The Problem is Me, Not Them…(Or…Every Place in India is Not Mumbai)

Three days ago, on Diwali day, we landed in Pondicherry for a short vacation. Due to the rush for their popular Diwali-day buffet, the hotel where we are staying could not accommodate us for dinner. We then went down to the Pizza Hut, a few minutes walk away.

Initially it all went well. The first orders were taken promptly and the pizzas came on time. The problem started when we wanted to order dessert. For a long time we were unable to catch the waiter’s eye. Even after we finally managed to tell one of the servers to send someone to our table, it took quite some time for our cheesecake order to be taken. And then started the interminable wait. Ten minutes passed. Then fifteen. The kids were tired and sleepy and we wanted to go back to the hotel. I went to the counter and politely requested them to cancel the order and to give me the bill. No one would make eye contact and the request went unheeded. I tried again after raising my voice a bit and one of the girls promised to get me the bill. Five more minutes and…nothing. I went back to the counter. The supervisor came up and apologised and promised to get the cheesecake. I tried to get through to them that I was done with the cheesecake and just wanted to pay and leave. They still didn’t get it. Finally when I raised my voice even more, they brought the bill…with the cheesecake charged for. When I pointed this out, they suddenly produced the cheesecake. I had to gesticulate and shout a little more before they finally took away the cheesecake and corrected the bill.

Walking back, my wife gave me a knowing look. I had again lost my temper on the first day of a vacation.

I don’t have high expectations during vacations when I am in local hotels or restaurants. But with branded chains, my argument for many years has been that irrespective of where in the world I am, I should expect the same service if I am paying for the brand and its experience. Two years ago I had written about the “poor” service we had received on the first day of our holiday at a multinational brand hotel in Goa and the article had kicked up quite a storm within the hotel chain when it was forwarded to them. Over the last couple of years, I have had similar run-ins on the first day of a vacation or trip, with service staff of branded, chain hotels, in places ranging from Jaipur to Alibag to Indore and even Kolkata.

I now believe that the problem is me. It is completely wrong of me to expect from branded, chain hotels and restaurants, the same levels of service across the country.

Each place has its own rhythm and way of working and we can’t realistically change human behaviour. The ebb and flow of a day are very different in Mumbai as compared to Goa or Pondicherry or for that matter even Jaipur or Kolkata. When people are laid-back they will continue to function in the way that they have been hard wired to from birth, irrespective of how much training is given or processes adopted.

And so now, the rule when traveling is simple! Keep your levels of expectation of service as low as possible when outside Mumbai, even with branded, chain hotels and restaurants. Don’t lose your temper when faced with poor service. Chill and learn to flow with the local tide, however shallow it may be!


  • I too had some bad experience of bad service providers in past including banks, hotel, Movie theater …
    when we are paying it is our right to get good services… but I do not think keeping low expectation will reduce the pain… question is why should we keep low expectation.. doing so I feel we are forced to downgrade our standard….why should we downgrade our standard for downgrade service provider ??

    I am mentioning my one experience at Movie theater… I just wanted 2 tickets… I gave Rs 500 I never asked for combo meal with it ..but they forced me to buy combo meal coupon with ticket worth Rs 100..I told them politely I have not requested Combo meal coupon then why u gave me ..I do not want ..they can not cancel now..I request twice politely ..they denied ..when I lose temper they took it back and refunded ..question is not of money ..some service provider take us for granted and I heat that

    there are two type of service provider who who deliver less than expectation and some Deliver more than we demanded which cost us more ..both situation is painful… keeping low expatiation or accepting the service way is not solution to this problem ..after all being consumer we are King and we should get King like treatment below that not accepted

  • Prakash Nanavati wrote:

    I would do the same thing as you did but now have realised that nothing beats service as in Bombay. So I also take it cool but with lots of patience! Any place outside Bombay, expect service three times slower.

  • Meha Savla wrote:

    In this expectation scenario,Pizza Hut India, must have added an additional 10%service charge in their bill. A customer whether satisfied or not he got to pay additional 10%service charge. Am sure you must have paid that, in spite of poor service. Plus we tip them too. Its not about me being cheap or anything, but i do not like to be cheated, you cannot charge additional 10% service charge if am not satisfied with the services. I brought up this issue with them, they said “Company Policy”.

  • Meha, I didn’t realise this, but now that you mention it, it must be true. This is pretty much daylight robbery, especially since they don’t mention it up front. Sanket, I have had the same issue with people adding on a rupee or so to a bill for charity.

  • Raymond Fernandes wrote:

    Like you yourself said Bhavin, if i were to go to a local establishment i would expect to receive services matching to the locale, laid back or susegad or whatever best describes the local populace. But if i went into a franchised/ branded / high funda establishment with prices to match i would expect to receive services and quality to match standards i have experienced elsewhere. It doesn’t matte if Pizza Hut is in Paris or Pondicherry, the service for the brand name ought to be of the same high standard.

  • Prem Mahtani wrote:

    I agree with you,the quality of service even at international chains like Mac donalds in india is pathetic, lazy and laid back staff with chalta hai attitute.
    When i go to a restaurant or my club i tell the waiter i will wait for 3 mintues or else will walk out if bill is not presented n i say it loud so that others can hear i have witnesses,Hong Kong is worst in service.

  • Raymond, I agree. But it just doesn’t happen. Prem, will try this sometime. Thanks.

  • C. Ashok kumar wrote:

    Mumbai ia mumbai. Sadly rest part of India is very laid back and not very professional

  • My experience is different, whether in/outside of Mumbai whether branded or unbranded, all entirely depends on the kind of rush these guys are handling (which is phenomenal in India and especially on holidays), personally if I want good service I land up well before meal time, less of rush and better service guaranteed. TRY IT.

  • Like this new website, hope posting comment also is easy, used to get some error message in earlier version, though comments did get posted.
    Best thing to do is order meals in hotel room get some DVD’s and chill out, in overpopulated country like ours we should’nt expect quick service esp on holidays.

  • Actually, that’s what my parents did and it worked out better for them.

  • Dear Bhavin, only Mumbai is efficient & our people are used to the FAST life culture. the other cities of India are never in a rush for anything. We Mumbaikars are always in a hurry & work 24×7 which is not so in any other city. we have to get used to this & enjoy the Vacation/Holidays.
    During the weekends in Mumbai too, when we order food from our Famous Matunga rest., food always gets delivered late as they are unable to cope up with the rush hours. Anyways, enjoy.

  • Dr. Rahul Navalkar wrote:

    That’s why TIPS were invented.

    The full form is To Insure Prompt Services.

    Thats why you tip beforehand and see the difference.

Leave a Reply

Your email is never shared.Required fields are marked *