Coffee shops are traditionally known for their ambience, friendly, laid back atmosphere and of course, the smell of brewing beans from various parts of the world.
Ever since we’ve returned, Mr R has been eager to try out local coffee shops. Walking in Panaji the other day, we decided to stop over at the Café Coffee Day outlet.
It was a little before 11 am. As we climbed up the stairs (next to the Wrangler outlet), we realised that there were no other customers at that time. We thought of sitting outdoors, in the veranda overlooking the street. A menu was handed to us and we placed our orders: A Café Latte for me (with “oodles of ice-cream”, the menu said) and an Iced Eskimo for Mr. R.
As the waiter took our order he said to Mr. R, “The Iced Eskimo will come with ice-cream”. Ice-cream was welcome. It was a hot day and the thought of coffee and cream was something worth looking forward to.
Sitting in the sun wasn’t getting too pleasant, so we decided to move inside. By this time, two couples, and one single man, all foreigners, were seated inside.
The music was rock, and loud. So much for ambience. Conversation had to be made above the level of the sound, so it was easier to just shut up and watch the traffic. The foreigners caught up with their guidebooks or made notes while they waited for their order to be cleared.
Fifteen minutes later, one couple opposite us was served, then the other. The single white man had already been served some time ago.
As we were wondering if our order had been misplaced (as we were the first to arrive and order), a waiter walked up to the couple opposite us and snatched the tall glass of coffee from the man’s hand! Without explanation and just a sheepish smile, he walked away, leaving the customer bemused, hand still in mid-air.
It was bizarre.
Five minutes later, the customers drink was replaced with something else, presumably a case of wrong delivery.
It was now approaching 1130. Surely it shouldn’t take over 30 minutes to serve seven customers? What did they do in peak hours?
I went to the counter and asked for our drinks. “They’re coming”, I was told. Five minutes later, we were served. Mr. R’s Eskimo had ice-cream, while my latte looked suspiciously like the glass taken from the foreigner. And there was no sign of the “oodles of ice-cream”.
I checked with the waiter and was told, “This is what you ordered: Choco Frappé”.
No, I didn’t.
By this time, I had had enough. It was getting closer to lunch, the desire for a morning drink had long evaporated, plus they ruined the experience by bringing me a drink that looked suspiciously like the one someone else was drinking. Even worse, the so-called Choco Frappé was 20/- more than the latte I ordered.
I returned the drink to the counter. It was nearing noon by now. The boys at the counter said they’d replace it with my Latte. I asked about the ice-cream. They said it “was blended with the coffee”. Now, the menu makes no mention about any blending. What do you imagine when you’re faced with “oodles of ice-cream”?
I told them to keep their drink. The experience was ruined.
Mr. R finished his drink (2/5 rating – more ice than coffee) and we went up to settle the bill. Enquiries about why we were served last and then given the wrong order were met with a stony silence.
It was not over yet.
The bill showed the Choco Frappé (but adjusted against the final total) and Rs.67/- for the Rs. 45/- Eskimo that we had ordered. On asking, we were told “The ice-cream is extra and costs 21/-. So, when the waiter said, “The Eskimo will come with ice-cream”, he wasn’t informing us. He was asking a question (“Do you want ice-cream with that?”, he meant, apparently)
The issue, as I keep saying, is not about the money. Twenty-one rupees is peanuts; I’m willing to pay a lot more for ice-cream. But this method of increasing the bill is downright fraudulent.
If you add taxes, a 45/- drink cost us 75/-, plus 60 minutes of dissatisfaction.
Overall, our first experience at Panaji’s CCD was not a positive one. That’s not to say we won’t ever go back there. There are several other places to try out. And if we get desperate, there are the delicious Juice Corners which quench your thirst for far less angst.
A good location and a sprinkling of foreign tourists or the hip crowd doesn’t make up for shoddy service and total disregard for customers. Whether all CCD outlets are this flippant, only time will tell. At least, the next time around, we’ll be prepared for the ‘extras’.