22 January 2011

Customer Service, German Style

Yesterday we met up with a group that I belong to and went out to a restaurant by Savignyplatz,
Cassambalis. It's a restaurant that I had frequently walked by, as one of the places that we have lived in was across Kurfürstendamm from it, but we had never gone there.

We were a relatively large group at 15, but we went relatively early for Berlin on a Friday night, arriving at 19:30. The environment was interesting, with the appearance of a gallery and "modern art" on the walls (with Modern meaning what one might see at the Bergruenn) and an interesting buffet type of display in the center (where one can choose items, but they are plated by staff).

We ordered wine and our meals and started to chat and have a good time. Then our salad arrived and it was the wrong salad. We decided to let it go. But the woman next to me got her fish and it was the wrong one (fillet, not grilled). The waiter exchanged it. Our steak arrived. It was the wrong steak (we had ordered with pepper sauce and one type of potatoes, what arrived was the other one. The one without pepper sauce and with vegetables.

The German pointed this out to the waiter and said it was fine, but could we please just have the pepper sauce? The waiter told him that he was wrong, that he had not ordered that steak. The German just looked at him. He couldn't believe that the waiter told him that he was wrong. There was no price difference, it wasn't as if we were "scamming" our way into a pepper sauce upgrade! After a few seconds of disbelief, the waiter muttered, "But I can get you the sauce anyway."

What the heck was that about? Even if we had ordered the wrong steak (which we had not– and we hadn't even pointed out that we had received the wrong salad!), what type of response was this? And no apology to the woman next to us, as he gave her her correct order, no discussion with the 4 out of 15 whose orders were mysteriously delayed (salads yet, which should have been ready and waiting for the other orders to finish!) and no apology when they finally arrived. And last, when we ordered the creme brulee, to be told it was sold out! Well, when you sell out at the beginning of the dinner seating, I would guess that it had never been available and the waiter should have mentioned that when discussing the menu after seating us.

Oh right- he never mentioned specials or any other items on the menu when seating us.

One of the poorer customer experiences I've had at any real restaurant here in Germany. The service was even worse than at the Biergarten where the waiter charged us for a meal we never ordered– at least there, he actually got us the orders we had requested!

On the very plus side, several of the couples invited us to join them at a bar for live music after dinner and it turns out the venue is around the corner from us! Amazing and amazingly fun: they have live entertainment every day of the week and real cider. I expect we will visit again.


Expats Again said...

Sorry to hear about your bad experience. I know I for one enjoy the reports of bad service, terrible food, or long waits that appear in blogs. It saves me the trouble of ending up at a poor eating establishment. Ah...the wonders of the internet.

G in Berlin said...

The food itself was not bad: it was just that we didn't receive anything at all that we had ordered. For a relatively expensive meal, in a city where I can get good food, I will never return. My mother says that I should tell the manager, because 15 people will never return, but I just don't care enough. We even tipped the waiter. We will just never go back. There are so many better restaurants that it's not worth giving that type of feedback unless it's a one off bad experience in the neighborhood, which I want to be able to patronize. Imho.