Anyone who’s ever waited tables in their day knows how maddening it can be to have a customer join a group and order hot water with lemon – and nothing else.
Oh, it happens (at least, it did where I worked during university).
And sometimes the customers aren’t too happy to find that they’ve been charged a small fee for the drink they had assumed was free. In fact, some are shocked to find that it’s not cool to take up precious real estate and use the WiFi for free as they sip hot water with lemon out of the goodness of the restaurant owner’s heart .
A London restaurant owner, however, did a brilliant job recently in explaining why this is the case. Bennet’s Cafe & Bistro in York is a popular place with a slew of “excellent” TripAdvisor ratings and is ranked 11th out of 696 restaurants in the city by the site. For all the positive reviews, however, one customer wasn’t too happy. Hannah C from North Yorkshire took to the site to unleash a tirade after she was charged £2 for a hot water and lemon when she was “on a tight budget.”
She was angry at the cost of her drink and got into an argument with the waiter about the price of lemons versus the price of a pot of tea, which the waiter said was the same.
“This place is absolutely awful,” she writes, before describing her encounter with the waiter. “To show just how ridiculous this is, my friend ordered a slice of chocolate cake which was £1.90,” she added. Hannah left the “dreadful place” and said she’d never go back.
In response to the post, the manager had a pretty brilliant reply, breaking down the economics as to why “poor” Hannah wasn’t ripped off.
“You entered the cafe and the waiter showed you to your seat, gave you a menu, waited for a time and then took your order. He entered it into the till, collected a cup, saucer and spoon and took them into the kitchen. There, he selected a knife, chopping board, got a lemon from the fridge, cut off a slice and put it in the cup,” the response began, before the manager continued to break down the waiter’s tasks.
The manager estimated that serving the customer took two to three minutes of the waiter’s time and effort before offering a further detailed breakdown as to why Hannah was charged for her hot water and tea:
My favourite part is his send-off (and one I wish I could have said to customers back in the day): “Perhaps, the rudeness that you perceived in me was triggered by the disrespect that I perceived in you by your presumption that you could use our facilities and be waited on for free.”