W Food Bar Sweet and Sunday Times Sour Service Award

Lester, the Store Manager of Woolworths in Willowbridge, receives the Sweet Service Award for coming to the rescue of a client on New Year’s Day, who wished to order breakfast at the in-house restaurant of this store.   The customer sat on a ledge, waiting for a table to come available at 11h45, and ordered a glass of water and a cappucino, and asked for the menu.  A lunch menu of sandwiches and salads only was presented.   It was visible to the customer that other patrons were having breakfast, and the waiter was asked for the breakfast menu.    Terence the waiter said it was not possible to order from the breakfast menu anymore, as breakfast closes at 12h00, even though it was 11h55 at that time. A new Manager Heinrich, who only started his first working day on that day, went inside to the food preparation section, and did not bother to communicate to the customer that he could not organise the required omelette.   A supervisor called Steven came from the preparation section, and said that breakfast had closed at 11h30, and that there was no flexibility on this, even on New Year’s Day.  Two staff members were asked to call the store manager, but it took 15 minutes for him to come to the table.   


Lester was most open to listening to the customer complaint and request, especially given that the Breakfast menu does not specify a closing time for serving breakfast.  Lester explained that the store had not received most of its breads on New Year’s Day, and that this affected the serving of the breakfasts.  However, a number of items on the lunch menu are sandwiches, and the waiters did not communicate problems serving any of these due to the bread shortage.


Lester was able to persuade Alex, the chef on duty, that the requested omelette could be prepared, even though a considerable waiting time could be anticipated, he warned, as the stoves had to be switched on again!   Twenty-five minutes later the requested omelette was served, with two slices of toasted rye bread.  Heinrich refused to divulge his name to the customer or to his colleagues, probably being worried about getting into trouble for his poor service on his first day of employment!


The Sour Service Award goes to the Sunday Times, which must have the most inefficient call centre in the country.  Repeated calls to the call centre, to renew existing subscriptions, as well as to start a new subscription, in the past three months have not led to one succesful renewal or new subscription.  The standard line is that one must pay first to receive delivery.  To pay, one must receive an invoice.  Each operator is provided with the postal address details, and confirmation is supplied that the invoice was typed while the call was being made. However, no invoice ever arrives.  The company is also not able to undertand that the invoice address is a postal address, which is different to the delivery addresses!    The subscription problems must cost the company thousands of Rands of lost income as a result of its subscription inefficiency. 


The WhaleTales Sweet & Sour Service Awards are presented every Friday on the WhaleTales blog.  Nominations for the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be sent to Chris von Ulmenstein at info@whalecottage.com.