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The Hoop and Toy, South Kensington

Fellow CAMRA members, please note that the hapless French duty manager at this establishment is refusing to give the 10% discount on Cask Ale during the Taylor Walker (aka Spirit Pub Company) during its Cider and Cask Ale Festival 2013 (running from 28 March to 28 April).

He was unable to scan the barcode on a brand new valid CAMRA membership card. He refused (or didn't know how to) manually process the transaction on his till. CAMRA discounts are routinely processed at other Taylor Walker pubs by simply pressing "payment", then pressing "promotions", and then pressing "CAMRA". I hope that the General Manager of the Hoop and Toy will teach his apprentice how to operate the till!

I suggest that CAMRA members boycott the Hoop and Toy until this character has been re-trained or removed. He was also arrogant enough to refuse a request that he should consult his General Manager before declining to give the discount.

I recommend that CAMRA members in the area give their custom to the nearby sister pub The Zetland, where the customer journey is now a pleasure. The discount is processed on the till, with no fuss, until the technical issues between CAMRA and Taylor Walker on membership card scanning are resolved. The ever helpful Deputy Manager at the Zetland has trained her colleagues how to manually input the discount on the till.

I note that some Taylor Walker pubs in London, for example The Rising Sun in Tottenham Court Road, offer CAMRA members discount on Cask Ales all year round (not just during beer festivals), but I guess that's a local management business decision.

I'm impressed by the range and quality of ales on offer during the festival so far. It's a shame that I'll be unable to sample beer at the Hoop and Toy. The pub could have a lot of surplus ale on its hands on 28 April, when the festival ends.

1 Apr 2013 12:14

The Zetland Arms, South Kensington

Last night (Friday) at 10.15pm, just one guy was serving behind the bar, as a queue of thirsty customers steadily built up around the bar. The barman worked very quickly, but he was on his own. Where were the other team members? Two other barmen on duty were either on their break or in the cellar. The fourth team member, a Spanish barmaid, was behind the bar - but when customers politely asked her if she was serving, she sharply rebuked that putting clean glasses back on the shelf took priority over serving customers! Some customers walked out! Others shrugged their shoulders as they are regular customers and stoically accept the rude attitude of most barstaff in the Zetland. Eventually, like a convoy of buses, the two absent barmen returned and the Spanish girl was suddenly available to serve - and where were all the customers? It's a shame that the duty manager was too busy cashing up in the office to see this performance.

The Zetland is becoming as notorious as the Coach and Horses in Soho once was, when Jeffrey Barnard drank there and Norman was the rude landlord. Customers would go there for the novelty of being insulted. There is a high turnover of staff in the Zetland, compared with neighbouring pubs in the same company. The staff don't appear to be happy and clearly don't enjoy their work - they often speak to each other in the own languages or stand in a huddle behind the bar preferring an impromtu team meeting to serving customers. In neighbouring pubs, there is a low turnover of staff, customers are treated like royalty, staff build up good relationships/friendships with regular customers - and there is a great atmosphere.

I can't work out what's going wrong at the Zetland, it's a good sized pub, it's in a fantastic location, it has TV screens showing the sport, it plays good background music, the beer is OK - why are the staff so poor? It may have something to do with leadership. Are they inspired and enthused by their manager? Are they trained in customer service and communication? Are they encouraged to achieve targets and work hard as a team? Perhaps I should change career go into pub management. Punch Taverns, do you have any vacancies? I suspect you may be recruiting a new manager at the Zetland very soon!

I won't give an appraisal of all team members at the Zetland, but special mention must go to the Spanish "clown", who loves to juggle with glasses and bottles. It inevitably leads to lots of breakages, as if he was a juggler he would be in a circus.

26 Jun 2010 18:12

The Hereford Arms, South Kensington

There has certainly been a significant improvement to the quality of real ales since Fullers took over. They still could do better by increasing the speed, efficiency and warmth of service - and eliminating the smell of chip fat. But, guess it's a dining pub for tourists, as well as a drinking hole for locals, so it's difficult to get the right balance. If the petite, cute Eastern European supervisor would actually smile and greet customers, the Hereford could be onto a winner. First impressions count, and you only get one chance.

6 Nov 2009 20:25

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andrew2006 has been registered on this site since 1st May 2009