I Got Thrown Out of a Bar Last Night

I got thrown out of a bar last night: A LESSON IN CUSTOMER SATISFACTION

So…

I got thrown out of a bar last night.

Not literally. Not like Ron White's getting thrown out of a bar. I was told I "could" tab out and leave. I had no choice. I wasn't losing my dignity for the sake of remaining in an unremarkable bar.

It's not the first time I've been asked to leave a bar. When I was 24, my husband went to Iraq for the first Gulf War. I fell into a depression (though I didn't know at the time that's what it was). Some friends of mine invited me out for a night of craziness. We were a rather large group at Billy Miner's Saloon, and, still there after 2am, we began to throw peanuts at each other. That's when we were asked, politely, to leave. I've never held a grudge about that. I'd have thrown me out, too. It's not that we were drunk. We were just…tense. Or, rather, relieving tension. 1990–91 was tough on us Army wives.

Last evening I went with some friends, old and new, to have a few cocktails and relax. And relax I did. After a pleasant time at Chimy's Fort Worth, we (what…10 or so of us?) walked over to the Pour House. My beloved friend D'Anne and I are Pour House veterans. We've been many times for Sunday brunch and bloody Mary bar. We've spent time and money there and have been perfectly happy to do so. Once, we walked a 5k for the Leukemia Society and went to Pour House after to freshen up. We ordered shots. I can't remember what they had—Añejo or Reposado, but both are outstanding and we were happy with what we got.

I'M GOING TO TAKE A QUICK BREAK here to tell you how much I love and understand tequila: 

The picture to the left is barrel a friend gave me for my birthday. It ages liquor much more quickly due to its small size. This weekend will be six weeks since I poured most of that bottle of Silver into that barrel. It should now take much like the Añejo. It's hard, but I will wait out the next few days to see what it tastes like. I'll sip the silver, then taste the "aged." My mouth salivates at the thought.

But I digress…

At Pour House I ordered Herradura Reposado. We got the shots, but they were clear. I didn't order Silver, I ordered Reposado. The waiter, Josh, informed me they no longer carry Reposado, only Silver. "Fine," I said, "it would be a shame to waste good tequila. I'll take it."

We drank. It was smooth. Good tequila. We were happy. It's not what I ordered, but hey, I'm easy.

Later, I ordered three more shots for me and two of my friends. They drank before me and puckered their mouths and made faces. This was clearly NOT the same tequila we had just a little while ago. I drank. I agreed. This bitter shit was most definitely NOT Herradura.

I told Josh that I'd pay for it, but this was NOT Herradura and if the bartending staff was going to pull this shit on me, I wouldn't be back. I said I didn't expect to be charged for the price of Herradura. Now, I didn't know how much a shot was. If they'd come to me with a bill for $10 a shot I'd have paid it. I mostly wanted them to know I was savvy about my booze. But that was it. I was done. I went back to laughing and talking and taking pics with my friends.

Soon after, a young, handsome "gentleman" (or so I thought) came to our table and informed me that we HAD been given Herradura. He had seen it poured from the bottle with his own eyes (because, you know, bouncers pay attention to that sort of thing). I told him I didn't doubt what he saw, but that any liquor could have been in that bottle. He argued with me that it WAS Herradura and it ended with him telling me I was yelling at him (I was—there was loud music playing. I was trying to speak over it to tell him it had nothing to do with him). He said, "If you don't like it you can tab out right now."

Wow. 

For me, it had been over. I had made my complaint known. I had made plans to return for a Sunday brunch with at least two friends who were there with me that night. Probably would never have thought of the incident again if they'd have just let it go.

But instead of dealing properly with my complaint, management sent a bouncer over to intimidate me. Or maybe he was management. I don't know because he didn't introduce himself. I tried to explain to him that my problem wasn't with him but with whoever filled that bottles with inferior tequila. He wasn't having it. He accused me of yelling at him and ask me to leave. So I did.

What can be learned from this?

BY ME: very little. I did what I should have. I wasn't happy with what I was served and did right to let the staff know. I did raise my voice. Couldn't be avoided: It was loud in there with the music. You think they'd be used to that. I was completely non-threatening, except to say I wouldn't be back—IF they pulled the trick on me again. I wish I hadn't used a curse word to describe the inferior tequila. That's the only thing I would have done differently. 

BY THE POUR HOUSE: plenty. 

A: The customer is not always right; however, if they are unsatisfied, either leave them alone or better yet, do something to make it right. Getting a couple of dollars knocked off the bill would have overwhelmed me with joy. Don't pick fights with your unhappy customers. That's just…stupid.

B: Don't skimp to try to save a few pennies. Serve what's ordered, whether you think the patron knows better or not. Honestly is the best policy. If you don't have it, don't pretend you do. If you do have it, charge appropriately. To their credit—and I didn't realize this until later when I wasn't fuming mad—it seems they only charged me for the first three drinks I ordered, unless the prices were just crazy low. My bill should have been twice that much. 

C: Don't throw sober, coherent people out of your place. It's humiliating, and you never know when you'll piss off someone with a big mouth and a lot of friends.

D: Never, ever, make your customers feel like this:

(Click to play. Contains explicit language.)

Business owners or managers, how do you handle customer complaints? Would you have handled my complaint differently, and if so, how?

Originally posted 06/29/2011.

              © Patricia Turner 2012