The Bizarre(?) Bartender of Blind Tiger Ale House, Manhattan
Late last week I made a quick trip to Manhattan. Given the schedule there was an opportunity for one meal with friends. As I was waiting for my friends and given the heat and humidity and the proximity to Blind Tiger Ale House, a quick trip to BTAH seemed like a good idea.
As I entered, there were 2 bartenders, and 3 when I left. 2 were females, 1 was male. I ordered 3 beers each served by a different bartender. There were about 4 customers when I entered and about 6-8 customers when I left. I had a great conversation with the male bartender who was quite engaging (I mentioned to him how BTAH was popular on the West coast and that I was surprised to see so little Allagash given its proximity. He said the listings were very dynamic, and I am sure they are!). All three bartenders offered samples and I had 4 samples and ordered 3 beers. My first exchange was with a female bartender and I asked her for the check as she had opened the tab for me. This is what followed:
Me: "Can I have the check please?"
BT brings me the check.
Me: "How much are the BTAH t-shirts for?"
Me: "Ohhh..." (shrugged a little indicating it was a little expensive) "Hey, but you guys can get free publicity in Los Angeles (where I live)" (smiling as I said that).
That's when I noticed a discrepancy in the check. They had billed me for 2 beers instead of 3.
Me: "Hey, you haven't charged me for a beer. I had 3, there are only 2 on the check". Again smiling at her I said "So maybe you can give me a new check and a discount on the tshirt"
BT: "You know what, SHAME ON YOU!! WE DON'T NEED YOUR MONEY AND YOU DON'T NEED TO PAY FOR THAT BEER".
BT went over to the other side of the bar, as I was bewildered at what had just happened!
I paid for the two beers ($17 and left a $3 tip, lower by my standards, but reasonable given the exchange) and left after having waited to make sure she wasn't returning with a different check.
Funny way to do business?
Revenue so far: $17
Additional revenue: $8 - $30 (depending on the price of the tshirt). All you have to do is give me a new check and possibly smile and say "sorry, its $22".
I am sure $8-30 doesn't make a dent in BTAH's annual revenues, but what a bizarre way to respond to a paying customer, who has recognized an error that is to your advantage and is willing to pay for it (and possibly more!) Mind you there were operating at 10-20% of their capacity and there were 3 bartenders, so there really wasn't a lot of pressure on them.
As I thought about the situation later, I realized was haggling for the tshirt price was a bad idea?
A. I wasn't asking it for free
B. Poor form or not, I am a paying customer and I am being as nice and funny about it. Just say no, you don't have to SHOUT back at me!
Will I ever return to BTAH? In all honesty, its a great establishment serving hard to find beers and being a channel for smaller craft brewers. And I must say 2/3rd of the employees did a fine job! Though, I have decided to send an email to BTAH because maybe this is a repeat offender.
I think the "sounds weird" argument is a judgment call; one can argue either way. The more important point here is the response to a weird request: politely declining it is a reasonable option that can and should be exercised. Rebuking a customer is
BTW, I wrote to Blind Tiger, and they responded very quickly with an apology (accepted) and an offer for a free tshirt (declined). The only explanation for the the bartender's behavior was the she was certainly having a bad day.
I think the "sounds weird" argument is a judgment call. What's more important is the response to a weird request, and under ideal and almost every condition is to decline it politely. That was a clearly an option that was not exercised.
I wrote to BTAH and they responded in a matter of hours and offered an apology (accepted) and wanted to send me a free tshirt (politely declined). The only explanation they could offer for the behavior was that she was having a bad day.
It is hard to tell exactly what it was like when it happened since no one on this board was there. New Yorkers have strong senses of humor and that 's what it sounded like to me. By the way, I've worked in retail and did just fine with customers who often came back looking for me in particular to help them.;)