15 December 2010

French Customer Service - Captain's Log Star Date 2635

Yeah – I know. I’m going mad and that stardate above, some 625 years from now, is probably just when France will be beginning to embrace customer service. But I’ll be in the loony bin long before then, and we’ll probably all be cosmic dust so they’ll never reach that seemingly impossible objective of making customers feel good.

This time it was the pizza parlour. Parlour? Is it a pizza parlour – is that what you call them? Anyway, it was the place (Mr Pizza) from where they deliver pizzas all over the area, only on Sunday night, I was passing so I got Angie to call in the order and I planned to pick it up on my through Vence.

I’ve never been to the actual establishment because we’ve always had our pizzas delivered but when I got there at 7.15 on Sunday night, there was a queue almost out of the door. Obviously people prefer to pick up their ready-made, piping hot pizzas and get them home before they become cold slabs of paper thin dough, with a scattering of congealed vegetables and meat which is usually what happens when the delivery guy brings them round on his scooter.

When I eventually fight my way to the counter I tell them about my telephone order (Angie’s order actually) – 3 mega Espagnole pizzas and a free Normande, free because I’ve got some ‘loyalty’ tokens. I try to work out how much I owe them but Angie has ordered extra beef on the 3 megas so I’m not quite sure what the exact bill will be despite waiting 20 minutes for the pizzas to come out of the oven and reading the wall-size menu and pricing chart whilst I waited – actually, whilst we waited – I’d been picking up Kitty from her boyfriend’s house.   

Three megas at €12,50 each makes €37.50 plus something for the extra beef I calculated.

‘That’ll be €51’, said the guy working the till and the phones.

Without thinking, I handed over Tan’s €50 note (it was his treat) and looked for another euro coin.

And then I started to think about it. €51 – that meant they were charging the grand sum of €13,50 for a few scraps of extra beef. I could have had another pizza for that price and scraped the beef off and still have been quids in! Sorry - euros in.

I called Mr Till over. ‘Excuse me – I don’t understand this pricing’, I said.

‘What’s the problem?’

‘Well – you’ve charged me €13,50 for some extra beef which is crazy. How much is extra beef?’

‘Well, it’s on the menu.’

‘Show me.’

‘Ah – it’s not on the menu’, he said, a bit surprised. I reckon he was new to the job.

‘So how much is extra beef ?’ He asked one of the guys making pizzas.

‘It’s about €2.50 per mega.’

‘About! OK – that makes an extra €7.50, not €13,50’, I told him, thinking that good old Dominos back in the UK probably only charge about £1 for extra whatever, but I was causing enough of a problem in the pizza parlour without making comparisons between UK and French pizza parlours. They don’t like nationalism over here.

Mr Till looked at the menu again and had another chat with the pizza maker who was trying to entertain the restless crowd by throwing the dough around, a la an Italian chef but without much success.

He grudgingly went to the till and took out some money and even more grudgingly handed it to me. I made the point of looking at it and counting it out. The queue got even more restless.

‘€6.50’, I said. ‘That means the extra beef is €7 for the 3 pizzas’, and as I was trying to do the maths, which I’m sure didn’t work, Kitty was pleading with me to take my pizzas and go.

I called it a day, after all Tan was paying and we walked to the car.

‘I still don’t think that’s right’, I said to Kitty.

‘Well, what he said was that they cannot charge you for items which are not priced on the menu so he just gave you your money back for the extra beef’, she informed me.

I was just about to go back in and ask for the other €7 when Kitty started the car and begged me to drive. 

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