Wednesday, April 14, 2010

How to avoid customers (again)

This past weekend, my partner had a hankering for Chinese food, mentioning a restaurant a town over from us. So off we go, on a windy Saturday afternoon, to try it out. The food was fine, the service pleasant. Ever the diligent retailing muse, I couldn't help but notice the pedestrian and world weary surroundings. The plastic plants and the De rigour fish tank. Those awful conference centre chairs and Formica tables, all circa 1977. It's like every Chinese food restaurant was designed by the same interior designer sometime in the 1950's, and left to gentrify for decades.

No matter, I munched happily and stared at the vast long buffet table (empty on weekends). I stopped eating, mid ginger beef, when I read the sign taped (taped! why do people continue to insist on Scotch tape for signs!) to the buffet sneeze guard. It read:

Lunch Buffet is $12.95 all that you can eat. Please use a clean plate each time you go to the buffet for health reasons. Remember that if you take too much food and do not eat it, you will be charged $5.00 for the waste.

I just about spit out my beef and broccoli. Here we ago again. Yet another business that just does not get it. How can you advertise all you can eat, invite customers to keep coming back to the trough and then charge em if they don't chow it all down? Makes you wonder how they got to this point. Did some glutton arrive one lunch hour and abuse the buffet? Leave too much moo shu pork on his plate? I kept reading the sign over and over again. Visualizing the "exploding fat man" scene from "Monty Python's Meaning of Life" It was all very off putting.

"Waste not, Want not". Sure, I get it. But on the flip side, doesn't it seem like once again the customer is treated as an enemy? That you, as the owner, offer the lunch buffet, but only if customers behave and eat it all? It's all rude and overbearing. Treat the customer with respect, don't send them down the street to the competition buffet, and certainly don't start charging a trough fee. What are they, an airline?

I sputtered this soliloquy to my partner, who wearily agreed that we would not come here again. I tried to take a picture of the sign, but the owner shooed me away. Ha! even they are embarrassed by their fee for waste / sticky tapped sign.

And, I took the rest of my meal to go.

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