Sunday, 12 September 2010


Right, it's sounding off time. After a day traipsing round the shops with my mum we stopped at Costa Coffee for a refreshment stop. Costa's coffee is really good, and their raspberry and almond cake is worth a try, but OMG.. the service is dire. It's not just the Blackpool branch that employs drongo's, it seems to be a nationwide trend at Costa Coffee. Here's the job requisite/description for working at Costa...
1. Are you young?
2. Will you wear a tight black shirt? 
3. Will you chat incessantly with your colleagues? 
4. Will you ignore customers and a growing queue whilst wiping round?
5. a bit more with colleagues? 
6. ...allow tables to be left overflowing with cups and plates and saucers? 
7. ...ask 3 times what you had just ordered? 

You lose the will to live by the time you get your toytown, Early Learning size cup of espresso and fight past prams and tables strewn with dirty crockery and sit down for two minutes whilst in two gulps, your coffee is gone. And you pay heavily for that privilege. You then yearn for the days of tea or coffee houses where you have a private booth and staff are trained properly, are quick and serve you at your table. A bit like the rest of Europe and North America where this seems to happen with consummate ease and speed. 

And then we went to H&M to pick up some jeans for my nephew. Jeans selected.. find the tills, two staff serving and one customer ahead of us. Couldn't be simpler? Think again. The lady ahead of us talks incessantly to the shop assistant and gets into a big discussion over her credit card that had disappeared from her purse. And if by magic, the other sales assistant skulks away to fold jumpers. After 5 minutes of queuing the veins of my neck are throbbing. After 9 minutes and I'm at breaking point. I then go into full strop mode and tell the sales assistant to get back on that till NOW before I start unfolding all her jumpers and jamming them in her NVQ level 2 in Twatty Sales gob. Through gritted teeth I kindly asked her why she chooses to ignore customers queuing, and to kindly remember that in a global recession, money through tills and customer service is a tinsy-winsy bit more important than folding size 8 acrylic jumpers. My mum then told me to calm down and told the now sulky gobshite that her daughter is a nurse, has a very stressful job but is usually very nice. And lo and behold, the jeans go through the till at their full price and not the sale price as advertised. I then go into full Krackatoa East of Java mode and demand the sale price NOW. Sulky gobshite goes off for proof and I swear she went off to the staffroom for a quick fag and a quick read of Heat magazine before coming back to unsmilingly put them through the till at the sale price. 
Maybe my expectations of good service are a tad too high. You know.. the expectations of having staff meeting the till ratio.. of having staff who smile and say hello or sorry to have kept you... of staff who look interested and serve you quickly and with good manners. Did all that really finish in 'Are You Being Served' in the mid 1970's. I kind of think it did....


  1. OMG - just have to agree! Is it an age thing? I've lost track of the shops I've been in and thought "if I was the manager here I'd .........". Customer service seems to have gone out of the window. Shops I associate with good customer service can be counted on less than one hand. We all know from personal experience that Customers can be complete gits but without them - no job so treat them with respect!!!!!!

  2. Hi Sarah,
    Nice to see you back! I've always had my suspicions that the UK is universally crap at customer service particularly in retail. Trouble is, no training to sell, no incentive with bonuses or commission makes the staff at best, only till operators and jumper folders. Age just makes you more grumpier about it and even less tolerant of the widespread ineptitude.
    Thanks for the comments. Keep checking in x

  3. I once went in to a shop and the person on the phone said to her friend - wont be a second i will just get rid of this customer - needless to say i didn't bother. And talking about coffee shops - they now have a costa fortune coffee shop in the Vic - and the non service is exactly as you say appalling - if i was the manager they wouldn't do it - Grrrrrr

  4. Hi Dave,
    Costa's are supremely good at hacking their customers off. They provide a counter that is 20 feet long but the actual serving area is 6 square inches and the even less so where you join another 10 customers waiting for the 'barista' to serve your coffee. NB barista is the Italian for 'painfully slow and wouldn't know a coffee bean from a baked bean'.
    My masterplan for my grump on shopping is, wherever possible, only shop at privately owned shops where the staff try a little bit harder, or purchase goods over the internet. Science proves it brings your blood pressure down more and it's easier to park...
    Thanks for the comment xx