One of the things I noted over the past days in Holland, is that service in restaurants and hotels often is terrible. Not sure if it has gotten worse over the past years or that I am too used to the service level in China where people at least try to do a good job (not that it always works out!). Just a couple of examples from my stay in Amsterdam this week.
Yesterday morning when I checked out of my hotel in Amsterdam I asked the receptionist to call a taxi for me. She told me that I should ask the concierge to do that. Because the concierge was outside helping other people and I was in a hurry, I asked if she could help me. There were no other people waiting, but she still refused. This was not part of her job she told me. I told her that the day before the person at the counter had called a taxi for me, but she just ignored it. I waited a few minutes until the concierge came and he quickly got me a taxi. I now have a bad feeling about the hotel, even though I liked the rest of the stay there very much.
Later that morning I was meeting someone at the PICNIC conference. It was nice weather and we decided to have a drink outside at the WestergasTerras (a bar/restaurant next to the Wester Unie building). It was 10:30 AM and several people were already sitting there in the sun talking with other conference participants. The person running the restaurant was cleaning the tables and I asked him for two coffees. Bad luck. He told me they would not open until 11:00 (or 11:30, I forgot), so we would have to wait until then. I did not understand it, there is a big conference going on around your restaurant and you refuse to open earlier to serve many people already sitting on your terrace? How much easier can it be to make money? Maybe I should be glad he did not send us away, but allowed us to sit on his terrace…
Something similar happened at the espresso bar next to my hotel. Earlier in the week I was waiting there for a friend around 6:30 PM and several people entered the bar to grab a coffee or a small bite to eat. But the owner refused to serve them. I close at 6:30 PM, he told them, because I also want my private life. How can you run a business like that? As an entrepreneur I would be glad for every new client that would walk in, but this guy sent 3 clients away within 5 minutes! He even complained to a guest, saying that each time he closes his bar so many people walk in… The guy has been running this shop for years, so it does not seem to hurt his business too much. But of course his business has also not expanded over the past years.
Lunch at PICNIC was also an interesting experience. I had a business lunch on the terrace of Pacific Parc. We were lucky to get a table outside, but we were not so lucky to get the attention of a waitress. After about 10 minutes we finally got a menu, but she did not want to wait for us to order. So we had to wait for another 10 minutes, but still no one came. Eventually I went inside to order, but there I was told I could not order inside, only with the the waitresses. I told them I had been here for 20 minutes already but did not manage to order yet. The answer: “If you’re in a hurry you should not come here.”
When I see people running a business with this kind of attitude I think there are still a lot of opportunities to make money in Holland. And if I would have staff treating clients in this way I am sure they would not stay long in my company. And the strangest thing is that customers seem to accept it!