Pubpaper 713 – The Bad Attitude Landlord

Posted: 10th June 2013 by santobugtio in Pub Paper, Writing

Customer service is one of the most important aspects of any public facing business, even more important when need to keep customers on your premises to continue to purchase your wares.  Last weekend I went out for night out with my wife and experienced the two opposite ends of customer service.  The good I will name, the bad I will keep anonymous.  We started the evening with a meal at Sanams in Elland, the customer service could not have been better, attentive whilst not intrusive they ensured that you knew exactly what you were ordering and served it politely in good time to a high standard.  We hadn’t visited the restaurant in over a year, but the experience ensured that we would again.

After the restaurant we went to the pub for a couple of drinks.  The pub we visited again used to be a regular haunt, but hadn’t been visited in a long time.  This is mainly due to a nearby competitor being one of our favourite pubs in the whole of Calderdale, however we decided to visit this particular establishment for a change, something I won’t be repeating again.  The couple of hours we spent there started well enough, but soon went downhill. I asked the barman which beer he recommended for someone who likes a nice hop flavour, a question I asked many times and usually elicits a recommendation or an offer to sample a beer if the staff member is not quite sure.  However on this occasion the response included the phrase “it’s not all about the bitterness you know”.

I probably try hundreds of different beers a year and know damn well that too much bitterness can ruin a beer, balance is essential.  The weekend before this incident I purchased a bottle of Magic Rock 8 Ball, a beer I have been waiting to try for a long time and was willing to invest quite a lot more money into than my usual tipples.  This beer is hopped, filtered through whole leaf hops and then dry hopped to really infuse the flavours.  The result is a 7% black IPA which has bags of flavour, but keeps a lovely balance between the bitterness of the hops, the citrus elements and a light fresh taste.  I am not as much of a hophead as I used to be, but it is still an essential part of my beer diet and this one hit the spot.

I have no problem with the beers at the pub, they are good brews, with a nice range on offer, and most I could happily drink as a session ale all day, but would rather not be spoken to like I have absolutely no beer knowledge whatsoever.  However this just the start, the bell was rang for last orders at about 11.10pm, so I went to buy a pint of cider for my wife and a set of ? pint sampler size beers to finish up.  About 11.35pm, when there was still about 15 people in the bar, I ordered a taxi back home.  Whilst I was on the phone and discussing with my wife what time to order it, the landlord interrupted this private call whilst clearing the empty glasses from the previous round with “I wouldn’t, I close in 5 minutes”.  This was totally out of order from a privacy and tone of phrase point of view, had he said “I’ll be closing up in 10 minutes, so you’ll have to wait outside I’m afraid”, I would not have took offence.

However the “Basil Fawlty” moment came at about 11:45pm, when the Dyson made an appearance and he started hoovering around the remaining 10 or so customers.  Of the other parties left in the pub there was a look of incredulity passing between the members of at least one other apart from ourselves.  By the time we left, he still had a handful of customers drinking up and was merrily polishing up the wood on the front of the bar.  The whole experience has ensured that any plans for future visits have been put on hold, which is a pity for a pub which used to rank as one of my favourites.

I have said before, the triumvirate of elements which make up a pub is service, beer and surroundings.  Surroundings you can forgive on a regular basis if the other two elements are good, the beer as long as it is fresh can be standard big brewery fayre for the occasional visit, but poor attitude towards customers will wipe out any benefit gained from the other two.  This is a case in point.