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Bottomless glasses of despair. Er, of Pepsi. Nov 25

Not everything last weekend was as glamorous as flying (albeit low budget) and riding the Gatwick Express. On Saturday night, we went to Pizza Hut and wasn’t that a mistake…

The Chinese was heaving so we reluctantly opted for a “Feast for All” and bottomless glasses of Pepsi – a quick meal before heading into London. So awful was the service, we never made it into town.

Now, we knew better than to expect silver service in a fast (what a misnomer) food restaurant, but all such businesses these days make a big fuss about customer service. Ronald McPizzaHut or whoever their head honcho is would have been appalled.

It was clear as soon as we walked in that they were understaffed. It took a minute or two for us to be waved to a table, which is literally what happened as an apparently uninterested member of staff spotted us in the doorway.

After a longer wait, we were given menus. The only staff member in the front of house was cleaning tables. Eventually (having got us to lift our menus so he could clean) he returned to take our order.

The starters and drinks came quite quickly although with no cutlery. We made do although realised we should have asked for napkins after handling the chicken wings.

The main course was also fairly prompt. Sadly, we were not provided with fresh plates or any cutlery at this point with which to devour it. After waiting (and with no staff around to ask), we resigned ourselves to eating with our hands – at least for a while – and reusing the starters’ plates, which (naturally) hadn’t been removed.

We kept an eye out for someone from whom we could request knives, forks and plates. Some of the other punters seemed to be friends of members of staff who were chatting with them rather than circulating. I noticed more customer arriving and being similarly ignored.

Finally we flagged down a surly waitress. We didn’t dare ask for more than cutlery lest she beat us, but she did at least provide these and we were able to eat with a little more class.

Now, one of Pizza Hut’s selling points is the refillable soft drinks. This does presuppose, of course, that the restaurant is sufficiently staffed that you can find someone to refill it. Eventually I succeeded and she carried out glasses off. After a few minutes we began to doubt if she was planning to return. A good ten minutes later she did.

We were pretty unimpressed and discussed whether we would ever return to this particular branch. We’d spent longer than intended there and if we headed to London now we probably wouldn’t get more than one drink in.

Keen to get going and tired of the surroundings, we looked around for a member of staff. Eventually a waitress appeared and we were able to attract her attention and asked her for the bill. And then we waited. And waited. And waited.

We looked at the menus (which they had left with us) and calculated the total cost of our meal. We toyed with the idea of leaving the cash and going. Despite the staff giving the impression that they wouldn’t notice (and wouldn’t care) if we left without paying, I was keen to ensure they knew we had. Eventually, I got up and went to the till. The two members of staff there ignored me for a bit but one of them finally gave me the bill.

Well, a bill. Not the bill. Someone else’s. I pointed out her error and was finally able to pay. And leave (sans complimentary mints). We wrote off our the rest of our planned evening and went to Blockbuster for wine and films.

As I said, we weren’t expecting service akin to a state banquet, but the customer experience was absolutely abysmal. There were too few staff, even fewer of whom attended to the customers in the restaurant. The staff gossiped together and showed no interest in providing even basic customer service. I don’t normally write letters of complaint but I’m going to this time.

Looking back at this missive, you’d think it got to me, wouldn’t you?

One Response

  1. 1

    get over it -it’s pizza hut! get a real problem!