Customer service clearly no longer a priority for some restaurants. Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest nights of the year for any restaurant. What makes matters worse is that 9 times out of 10 a husband or boyfriend will forget entirely about the occasion and try to make a last minute booking for a romantic dinner. Coming from a hospitality background, having both run very large establishments, my wife and I decided that we would get a booking early at one of our favourite restaurants to make sure that our first Valentine’s Day as a married couple was a fantastic occasion.
Our restaurant of choice for most of our special occasions has always been the Cattle Baron in Tygervalley Waterfront. It is a nice setting, the staff has always been friendly and the food is always fantastic. On the 18th of January 2013 I asked my wife to please make us a booking at the Cattle Baron for Valentine’s Day. She did so and then sent me an email at 10am that morning to say that our booking was confirmed. We then did not worry about it any further, secure in the knowledge that we had a place to go for Valentine’s Day.
On the 13th of February, my wife had a gut feeling that she should call the Cattle Baron, just to confirm our booking, and make sure that everything was still in order. When she called, she first spoke to one of the waiters, who informed her that he had no record of our booking on their system. Obviously starting to get upset, my wife then asked if he could please re-check the system and see if it was not perhaps overlooked. He informed my wife that he would do his best and call her back. After a little while the waiter contacted my wife back to tell her that they still could not find our booking, and that they were unfortunately fully booked and unable to accommodate us. My wife was mortified, so the waiter suggested that she speak to the manager, Divan, to see if there was any way that he could make a plan for us. Divan then proceeded to take down all of our contact numbers to see if he could not perhaps pick up our booking through that channel, and informed my wife that he would call her back. When he called back he told my wife that there was no record of our booking and that he had personally confirmed all the Valentine’s Day bookings earlier in the week, and if we had not received a call from him then obviously we were lying and the booking had never been made. When Divan decided to take this tone with my wife, she naturally started to get very upset, as nobody likes to be called a liar, especially when you were in fact right. He then in a very sarcastic manner decided to tell my wife that the only arrangement he was prepared to make for us was to book us a table for 18,00 as long as we were out of the restaurant by 19,00. At this point my wife’s temper got the better of her. She asked Divan how it was possible to lose a booking that had been made a month prior to the date and then not only accuse the customer of being a liar, but also not even be willing to try and apologize for the mistake that had been made. During this conversation my wife used some bad language, which she admittedly regrets, but in the heat of the moment she was extremely upset at how she was being treated. While still trying to discuss a possible solution with Divan, he decided that he had had enough of my wife’s company and simply put the phone down in her ear.
My wife then contacted me and explained what had just happened, so I then called the Cattle Baron to get to the bottom of the situation. When I called, gave my name, and asked to speak to Divan, after being asked to hold for a while I was informed that he was simply unavailable to speak to me. I then asked if there was somebody more senior in the establishment who I could perhaps have a word with. The waiter then informed me that Divan is the general manager, and the only person more senior than him is the owner, Ryan, who was unfortunately not there, and the waiter was not at liberty to give me his cell number. Which is understandable.
Not even 5 minutes after I had put down the phone, Ryan, the owner, then called my wife, who immediately gave the phone to me. Ryan then proceeded to verbally attack me, because apparently my wife had sworn at his staff member. After he had had his little rant, I then tried to speak reasonably with the man, and explain that my wife was not swearing at his staff, but rather she was incredibly frustrated at the fact that not only was our booking somehow lost, and also at the treatment she was receiving. Unfortunately I started to realize very quickly, that when the owner of an establishment is not even vaguely concerned about how his senior management treats potential customers, and also feels no shame over the manner in which he speaks to customers, that I would probably have more luck arguing with a wall.
When we realized that our booking was lost and the Cattle Baron’s complete lack of any sort willingness to rectify the situation, I made peace with the fact that our Valentine’s Day was going to be a bust. However, what I am not able to make peace with is the sheer scale of unprofessionalism on behalf of the owner of the Cattle Baron. I have worked for many hospitality establishments as a manager, and had to deal with similar situations, but any first-year management student will tell you that when speaking to customer with a complaint, your first priority as a manager is to pacify the customer, and then try to come up with some sort of alternative that can keep both parties happy. Never in my life have I heard of an owner of a company calling a client to admonish them for getting upset over a blunder made by one of their staff members, without so much as an apology.
I am absolutely shocked at the manner in which this situation was handled, and I can guarantee that neither I nor any of my friends and family will ever set foot in that establishment again. The Cattle Baron restaurants across the board have always been a personal favourite of mine, with the Tygervally Waterfront branch being the flagship in my opinion, however after my encounter with Ryan ,the owner, I feel that he should be ashamed, and that his establishment is a complete disgrace to the Cattle Baron name. If I were a brand standard auditor for the Cattle Baron enterprise, I would certainly not want the good Cattle Baron name dragged through the mud, by somebody with that sort of attitude towards customer service.
A very disappointed customer