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BITE user comments - Natasha_P

Comments by Natasha_P

The Zetland Arms, South Kensington

Bizarrely this poorly written staff notice was behind the bar on full display to customers in the Zetland last night:

"We are having a meeting on Tuesday morning due to your repeatedly (sic) failure with guest (sic) journey. I expect everyone to come including kitchen team as well. No excuses."

The current bar staff in the Zetland work very hard and are always polite to customers. Their "repeatedly failure" stems from a complete lack of leadership from the pub's management.

The General Manager is invisible during the evenings (probably because she works during the daytime and is involved behind the scenes on some evenings).

I work in the retail sector and during our intensive customer service training, we were taught that the Customer is King or Queen and that you must put the customer first and give them you undivided attention.

One very good example of the Zetland's "repeatedly failure" is the "prime time curfew" at 10pm. Just as the pub is usually getting busier two team members stop serving customers (no matter how busy it is) leaving just one or two bar staff struggling to serve the growing queues of thirsty customers, who have just arrived from the Albert Hall.

The absent team members are re-stocking and cleaning, which in other pubs is done during a quiet period or when the pub has closed. It's embarrassing to see customers snubbed and told "Sorry, I'm not serving" by staff who have been instructed to put cleaning and re-stocking before customers.

It is the only pub in London where the long beer mats/cloths and trays on the bar are removed two hours before the pub has closed, so that they can be washed alongside glasses in the machine. This leaves the bar in a complete mess, as drinks are spilt and it also gives the impression that the pub in not open for business.

The staff have great potential and warm personalities, but they desperately need strong leadership to inspire them and to stress the importance of excellent customer service. That will help avoid "repeatedly failure" in the future and ensure that the "guest journey" is a pleasant one.

16 Dec 2012 14:41

The Zetland Arms, South Kensington

What a fiasco on Easter Saturday night! (7 April). At 10.30pm the atmosphere was great. The pub was about half full. Everyone was relaxing, enjoying the Easter weekend and looking forward to an unhurried, convivial last few drinks to round off an excellent evening until the Zetland would as usual at midnight.

As a steady flow of regulars and tourists started to arrive, so the lively and friendly ambience continued to grow. Then at 10.45pm, like a bolt out of the blue, with no warning, an agressive short East European barmaid started to slam the bell so hard we thought it was going to fall off the wall. What on earth was going on? Was there a fire? Had a nuclear bomb gone off? Was it free Easter drinks?

No, this was a call (although they never shout 'Last Orders') for Last Orders - but the call was exactly one hour and five minutes early, as this pub is the only one in London to call time at 15 minutes to the hour, instead of the normal 10 minutes to the hour. But why was this fantastic customer experience being killed off one hour early - with no advance warning - when the pub was populated with numerous customer and more were constantly arriving? There was no logical answer. And bar staff were not prepared to speculate or even offer a half-logical answer.

One regular customer asked the Duty Manager to tell him who had made the bizarre decision. The Duty Manager answered sarcastically that it was God who made the decision. A somewhat crass answer and potentially offensive to any Christians gathered to celebrate Easter, after participating in the Easter Vigil in nearby Brompton Oratory.

The pleasant ambiance had been killed, as soon as the bespectacled barmaid had slammed the bell. A group of regular customers who had just arrived were astounded and felt badly let down. The bunches of tourists who'd just entered for a couple of drinks after dinner or a show were equally perplexed. They didn't know what to do or where to go.

So what did the helpful Zetland crew advise them to do? Well they completely ignored the guests, as they were too busy cleaning, desperate to be out of the pub as quickly as possible. Instead it was several regular customers who apologised to the tourists for their unhappy experience and gave them directions to alternative pubs and bars in the area.

The final straw and dramatic finale came when the aggressive Eastern European bell slammer harrassed a middle-aged couple, who were tourists, forcing them to leave their drinks and get out of the pub. The couple understandably told her "You are so rude". Miss Europe surprinsingly retaliated "No, you're the ones who so rude!". The other barstaff hung their heads in shame and embarrassment.

It was just a normal night in the Zetland. Britain's rudest pub! And still no representative of the Zetland has been abe to offer any explanation for the early closing, which ruined Easter for so many peaceful, law-abiding, paying customers.

12 Apr 2012 17:34

The Hoop and Toy, South Kensington

The last reviewer wrote:

"I was shocked to find out that a particularly surly and unhelpful female member of staff is actually part of the management."

You must surely be referring to the Kiwi girl known as "Mad M*". She calls every customer (whom she's never met before) as "Darling" or "Love" - and then proceeds to have an embarrassingly long and inappropriate conversation with the uncomfortable customer, while she is oblivious to the frustrated other customers awaiting service. Regulars see her as a figure of fun - and thankfully she is only usually let out during the daytime, so she can't alienate evening clientele.

30 Nov 2011 16:36

The Hereford Arms, South Kensington

I expect Fullers will bring in a new energetic, friendly and customer-focused management team and ditch the unpopular large Oz gentleman and his miserable little Polish sidekick. I hope that the wide range of quality beers and good food is maintained.

31 Mar 2009 22:30

The Stanhope Arms, Kensington

Three of the Stanhope's best barmaids have recently left (Monika, Dalia and Cecylia). Their replacements seem to be almost as friendly and efficient. If I owned a pub, I would want to use the same recruitment agency to find my staff.

29 Aug 2008 21:26

Kavanagh's Irish Bar, South Kensington

Sadly Kavanaghs is closing down (probably for good), as Jurys Hotel is being closed for refurbishment and upgrading to a Five Star hotel. This means they need to build a pool/gym in the basement - and what's left of the pub will probably be turned into a luxury cocktail bar or nightclub. Next Saturday night (19 July) is the final fling at Kavanaghs.

I will miss the place and the friendly, professional and crazy staff, particularly John, Tim, Jeffery, Trish and Rachel.

12 Jul 2008 15:54

The Stanhope Arms, Kensington

Colleen, are you sure you were in the Stanhope? If the staff are rude, it sounds more like the Hereford down the road. I've always found the Stanhope barstaff to be more than friendly and polite. Amy has now left, but the hardworking team are doing a great job. Yes, many customers are tourists, but there are also a good number of regular local customers too.

18 Mar 2008 23:00

The Hereford Arms, South Kensington

I agree with Londoner 81, the staff are remarkably cold and unfriendly. At least they have been smartened up now into proper uniforms - and not their own scruffy t-shirts. TVs have now been restored, but are rarely on. Prices have gone through the roof (compared with other local Spirit Group pub). Only one beer is now under 3 a pint (John Smiths), guest ales are a staggering 3.19, Kronenburg around 3.30, and Stella 3.40! Customers are paying for the refurbishments. The outdoor tables have also been removed to deter smokers. It's a sad state of affairs.

27 Feb 2008 22:12

The Cromwell Tavern, Kensington

Massive price increases have just been imposed without warning, driving away local customers. Carling up 95p! to 3.45 - 20% price rise! - way above inflation. Sadly this pub will be exclusively for the loud American airline crews, who get subsidised drinks! It's a great shame as all the staff are very friendly, particularly Olga from Poland.

27 Feb 2008 22:05

The Stanhope Arms, Kensington

Traditional English pub, selection of English ales and good meals. Very popular with sports fans - big screen used for big soccer matches. Clientele are a lively mixture of tourists and locals. Staff are friendly, fast and helpful - but shame there is such a high turnover rate. No hunky barmen at the moment. Staff are mainly Polish, Australian and Kosovan - and there's a lovely English barmaid who looks like Amy Winehouse. If you're in the South Ken/Gloucester Road area - pop in, you won't be disappointed.

16 Feb 2008 18:27

The Hereford Arms, South Kensington

The Hereford re-opened last Friday after refurbishment. Sadly, Spirit Group has transformed this traditional and cosy real ale pub into a plastic mock-Wetherspoon cafe. Guest ales have been axed (eg gems like Tribute Ale from Cornwall) and been replaced by ubiquitous London Pride and Spitfire. More tables have been squashed in, as well as garish mirrors and bright lights. Sports fans have lost their television. It's become a pub-style MacDonalds for American tourists. I suspect that the new manager had little choice, but to go along with the corporate intructions of his bosses. South Ken residents have lost a great local pub, no doubt they will join me in boycotting this cosmetic etablisment and moving to that great neighbouring pub the thriving Stanhope (until it gets the Wetherspoons treatment from Spirit Group - I hope that will never happen!).

10 Feb 2008 13:25

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