Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Gens de Merde

Le Carré Blanc
I think it's a recognised fact that French customer service is an oxymoron, but does anyone realise how deeply contempt for the customer goes? I read somewhere that customer service is so bad in France because no Frenchman considers himself in the service of anyone. They are above such things, with the result that customers are treated badly with no effort to respect their custom. On the contrary, the fact that the French depend on  money coming in from customers grates like hell. Au fond, every Frenchman should have independent means...

A rare and delightfully appalling example of the true attitude of the French towards customers comes from an email sent by the direction of the Jardin des Sens owned by the Freres Pourcel who also own the private beach and restaurant  Plage Carré Blanc at Villeneuve les Maguelone, to someone who pointed to a bad review on TripAdvisor and more bad reviews on CityVox.

Here is the bad review from catherine66:
Don't go there! Not only did we not get served what we asked for (one oriental salad, a cesar salad without apple and a bucket of ice) , the cesar arrived with apple - and was replaced 30 minutes later, the oriental salad was full of fatty lamb which they reluctantly changed for what they referred to as a "Millefeuille de tomates et mozzarella" which consisted of one sliced tomato interspersed with bits of mozzarella and charged us 15€ for the privilege (photo attached). We were extremely polite when asking about the food and just got the grumpy French total absence of service attitude back - we experienced bad service where the waiters acted as if they are doing US a favour!
 Here is the response from 'la direction':
From: []
Sent: 07 September 2010 20:47
Subject: commentaires
je ne sais pas qui vous êtes...... d'ailleurs peu importe ...... c'est pour ça que je ne signerais pas non plus, même si c'est facile de comprendre qui je suis....
Difficile de plaire à tout le monde... Je nous sent mal compris sur ce coup là..... lol
Les commentaires sur Citivox sont affligeants de tristesse, nous ne pouvons pas donner à ces gens là ce qu’ils recherchent.... Qu’ils passent leurs chemin, je ne dirais pas qu'ils ne nous intéressent pas, mais pas loin ...  oup's .....
Après chacun doit rester à sa place, autant le client que le restaurateurs...... faut quand même pas charrier.... qu'est ce qu'ils en savent tous ces gens des merdes qu'il faut gérer tous les jours ???  hein ???? les donneurs de leçon, on en a souper !
Carré Blanc n’est certes pas parfait, mais vu le succès de la saison 2010 et les très nombreux fidèles qui y ont séjourné très régulièrement tout l’été, ce ne doit pas être si mauvais....
Comparaison faite avec beaucoup d'autres plages, je continuerais à aller souvent à Carré Blanc d’autant que j'en suis un des créateurs et propriétaire.....

Bien à vous ,

Good evening
I don't know who you are... but that doesn't matter... it's why I won't sign this either, even if it's easy to know who I am...
Difficult to please everyone... I feel we are misunderstood on this one... lol
The remarks on CityVox are pathetically sad, we can't give what these people want... They should go elsewhere, I wouldn't say they don't interest us, but not far... oops...
In fact, everyone should know his place, the client as much as the restaurant owner, it's a bit rich... what do they know, all these crappy people (gens de merde) who we have to deal with every day, eh? I'm sick and tired of these know-it-all advice-givers!
Carré Blanc certainly isn't perfect, but seeing the success of the 2010 season and the large number of faithful clients who visit regularly all summer, it can't be that bad...
Compared with lots of other (private) beaches, I'll continue to go often to Carré Blanc, especially as I'm one of the creators and owner.

What does it mean, that one can't complain? that they are not interested in hearing that customers are not 100% delighted? Are they not interested in improving the experience for everyone, so that everyone has a good time and feels they are getting value for money - it's certainly not cheap and you would expect more from a Pourcel brothers restaurant.

So there you have it - customers who complain are gens de merde who should just shut up and go away, and leave the place for those who are so overcome at being there that they don't notice the bland overpriced food, bad service, and haughty demeanour of the staff.

Wouldn't you also say that this is also an example of an email you should sleep on before sending? It's hilarious in its appallingness. Thank you, Jardin des Sens direction for providing us with today's laugh. Oh, and PS, I won't be spending my birthday at your place this year. I've had second thoughts...


  1. Just about sums it up...sheer contempt for the customer.

  2. Didn't you once get a very similar missive from a Montpellier restaurateur?

  3. OMG, I cannont believe that they sent that email... how rude! Not only is it a good example of an email one should sleep on before sending but I would also say that it is an example of what can happen if you write an email after a large quantity of alcohol.

    Isn't dealing with customers a bit like politics? If so, how come every French person considers themselves an ace at politics? me no understand but I will certainly never be visiting their restaurant again!

  4. Fly - yes, that's the bottom line, the rest is just crap.

    Expat - I don't remember that, and I doubt it was quite so blatant!

    Piglet - I know, amazing isn't it. So deliciously appalling. It gave me a good laugh and quite made my day.

  5. I miss a few things about France three weeks away from being there but the surly customer service is not one of them. I once bought some plates at Carrefour, everyday china in a laminated polythene wrap so you could not examine each plate. Got it home and found two cracks on one of the plates - took the package back and got asked 'how do we know you didn't do this yourself?'. Of course I used my best French to shout my case and got the €20 note just flung across the counter without a word.

  6. Wow, Fly, that is gobsmacking! Do these people get no training? They seem to take every complaint as a personal insult.

  7. Wait a second! I thought I was the piglet in France. Guess there are two of us!

    Sara- very funny post. I can't believe that email was written by the owner. I'm rushing to make a reservation...

  8. Hi Samantha, how nice to see you here!
    It's almost worth it to make a reservation, complain like mad and then ask if one is being a gens de merde!


  9. Holy merde! This is way beyond rude and well into the realm of pathological arrogance. Doesn't even seem as though it was written by a sober person, actually. I had actually eaten there once, but it's safe to say I won't be back.

    I've my own (latest) non-service tale: I just spent a stressful two weeks without internet and arguing--I mean dealing--with Orange about it. After being put on hold for 58minutes, the person hung up on me. I made 3 round trips to the closest agency, which is one hour one way, so yes, six hours of driving, and though I lost count of how much time I spent on the telephone, I do remember that I was hung up on by various people a total of 5 times. Mind you, I never once yelled, though I did feel like it. Apparently, to increase profit margin, they hire barely qualified people at rock bottom rates for three months at a time, so they avoid having to pay out any sort of benefits.

    Certainly seems possible, as the people I dealt with could not handle any issues outside the range of the protocol on the paper in front of them. And they just didn't care.

    As the French say: "inadmissible et hallucinant."

  10. Hi Tammy, nice to see you here :)

    I've had France Telecom experiences too, including them cutting me off. I don't understand that. It's blatant proof of incompetence. Anyway, I empathise with your plight, and can assure you that none of the others are any better. It's the lowest common denominator at work - the worst possible customer service for all.


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