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Old August 3rd, 2008, 07:18 AM
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Paul Motter Paul Motter is offline
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Mehawk - what was the problem & how did you complain?

I had a cruise on Royal Caribbean where I just plain thought customer service fell down terribly in the dining room. Specifically, the drink service. I was with a group of eight people, and the way I saw the wine being distributed I thought was terrible.

The assistant waiter played sommellier, pouring out to people at the table and then taking the bottle away - (it was a white wine, there were no ice buckets). He poured to people who said they wanted no more, and then walked away leaving other people's glasses empty, leaving them to order extra glasses only to find out later there was still wine in the bottle.

Adding up the wasted wine due to the waiter (rather than the guests) deciding who got wine, the waste of money was about $40 - for wine left on the table, and wine people who had to order when there was still wine in the bottle the waiters were not serving.

On top of this, dessert coffee service was ridiculously slow so the coffee arrived well after everyone else had eaten dessert and left the table. We were still charged and the head waiter was standing right there when it arrived. We said "SEE HOW LATE IT IS?" and he just smiled and shrugged. I wanted to smack him.

We also had terrible issues with passenger services not delivering a video of a "game show" our 'parents' had won. Basically they were promised a free copy of the show on DVD but getting it involved talking to five or six different people all of whom gave us wrong information (you have to buy it, or, no such video exists). We finally got it, by standing by reception for almost an hour on the last day of the cruise.

These are pretty piddling complaints in the big scheme of things, but I will say that a couple of follow up letters to the company home office did finally generate a phone call from the company. They listened to my complaints and did offer to refund some money to people's accounts.

What irked me most, though, was the powerlessness of the staff onboard to do anything. It was like complaining to the wind - they just didn't get the problem. One swarmy head waiter, after a long discussion from me about the wine & coffee, said to me "I have fixed the problem for you, I promise it will never happen to another passenger." What I eventually found out was that he had no authority to offer to make anything "right" like an after dinner coffee that was 1/2 hour late "on the house."

He had a suit like a maitre d' but he had no power at all. A waste of a job, in my opinion - he didn't do enough to provide good service and when made aware of bad service he didn't (and couldn't) do anything to fix it.

My point, though, was that the small compensation (which was all I deserved) did come after writing letters post-cruise. But I was surprised to see the onboard staff so inept, but there finally was some resolution. I do think customer service has eroded somewhat, however, when staff people hear problems these days and they don't make things right on the spot.

I ate in an Italian restarant last night. I asked if the menu was all "a la carte" and the waitress said yes, so I ordered an extra course costing $12. Turned out she was wrong, my entree came with two side dishes. I explained to her I felt I had been misled - and served and charged for more food than I could eat. So they took the $12 plate of Gnochi off the bill and packaged it up for me to take home. That is a restaurant I will return to.

I used to say "you will never get service in a land-based resturant like you will on a cruise ship" but it seems the tides have turned somewhat.
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