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1 Jan 2009 / Julie

Captain Service born in the new year. Or Bad Service at Baltimore’s “premier gay club”.

To ring in the new year, my friends and had planned to have dinner in the city and then enjoy some karaoke with the drag queens at Club Hippo (“Baltimore’s Best Gay Club since 1972″). Yeah right.

Dinner (at Luckie’s Tavern in the inner harbor) was fantastic. The food was wonderful and the service was excellent. We had been placed at a table right by the often-opening front doors. The restaurant could benefit from a vestibule. But just as we were getting annoyed, another table for 3 opened up in a warmer corner by the fireplace. We asked if we move over there and our waitress was more than happy to help out. She even replaced my friend’s beer for no charge when he didn’t like it (she had recommended it).

Compare that customer service with our next stop: Club Hippo.

We arrived around 9.30pm and sat down at the bar and got a round. A few minutes later our other two friends arrived and also ordered drinks. Then the first sign of bad business occurred. They announced that everyone who was NOT staying for the New Years Eve party should finish up their drinks and leave… and everyone STAYING for the New Years Eve party should go up to the front and pay their $10 cover and get stamped. What’s the point of getting to the bar before the party if we’re just going to have to pay the cover anyway? Okay, fine. So half of us went to get in line to cough up our $10 per person, the other half watching our coats at the bar since we weren’t done with our drinks yet. Then, the other half of our party went to hand over their $10 per person. Enter bad business practices.

They went up to the guy collecting the money and he walked away. The manager then told them that they had to go OUTSIDE (in 60mph winds and 29 degree temps, mind you) and wait in line to pay and get their hand stamped. Can i hear a big WTF?

When they decided NOT to go outside in the cold, they came back to their seats at the bar with us. And it’s then that the bouncer showed up to ask us to leave.

Enter Julie’s big mouth.

I try to work my magic on the manager’s sense of good customer service. Apparently he had none. We had our money in hand. All he had to do was take it. But “the stamp moved to the other side, i don’t have the stamp anymore.” So you walk us over there, take our money, and stamp our hand. It’s not complicated.

I then try to work on his good business sense. Didn’t have any of that either. Instead of making $50 bucks on top of all the drinks we’d buy over the course of the evening, he only made $20 AND pissed us off, which sends us writing blog posts, letters, and other business complaints. Didn’t anyone ever tell them that’s not how to run a business? Fools.

I have a bad feeling that if i had been a 21 year old adorable blonde gay boy that none of this would have been a problem. The manager would have found a way to make things right. Discrimination always pisses me off, but it pisses me off even more when those traditionally discriminated against are the ones doing it.

So, annoyed to the hilt, we ran across the street (yes ran, it was COOOOLD) to the Grand Central and had us a grand old time with excellent (and much less busted) bartenders, fun and interesting fellow customers (also originally from philly/nj) and a champagne toast with not-so-bad champagne. :-)

And so begins (one of) my quest(s) for 2009: I am Captain Service and I vow to fight bad customer service wherever it may live. Starting off with contacting the owners of the Hippo and maybe the BBB of Greater Maryland.

Update 1/2/09: Consensus among the MD coworkers of one of the guys with us NYE said “we were lucky to have been kicked out of the Hippo. Would have been more of a punishment to have stayed.”

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