn't fantastic the food was great!
I am glad you didn't let it ruin your birthday.