Daily Mail

Last or­ders for ser­vice

- By Vic­to­ria Bischoff MONEY MAIL EDI­TOR v.bischoff@dai­ly­mail.co.uk Lifestyle · Shopping · Andrew Davis

THE pub was prob­a­bly the thing that I missed most dur­ing lock­down.

A swift half after work with col­leagues, a mid-week vino with friends, a leisurely Satur­day af­ter­noon in a sunny beer gar­den . . . I felt lost without it.

Since lock­down lifted, many have done a bril­liant job of wel­com­ing back cus­tomers with open arms (not lit­er­ally).

Oth­ers, how­ever, have be­come what my cooler, younger cousin might call a ‘fun-sponge’. That is, they in­stantly soak up any sense of re­laxed en­joy­ment.

Ev­ery busi­ness has its own set of new rules — which is fine.

But, with no con­sis­tency, cus­tomers can­not be ex­pected to know th­ese in ad­vance, nor glared at if they un­wit­tingly make a mis­take.

Many have been drop­ping into the same wa­ter­ing hole for years and, sud­denly, ev­ery­thing has changed.

Staff need to be trained to pa­tiently guide cus­tomers through the new pro­cesses so they feel con­fi­dent re­turn­ing.

Many, for ex­am­ple, re­quire you to book a ta­ble in ad­vance — and may only al­low a two-hour slot. Some wel­come walk-ins, while oth­ers — or a spe­cific one in Hamp­shire — will send you pack­ing un­less you’re a ‘lo­cal’.

Most ask you to jot down your tele­phone num­ber so the Track and Trace ser­vice can con­tact you in the event of an out­break.

Or as one rather abrupt sign in an­other pub said: ‘No phone num­ber, no beer’.

Many re­quire you to down­load an app so you can order and pay from the ta­ble (that you’re sternly warned not to leave un­less you’re go­ing to the toi­let).

Oth­ers will let you order from the bar pro­vid­ing you stay be­hind a red line taped on the ground. Some in­sist you get the app de­spite know­ing you will prob­a­bly have to order the old-fash­ioned way be­cause there is barely any wi-fi sig­nal.

When the drinks ar­rive, some staff want you to take them off the tray as they hold it, while oth­ers will put them on the ta­ble.

If the ser­vice is great, no one will mind the ex­tra faff or the fact that there is lit­tle room for a spon­ta­neous tip­ple out any more.

But some staff have taken to act­ing like self-ap­pointed prison guards, bark­ing or­ders at cus­tomers as though they are virus-rid­den in­con­ve­niences.

I’m sure they think they are help­ing to keep ev­ery­one safe. But if peo­ple are made to feel ner­vous and unwelcome, they’ll soon trade ex­pen­sive rounds (£13.90 for a pint of Neck Oil and an Aperol Spritz in our lo­cal!) for a far cheaper glass of wine at home.

And it’s not just the pubs — shop­ping has also had much of the fun sapped out of it.

Some stores are only al­low­ing in cus­tomers who have made an ap­point­ment — even if no one else is cur­rently in the store.

Oth­ers make you queue out­side. Once you’re in, brows­ing is out as you at­tempt to nav­i­gate im­pos­si­bly com­pli­cated one-way sys­tems and you can’t try any­thing on. Given you can take items home and then bring them back, this doesn’t re­ally make much sense.

Why not have cus­tomers just pop un­wanted cloth­ing in a bas­ket on their way out of the chang­ing rooms?

And then, as we re­veal on Pages 44-45, some re­tail­ers are giv­ing up much-needed busi­ness be­cause of a ‘com­puter says no’ ap­proach to ac­cept­ing cash. If staff are wor­ried, pop on some gloves.

Shops, pubs and restau­rants des­per­ately need our sup­port. If we aban­don them now, we’ll lose them for good.

But busi­nesses also need to help them­selves. Right now, this means go­ing the ex­tra mile to put peo­ple at ease.

Happy cus­tomers are far more likely to spend more — and help breathe some life back into the econ­omy.

Let them eat ic­ing

IN­TER­EST rates are not im­por­tant to savers, according to one top boss at TSB.

They are ‘sim­ply a lit­tle bit of ic­ing on the cake’, says An­drew Davis, con­sumer di­rec­tor at the bank.

I’d hardly call TSB’s miserly 0.02 pc easy-ac­cess rate ‘ic­ing’, or even sprin­kles.

To say in­ter­est rates don’t mat­ter is a real slap in the face to the mil­lions of savers who rely on re­turns from their nest-eggs.

Please do write to me at the email ad­dress be­low to let me know your thoughts on the mat­ter — I’ll pass them on to Mr Davis.

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