Pick ‘n Pay Franschhoek Sweet Service and Asara Wine Estate Sour Service Awards

The Sweet Service Award goes to Pick ‘n Pay Franschhoek, and its Manager Jonathan Brown specifically.  The store normally has filthy floors and poor service, with errors made when one pays the monthly Easy Pay accounts at this branch.  However, when Jonathan is on duty, he will proactively come to the customer, to check if there is something that he can get, and there is never an error with the account payments.  The store is clean when he is on duty.  He understands customer care, and goes out of his way to make sure that it happens, an excellent but rare ambassador for Pick ‘n Pay.

The Sour Service Award goes to Asara Wine Estate and its reservation executive Tamarin Byne, who received a Sour Service Award when she worked at the One&Only Cape Town. The nomination comes from Dr Volker Arends in Hamburg: “I read that the Sour Service Award went to Tamarin Byne in 2009 when she was working at One&Only Cape Town. I would like to propose to grant the award once again to her. Now, she is working at Asara Wine Resort in Stellenbosch, a five star hotel. The service level, however, apparently has not improved. We have booked a classic deluxe room for three nights from 1st to 4th January 2012. We received a binding confirmation (with cancellation fees applying from our side) from the agent working for Asara (booking.com). Mrs Byne contacted us and informed us that “due to a system error” we could not receive a room on 2nd January, 2012. We could either chose to use three different rooms in two different hotels during our three days stay or Asara could cancel the confirmed booking (at least making a reservation in a different hotel). When we politely mentioned that we had a confirmed booking and would not agree to either of such options but would like to receive a room at Asara for the time period as agreed and confirmed, our wish was just brashly ignored. Several emails were exchanged but the customer demand was just ignored. Although we had several times explained that we would like to be accommodated in a room of at least the standard booked and even offered to change the room within the Asara Hotel, such demand was just ignored. We then received an email stating that we are welcomed on 1st January 2012 and we would then be moved to a different hotel “as discussed” and on 3rd January we could move back to Asara. As “compensation” for the inconvenience caused by such “unforeseen system error” Mrs Byne generously offered a complimentary wine tasting at Asara. No upgrade on the room, no lunch, no dinner, not even drinks for dinner. No, a complimentary wine tasting to make up for using three different rooms during three days solely caused by the Hotel… After such behaviour we have had enough. We wrote Mrs Byne to cancel the booking and that we would make different travel arrangements. We asked her to confirm the cancellation (caused by the Hotel which was not able to accommodate us in the agreed time period). It took about 24 hours and only after we called the agent (booking.com) we received an answer stating the confirmation and generously expressly waiving the cancellation fee of the Hotel!! I think that speaks for itself.  We have now booked a different hotel and are really looking forward to our visit to South Africa”.

POSTSCRIPT 17/2: This article by a lawyer addresses the consumer rights in the case of overbooking:http://www.iol.co.za/travel/travel-tips/overbooking-what-are-your-rights-1.1236474

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.   Past winners of the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be read on the Friday posts of this blog, and in the WhaleTales newsletters on the www.whalecottage.com website.

8 replies on “Pick ‘n Pay Franschhoek Sweet Service and Asara Wine Estate Sour Service Awards”

  1. Jade says:

    As I am a regular reader of this blog, it came to my attention that you might have a personal vendetta against Asara Wine Estate. Why so? If I recall my resources, you were banned from the estate after almost running over an elderly person and refusing to say sorry. I agree that the above is not the service one will expect from a 5 star facility, but why get Tamarin in trouble, when it’s so obvious that you actually have a problem with the GM, P. Gottgens?

  2. Dear Jade

    Your memory serves your poorly – you are welcome to read the correct details on this blog.

    I don’t do ‘vendettas’. You will note that this Sour Award nomination is from a German tourist, whom I do not know.


  3. Jade says:


    Even if you knew this gentlemen or not, you were given a choice to whom the award should go to. I am not saying that it’s wrong that they received the award; they obviously have some issues with management. I am just saying that giving them the award twice in a period of three months seems a little to personal. That’s just my opinion.


  4. Thank you for your explanation Jade.

    The latest nomination for Asara arrived about two months ago, and I held it back for a while with other nominations coming through.

    There is no significance in the timing, and in no way reflects a ‘vendetta’. It would have been rude towards Dr Arends to not have taken his nomination.

    You haven’t declared your connection to Asara.


  5. ryan says:

    I have no connection with Asara.

    surely the booking is possibly the fault of the booking agent and not the hotel direct?

    As it was the hotel(Tamarin Byrne) contacted the guest promtly offering a couple of options(admittedly not ideal) as solutions as well as the option of cancelling the booking entirely should none of these options suit Dr.Hun.

    The fact that the guest refused to accept any of the offered solutions as well as refusing to cancelthe booking, yet still demanding the room nights agreed to by the booking agent, is laughable and just plain nuts when one considers that the hotel has had to contact the guest because no rooms are availible.?!?!?!?!

    Am I missing something?

    Obviously there has been a balls up between the booking agent and hotel….but seriously, from what I can see the hotel has done as well as can be expect in an impossible situation?

    Where are the booking agents when things don’t work out? This you would know about Chris, many agents are notoriously poor at fronting up rather palming that responsibility off to the property.

    Personally I see no reason for the hotel to be comping anything yet.The guest was yet to even arrive? Maybe would have been better to meet the guest in person upon arrival to better measure exactly how obtuse they are and what sort of comp would be needed to hand out…if at all?

    This entire article does smack of a gleeful wristringing vendetta against Asara particularly when you,Chris, first wrote an article withregards them just after the new GM had arrived and it was all very buddy-buddy, positive and comped?

    What happened since then?
    have the comps run out?
    do the security guards not speak enough Hun?

  6. Nicolette says:

    Chris, I had lunch at Asara earlier this week. Not only was the service poor, but the food was a disappointment, I will not be back. And no, I have no vendetta against anyone, but I do feel ripped off when I spend money on food and I can hardly eat it.

  7. Thank you for sharing your Asara restaurant experience Nicolette.


  8. Wow Ryan, must be having a quiet restaurant day in Franschhoek!

    An internet booking agency can only sell the stock that is listed by the hotel as available stock. We hear time and time again that hotels overbook (as do airlines), as x% of clients do not arrive. Clearly this is what happened to Dr Arends’ booking. In South Africa the Consumer Protection Act would rule, and it addresses accommodation cancellations specifically, requiring that the guest must be accommodated in the same or better quality alternative accommodation. In German/European law, cancellations due to over-booking are punishable by financial payment to the guest, as far as I understand it. The bottom-line is that the hotel should not be selling stock it knows it no longer has available! It would be like you taking more bookings than you have tables for at your restaurant, allowing for the likelihood of no-shows!

    I don’t get your ending – I have never received anything ‘comped’ from Asara. I did meet the GM and the Chef during my first lunch about a year ago, and they were friendly and informative. On my last visit the GM Pete Gottgens tried to assault me. They received a Sour Service Award for this.

    I’ll disregard your childish end-comments!


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