Thursday, March 20, 2008

How many Bell Canada Customer service reps does it take to get it right?

Location: Ontario, N/A
Industry: Telecom
Company: Bell Canada

I called in Dec to have my credit card billing information updated because my credit card had expired so they needed the new expiration date on file to continue with automatic bill payments.

Two months later I realized that I wasn't seeing my phone bill on my credit card statement. So I called again, wrestled with their horrendous voice mail system until finally I got through to a live person. This customer service rep took my new credit card information and assured me that they would have my account updated and the outstanding balance billed to the card.

Three weeks later I get a phone call from Bell Canada asking me to pay an overdue balance... that was supposed to have been addressed in my phone call to them three weeks ago...which was to resolve their mistake from December!

I give up.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Alleycatz owner doesn't deserve your business

Location: Ontario, Toronto
Industry: Restaurant

Visited Alleycatz on March 1, 2008 to celebrate a friend's marriage. Reservations were made for 7:30 but a group of us arrived late...around 8:30. Our entire group was 22 people, in total, 6 of us arrived late. They didn't hold the 6 seats for the late-comers, (understandably...they gave away the table) however, (and luckily) there was still an empty table in the dining area when we arrived. BTW, this place is located near Yonge & Eglinton in Toronto.

Upon arrival we ("the late ones") were accosted at the door by a slimy-looking middle-aged man and his henchman. He rudely told us that we had to pay a $10 cover charge (did I mention it was 8:30?). We happened to be ahead of a group of other strangers who tried to bypass us. He screamed at them to step back while he kept snapping his fingers at us for $10 each.

We explained we were with the "wedding group." He asked if we intended to order dinner. We said, "yes." He said, "too late, dinner is almost over and kitchen will be closed. Pay me $10 each." Reluctantly, we paid him the $10 cover each.

We sat down at the open table in the dining area and subsequently watched the rude man leave his post the front door allowing new customers to walk in without having to pay the $10 cover (we counted 8 before the fumes coming out of our heads started to obstruct our view).

A waitress came to our table to ask if we wanted to order. We told her that we were advised that dinner service was over and also had to pay $10 cover at the door. She advised that we could still order dinner if we wanted and that their policy was to charge $10 cover after 9pm. We complained, again, about having to pay cover especially since we arrived before 9pm (at 8:30), and about the man at the door who spoke to us extremely rudely. She sympathized with us and told us that she's tried numerous times to reason with the man but it "doesn't do any good." When we probed more about the man, she advised that he is the owner of Alleycatz.

We told her we wanted to speak with the owner and she said she would let him know. She later returned to our table stating that he was "tied up" and would come out when he had time. We were still angry about the situation and although we ordered a few drinks, we refused to order food until we spoke with him.

Still waiting for the owner to come to our table, the hostess (a blonde woman) came to us and asked if we had ordered or had been served. We told her we had not ordered any food and that we were dissatisfied with the fact that we were forced to pay $10 cover and also told that dinner service was over. The hostess advised that their policy was to charge cover after 8:30 and tried to convince us that everyone is charged if they arrive after 8:30.

The hostess also told us that we had to order food in order to continue sitting in the dining area, if we weren't ordering food, she would have to ask us to move to the standing room around the bar.

Our waitress returned shortly after our exchange with the hostess and asked what she said to us. The waitress apologized for how "they" were treating us and gave us some more time to think about what we wanted to order. I'm not sure if this was a intricate charade between the owner, hostess and waitress…but I prefer to think that our waitress was being sincere. But…in the end…who really knows *shrug*

At this point we realized that we weren't going to win this battle. The owner doesn't care about customer service and the staff is feeding us lines about the time at which cover charge comes into effect. If it weren't for our friends, who were celebrating their marriage, we would have left. But, at this point, we really had no choice. We ordered a few appetizer dishes and an entrée: spring rolls, grilled calamari, artichoke & cheese dip, and steak & frites. The food was average; nothing amazing.

The owner never came to our table to address our concern. An act of an coward, if you ask me. Thinking back, he probably sent the hostess do his dirty work.

On Saturday nights, the place features a live band and around 10:30 or so the band came on to do their first set. The dinner service was ending and the bar crowd was filing into the space. I'll have to admit, the live music was great. Set a great atmosphere and, frankly, it's always great to hear a good, live band. The place got busy...more and more crowded…to the point of being extremely uncomfortable.

The latter part of the evening was better for us. We didn't focus too much on the treatment we received at the door and the night did end on a good note for us. But looking back, I have to say that overall the service was horrible. Never been treated so rudely at the door of an establishment. The owner obviously has no respect for his patrons and has no understanding of "customer service." If it wasn't because we were there to celebrate our friends' marriage we would have walked out. Food was average; overpriced for the quality. Owner and hostess were rude, unwelcoming and pretentious.

The policy about charging $10 cover is fair, but when it's communicated inconsistently and in a rude tone…it just leaves you feeling ripped off. Our group ended up spending upwards of $1000 at Alleycatz that night…something that I don't feel the establishment deserved based on how it treats its customers.

I'll acknowledge the live band was awesome...but kind of wished someone would've called the fire marshall because the place was packed with so many people it would've been way beyond what any fire code would allow.

On principle, I would not want to visit this establishment again in the future and would discourage others to do the same. The shame is that the same owner also owns the pool hall/restaurant across the alley and the 2 places basically have the Yonge/Eglinton area cornered. Hmm….anyone thinking about opening a bar/lounge in this area? If you are considering it and you're committed to top-notch customer service; let me know---I'd love to give you my business.