Until JZ Jazz Club in Hangzhou this last weekend. This may be a little TLDR, but if you're interested in what qualifies as REAL bad service in China, go for it!
JZ is a jazz club with two venues--one in Shanghai and the other here in Hangzhou, a smaller yet still touristy-place a few hours away from it.
My boyfriend and friends and I have been visiting JZ Hangzhou for literally years. We're even friends with one of the old bass players and his girlfriend, so we came pretty regularly to enjoy the music and drinks. The only problem is that things started going downhill after a while.
For one, every time we've called to reserve a table (three times) the reservation has been given away. We weren't late, we weren't ambiguous in our request. We were just not important enough. Second (not that WTF, but still...), the music's first set time crept back gradually from a standard 9:30 pm, to 10 pm, then 10:30, and now a little past 10:30. Boyfriend and I visited once and wanted to entertain ourselves while waiting and waiting and waiting for the music, so he tried to teach me Gin Rummy. Promptly, our waitress appeared and told us that playing cards are banned in JZ Club. Oh..kay?
Note: Chinese love playing cards. If you have a fond image of old Chinese men playing Mah Jong in the park, you're right--they do! But right next to them are the guys playing cards. Young people, old people, men, women, Chinese overall (at least on mainland China) love playing cards. And they get a bit rowdy at times, so maybe this is what JZ is trying to avoid. We shrugged and put them away.
Fast forward weeks later: JZ is also a bar. They mix drinks, and boy do they mix them strongly. Every other bar and restaurant I've been to in any country (including here) will give you a glass of water to hydrate yourself if you ask for it. JZ *used* to. One day we went in, asked for water with our strong alcoholic beverages, and were told, 'Sorry, we can't give people water anymore.' WTF?? This is not standard in China, I assure you. No water? This place is rolling, too. They're not hurting for money. The only water they'll offer is an 80 rmb clunker of Evian (roughly 12-ish US bucks)Try bringing in a little 3 rmb bottle of water and get told: "You can't bring that in." (not too surprising in the USA, but not really in China). And you can't give me a little glass to wet my croaking whistle? Bu hao!
And then Saturday night: Eleven other people and myself made a reservation at JZ--right up close to the band-- for my birthday. Our coworker made the reso, because she's friends with the manager on duty. We arrived, laughing about how funny it would be if JZ gave away our table again. Well, they did. To three women. A table of twelve went to three women, yes. So we were seated upstairs in a back corner, far from the jazz. Whatever, we were nice about it.
We began our drinking and merry-making, refraining from heavy indulgence as most of the party was going to a dance club afterward. But everyone had a drink, and with the first round we'd already surpassed our 500 rmb requirement.
Then it happened that my friend Joe mentioned he'd seen people getting water here the other night--as in, WATER!! Real free water (albeit in tiny glasses) to go with your alcohol! Yay! They saw sense! So he asked our waitress for water and she returned with the 80 rmb bottle of Evian.
"Ah," said Joe, crestfalled. "I meant just plain water, not the Evian."
Little Miss Thing proceeds to roll her eyes and say in perfect English,
"Ugh. You are so CHEAP."
As an English teacher I'm thinking, 'Bravo! A Chinese person who learned'cheap' instead of 'stingy!' As a human being, I'm saying, 'Wtf, JZ Club. After all the crockery you've beeing pulling and we've all been forgiving, and now you spring THIS?'
So there. I think we have to put JZ to bed, and I'm sad to say it because of all the great memories I've had there. But when a place jumps the sharkfin, they've jumped the sharkfin.
I won't even go into 'complaining to the manager' in China, because that's...I can't. It doesn't do squat in China. hehe