I know this is waaay off-topic, even for a blog as eclectic as this, but I had an experience this week that made me feel happy with the world, and I wanted to mention it here as a reassurance that the whole world is not spiralling down into that attitude where businesses think customers are an annoying irritant.
This is the Mill Race pub, about three miles from our house, where the family and I often like to go for Saturday lunch. This Wednesday, with the boys all at school and Fiona and I both working at home, we took an hour off and went for a quiet lunch on our own.
After the meal (excellent as always, and the keep their beer well, too), I paid by Visa card, and asked for £50 cashback. (Do you have that in America? Over here, lots of businesses allow you overpay with a card, and give you the balance in cash, so you don’t have to find an ATM.) Well, Fiona and I and the manager were chatting away so merrily that they plain forgot to give me the £50 and Fiona and I both also forgot all about it. Amazing but true.
So we came home and the next evening when I was food-shopping — needed some arborio rice — I put my hand in my pocket and realised I didn’t have any notes; just a few coins. (Happily, those coins came to £2.18, which was enough for me to buy the rice.) But it’s only then that I realised what had happened. Ran through the previous day’s lunch in my mind and realised — D’oh! — that I had indeed left without the money.
When I got home, I phoned the pub and told the man on duty what had happened. The manager wasn’t there but he said he’d call her and check. The next day, he phoned me back and said that, yes, she remembered it the same.
“That’s great”, I said; “Shall I drive over this evening and collect the money?”
No, need, it turned out: he said he’d drop it by on his way home after the lunchg shift. And so it was that, around three o’clock yesterday afternoon, a complete stranger knocked on my door and handed me fifty pounds.
Well, I was touched. It would have been so easy for them just to say something like “unfortunately, it is our policy that no transactions can be revisited once you have left the premises”. (Or just to have lied about what happened, and insisted that they’d given me the money.) Just that they didn’t do this is enough to make me happy; that they went the extra mile to bring my money to me was really impressive. That’s a business that doesn’t just want its customers not to complain about them, but that wants to delight its customers. You know, in the way training films always say every business wants to do, but none of them ever actually do it.
So, hats off to the Mill Race. Nice pub, good food, excellent beer, and — maybe most important of all — in a cynical age, proof that some people really do want to do not just the right thing but the best thing.