Bar owner slams woman who left a one-star review after ordering hot water and sugar to go with her OWN teabags – and branded service ‘disgraceful’ when staff refused
- Kelvin Collins, who runs Ben Madigan’s Bar and Kitchen in North Belfast, said negative review ‘beggared belief’ after woman brought her own teabags to pub
- She complained on Google reviews that service was ‘disgraceful’ after staff clocked that she wanted free hot water and sugar to brew her own tea
- When they refused to serve her a second cup of hot water, she took to Google reviews with a one-star take on her visit
- Collins responded, telling the local woman: ‘There is a cost to my business for everything you were consuming while at Ben Madigan’s’
A bar owner has won support on social media after a customer gave his pub a scathing one-star review because staff refused to serve her after discovering she’d arrived with her own tea bags.
Kelvin Collins, who runs Ben Madigan’s Bar and Kitchen in North Belfast, tweeted: ‘I really can’t believe this happened today’ after reading the review that branded service at the pub ‘disgraceful’.
On Google reviews, the ‘local’ woman revealed how she’d arrived at the bar and ordered a hot water and sugar – at no cost – before preceding to brew her own tea using a teabag she’d brought with her.
Teacup storm: Kelvin Collins, who runs Ben Madigan’s Bar and Kitchen in North Belfast, said a negative review left by a local woman ‘beggared belief’ after she complained she couldn’t have free hot water on tap to brew her own tea while sitting in the pub
Collins was praised for the way he responded, telling the woman: ‘There is a cost to my business for everything you were consuming while at Ben Madigan’s’ and outlining that the bar had been closed for 13 out of 18 months during the pandemic
When staff cottoned on, they refused her a second cup of hot water and she left the one-star review shortly after.
She wrote: ‘They wouldn’t serve me again as I used my own teabag. The bar was virtually empty and they weren’t under any pressure… I find it disgraceful that they would begrudge me a 2p teabag.’
Owner Collins has been praised with the way he responded to the online complaint, with some Twitter users saying they’re surprised he didn’t go the full ‘Basil Fawlty on her’, referencing John Cleese’s frequently irate character in 70s BBC hotel sitcom Fawlty Towers.
He wrote back: ‘There is a cost to my business for everything you were consuming while at Ben Madigan’s – heating/aircon, lighting, the staff that served you, the electricity to heat the water, the water itself, the dishwasher used to wash the cup and saucer, the sugar, our rent, the cost to clean the building – I could go on and on….but I won’t.’
Kelvin’s response sparked ‘solidarity’ from fellow small business owners, with one saying they admired the fact he hadn’t gone the full ‘Basil Fawlty’ in his response
He then pointed out that the industry had faced huge challenges due to the pandemic, saying: “We have been closed for 13 months out of the past 18 – forgive me if I begrudge you the cost of all of the above, and for you to follow it up with a 1 star review beggars belief.’
After tweeting the reviews on social media, many supported Collins’ response.
@clarescastle wrote: ‘Solidarity. I hope this brings out lots of supportive locals for you, to cancel out this cheapskate’s absurd review.’
@MetaEvidence wrote: ‘I’m sorry this happened; but your response demonstrates restraint and class. For that alone, my family and I will stop by and support your business when we are next in the area.’
And @Weebud45 agreed, penning: ‘You deserve the right kind of “customer”. You have shown remarkable restraint. I must admit, I would’ve found it hard not to have gone the Full Basil Fawlty on that lady. Best of luck.’
Collins responded: ‘I think some people have no idea about business and think, sure it’s just a 2p tea bag.’
One user felt that maybe the bar staff should have served for a second time, writing: ‘Total sympathy with you but it’s best to turn a negative situation into a positive, you can create raving fans by going the extra mile. I’m thinking of you here, if it were me I’d have given her endless amounts of hot water/ sugar. Word of mouth and lifetime customer value.’
@MagpieLee added that they’d experienced similar, saying: ‘On a serious note, this used to happen in one of my previous places, a Private Members Club in Central London. We eventually had to change the price of hot water to 20p to cover costs.’
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