Service as Quick as Coal

by Jake McMillan

I wrote a letter of complaint to the Coal Grill and Bar in Wimbledon (below). Unlike the silly letters to the FA about applying to be England Manager, complaining to Hampshire Council that the New Forest is not new, asking for Vagisil to change its name, this complaint is a genuine one.

I wasn’t trying to be funny, however I was going for a hint of sarcasm but I am not sure I managed it? Read the below and see how you think I did? The email had the Subject Line of ‘Congratulations on Your Service’.

I am writing to congratulate you on your truly unique standard of service.

In these difficult economic times most bars and restaurants are only too eager to encourage customers on their premises to eat and drink, whereas you stand apart in letting thirsty and hungry patrons sit gloriously unattended.

I really do admire your lack of greed and desire for profitability to let potential sales of drinks and food go amiss and let willing customers sit and chat assured in the knowledge they are not in any danger of being served anytime soon. It is a refreshing approach to want customers to spend less as well as helping with their diet and health by letting them drink and eat as little as possible.

Some naive restaurateurs would use your proximity to the Odeon Cinema and the footfall of customers this must bring as an opportunity to maximise sales, but no, you expertly have created an environment where you only serve customers if they really do demand it. Why have staff running around asking customers if they want a drink or to order some food when they can just stand around doing nothing.

I have had the pleasure of your unique service on several occasions this year, before I ventured into the cinema, and I really must commend you on the diligence of your staff to stand inside looking out at willing and ready to be served customers and refusing to be drawn in to the trap of taking their order.

I waited 40mins earlier this week sat outside in your area of 12 tables waiting to be attended to. Normally I have to wait sometime to be served, but this day was special in the fact I was sat at a completely empty table hoping to order a drink and a member of staff did come out eventually but cunningly avoided my attempts to get his attention or notice that there were no drinks or food on my table.

As a user of the FourSquare social networking tool, I was able to see that other customers of yours have had a similar experiences to my own and applaud you on your consistent level of service.

Once your staff have been accosted or tricked into actually serving, they are amazingly average in politeness and proficiency.

When I got the bill earlier this week I also had to admire how you have cleverly managed to minimise the 20% discount offered (either from showing Odeon tickets or VoucherCloud code) by applying the discount to the total including the amusingly named ‘optional’ service charge (10%) which I was forced to pay. It was very astute of you to realise I now did not have the time to dispute this as I had to rush off to see the film I had booked tickets for.

Well done on choosing an alternative approach to service and having the bravery to implement it so deftly.


Jake McMillan

I couldn’t find any director level contacts, so sent this to the Manager of Coal at Wimbledon and their Marketing person. It triggered a general response that day but the following day I got an email from John Gater, the Founder and CEO of the Coal Bar and Grill Group.

COAL RESPOND to my complaint: Click here >>>

Related Stories:
My England Manager (Football) Application
Complaint to Hampshire Council about ‘New’ Forest
Complaint about Vagisil Name 

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