Tuesday, June 17, 2008

2 instances of ineptitude

A few weeks back, I suggested that for Father's Day, we treat our carnivorous dad to a steak dinner at Discovery Suites' 22 Prime, based on a glowing review written by food blogger Lori Baltazar (thanks for the link, Yang!). Anticipating a full house because of said special occasion (and the presumption that there are many meat-lover dads out there), I called well in advance to reserve a table for our family. During the phone conversation, I specifically asked the person on the other end if they would be serving a la carte items on June 15. When the girl hesitated, then answered in the affirmative in a not-so-certain tone, I pointedly reminded her, "That's Father's Day. You're sure there's no special set menu? We can order a la carte?" There was a muffled noise as the girl covered the receiver, but I distinctly heard her asking someone in the background to corroborate the information she was giving me. She returned to the line with the reassurance that a la carte items would be available on the day we'd be dining at 22 Prime.

Silly me for being reassured. We showed up at 22 Prime on the evening of June 15 to find a Father's Day buffet and-- you guessed it-- NO A LA CARTE. I was seething in barely controlled outrage as I complained to the manager that someone from his staff (and that someone thank her lucky stars I didn't remember her name) told me we could order from the a la carte menu. Through gritted teeth, I told him that if we had known it would be a buffet-only night, we would not have come. The whole point of having chosen 22 Prime was so that Pa could try their steaks. He doesn't even like buffets! I was contemplating switching venues right then and there, but my parents-- who were nice enough to try to placate me-- said we might as well stay, there was prime rib in the buffet anyway. I was still visibly miffed though, and to his credit, the manager was profusely apologetic, and he made sure the waiter assigned to our table jumped at our every beck and call. But I was still sore, especially upon learning the price of the buffet (P1100!!), and seeing the limited selection of desserts (
we should have gone to Heat instead!). The only thing that kept me from fully blowing a gasket was 1) I didn't want to spoil Father's Day by making a scene, and 2) I was wearing a new dress with my favorite camel heels, and the outfit was too nice to throw a hissy fit in. However, I vowed I would vent my displeasure through my blog, so there you have it.

Chances are I can't be convinced to return to 22 Prime, even to satisfy my carnivorous curiosity (sorry Yang!). I'm usually quite understanding when it comes to the occasional lapse in service, but when it throws a monkey wrench in my carefully laid out plans, then it just pisses me off. You'd think an upscale hotel would train their staff better and ensure that they are knowledgeable about all aspects of their job. And it wouldn't have hurt if the manager had given us complimentary beverages to make amends (coffee and tea weren't even included in the buffet!).

It really is disappointing to encounter demonstrations of carelessness and incompetence in even the best establishments or from the best organizations. My eyes practically popped out of my head last week when I saw a blunder committed by the king of international news networks, CNN. I was lying in bed in our hotel room in Guangzhou almost drifting off to sleep when a news story came on about a heap of treasure recovered from a sunken Spanish ship off the coast of Florida. Spain's government and an American salvage company are fighting over rightful possession of the gold and silver coins, and this headline, which jolted me awake and made me sit up in disbelief, was flashed across the screen: "Who's gold?" I kid you not.

It's bad enough that lately, I've observed that the contents of CNN's newsbar (the one-liners that appear on the bottom of the screen) have become increasingly vague and frequently uninformative. For example: "Manchester United report Real Madrid to FIFA" ...report them for what?? Or, "Man kills family with ax" ...what man?? Where's he from?? Or, "Queen's granddaughter to miss Olympics" ...why?? Is she an athlete, or a spectator? If it's the former, what sport was she supposed to compete in??
For that matter, which Queen are we talking about, and which granddaughter?? But choppy and ill-composed newsbar items, I can tolerate (it really is a challenge to be concise AND comprehensive-- SIAS, anyone?). "Who's gold?" on CNN, well that's just criminal. Off with the guilty typesetter's head!

I may be overreacting, but I believe in adhering to certain standards of competence, if not excellence (magis, baby!). And I expect to see those standards met by people and institutions who tout themselves as superior to others. So it's not that I'm being a bitchy customer or nitpicky viewer (though I won't plead innocent to either charge), it's just that my threshold for inexcusable ineptitude is low. Pardon me for being particular.


At Thursday, June 19, 2008, Blogger Sean said...

CNN, I can probably forgive. The newsbar that they have on the bottom of their broadcast is updated in real time as the reports come in, so any errors that we see there are usually due to a single overworked technician who has to type really fast. :) Usually any grammatical errors are corrected after one or two cycles.

Discovery Suites, however, committed a huge error in miscommunication -- on a Fathers' Day, no less. But you can at least take comfort in the fact that they'll be using your advice to improve. (Although with a P1100 buffet, it's unlikely that I'll pass by there anytime soon.)

At Thursday, June 19, 2008, Blogger Ailee Through the Looking Glass said...

But "Who's gold?" was a headline of a news feature, probably prepared well in advance. Maybe the technician graduated from La Salle. Mwahaha.

(Sorry, it's nearing UAAP season and my anti-DLSU programming is kicking in. Gotta start sharpening the barbs for battle. :p)


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