Good service costs nothing

Last week I had two experiences of bad service, both in completely different spheres, but both leaving a really bad taste in my mouth.

The first was my birthday meal at Gambero Rosso in Falkirk. (Yes, let’s name and shame them.) I’d heard it was a really nice Italian restaurant and when Son #2 asked where I’d like to go for a birthday meal I suggested there so he booked a table. Three of us arrived on time and stood for a good 5 minutes at the desk waiting to be seated. There was nobody there and although waiters glanced over from time to time, they were all busy and ignored us. Eventually a man, who might have been a manager, came over and barked, “Yes?”  We told him we’d booked and in silence he walked off to a table. We followed and sat down. No, he didn’t hold out chairs or flip out napkins in a showy manner.  Another long wait before menus were produced, and an even longer wait before a waiter came to take our order.  “You want wine?”  So Son #2 has a look at the wine list. I suggest the house wine might be fine, to which the waiter responded, “Pinot Grigio?” (Turns out that this is not the house wine but considerable dearer.) The wine eventually arrived but the waiter had difficulty opening it, in fact the cork broke. He persevered at the side of the table getting little bits of cork out, before skulking off to open it at the bar. This is all done in silence. I watched him dig it out and give the bottle a wipe of cork debris before bringing it back and pouring it into my glass for tasting. I did and it was sour. So I asked for anther bottle which he brought. All of this is done with no conversation whatsoever. The meal itself was okay, nothing to write home about. Portions were small. We decided not to stay for dessert or coffee but waiting for about half an hour after getting the bill before Son #2 eventually took it to the bar to pay. Needless to say, we won’t be going back there again. And no, we didn’t leave a tip.

The second incident was at the hospital visiting a woman who was dying. Her family were gathered around her bed in a single room and had been with her day and night for a couple of days. “What are the doctors saying?” I asked. Then they explained that the doctor had taken her off all food and medication apart from pain relief, although they didn’t really know why. And that ever since they hadn’t seen a doctor. Oh they did do their rounds but stood outside the room with a bunch of young doctors telling her story but never venturing into the room and never explaining anything to the family. It was almost as if they had washed their hands of her now that she was approaching death. I’ve seen this happen before, especially with the elderly. (And yes, I know not all consultants behave in this way, but I’d say the majority do.) Far too often people who are ill and their relatives are told nothing. They have to ask to make appointments with the doctor – and usually it is the junior ones who are sent – to find out what is going on with their treatment. Praise is always given to the nurses, however. This family said they had been super, kind and popped in frequently to turn their mum and make sure she was comfy. But they are always so busy, and sometimes people get forgotten. And that’s the worse thing about being in hospital, isn’t it? Thinking that you’ve been forgotten, or are a nuisance. I’m sure doctors don’t mean to be so rude, but perhaps someone could point out to them that by not coming in to the bedside and actually speaking to the patient or family, they are causing untold upset and needless worry.

Good service costs nothing.

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