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Friday, 07 April 2006


Roy Blumenthal

Hiya Clive....

The timing of this post is 'universe-conspiracy'. I've just gotten home from doing some interactive theatre in Hillbrow.

I was going to spend a half an hour writing up my Woolworth's Campus Square, Melville experience.

So now, instead, I'll write it up in your comments section.

It's my second visit to this branch, and it's my last.

The first time was okay-ish. Long, long, long waits. And details of orders gotten wrong.

Friday's session was just plain awful. I ordered scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, and two slices of seed loaf. And a decaff capuccino.

My instructions for the food are simple: 1) Scrambled eggs, very well done. No runny bits. 2) Bacon, extremely well done, VERY crispy, NO soft bits. 3) Toast, VERY well done.

Now in many establishments, the waiter will repeat the order to demonstrate that they've understood. In this case, blankness.

About twenty minutes in, my coffee arrived. I asked the standard, anxious, 'Are you sure this is decaff?' and got a surly stare for three seconds, and a curt, 'Ya.'

Another ten minutes later, my food arrived. The egg looked great. But the bacon was pasty and soft. The toast was hardly singed. And there was only one slice of it.

I sent it back, with the same instructions.

The food came back ten minutes later. Bacon ultra crispy, the way I like it. The toast was like a very thin biscuit. And the egg. Hmmmm. The egg... Ice cold. They hadn't even bothered to keep it warm.

I asked for some Worcestershire sauce. Five minutes later someone brought me some tomato sauce. 'I asked for Worcestershire sauce,' I said.

'We don't have any,' the waitress said, as ultra surly as my bacon was crisp second time round.

I said, 'This is a Woolworth's food store. Have you checked the shelves?'

The three-second glare. 'Someone's looking now.'

Twenty minutes later, I was finished. And noone came to offer me the elusive Worcestershire sauce.

But that's not ALL!

Normally, I tip 20%. In this case, I decided that I would tip 0%, with an explanation.

It took ten minutes to get my bill. When the bill arrived, she was very cheerful. For the first time all day. So I kinda thought, 'Ag, I don't need to be mingy. I'll give her 10%. Doesn't matter too much.'

So I marked the tip on the bill, gave her my credit card. Waited ten more minutes for it to come back. And found that she hadn't added the tip to the card.

And then I remembered... the last time I was here, the waiter told me that they don't put tips on the credit card. What the hell????

So hey... I'm not going to the Melville Woolworth's coffee-shop again soon.

Blue skies

Clive Simpkins

Hey Roy! I've immediately forwarded your comments to Woolies Customer Service and copied you by e-mail. Strikes me they need to be re-lookin' attitude among their coffee shop staff - and giving the blighters some social-skills training.

I'm also adding your comments to the http://www.moneyweb.co.za version of my same blog on the topic.

Woolies Hyde Park Shopping Centre coffee shop the kids are 'jes febuliss!' Warmest regards, Clive

Clive Simpkins

Roy - me again. Just remembered that the MNY version of the Woolies story will only be up on their site Monday 10th April. But I'll add your posting as soon as it is. Warmest, C

Roy Blumenthal

Hiya Clive...

I'll wager money that the problem stems from Woolies management, and not from the staff themselves.

The credit card tipping policy is the big clue here.

It indicates that management is not looking after their staff in this particular area: tips.

Most people who purchase at Woolies will be doing so with some form of electronic payment tool, be it a cheque card or a credit card.

If Woolies management PREVENTS their staff from receiving tips from these payment methods for WHATEVER reason, it means they're depriving their staff of those tips. Fullstop.

I'm willing to wager more money that there will be something like this response coming out of Woolies management: 'Our waiters are not employed the way normal coffee shops employ waiters. They're salaried employees, and the tips are really just 'over-and-above' what they get paid. Because they get a salary, tipping is NOT a priority, and we don't really believe they should be working for tips.'

How much do you wanna bet?

And the reason I'm putting it this strongly is that I'm reading between the lines and working out that Woolies coffee-shops are NOT coffee-shops in the minds of the Woolies head honchos. I'm reading that they're an extension of the store. They're a retail operation. Which means that they're operating on retail rules, not coffee-shop rules. Which means that the staff are not being treated the way they're used to being treated in the coffee-shop business.

I'm willing to be wrong on this. But I'll be surprised if I am.

Seeya Thursday.

Blue skies


Andrea, Cal and I got up and left when we visited the Woolies restuarant in The Design Quarter, basically because the service was non-existant. We wont bother going back

Woolies should either stick to their guns, or make sure the new stuff they get into doesn't negativley impact on my perceptions of the company as a whole...!

Johannes De Beer

Hi I went to Woolies Cafe in Woodlands Pretoria, Wow what a Difference to the wannabe plaice they call Campus Square.

I was there on the 10 Monday 2006 during their "harvest" time, a wonderful display of food was on show, and the chef who made the food also attended it. My wife and I dished up from the harvest table.

So far so good, no problems yet. So we took a seat and a waitress approached us with a menu and a smile and asked if we wanted a minute to look at the menu for drinks, she returned after we closed the menus and we ordered 2 lattes, she suggested we try the honey & nut latte, so my wife said she will have one, okay I waited +-5 min for my honey & nut Latte, but was worth the wait.

When I asked for the bill, the manager brought the bill to me and to my surprise he asked me if I enjoyed my meal and then asked my wife what she thought about the honey & nut latte, I was impressed that he knew what was going on in his cafe, because we were keeping an eye on him and he did the same to some of the other tables I asked him if we could tip on my credit card, and he said yes.

Overall I loved the experience and when I am in Pretoria again I will go there again.

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