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Last Saturday, my wife, Nancy, and I had business to attend to at Yonge and St. Clair in uptown Toronto. After we finished our meeting we decided to grab a quick bite at a new bakery café in that neighbourhood called The Artisan Baker, which opened its doors in December 2012.

I learned of The Artisan Baker by seeing it mentioned on Twitter, so I started following them and as per Twitter etiquette, they started to follow me.Screen Shot 2013-02-12 at 12-02-13, 11.14.35 AM

Not long after following I received this Tweet:Screen Shot 2013-02-12 at 12-02-13, 10.57.20 AM

Needless to say, I was pretty impressed that they knew I was into photography and that they had taken the time and trouble to look at my Twitter profile.Screen Shot 2013-02-12 at 12-02-13, 11.26.12 AM

One never knows who the person is behind the Tweets for any given company. It could be a staff member, the owner or a third party. In this case it was a third party and it turned out to be someone that I have met. I was told to ask for the owner and say hello.

It was around 10:30 a.m. and the place was packed. We were seated at one of the few remaining empty tables. Nancy ordered a mocha and I ordered a cappuccino and we asked for a glass of water each while we perused the breakfast menu. In hindsight we should have just ordered a pastry, but since both Nancy and I both planned to do some shopping downtown afterward, we decided to have something more substantial. Our coffees arrived and alarm bell #1 went off—they were not as hot as they should have been. Nancy ordered the Eggs Benedict and I ordered the Canadian Breakfast. And while placing our food order I reminded our server that we still wanted our water, which had not yet appeared. When we finally received our water, it was at room temperature!

After 15 minutes our food arrived but we had no cutlery so we had to ask our server for forks, knives and napkins. We each took a bite and both of our meals were stone cold. I waved over a server and we immediately sent our meals back to the kitchen to await replacements.

After a few minutes, our server returned to our table to offer us an apology and to ask if we would like to have complimentary croissants while we waited. We declined the offer of the croissants and waited patiently for our meals. As we waited, we noticed other patrons having issues. The woman seated next to us had to ask twice for her cup of coffee and then two different servers each brought her a coffee. Someone at another table complained about the water tasting odd and sent theirs back. I have to say that our water tasted fine although the first pour, as I mentioned, was at room temperature. Subsequent refills of water were colder and it was odd that they kept refilling my glass while ignoring Nancy’s half-full glass.

After twenty minutes, our server apologized for the delay and said that our meals were just starting to be prepared and would take a further five minutes. I suppose we were both in shock and really should have stood up and walked out the door at that precise moment. Or we should have asked for the manager or owner, but we did neither. I’m not sure what the protocol is for a kitchen, but I would assume that when a customer returns a meal for some reason, that customer’s replacement meal should shoot to the top of their preparation list. Ours was not. There were obvious problems in both the front of the house and the back of the house that day.

I do understand that the restaurant business is a difficult one. But it’s all in how the establishment deals with problems to make things right with their customers that makes all the difference in the world. And no restaurant can be perfect 100% of the time. But on this particular Saturday, The Artisan Baker was having its share of problems. Too successful too quickly? Perhaps. Kitchen not staffed to deal with a full-house on a Saturday morning? Perhaps.

Once our replacement meals finally arrived, our server said that we would not be charged for them. On the bright side of this disaster, this time they were delivered hot and were quite tasty, but it’s worth noting our server did not return to ask if everything was now to our liking.

I asked for the bill for our coffees and it took another five minutes to receive our bill. I put my credit card on the table and while I waited, Nancy made a trip to the restroom. And guess what? There was no soap in the single dispenser! Another failure. Another five minutes passed so I scooped up my credit card and tossed cash on the table. We left and vowed never to return.

Nancy posted a rant on her Facebook page and people were asking us if we had asked to speak to the manager which we did not, and in hindsight we really should have.

Later that afternoon I posted this rant on Twitter:Screen Shot 2013-02-12 at 12-02-13, 11.00.55 AM

Now here is where things get very interesting. To date, I have received no response whatsoever to my Twitter rant. The power of social media is formidable. People watch and follow Tweets in order to see how companies respond to customer service issues and complaints. Customer complaints are public and must be dealt with immediately and without attitude. Apologies and the correction of the issues to the customer’s 100% satisfaction are paramount. If done correctly, the customer usually responds in a positive manner with a follow-up Tweet telling the world that the company made good.

No such thing has happened with The Artisan Baker. A totally epic fail and we will never return.

Perhaps the staff and the owner need to re-read their mission statement:Screen Shot 2013-02-12 at 12-02-13, 12.10.35 PM

Please leave me a comment as to how you would have handled this situation.

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