Blinded by the numbers

I must relate one of those ridiculous customer service experiences where the customer definitely doesn’t come first. An this time, it’s not QANTAS.

I went to the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) today for a coffee. I arrived about 11.40am and waited to be served. Whilst waiting, I spied a single table with a single chair up against the side of the elevator. To the left of this table was a table for four people, but with only person sitting there.

As a waiter arrived to take me to a table, I said that the single table by the elevator would suffice. I was told that I couldn’t have that table and I had to sit elsewhere. I responded with the obvious fact that it was a single table with a single chair backed onto the side of an elevator. Alas, “that table is part of a table of six” I was instructed.

I could see that there was a table of four (with one man sitting at it) next to it but not adjoined to it.  I could see that neither set of tables were reserved.  And I could imagine that different configurations of standard tables could yield a variety of seating positions, including the potential for a table for six, all over the cafe.

I couldn’t help but wonder what powers of persuasion the single chap at the table of four must have had to be able to conquer 2/3 of the table space from this so-called (and obviously critically necessary) table of six.  Still, I could still see an empty table for one and a customer (me) wanting to sit there for a drink. I perservered with our customer service representative – the waiter.

I reiterated that it was indeed a table for one and I wanted to sit there. The answer was still no. No further expanation was entered in to. Unrelenting as Tony Abbott’s naysaying on just about everything, I was escorted to a dimly lit row of stools facing a very narrow and equally dimly lit benchtop.

I left and I shall not return for coffee or a meal at the NGV ever again.

It should not be this difficult to sit at a table for a coffee, and certainly not forced to sit at a thin pub-like benchtop where the lighting was so poor that I wouldn’t be able to discern a coffee from a coconut! The fact that another sole customer was sitting at a table of four right next to the single table was incongruous to say the least.

I do hope the table of six unites at some stage. I would hate to think that the poor single table was left alone because it was missing five more patrons for company. And the waiter – you’re supposed to serve customers, not tables!


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