Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Holidays Hiatus

I'm not really taking a hiatus, though it has and certainly will look like it for a good while.
Apologies for the lack of update :(

I will, however, point out in this crappy post that if there is one thing I hate about the holidays it's how long it takes to get anywhere

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Real Destiny Problem

I got a Facebook group invite from Adam this afternoon to join the group COCKROACH special at DESTINY TEA AND CAFE LOUNGE.

There are a few things that I want to comment on about this situation so I'm going to section them, since I am a control freak.

The story, in short, is that a girl went to Destiny Tea and Cafe, the location at Silverstar and found two small cockroaches in her drink. The waitress told her the manager was not in and was only going to take off 13% off the bill (i.e., no tax). The customer felt that she should not be still charged her for the drink and when that didn't happen, she went around showing people the cockroach. She asked to talk to the manager to no avail and started a Facebook group. The next day, the manager got back to her and after finding out she was a student, 21 years old, and does not speak Mandarin/Cantonese, the manager refused to speak to her because she was "immature." The manager asked to speak to someone who does speak Chinese. When the girl got her friend to call back, the manager told the friend that she'd call him back in 10 minutes but never did. After the customer called back Destiny a few times, the manager threatened her with legal action if she does not take her Facebook group down.

The story has now been cross-posted at RFD, CLUBRSX, and even BlogTo. I decided not to post photos since I don't want to see cockroach pictures on my blog, but any of the links I provided in the post will give you plenty graphics.

The Crux of the Problem
I think for the most part, it's evident that the crux of the problem is not the fact that there are cockroaches in her drink. If this was the issue, she could have filed a formal complain rather than start a Facebook group. Plus, it is not like any of us never experienced having bugs in our food. Personally I've found bugs in my food at a number of restaurants but I never felt the need to escalate the situation. I call the server over, s/he sees the bug and s/he apologizes, takes the food off the bill and/or replaces it. Sometimes if the store has a good policy, it will compensate (with a coupon/new dish/give the entire meal for free, etc.). The problem began with the server not treating the issue properly because she felt that she did not have the authority. But of course it didn't help when the customer walked around showing ppl the cockroach. The customer was being a bitch but if she had just offered to take it off the bill, all of this might have been resolved. Nevertheless, the question is, was it fair for the customer to start the Facebook group at that point? Should she have waited to contact management first before escalating the situation publicly? I think so.
  • From a pragmatic standpoint, the situation might have worked out better for her.
  • From a fairness standpoint, the place should be given a chance to clean up their management. What happened did not deserve a publicity stunt.
  • From a realistic standpoint, however, if i were the customer, i would not have wanted to go through the redtape to get to the management and starting a Facebook group would have been the easier solution.
The reality is, sometimes the mass can have too much power and not all of us have the ability to constrain our power, especially if you are in the situation. Personally, as an observer, I would not have joined the Facebook group at that point. I would not have publicly supported her. However, implicitly, it is possible for me have taken a note of the situation in my head and not go to that particular location.

Agism, Classism, Racism, and Culture
What made me feel really upset and decided to join this group was the way in which the manager did handle the situation. The fact that she asked for the customer's age and class and ethnicity and then deemed her unworthy of her attention. Of course, it is a possibility that the customer might have interpreted things wrongly and perhaps the original intention was not discrimination but I think it is very likely that it did happen. It is not unheard of for Asians to discriminate people based on age, class, and race, especially because the customer's name sounds brown/middle eastern. The only thing understandable about it is that it happens in their culture, but that does not justify the manager's action. (I have an urge to add that especially because she is in Canada, but I do not wish to discriminate cultures. Albeit her actions might have been a lot more understandable were she in Asia, it should still not be allowed to happen anywhere). What the manager did was flat out discriminating. Nothing justifies that.

Even if some of the discrimination issues were not true (I think the age part is for sure true). However, I feel that for the problem to have escalated to this level, management should apologize regardless.

The Escalation
It begins at the low level, the waitress was rude and did not know what to do. Blame it on the next level, the manager. She should have handled the situation better and then taught the employee what to do. But she didn't. Instead, she discriminated and pointed fingers. She sounds uneducated and rude. Discrimination aside, she threatened for legal action. Are you kidding? Well, I hope so, I hope she was just bluffing, though a very dumb bluff. Nevertheless, the question is, has this situation escalated to the upper managements at Destiny? Did the dumb manager contact someone who had more authority before she threatened about legal action? Because if she did, then the upper management needs some lessons in business management.
  • First of all, whoever came up with the legal actions should know that for the company to sue for libel, as the plaintiff, the onus is on them in civil court, not beyond a reasonable doubt, but based on the balance of probabilities that the customer was lying. There is no way they can prove that, especially not with the graphic pictures. Unless they can find some proof for a motive for that girl to be lying, they are pretty screwed. The only they can possibility sue for was their act of discrimination, but I'm not really sure how they can accomplish. Most that can happen is the judge telling the defendent to take off the part about discrimination, but the cockroach part is already a bust on the company's rep.
  • Secondly, as a business, why would you escalate something so small publically? Are you out of your mind? As a corporation that owns over 7 entities, each of them with several stores in various locations, do you really want the pictures of cockroaches in your food to to go even more public? Why don't you want to settle this privately, apologize to the girl and give her a coupon or something. It sounds like she just wants some justice, she doesn't even seem to care for compensation. By threatening legal action, this stuff is going to go on television and you are going to pay for a lot more than an apology and 15% off VIP card.

Bad Management

The fact that this situation as gone this far already shows that the management at the upper level needs to pay more attention to their stores
. My family actually knows some upper management people/investors of Destiny. It is a Taiwanese company and most of their upper management is Taiwanese. I would like to imagine that at least one of them would deal with it before it blows up even further; however, it is not unlike the culture of the company to leave the little stuff for the little people (who may or may not be Taiwanese, this is not about our culture) until it gets to the point of no return. That, is the crux of Destiny's management problem. The company is highly unstructured. It is made up of a large number of investors who takes ownership over the stores in which they invested the most. It is a chained entity managed informally like a franchise. Each investor is only interested in their own store but if one store is managed badly, they all go down. Management structure aside, each of the investors still needs to train their staff, manage their staff, and learn that business begins at the customer service. Until then, there is only going to be more problems. It's like a dominoes effect, one person starts the trend, then they all do. Hopefully, Destiny will learn from this.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

An Antithesis

Harvey says (3:09 PM):
your i love toronto posts are hilarious, mayor miller should hire you
lynnie says (3:09 PM):
lol which one? cuz there are many =P
Harvey says (3:10 PM):
all of them, they sound so enthuastic..."You can call Toronto boring (and it really is), but who says boring isn't a good thing if that's what you are known for?"
lynnie says (3:10 PM):
hahaha, well i think it's boring in a city way, like it's a nice and boring big city; whereas there's boring like waterloo, in a you want to throw up when ur here kinda way

Saturday, December 6, 2008

My relationship with coffee

My dear Francis sent me this wonderful link from the Times!


Christopher Niemann draws out his love for coffee using, you guessed it, coffee and napkin.

Here's one of my favourites, as it closely resembles my relationship with drip coffee and Starbucks over the years. Ignore the bagels.

Here’s a chart that shows my coffee bias over the years.

For good measure I have added my bagel preferences over the same period. (1) Drip coffee, (2) Starbucks, (3) blueberry bagels, (4) sesame bagels, (5) poppy-seed bagels, (6) everything bagels

Please don’t hold my brief affair with blueberry bagels against me. I cured myself of this aberration.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

On being a dumb human

For a person who spends most of her time making fun of other people and calling people names, I never thought I'd be the one who scars someone's impression of a human being.

I went to the MC Coffee and Donut shop to get a cup of coffee and they recently got a new set of cups. Instead of using styrofoam now, they use the Van Houtte paper cups but they still continue to use Dixie lids. There were a lot of things that could have stopped me, such as remembering from my donut shop experiences that most cups come in standard sizes, but my sleepy haziness got the best of me.

After trying to fit every size lid on my cup, I was thoroughly convinced that none of the lids fit. The large is too small and the jumbo is too big. Adam tells me to push the jumbo lid down, and I told him I did and it still didnt fit. I even saw a cup next to me with a lid too small on top.

I went to bug the cashier to tell her the lid doesn't fit and being the FOB that she is, she keeps telling me the lids are on the side. After much frustration, she got up to get the jumbo lid and put it on top of my cup and left. I was really frustrated.

"But it doesn't fit!" I called out to her.

She comes back and pushes the lid down into the cup...and voila, it fit.

I felt so stupid.