Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Customer Service MSY-ery Style

Today I left town again. Because of my flight time and her schedule She dropped me off at the Airport earlier than necessary.

I decided to have breakfast. That turned out to be a mistake. I was on the B Concourse so there is only one establishment there that serves actual breakfast food. Another place does serve a bacon and egg po-boy.

I got in line and decided to order the $8.50 breakfast special which includes pre-scrabbled eggs, bacon or sausage and grits or hash browns off the steam table. Not a real good price, but whatever. I got into line and said "I'll have the #1 Special Breakfast with bacon and grits" the response was "We're out of grits". I later found out they were also out of bacon.

Now my first question is how do you run out of grits? They are cheap you could make enough to feed an army for a couple of dollars. Surely at the prices they are charging they could make extra. Even instant grits are better than no grits at all. I decided to pass, not mostly because they were out of grits (I like hash brows just fine) but mostly because the person serving seemed completely uncaring about me the customer standing right there. The announcement that they were out of grits was not prefaced with even a perfunctory "I'm sorry" or any other indication of interest.

I suppose no one in the tourist industry cares because no one stops to eat at the airport on their way into town. By the time they get to airport food the tourist industry has already separated the tourist from as much money as they could manage and don't see a need to be nice any longer.

That is a shame for two reasons.

First is that most places in New Orleans do a pretty good job of Customer Service maintaining a fairly good balance between hospitality and respecting guests privacy. There is very little of the TGI Friday's institutionalized perkiness "Hi! I'm Heather and in addition to bringing you your food I'm you new best friend!" and the sort of haughty service some pseudo-star restaurants affect announcing "The Chef prefers to serve you food his way, so sit there and like it remember to leave a big tip."

The second is it damages the name of a fairly well known Soul Food Resturant, The Praline Connection. I don't blame them. I understand that they and a few other places ( Acme Oyster House) licensed the food service vendor at the airport to use their name. While they may get some royalties they have no control over the operation. I just hope it doesn't hurt them too much.

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