I am an expat who often goes home to visit my parents in Cagayan Valley. While waiting for my flight back to Manila from Tuguegarao City airport, I would usually have buffet lunch in nearby Kusina Cagayana.
Last March, I had a very unpleasant experience dining in this restaurant. I brought a cold bottle of my favorite soft drinks after shopping from Brickstone Mall. Inside the restaurant, a woman who (does not even know how to smile to the customers) introduced herself as the owner, said that she would have to charge me corkage for the bottle of soft drinks.
Corkage in most restaurants is normal, but in a friendly manner I said that, maybe she should waive the corkage for now as we are a group of three and that I regularly eat in her restaurant, and that I would usually bring a half-consumed bottle of soft drinks every time and did not have to pay corkage before. She agreed to waive the corkage.
But everything seemed unusual that day, the waiters looked stressed, rattled and as inhospitable as the supposed to be owner. Before finding a table, I asked one of the waiters whether they still charge the same fee for buffet and he said yes.
Later, when I went to the cashier to pay, the owner was there. I looked at the bill and there was an additional P100 for corkage. The owner said that after INVESTIGATING (what a word) her staff (as if I am some kind of suspected criminal or low-life who could not afford a decent meal), she learned that I was not a regular customer after all, that if I was indeed a regular customer I would know how much they would charge for buffet. Yeah, right, maybe asking whether they increased their price would justify that I do not regularly dine in their restaurant.
I have never been insulted this way in my whole life, not from a restaurant owner who probably does not have the slightest idea what CUSTOMER SERVICE meant. Maybe she was so pissed off that her staff previously did not charge corkage!
I did not want to call the attention of the other diners, not especially my husband and vet-friend who I was with, so I patiently said that an additional p100 for corkage would not hurt my wallet.... but her words and attitude just did i thought...golden rule: there is always a better way to say things that would not offend a customer...corkage is not the issue here but the manner she treats customers who patronize the restaurant... but you definitely lost a customer, I added. In her usual sarcastic manner, she replied,...Okay lang!At that moment I felt like throwing up everything I ate...never again in Kusina Cagayana! How I regretted not following my husbandfs suggestion to dine at another nearby restaurant, Pampaguena or Leng-leng, where the owners are warm, friendly and hospitable,....the exact opposite of this one!