Saturday, 4 August 2012

Y4 - 309/365: Something to Say

I decided to steer away a bit from what my blog posts are usually centered around because I have something I need to say. Last night some expat friends from our West Midlands group arranged a meetup in Walsall at an "American" themed restaurant called Smokey's Joint. Although it was marked as a "family" event, it was unsuitable for me as they were meeting at 7pm and that would mean Ry-guy would miss his bedtime. I didn't fancy a cranky toddler so I took a raincheck for this one.

This morning, I woke up to see messages on our group's Facebook wall about how they didn't have a good night because the service and food were substandard. Specifically, they ordered some drinks from the bar, were told they would be right out, and an hour and a half on they were still without them. Also, the wait staff, whilst seemingly busy as it was a Friday night, had no concern with them to even ask how the meal/experience was, something that is KEY in any American dining experience -- you ALWAYS ask how things were. They went on to say how two of our friends even spoke up on the Smokey's Joint Facebook wall and the posts were deleted!

Not being one to just sit back when I see friends being treated unfairly, I did a bit of investigating. Initially I considered going on the same Facebook wall, but considered I would probably be deleted as well, so I went on Smokey's Joint Twitter account and sent them a message, simply asking if a customer were to leave a post about a bad experience, why would they delete it. Within 2 minutes I had a pop-up message that I was blocked from seeing any of their posts.

Funny. One would think that if a new company had any interest in keeping customers and potential customers happy, they would address any issues that people brought forward, however, in less than 12 hours I was quickly observing how all they wanted to do was delete things and block people in what I can only assume was an attempt to hide and pretend it didn't happen.

This is when I decided to be a bit more proactive. I posted a public message on my own Facebook and tagged Smokey's Joint so they, and anyone who visited their page, would see the message as well. Here is what I posted (click on photo to enlarge)...

The first couple of comments were from friends of mine agreeing that it was ridiculous and confirming that Smokey's is quick to delete negative posts as they witnessed that the posts were made and then deleted within 5 minutes. I checked again on my wall about 30 minutes later and decided to message Smokey's directly on chat. It was sent to a mobile and I had a response within minutes that the Facebook and Twitter are not run by the same person, so they could not respond as to why I was blocked on Twitter. They then assured me the way my friends say they were treated is not the way Smokey's is run and is not acceptable. They promised to look into the situation and asked for the names of the people who attended and had the poor experience so they could receive a free meal and invited me to see their service and try their food myself. I thanked them for their response and told them I would pass on this message to my friends so they could get in touch if they wanted.

Shortly after this they responded on my Facebook post on my wall as well...

Fair play, but still they failed to answer why the posts were deleted and even tried to say that the posts I am saying were deleted were on the Twitter account, which I knew was not the case. Either way, I was happy they finally took initiative to respond, but still took a moment to clarify the point that if they typically don't have negative posts, I don't know this as they have shown they delete them so I simply suggested that leaving the comment and responded to it would do them more of a favour as people could see how they deal with any issues that arise. I'll admit, I did make a comment about their grammar, or lack thereof, but anyone who knows me knows this is my number one pet peeve and I think anyone in a professional light should especially make an effort to sound mildly educated.

After that, loads of comments poured through, mostly Smokey's customers stating they have not had that type of experience and rather enjoyed the food. Of course, there had to be one cave-man who suggested my 'rant' was due to it being 'that time of the month' for me...because why else would a woman speak...right? But you can see them for yourself, here, as I have left the Facebook post public, for the time being anyway.

Most who responded didn't even read my post and went off about how I had no right to complain about Smokey's as I didn't eat there, my friends did. I was also called a variety of names and one even went to refer to me as a typical "jumped up" American. Again, anyone who really knows me knows this is so far from the truth. I do joke to my friends about "going all American" on people...but in reality it just means that I take a stand when I find it necessary. I'm not violent and FAR from threatening, in fact most if not all of the time I do my best to be diplomatic. Of course, if I can get some humour in there then it just may fall out but I'm just not a doormat and don't like when myself or my friends are treated as such.

The fact is that everyone's opinions and experiences should matter and no one should be made to feel that their thoughts aren't important simply because it wasn't a "puppies and rainbows" experience. Along with that, yes, restaurants and their staff are bound to have "bad days," but anyone who works in the industry of food-service/hospitality know that your number one priority is the customer and sometimes when you're not feeling your best you need to slap a smile on and make sure the customer has a positive experience...that includes staying off your stupid mobile. You're there to WORK, not socialise. Sometimes having a positive experience means dealing with a negative, and working it out into a positive by using a bit of problem solving and initiative. I'm sure there are plenty of jobseekers out there who would value their job-security enough to make more of an effort than the staff my friends experienced.

Anyway, at the end of the day I don't feel bad for what I did. I'm passionate about things important to me so I spoke up for my friends and I know they appreciate it. As for the others who were "so offended" by my was my choice and you have to remember that you also made a choice to write on my wall with a response.

Did I get what I wanted in the end? I think so. A little awareness, a few shared similar experiences, and a group of friends who I value and stand behind when the time calls for it. Plus, I'm hoping Smokey's learned a very important lesson as well and all things aside, I do wish them luck with things and hope they truly took it all on board.

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