You Have to Pay for that Coffee!

By | October 14, 2014

Kool Derby

While staying at a hotel in India, a unique situation arose. This particular establishment included breakfast for guests. In my case, I like to have my coffee early in the morning, and will usually go to the breakfast room right when it opens. I put on my Bose headset and work for an hour or two. In some cases, even longer, depending on my schedule for the day.

Go and Come Back

On this day, I stayed at the breakfast room for about two hours. I subsequently decided to return to my room and shower. After getting ready for the day, I went downstairs and waited in the lobby. However, my ride for the business meeting was running a bit late, so I decided to have a coffee while waiting. Having my hot beverage required a return to the breakfast room.

I noticed the waiter give me a second look as I made my coffee at the buffet bar. After sitting down, one waiter was seen talking to another waiter, who seemed more like the “manager-type,” or at least the head of the breakfast bar.

“Pay for Your Coffee”

After sitting down, and popping open my MacBook Pro, the head waiter came over, and we had the following conversation:

Waiter: “This is your second time here. You need to pay for that coffee.”

Me: “Sir, I am just having some coffee until my ride arrives.”

Waiter: “The policy here is that you can only come down once and have your breakfast. You were here early, and now you have to pay for that coffee.”

Me: “I really don’t think that is fair. I’m not trying to take advantage of the system … just want a little coffee while I wait.”

Waiter: “That’s not the way it works around here.”

Me: “Actually, this coffee is a bit cold. I guess I will pass on it.”

I could tell the waiter was a bit upset about the situation. About that time, my ride arrived in the room looking for me, and I made my way out of the room. The timing was perfect.

On the way out the door, I spoke to the manager at the front desk about the situation. He confirmed that I could indeed go back and have a cup of coffee, and that I had not violated the breakfast bar policy. He apologized about the situation, and asked if he could get me a cup of freshly brewed coffee.

I understand the waiter was trying to do his job, and he felt that I was trying to take advantage of the situation. However, it’s not like I was serving myself more food, or taking anything with me from the breakfast bar. It was obvious that I was trying to kill a little time.

The bigger issue here is training from the leadership team. Before approaching me, the waiter should have gone to the manager to discuss the situation. By doing so, he would have learned the policy, and avoided a negative situation with a customer.

More important, though, the waiter should be smart enough to avoid making a big deal out of nothing. He could have approached me and said, “Sir, may I get anything else for you?” If so, this blog would have a totally different message.

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