Would you want a rip-off or a beating for dessert?
When abroad, when you are eating out, the waiter would attend to your table every 10 minutes or so and ask if you were content or whether there was anything else you wished for. They would try to solve any problem you may have. Managements would try to win over the customer, not rip them off.
I remember very pleasant customer relations interactions at restaurants in the U.S. and in other places in Europe, for instance London.
Here in Turkey, things are different. A couple of days ago at Burgazada, one of the Prince’s Islands in Istanbul, journalist Caner Eler and friends were at Kalpazankaya Restaurant. After paying the bill they noticed that dishes they did not eat were added to the bill. They objected.
Wow, how can they object? They were yelled at and chairs were thrown over their heads. The cook and the busboy, together with the waiters, joined the attack; they ran away.
A similar scene occurred in Turgut Vidinli in Istanbul’s Beşiktaş, you must remember. A group of women objected to the bill which was 715 Turkish Liras too much; the doors of the restaurant were closed on them and they were beaten...
The most recent example was an Arab tourist in Istanbul. He recognized he was pulled into a trap when two women and drinks that he did not order came to the table; he wanted to leave immediately.
But, no. They beat him up for not paying what was written on the bill. After the beating, they took 2,500 liras from him.
The Arab tourist must have drawn a lesson from this incident. At least he must have learned which venues he needs to stay away from. We, on the other hand, learned our lesson years ago. Turkish people, regardless of being a frequenter of these places or not, know very well this criminal procedure. It happens.
Those who want to be ripped off would go to these places voluntarily; those who do not want to would not go near them. This criminal procedure that functioned for years was about to come to an end, they had told us. These kinds of rip-off venues were closing, it was reported.
Well, they were wrong.
We see that this kind of behavior is like an epidemic. While we thought they were diminishing, it was infiltrating into the inner cells of the sector.
I don’t like generalizations but except for a couple of managements, many venues in Turkey treat you very well until you pay; once they are done with you, you cannot get half of the good service.
They make all kinds of sweet gestures and say nice words until they make you sit at the table , but once you are over you are like an enemy.
Indeed, I am aware of the quality of our customer profile also. Scolding the waiter and all kinds of rudeness are common and they are intolerable.
The reasons for this irritating order may be the problems the sector and its employees are going through. They are probably working for low salaries and are not getting paid regularly. They may be working overtime. Probably they have never liked their jobs. They became waiters because they could not do other jobs. These are all so common in Turkey.
The reasons could be more than I can list here, we may not know. Nobody needs to know the problems of others.
We can avoid this soul-destroying environment only through one thing: A dose of respect. As a matter of fact, the thing we are lacking, the only thing we need is a little respect.
When we are going out to eat, the probability of being bullied at or the probability to be subject to violence should not cross our minds.
We should not be thinking, “I wonder if I will be ripped off today or beaten up, or maybe both?”
A dose of respect would well-season every dish.