Customer service at the Experimental Cocktail Club, London

You are probably wondering if this will be another great story about one of my customer service experiences – and you are right. I was thinking actually for a while if I should write about my experience at above mentioned cocktail bar in the heart of China town and finally decided to do it. Bad service or better bad complaint handling needs to shared with others.

Here we go! We made our way after our Christmas party about two weeks ago to the Experimental Cocktail Club as recommended by one of my colleagues. It is one of these places that still serves alcohol after midnight during the week. I do remember this place from some late nights five or six years ago when I started to explore the night life of London and at that time it was a bit shabby and not necessarily a place where you wanted to spend an awful lot of time.

When we arrived the bar was quiet busy for a Tuesday night, but it was easy to find a nice table. We ordered the first round of cocktails and a friend of mine opened a tab at the bar. The cocktails were delicious and the atmosphere was great. The service staff seemed very unexperienced but tries their best to make a good impression. I have to say, it is really tough to impress me as I have worked in hospitality and gastronomy for about 15 years now.

After finishing the second rounds of drinks the waitress asked us to pay as last orders were done and we should leave soon. When they came over to us with the card, the waitress already apologised and set down next to us not knowing where and how to start. She explained that unfortunately they mixed up the cards with another customer and this customer was already gone. They did not realise that the cards was swapped even after entering the pin code three times. The other customer just used another card to pay the bill and took the card.

Here we go! There was this waitress, first day on the job trying to explain the situation and being really apologetic. We then asked to speak to the manager as she just mentioned that the other customer would probably notice the mistake the next day and would be back and we could swap cards. Great idea! I usually do believe in the good of people, but as only the pin code was blocked it would be possible to order some nice stuff via the internet where a pin code is not needed.

My colleague immediately tried to cancel his card with the bank who straight away asked for the card number, which we obviously did not know as the card was gone. What a great idea from call centres to asked for the card number of a stolen card. Who actually knows their card number by heart? He finally managed to cancel the card after being on the phone for 40 minutes. Meanwhile, we were sitting with the finished drinks around the table trying to speak to the manager who clearly was not in the mood to speak to us. He was actually trying to avoid us by constantly sending the waitress back to us to mention that he is busy and could talk to us right now as he would need to cash up all the tills.

Finally, we did manage to speak to him. He actually made a face as if he could not care less as it was his last day. He explained to us that all cards are kept in a glass and the names would be in the system to identify which card belongs to each table. A system that is made to fail on many occasions especially in a busy cocktail bar like this. They did give us the drinks for free as were not willing to pay for them, but were still sitting there for half an hour without anything – not even water, the bar staff looking at us like we should get it all sorted a bit quicker as they want to go home. After a lot of discussion and the manager telling us several times that it is not such a big problem they also invited us back, but overall I have to say never open up a tab at this bar and hopefully you will have no complaints to make as these guys don’t really take them serious.

Looking back it is kind of funny how some establishments, shops or companies get away with when it comes to customer service.

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