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Do You Ever Speak Up, Take it Back?

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  • Do You Ever Speak Up, Take it Back?

    Hey Everyone,

    I was out at a dinner party the other week and I met a couple who raved about their local cafe because apparently somewhere around the place that customers picked up their coffees was a sign that said something along the lines (paraphrasing):

    Dear Customer,

    We want you to have the best experience possible, we recognise that we are human and sometimes make mistakes, so if you find your coffee doesn't taste right, please don't be shy in coming forward with your complaint and we will happily remake it for you.


    I found this interesting for a couple of reasons:

    1. It is a refreshing change from the hipster 'wanker barista' attitude that seems to permeate through so much of the industry (I can get away with saying that because I am one of those wankers).
    2. It made me think about my own habits as a customer and I had to be honest with myself. I never speak up. No matter how wretchedly horrible the beverage that is laid out in front of me ends up tasting, I put on my bravest face and walk out a few dollars lighter in the pocket and a cup of something that is likely to see the nearest bin upon leaving the venue.

    This second point especially struck me as an interesting insight (maybe only an insight into how mentally deficient I am) because when placed on the other side of the counter, I take pains to ensure customer satisfaction, this includes sucking up any pride I might have and remaking a beverage if the customer sees it in someway unfit (even if I believe them to be unfathomably wrong) because I want my customers to have a good experience with me and I like to think that any bad experience can be turned around if enough care is given.

    Without leading you all any further up the garden path, I guess my interest is simple. How many of you are happy to raise an issue with your coffee/beverage when you purchase it if you are not happy? What about those of you who are like me and just slink away unhappy and unlikely to return? What do you think would empower you enough to raise an issue you have? Do you find that some venues/barista are easier to approach than others?

    Thanks for reading, I will be interested to see what you all have to say.

  • #2
    Mostly I speak up. I've sent back or pointed out the wine is off (with these screw top wine bottles nobody bothers much about ensuring wine stays fresh so if you are buying by the glass it is often so close to the 'over the hill state you can feel the acceleration) made comments about meals that I thought were unexpected or sent it back if different to what I ordered, and I almost always talk to the barista.

    My recent experience at Dukes in Melb was different because he was very busy - I actually paused for a moment to ask what he had made but even in that brief time he had others trying to get his attention and I was an ex-customer (as in finished my drink) so I left him to it.

    Most cafe/restaurant/bar owners would MUCH rather you provide feedback than have you leave and never come back. Feedback that is reasonable and civilly presented of course. There's far too many who get all puffed up and angry when it is really just a simple difference or error. Politely pointing it out means your steak doesn't come back spat on etc. (I've worked with kitchens - enough to know you do NOT piss off the chef )

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    • #3
      I'll take the coffee back if I know it is a place that makes decent coffee (only ever had to do this once or twice and have received a proper replacement with apologies). If it's a cafe that I'm unlikely to return, I usually just walk (though I will explain if asked). I've certainly declined bottles of wine that are 'corked' (I seem to be very sensitive to cork taint).

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      • #4
        I have my own little rating system in my head which ranges 1 - 10.
        Anything below 5 is considered a bad coffee and normally won't take it back and most likely won't visit the cafe again.
        In the past I've taken back coffee that is terrible only to be served another of similar quality.

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        • #5
          Re: Do You Ever Speak Up, Take it Back?

          Ive taken pints back that were obviously not the right beer, or were tainted with diaceyl (think buttered popcorn). But Ive usually already left the cafe and sat in my office before I start drinking my morning coffee.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by fg1972 View Post
            In the past I've taken back coffee that is terrible only to be served another of similar quality.
            I've had that - there is a cafe here in Bendigo I took back my long mac and got a worse one. I swear they must have got both of them from the drip tray...

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            • #7
              For me it really does depend on the location. If my expectations are low to start with and I need a caffeine fix, then I will either drink the poorly made coffee or just throw it and never go back. If people have not been trained to make coffee well, then there is little use in schooling them on it at the time. I have spoken up at a very good cafe here in Byron and I received a fantastic coffee the second time, albeit a different drink.

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              • #8
                It can be a good test of a product/service provider - if you politely mention an issue, how they handle it can tell you instantly whether it is worth going back or not. Good proprietors will take on board what you say - they may offer an explanation or suggest their way is how it is meant to be but they listen and respond attentively. Anything less and you might as well never go back - you're never going to get good service there and some of them will go out of their way to get even with you for daring to comment.

                The latter are the ones you tell all your friends about, get them to tell THEIR friends about, go online to the restaurant/cafe sites and write scathing reviews etc... i.e. don't get mad, just get even...

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                • #9
                  I'll be honest and say this:

                  If the coffee is particularly bad, I give the barista a look of disappointment when I pay for the coffee (if I pay after), or if I pay up front, I'll say words like 'that was f*kn terrible coffee' in a voice that can be heard only by the nearest tables, as I walk out.

                  After all, if you serve up shit and I have to pay for it before I drink it, you do not deserve a second chance at making an effort. You should make an effort the first time.

                  Yes, I am a prick. Some will agree, some loathe. I will emphasize that I said particularly bad and not just an average pour.

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                  • #10
                    If I heard a patron in a public place make the comment 'that was f*kn terrible coffee' I would be more likely to think the problem lied with them than the coffee.
                    There is no need to share your love of swearing with everyone else.

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                    • #11
                      Hello JoeB,

                      FWIW, I really don't think that would achieve anything other than to have the owners request you spend your money elsewhere. There is no need to aspire to be the lowest common denominator.

                      If I get a bad one, I'll politely request that the barista have another go and tell them why I don't like the drink. I have never been meet with a refusal. Most seem to want to please and in good cafes, have a pride in what they do. A half consumed cup presents only mystery, not honest feedback.

                      Chris

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by JoeB View Post
                        I'll be honest and say this:

                        If the coffee is particularly bad, I give the barista a look of disappointment when I pay for the coffee (if I pay after), or if I pay up front, I'll say words like 'that was f*kn terrible coffee' in a voice that can be heard only by the nearest tables, as I walk out.

                        After all, if you serve up shit and I have to pay for it before I drink it, you do not deserve a second chance at making an effort. You should make an effort the first time.

                        Yes, I am a prick. Some will agree, some loathe. I will emphasize that I said particularly bad and not just an average pour.
                        Excuse my French... but what a complete knob!!!!!!!! You might want to consider starting your own coffee community... I'm pretty sure www.coffeeknobs.com.au is available

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                        • #13
                          For me it depends if I think there is a chance that I will ever return or just a one off visit (desperate for a coffee fix)

                          Today was one of those days, had to travel all over the sunny coast to find a data cable to get my new data logger to talk to my computer.
                          A few doors down from jaycar was a cafe with a fresh roasted bean sign so thought I would give it a go.
                          Ordered a double shot mach, got 160mls of duck wee with a spoonful of foam ontop. Took flight disappointed.

                          Got home dragged the change from my pocket to find they had short changed me $10 dollars, so $14.50 for a bad experience.

                          Got to laugh, but in hind sight lovely old couple who don't really have a clue and a bit of feedback probably would have been well received.

                          Chester

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                          • #14
                            I tend to be like Caneurysm, walk out never to return. My thinking is that if a cafe can't get coffee right, given the fancy machine and grinder, and presumably a fresh roast, then nothing I say is going to change their product. The fact is most people don't know good coffee from bad, which is why the bad places often appear to thrive. I rarely go to cafés because most don't make coffee to the standard I expect. I prefer my own coffee, it's that simple.

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                            • #15
                              Just ask the barista to have a sip and check before serving your coffee.

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