The customer is always right… except when they’re paying?

The customer is always right, we are told.

But where does that leave you if the very definition of a customer is unclear?  Usually it’s someone who buys goods or a service from a company, right?  Like when you go out for a meal.  Yes, I thought so too, until Daddy Pig and I took the girls out for lunch on Easter Monday.  Apparently there are some places that value the other type of customer more… you know, the non-paying one.

Here’s the ‘enquiry’ letter we sent (I’ve blanked the restaurant name but if anyone wants to join me when I do go there for a picnic, you’re very welcome.  It’s a burger joint on the riverside and no, it isn’t McDonalds):

Dear Rachel,

How was your Easter Monday?

I thought I’d tell you a little about ours, as we decided to eat at XXXXX on Greenwich Riverside.

With two young children in tow, I thought I had long given up on perfect table etiquette. Caring what table you sit on in a restaurant is certainly a thing of the past.  It doesn’t really matter when you’re going to be fielding flying pieces of sweetcorn and the like.  But it appears I do still care, just a little bit.  Because after 20 minutes of having a random lady practically sitting at our table with us, I had to mention it to a member of your staff.

‘Oh that’s Maria.  She comes in every day and is very particular about the table she sits on.’ I was told.  

Lucky us, I thought.  It appears that today Maria has chosen to sit with us.

Some 10 minutes later when Maria was almost perching on our baby’s highchair, prodding her with her walking stick, I thought I’d mention it again.  This time, to the manager.

‘I’ll move her along,’ he says.  A strange phrase to use for a paying customer?  Maria is now waiting by the lift area.  None of your staff seems to think that this is strange and thankfully they’re not those annoying apologetic types.

As I return to my table, I understand why.  A gentleman is now hovering near the spot where Maria was.  He isn’t eating either.  He’s just waiting, he tells Rachel, the seater.  For what, we don’t know. ‘Oh ok,’ she says happily before leaving him to it.

I begin to wonder if we might be the only paying customers here.  Seeing as you are so hospitable, next time I think I’ll just bring a picnic and take a pew.  Your staff certainly wouldn’t mind, of that I’m sure.

You’ll understand that all these fabulous table antics detracted a little from the eating and so our food went cold.  I didn’t think the manager would object too much when I said we wouldn’t be paying for our meal.  And he willingly obliged.  After all, it’s clearly how you do things here.

So we left rather hungrier than when we’d arrived and wondering whether we’d set our expectations for a family lunch just a little too high.

Who knows.  Perhaps we’re just not ready for the XXXXX way of dining.

Best wishes

Amy Ransom

Needless to say, I’m not expecting a response.

Although maybe now I’m a non-paying customer, they’ll be falling over themselves to look after me.

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