Friday, January 17, 2014

Charly's Bakery - Cairp Tahn

Its not so much that Leon and our childminder, Mary, were completely felled for a day and a half, after eating a carrot cake cupcake from Charly's Bakery (and getting severe food POISONING) that made me mad as a snake - it was the behaviour of the manager when I reported it to her!

Look, I suppose I was naive. I fondly imagined that the manager of Charly's Bakery (you know that uber trendy place opposite the Fugard - with the lovely pink and white cake boxes which everything comes in - at one hell of a price?) would actually care that two of my family were POISONED by her beautifully decorated, but POISONOUS product. I thought she would care.

The encounter went something like this: Picture it (uber trendy bakery filled with uber trendy Cairp Tahnians). Me: not uber trendy and clutching an ice-cream tub with two of their POISONOUS cupcakes inside. I ask one of the serving ladies if I could please speak to the manager. She glances at my ice-cream tub like it might contain a piece of turd. She nervously puts her head around the corner and calls one of the people sitting at the tables in full view who are decorating cakes. Even in the crammed and noisy serving area, I can hear an irritated sigh. She (one of the daughters, I think) appears. "What is this about?" she asks, hostile and put out - (like I am begging for money, or asking for sex). I say, "Is there somewhere a little less public we can talk?" "No! she says, "what do you want to say?"

At this point, I seriously considered shouting "Your fucking carrot cake gave two members of my household food poisoning", but I restrained myself. I said, calmly, "You really don't want to have me discuss this with you here." Reluctantly, she moves to a slightly less peopled space. I tell her my story. 

"Firstly", she said, "I don't believe it". I looked at her gobsmacked. "We sell thousands of cakes here and no-one has ever complained". She was now glaring at my ice cream tub like it contained fraudulent products from some other bakery. "Secondly", she said, "I have an order to finish". I said, the blood rising to my head, "Oh, do you? Well, would you mind awfully if I demonstrate to you how you should have handled this encounter?" I explained to her that I wasn't asking for a refund. I wasn't even asking for an apology. I had come, out of my way, bearing my ice-cream tub with two of her bloody cupcakes in it, because I thought she might be interested. Because I thought she might be ever so slightly concerned. Because I thought she cared a fig about what kind of product she was pumping out there and what was wrong with it.

She waivered. She explained to me in an irritatingly patronising voice that she was under huge pressure with her order and she hoped I didn't feel "undervalued". (Bloody hell! "Undervalued"!!!) One of her staff had died on duty the day before (I'm still trying to work out the relevance of this - unless before dying that staff member had decided to POISON the carrot cake cup cakes). "So what I suggest is", I said, "that I give you this ice cream tub with your cup cakes in it and you investigate what is wrong with them. I will leave my name and number and you can let me know your findings". 

She saw her chance, grabbed the ice cream tub and ordered one of the lackeys behind the counter to get my details.

I am absolutely certain that will be the last of the matter. She simply wasn't interested.

That is what I wrote over a week ago - but then this:

Well, the Charly's Bakery saga continues: You will recall (or maybe you won't) that Leon and Mary had food poisoning from two of Charly's Bakery's carrot cake cupcakes. I took two of them back, wanting to suggest to Charly's that they get them tested. Before I could do so, I was firmly put in my place, by one of the managers who I have subsequently discovered goes by the name of "Rock" - or something like that (my hearing is deteriorating fast). Anyway, I presumed nothing would come of it - and posted something on Trip Advisor, on the advice of a friend.

Yesterday, more than a week later, I had three messages left on my cellphone. The last, complete with an irritated sigh on the word "three" as she impressed on my answering service how much she was trying to get hold of me and how irritating it was of me not to be sitting waiting for her call - (this was the indefatigable "Rock" again).

Today I called back. "Ah", said Rock. "I'm sorry it has taken us so long to get back to you, but we wanted to wait to see if anyone else was going to complain". (I interpreted this to mean, "we have only just seen your rather unflattering review of us on Trip Advisor"). "No one did complain!", she said - as though that clinched the case. But if that wasn't enough to convince me, then she added the following: "I even forced one of my staff to eat one - and nothing happened, so clearly there was nothing wrong with them". 

Now, seriously, is one so unbearably stupid as to believe this?! (And even if one did, why didn't she eat the damn thing herself, instead of forcing a hapless staff member to eat a potentially poisonous cup cake? And, gosh yes! A staff member who has the kind of relationship with his or her employer which involves being forced to eat potentially poisonous cupcakes is bound to admit to being poisoned! I believe it all! I am a really gullible idiot!)

"So" said Rock, triumphantly, "seeing it is not our fault, we won't be able to refund or replace". (I pointed out again, at this point, that I had asked for neither).

Now I heard the trap shut. "However", she said. (There was an ominous pause) "I did read your review on Trip Advisor and I would like to say that I found it extraordinarily insensitive of you to make a joke about our employee who died". I tried to point out that the joke was about her - not about the dead employee. I tried to point out that it she she who had raised the dead employee as an excuse for her shoddy behaviour - but she was having none of it ... "common human decency!!!" I heard her saying. "Every one of my staff" - (the same staff whom she forces potentially poisoned cupcakes on, you remember) "read that review and they were absolutely traumatised by what you said!" 

She went on and on, teaching me a lesson. Telling me that "In future" - (I assured her there was going to be no future) - "making a complaint is one thing, but making jokes about dead employees is just beyond any kind of decency".

I was now the problem. The fact that I had questioned what possible relevance a recently dead employee could have on a suspicious carrot cupcake, was the primary issue to be dealt with. Well, she said, she could see that nothing was going to satisfy me. She had apologised for the way I had been treated (actually her words were she was sorry IF I FELT I had been badly treated). And that was that!

Appalling. The entire encounter was appalling. Rock, or whatever her name is, really needs to go on some kind of basic customer relations course, instead of being so smugly self-satisfied with her television persona of a caring, edgy, interesting, lovable baker woman, with a penchant for bright colours. Just the basics - just the absolute basics, would have been completely fine with me. How about "Terribly sorry this has happened. We will investigate. Is there anything we can do to make the situation better?" But then where am I? Oh yes! It's Cairp Tahn. We are all so very pleased with ourselves here!

1 comment:

  1. I dont even know where the tv show gets the title "number 1 bakery in SA" a cake from pick and pay may not look as fancy but tastes much better. I can imagine people from other countries coming here and looking forward to going there and being utterly disappointed!