With regulars like him, who needs enemies?

07 January 2004 by
With regulars like him, who needs enemies?

We're not best pleased with a regular customer of ours who's been visiting Morston Hall for the last 10 years.

He was a guest of a small party, and as he knew a little about wine they handed him the wine list. The waiter took the order, with the man pointing to the wine on the list and verbally stating the bin number. Our waiter returned with the bottle to show the customer. He nodded, and the wine was opened and poured. Again, the bottle was presented before pouring and the label read out loud to the customer.

Three bottles later all was fine and dandy until the time came to pay the bill. The party organiser questioned the wine total, and the man who ordered the wine was asked to clarify. "Oh, I didn't mean that one at £85 - I meant the other one above at £35," he insisted. "I didn't have my glasses on," he added rather lamely.

My restaurant manager proceeded to put our situation across. However, this fell on deaf ears. The customer insisted that as he was a regular, the owners would want to put it down to good customer relations and uphold our outstanding reputation. They left with us out of pocket by £42, let alone any profit. A letter has gone out and I await a reply.

Comments made by disgruntled guests regarding our reputation are the sort of thing that can end up in some of the guidebooks published recently. All in all we fared extremely well this year, and we're always delighted to be so highly listed. I find guidebooks compulsive reading. The comments I read, however, wouldn't deter us from visiting an establishment, as we'd always want to make up our own minds.

I often wonder if other hotels and restaurants take what appears in guidebooks to heart as we've done so often in the past. One this year stated that we had mainly male staff, which is totally untrue.

Another said that the owners don't speak to the guests! What… we ignore them? Yet another said that I wasn't here very often. My children strongly disagree with that one, or perhaps it was the year when I was having a baby, although three days after giving birth to my second I was back at my office.

Now we await January for the big one with fingers crossed. At least there will be no comments to read.

Tracy Blackiston is managing director of Morston Hall hotel, Norfolk

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