Kiss my grits! (noelleleithe) wrote in bad_service,
Kiss my grits!

A smorgasboard of bad service

I was in Manhattan with my sister and her friend yesterday to see “Spamalot” finally (FABULOUS), and had two great examples for bad_service. Thankfully, they weren’t enough to ruin the rest of the day.

First, after the show, we ate dinner at a bar and restaurant on the corner of 44th and 8th (don’t remember the name now Edit: Smith's Bar & Restaurant, from comments). It’s a pretty small place, with about 20 seats along the bar and maybe 10 booths. Two booths and about half the bar were occupied, and there were about five or six people working, counting the bartender. We ordered basic stuff (two waters, a Coke, sandwiches, fries) and didn’t ask for any extras. First of all, the server didn’t tell me they didn’t have Coke when I ordered it, but the stuff she brought me was NOT Coke. It didn’t taste quite like Pepsi either, though, so it’s possible it was just a problem with the syrup.

Anyway, the server mostly ignored us, even though we were only her third table and one of them left shortly after we arrived. My sister asked for sweetener for her water, and it took her about 10 minutes to bring that over – and we were seated RIGHT NEXT to the side table with silverware and condiments. A runner brought our food, which was fine, but my sister and her friend couldn’t get refills for anything. (They had the tiny little water glasses, while my soda was in a full-sized glass, so I didn’t need a refill.)

So, after being mostly ignored, we get the bill – and this chick added a 20% auto-grat! For a party of THREE! We almost didn’t notice it, but the amount we were each kicking in wasn’t adding up, so I looked closer. I could not believe that crap. I’ve never seen any place auto-grat for fewer than 5 people, and usually it’s either 6 or 8. If she’s so worried she won’t get tipped, she should try giving decent service.

Needless to say I scratched out the tip and the total, gave her closer to 15% (she’s lucky she got that much), and wrote “NO AUTO GRAT!!” on the bottom of the receipt.

Then we had to try to get home. To get into the city, we’d parked at the Meadowlands and taken the bus in to Port Authority. We’ve done this before, but only a couple of times (we usually take the Staten Island Ferry), and not in a while, so we weren’t entirely sure which bus to take to get back. When we got back to Port Authority, my sister and I bought tickets from the window, and she specifically told the agent we needed to go to the Meadowlands and that we came in on the 164. He sold us three tickets on 164 and didn’t say anything else.

We got on the bus, and after a bit (we were tired), we realized he’d skipped the Meadowlands stop. We waited a bit longer, thinking maybe it was just a slightly different route, but we were getting further and further away, so I finally went down front and asked him when he stopped at the Meadowlands. He said, “This bus don’t stop at the Meadowlands!” WTF?? Then why the fuck did the agent sell us tickets??

We had to get off the bus at some random stop and wait for the bus going back the opposite direction. Only problem was, it was late enough we were worried that we’d already missed the last bus back in. Luckily, we have family in the area, so we called them and they came and got us and took us to the Meadowlands. Talking about the problem while we waited, we finally realized that the 164 line follows at least two different routes, and not all stop at the Meadowlands. We vaguely remember being told that before, and that would be fine, except that the ticket agent didn’t bother to warn us to find the right bus, and there’s nothing on the ticket or at the gate, either. We went to the window instead of buying from a machine specifically to be sure we got the right bus! Yeah, NJ Transit will be getting a letter of complaint about that guy.

The worst service wasn’t even directed toward us. On the bus back, a woman in the first row started having chest pains, tingling in her arms, all the classic heart attack signs. Her daughters were with her and we were nearly at their stop, so one of the daughters asked the driver to call ahead to get an ambulance to meet them. He started by calling in to dispatch, and the idiots at the other end could not comprehend that he had a sick passenger on the bus and needed medical assistance. Seriously, he must’ve repeated himself four or five times, and they never did get it. He finally used his personal cell phone to call 911 and let the daughter talk to them. The bus stop was actually right across from a fire station, so the other daughter ran over to get someone from there, and he arrived just before the ambulance.

We got back on the way, and a good five minutes later, the dispatcher called back to find out if he still needed help. He says, “No I don’t need you, I called an ambulance myself, don’t call me again!” He was furious. So, for future reference, don’t ever have a heart attack on a NJ Transit bus, because they apparently have absolutely no procedure in place to deal with medical emergencies.
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