Saturday, March 06, 2010

Diner des Cons

I don't think it would be an understatement to say that the French do not have a very commercial attitude, even if they work in the service industry. Remember the Just Smile campaign to persuade shopkeepers and waiters that a smile rather than a scowl brings more business?

You would think that those in the entertainment industry would be a little more commercially-minded because if clients are not entertained they don't return and that means loss of business. You would also think that positive feedback from clients would be welcomed in the spirit it was intended, to improve future events. In the case of one company here, it's greeted with as much enthusiasm as a rude letter of complaint.

Take this response to a letter of positive feedback on a disasterous evening, complete with mistaken identity:
Je me souviens bien de vous, enfin de Mr X, l'homme enivré qui réclamait à boire au bar toute la soirée ! C'est ça, je ne me trompe pas ? Celui qui voulait régler ces verres par cartes bleus !?
Nous prenons avec respect vos commentaires... Merci de votre aide !

This clubbing evening had cost 65€ each including dinner of 2 dishes. Entrance without dinner cost 35€ so they had 30€ to spend on the dinner - 2 dishes. What did they offer for this by no means measly sum? Unimaginative salad, meat that was cold with rostis that you buy in Lidl, or salmon that was also (unintentionally) cold, tasted and had the texture of cardboard, with an entrée of transparent beef carpaccio. A menu supposedly 'haut de gamme'.

The wine, which had been advertised as included in the price of the dinner, turned out not to be, and final insult, was considered an 'oublie de négotiation' which was made up for with a 'cocktail de rattrapage' of orange nectar and water. Oh, and they were very proud of offering 4 'coupes de champagne' at a thimbleful per coupe.

The loos were smelly, with bald towels, and there was one ladies' for 150 women. Offering a mediocre meal at a non-mediocre price plus inaccurate advertising over the wine, plus a general air of taking the piss and making a fast cash buck is not the way to create a returning clientele.

The letter of positive feedback made several suggestions on how to improve the evening for next time, like employing a better caterer, getting in a local winemaker, honouring their commitments, making the ambiance more convivial with lights and decent music. The DJ was a tosser, apparently. Certainly no David Guetta anyway. It suggested the organisers visit other clubs of that type, including in the UK, to see the sort of competition they're up against.

The response from the organisers, who mistook Mr X for someone else as he couldn't actually drink because he was driving, shows a complete lack of respect for the client. Furthermore, by making everyone pay in cash and not accepting credit cards for the exorbitant bar prices, this suggests more than dodgy dealings for this 'association' which, by the 1901 association regulations, is not allowed to make a profit. Yeah right...

After a further mail which expressed frustration at their lack of commercialism, this is the answer they got back:
je peux mettre tous les temoignages que vous souhaitez, no problemo, attendez vous a une reponse adaquat, la mettrez vous ?...
Bref, on va pas épiloguer sur notre réaction pas du tout auto-satisfaisante, nous vous avons lu avec attention, vous ne l'avez pas fait de votre coté (si si Mr été bien saoul ou semblait vraiment l'être, pour temoins, tous notre staff...). Vous ne semblez pas bien comprendre le français écrit, nous pouvons vous l'écrire en anglais, sachez que je le parle et l'écrit couramment (ironie gratuite que nous vous renvoyons...)
Restons en là svp ! Nous acceptons les critiques, et ne prendrons dans vos messages que le constructif, pas les caprices d'enfants gatés que vous semblez être ....
Sur ce, nous stoppons là cette conversation sterile et vous souhaitons bon courage dans votre monde qui semble bien éloigné du notre.......

It finished by an invitation from my friends for these tossers to attend a 'Diner des Cons' seeing as they had already qualified and were being considered hot favourites to win, and guess what, the organisers only went and accepted!!! We almost fell off our chairs laughing and continued chortling all day.

Heureusement que la ricicule ne tue pas.


  1. And I suppose the Repression des Fraudes at the Prefecture won't touch them because they are a 1901 association....
    The attitude is one I have come across so often...we've got your money so we'll treat you with contempt.
    As for the comment about the language ability!

  2. I was gobsmacked when I first saw what they'd written. I mean, it was totally 'up yours' in attitude.

    They're an odd bunch, too, addressing their clients on the invitation: 'Kikou les amis, bon "sein" Valentin les louloux.' I mean, puke-worthy or what?!

    The whole association business is very dodgy and needs a good audit because I think it's really fallen into disrepute.

  3. That really is a gob-smacker. "Enfants gatés" indeed!!!

    Brings to mind a piece of restaurant theatre we suffered in a small place on Montagne St. Genevieve in Paris some years back. In complaining about service I made the linguistic mistake of referring to the owner's wife as "la bonne femme." The tirade went on for about 30 minutes. What made it worse was that we had just met a friend off the plane and this was her very first experience of a Paris restaurant. "Ashen" comes to mind as a description of her reaction.

  4. That is absolutely outrageous - how frustrating that they are an association, and not an actual business that you can complain about!!

  5. Name and shame....get your French blogging friends to tell everyone who they are...things filter through eventually.
    I'm happy to collaborate - see how integrated I have become.

  6. The Repression des Fraudes mob might be interested: they closed down a 1901 around here a couple of years back because of something quite similar.

    I love the language thing. I'm not infrequently told that "English is an easy language" by people who demonstrate a marked inability to speak it.

  7. expat, I think I would have got up and walked out. Tirade indeed, who do they think they are?

    I can't really name the assoc here, I don't want to get me mates into trouble, but I might just write to the Repression des Fraudes guys and whisper in their shell-like.


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