Believe it or not, this very nearly happened to me earlier this week. I was the customer, I hasten to add, and the venue I was at was all set to lose me and my associates over the price of a cup of tea.

Yes, really.

I was at a meeting venue in Derby for my Mastermind session, where a group of us like-minded business owners get together to work on our businesses for a day, as opposed to in them. Masterminds are great, and if you’re not in one, you really should consider it. But back to the tale…

Six of us were at a meeting venue in Derby for a full day. We had paid just shy of £200 for the room, which included one serving of tea and coffee. I don’t know about you, but to me “a serving” means someone actually helps you with the tea, or brings it to the room at a specified time.

But no, at this venue, “a serving” apparently meant we had to use a very complicated hot water tap to make our own drinks, going into the kitchen to find our own milk from the fridge. Not great. There also wasn’t a bin for the tea bags or rubbish, and the coffee was some awful cheap instant stuff (I don’t drink coffee so I have to take my friends’ words for its poor quality).

I wasn’t the person who made the booking, so wasn’t aware of the limitations on our “servings”, and nothing was explained to us when we arrived. I have to admit though, that I had three cups of peppermint tea in the morning (but didn’t use any milk), so technically that was three servings.

The person on reception challenged one of my colleagues about the numbers of “servings” we had, and that we would have to pay an extra £2 per cup.

Er, whaaaaat? We were self-serving, and having to fetch everything from the kitchen. How does this warrant an extra £2 per person?

By this point, we were a bit fed up with the venue anyway. The parking was awful and twice someone was called from our room to move their car. Another issue was the fact that the wifi didn’t work. Luckily we didn’t need it for our meeting, but it meant checking emails at lunchtime and in the breaks was limited to phone access only. Hardly ideal for a conference and meeting venue.

But they had the cheek to try and charge us for an extra cup of tea.

So what’s the moral of this story? Well, I would say that treating your customers as if they matter is a good place to start. If they take the piss, then sure, charge them for going over their contractual agreement, but don’t try and nitpick when you don’t fulfill their basic needs (parking and wifi). Maslow would have some very strong words to say on the subject.

And also, never ever come between a Brit and a cup of tea.

So will we go back? Probably, because the location suits us all, but we will grumble about it and continue to write blog posts about how they could improve their customer service and business model.



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