Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dis-service gets me worked up

Being Australian, I often bristle at the idea that Australians don't somehow understand good customer service and that staff are too often so laid back they're walking on their hands. Tell me it isn't so, Eliza!

But as my recent experience at a well-known Chinese restaurant in Ebisu proves, we've got nothing on the Chinese! Here's how to get me going:
  1. Ignore me for 20 minutes after I arrive (not so bad, you think? I was a party of 20. That's a world-class ignore).
  2. When we both speak Japanese pretty well, pretend not to understand me until I order something expensive.
  3. Serve the last table first, and the first table last.
  4. Ignore 3 requests for Fried Rice and pretend that Chuka-don is fried.
  5. Ask me to pay, when it's obvious that some-one else is the host and has already said in three languages that they'll be paying.

I think what I encountered was an elite athlete event for the Chinese Dis-service Team. Other teams should be on notice that the Chinese team is determined to repeat their gold medal Beijing performance and is already in rigorous training.

My Stern friend tells me that they're actually on their best behavior here in Japan - in China with his daughter who speaks fluent Mandarin, the restaurant staff argued about what dishes she wanted to order!

And it was a great pity ... the food was excellent, the company stellar, and the price reasonable. But on the day that Tokyo repeats as the most Michelin-starred city on the planet, it was a reminder that good service is at least a quarter of the dining experience!

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