Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

All for the Want of an Apology; FOOD

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

All for the Want of an Apology; FOOD

Article excerpt


HAVE you ever been to Alaska? You tend not to hear much about it really.

It's very tall, very big, very empty and, if you want excitement, you generally head south.

But one of the things that impressed me when I went there is how good the service is. On a general you-and-I-can-afford-to-eat-out-there level, I reckon service in the hospitality industry in the more northern parts of North America in general is some of the best in the world.

In fact, my wife and I once walked into a restaurant in Victoria on Vancouver Island and, when we didn't immediately get the service we expected, turned around and walked out again. I felt we'd been ignored and slighted because the staff didn't finish their own conversation the moment we crossed the threshold.

The fact is, I'd got so used to superb service while in North America that, when it did slip a little as it did in that restaurant, I rejected a level of service that I'd have not even noticed in the UK; and obviously become somewhat of a pain to-boot.

Maybe it's because it's so sparsely populated and visited in relation to its size that service providers have to work harder up there. And, therefore, maybe I've hit upon why residents and visitors on this over-crowded little island of ours get such poor service. But that's another subject.

And when service is generally so good, there's rarely a reason to have to apologise for messing things up.

But if you forget how to say sorry for a genuine mistake, it can turn near perfection into disaster.

One of my sisters and my mother made up a party of four who've just returned from a week's trip across Canada followed by a week's Alaskan cruise, finishing in Anchorage prior to flying back to the UK. It was the holiday of a lifetime and nearly a 100% complete and tremendous success.

Only nearly? They had to book an extra night in the last hotel, a rather special place, over and above that provided by the package, to enable them to catch the most convenient flight home. …

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