Category Archives: Customer service

The “kids eat free” promotion at Pasta Waraku

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Last night (yes, this was not a scheduled post), after a really hectic day at work, I left office at 7pm and Z was starving. I felt really bad for making everyone wait for me and asked Z to suggest where to eat. He wanted to eat white pasta which meant cream based pasta.

I was really brain dead at the point and somehow was not able to toss up more options. We thought of dining near home and ended up going to Square 2’s Pasta Waraku.

We ordered 2 main courses to share within the family. I noticed that there was a thick toast alike dessert with ice cream and was reminded of the honey toast we saw in Seoul. Mr H said that looked pretty good and we should order for dessert later.

While waiting to order, I noticed the above sign. I told Mr H if that sign meant that we would get a free Hanito (a double thick toast alike dessert with honey and ice cream). We were not sure if that was applicable for a Friday night or if there was minimum spending or anything. Most “kids eat free” promotion were pretty straightforward. There was no fine prints.

The waitress said that it was only free if we bought one Hanito. Didn’t that make it a buy one get one free promotion?

As a marketing professional, I really was aghast by either the poor use of marketing message or the blatant fact that the staff was so ill-informed. I asked to speak with the manager who was apparently the person who enforced the buy one get one free promotion.

I explained the essence of what “kids eat free” promotion meant and he stood by the fact that he was told to give out the free Hanito only with purchase of one Hanito. The free Hanito as described by Waraku’s invited blogger was to be made by the child. He even explained that the one we paid for would be made by the kitchen.

I told the restaurant manager if that was the case, the marketing promotion had been poorly written and I would like to give feedback to his marketing team. I would never let my staff allow such a poorly scripted promotion out of the door, as do many marketers.

Honestly, had I ordered one Hanito and received the free Hanito, we would never be able to finish both Hanitos. It would be over-ordering. We were not hard up for the free Hanito but it did not sit very well with my principles.

I got the email of Waraku’s marketing person and penned my feedback across. The person in charge was very prompt in responding! She replied my email this morning and clarified that there was no need to buy one Hanito in order to receive to free Hanito! As long as you had a child under 14, the Hanito was complimentary for the child.

She took down details and called me in the afternoon to apologize for the miscommunication. In any case, I appreciated her response.

Meanwhile, my dear friends, please enjoy the “kids eat free” Hanito at the 3 outlets of Pasta Waraku. There was no other conditions apart from the fact that your child must be below 14 and limited to one per table.

I felt really bad for families who had been misled into buying one Hanito to get the free Hanito prior to this too. The promotion had only just started in June.

Details of the Hanito by Waraku’s invited blogger via http://www.foodprints-sg.com/2014/06/free-hanito-create-your-own-ice-cream.html?m=1

Anyhow, I was glad that we cleared the air.

The ‘hot’ Cool De Sac

A few days after I visited the bistro, I was very inclined to check out the indoor playground. For once, it would be an indoor playground which served decent (and pretty nice!) food instead of getting parents to pay for overly marked up nuggets, fries, pizza or even packet drinks.

It seemed like a great place for parents to chill at the dining area with truffle fries and awesome milkshakes.

We headed down on the following Saturday and asked a few friends along.

Being a new place, it had its teething problems but not in the way I imagined. They turned away customers when it was rather full. It was a great move because they ensured that there would be no overcrowding. However, it was dampening on our spirits because our friends could not enter.

There was an interesting twist to why the playground was so full. It seemed like the church which conducted its service nearby had purchased a lot of vouchers for their church goers. The passes only allowed entry from 330-5 and 730-9 on both Saturday and Sunday. That partly explained why the playground was full during the ‘peak’ hours too. It seemed to be an ongoing partnership/tie-up.

However, given that it offered unlimited play time, it would make sense for walk-in customers to go earlier and get the pass at $26 for 3-12yo and $13 for 1month-3yo. With that, you could avoid the problem of being turned away or to have to wait for entry. Please remember to get the passes for your friends should they be running late.

That would not, however, relieve your headache of the crowded playground though.

Do visit for – interesting play zones, great food, good service staff, on weekdays.

Do not visit – during the ‘peak hours’ or take note on how to circumvent the problem. Do not buy the annual pass till they resolved this annoying teething issue. Do not expect the counter staff to help much because as nice as they are, they are inexperienced to managing tricky situations. It is not their fault but it would be nice if they have lined out certain SOPs to handle the chaos.

The owner himself was apologetic and took the time to seek me out for an explanation. He offered some discount vouchers but well, they ought to have some solutions soon. Whatever it was, you might want to check their Facebook or call up to understand the situation so that your kids and you would not be disappointed on the ground.

Z did enjoy himself very much though we shudder at the thought of going back on weekend afternoons.

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Free gift

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This came in the mail today, courtesy of MSIG. We had purchased a family single trip insurance policy for our holiday next month. It was not mentioned on the website that there would be any free gift because there was a 25% discount.

I would usually hold out for NATAS travel fair period (end Feb and end Aug) because Tenet and AIG would usually offer up to 45% discount off the single trip policies.

Now that MSIG had sent this surprise gift, it was a bonus though we would probably have very little use for that. Z would probably claim it for his use.

Over-signed

I usually do not like to sign packages for services because of my bad experience with some salon and gym many years ago.

However, the current place which I had been going for my facials was so good that I would be going on to my 8th year with them.  I saw their promotion which was $1688 for $2600 worth of service credits and $180 worth of product vouchers.  It was a really good promotion in my opinion.  Before I could sign up, my skincare consultant reminded me that I still had $500+ credits for the current package and I had a new package unused.  Darn.

But I really, truly appreciated how ethical the salon was.  I loved the fact that they had never attempt to hard sell anything.  The service was always good and the standard was always consistent.

It was also nice to be a recognised face at the salon.  The only thing that I did not really like was how kiasu every other customer was to book their facial appointments 2 months’ in advance!  For that very reason, I would not want to tell anyone where I would go for my facials.  #lol

An unforgettable hotel reservation experience

I could accept that the hotel had made a mistake and charge me the wrong amount.

What I could not accept was the shoddy and irresponsible immediate reply over the phone that the hotel had not made a mistake, and that I was liable for the additional taxes involved.

Which part of the phone conversation had the customer service officer not heard?  I had clearly explained over the phone that the website showed me that I was to pay US$1275 for my booking.  I had received an email that US$1275 would be charged to my card.

When I received my credit card bill this week, it showed that I was charged in local currency at 17973038IDR which was US$1625 based on xe.com today.  I emailed the hotel and tried calling them.  Eventually, my call was routed to the Singapore reservation office.

The customer service representative told me that I would need to pay an additional 10% + 11% government and service tax on top of my booking of US$1275.  It would work out to US$1542.75.  I was puzzled because in no way had this extra amount been reflected in any part of the booking.  The person was quick to brush me off and I got really annoyed.  It was as though I had made the silly mistake of not realizing on what I should be paying for.

The customer service representative was firm in his mentality that it was MY FAULT, not the hotel’s fault and only wanted me to accept his explanation so that we could end the call as soon as possible.  It was my fault for not realizing that I needed to pay an additional 10%+11% for my reservation.  It was not the hotel’s responsibility that they had charged me a different amount from what I saw on the website and on the email.

I insisted on speaking with a manager whilst I dug out the reservation email.

It read very clearly “Service Charge: 10% per room per night is in the rate.  Government Tax: 11% per room per night is in the rate.”

When the second representative talked to me and suggested the same thing, I told him even if the taxes had been the cause of difference, why was there such a big difference of US$1542.75 and US$1625?  He actually asked me on the date of transaction to track back on conversion rate.  Excuse me, how could the conversion rate differ so much?  Furthermore, if the website had quoted in USD, you jolly well charge your customers in USD!

It irked me that instead of collecting the right information to investigate, they actually implied that I was not aware that I ought to pay 21% service and taxes (when it was clear that I did not have to and they failed to verify) and to suggest the difference was due to currency fluctuation.

For goodness’ sake, I hate customer service representatives who tend to shove the blame (or call it responsibility) on the customers.  Was I dealing with a 3* hotel chain or a 5*?  In fact, the property claimed itself to be 6*.

Thankfully, the bank was helpful and had dished out appropriate advice such as raising dispute to the claim.  In this way, I would not need to settle the payment by the due date and would not be liable for late charges or interest charges whilst I ironed this out with the hotel.  It was indeed an exclusive and extraordinary experience.  It was a very spectacular boo boo by a renowned brand which I had never experienced at other leading hotel chains.

Could you have imagined if they had the fortune of meeting a less investigative customer?  They would have gotten away with surplus, unexplained revenue.

At the moment, it was still investigation-in-progress but it had already marred my impression of this hotel chain.

Great steals for a meal

On the few rare days that we dined out by ourselves, not only did we look for a child-friendly place, we also tried to look for a taste-bud friendly and pocket friendly place.  For the weight conscious me, every calorie mattered, so I would not want to waste my calories’ count on passable food.  My recent favourites were Tott Bistro located within the Sime Darby Centre along Bukit Timah road and Room located within Alexandra Retail Centre at the junction of Alexandra Road & Pasir Panjang road.

I was obviously not a food blogger because by the time we settled down with 2 children, all I wanted to do was to take a breather, play with X, chat with Z and devour the delicious-looking food.  That explained the lack of food pictures.  Besides, I was not good at taking awesome shots and edit the pictures to a T.

Back to Tott Bistro, it offered free parking!  It was on the same premise with the Tott Cooking school.  They changed their menus every once in a while.  When I first visited Tott, the layout and style reminded me of IKEA.  However, the food selections such as the laksa, the sirloin steak and the mac & cheese were fabulous.  It was not too expensive either as a plate of pasta was only $10.90, similar to Ikea’s prices.  The laksa had undergone super upgrade from a basic laksa at $6.90 to a crayfish laksa at $12+.  Even so, the laksa was always sold out by the time we appeared for dinner.

Last week, we popped down to Tott for an errand and decided to have our dinner there.  Imagine our delight when we saw them having 1-for-1 main course for week nights (Mon-Thurs) if you were a Tott member or UOB cardmember.  Mr H finally got to try the $24.90 Sirloin steak.  Since it was 1-for-1, it made terribly poor sense if I did not follow suit since the next main course was only about $12.90.  That worked out to be $12.45 for a beautifully seasoned sirloin steak which you would not require any more sauces.  I used the black pepper sauce as a dip for my fries instead since the sauce was also very nice.  Z had herbal chicken ipoh hor fun, no complaints there either.  The promotion would be valid till 31 Dec 2013 and I reckoned we would be back for more steak.  Too bad about the lack of ribeye steak option though!  However, given that price tag, we really could not ask for a better cut or quality of meat.  I would rank it better than Jack’s place and Astons but it was no fight for Cut, Market Grill & Prime Society alike.  Then again, it would not be possible to spend $80-$100 per steak for regular meals!

As for Room, it had been around for so long and always seemed so deserted that it never occurred to me to try.  Until one day, when we had 6 adults, 1 child and 3 young babies to meet for dinner.  It made sense to meet at the quiet ARC and Mr H chose Room for its roomy décor, pun totally intended.  It offered 1-for-1 pasta if you top up $8 for tea+soup+cake set.  Loosely, it would work out to be $23-$24 for 2 pastas, 1 drink, 1 soup and 1 cake.  The promotion was only valid from Mon to Fri 5-8pm and Saturday 12-5pm.

I had the laksa pesto spaghetti and I really hated the laksa.  There was so much carbs and it was so delicious that I kept eating.  It was so difficult to stop.  Even the mushroom soup tasted so rich and came with abundance of mushrooms.  It was so creamy and good that Z finished almost everything.  I was thankful and yet not so thankful at the same time.  To top the icing on the cake literally, the old school chocolate was soft, moist and rich (yes, rich again).  It reminded me of Awfully Chocolate but an improved version.  Needless to say, it harmed my waistline.

Thankfully, they had other healthier promotions.  There was a morning where we happened to be in the area and popped in for breakfast.  If you ordered their most expensive ‘big breakfast’ set at $18.50, your child would be entitled to a free waffle (full size) with maple syrup and butter.  Based on visiting so many cafes and restaurants for brunches, it was definitely super good value and yes, it did not fail the taste buds either.

Last I recalled, both places did not charge 10% service fee but their service was friendly and welcoming.