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The Cowper Arms

Cole Green HouseCole GreenHertfordHertfordshireSG14 2NN
Category: Public Houses, Bars & Inns
 
 
5.5 / 10 (based on 2 ratings)
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Posted:
8:49 PM 13-01-2011
Shame about the management
  2 / 10
My family and I have visited this pub on numerous occasions over the past few years. Until our most recent visit, our only real issue with it has been that on summer weekends plates and glasses are often left on outside tables for too long, encouraging large numbers of wasps and making tables messy for new customers. So we liked to visit at other times, or stay indoors. But after our most recent visit, we will not return until management changes. My wife and I had lunch there on 3rd January commencing just after noon with our young son and daughter. As we finished our meal, I asked whether I could speak to the manager so I could express some disappointments: it had taken a long time (15 mins after ordering) for a plate of bread and oils to arrive; although the children's meals had arrived shortly afterwards, the adult meals were very slow to arrive (45 mins after ordering), even though we had simply ordered a fish finger sandwich and a turkey and cranberry sandwich; and the adult meals turned out to be very disappointing (actually inferior to the children's meals, which were excellent).

Apart from the time we had to wait, we were disappointed with the adult meals for a few reasons. The fish finger sandwich consisted of 3 fish fingers (my son's children's meal had come with 4 fish fingers) served in a bap which, contrary to what the menu promised, had not been toasted. But it was really the "turkey and cranberry sandwich" that fell far short of expectations. It was actually a wrap containing a lot of mayonnaise, not much turkey (and what turkey there was seemed to be just a very few strips of dark meat that we even suspected, apparently wrongly, had been deep-fried) and no cranberry sauce at all. The menu had also promised that the sandwich would come with a salad garnish, but that didn't exist, either. We were so unsure that we had to check that we had the right dish (we did).

I know that some readers of this will think we must be very fussy. In truth, it wasn't the waiting time or the disappointments with the adult meals that led us to decide not to return here. Had our waiter offered an apology or two (or even seemed to be sympathetic), for example when we asked about the status of the adult meals about 40 minutes after ordering them, that might have been the end of it. Certainly if our waiter had offered to take the turkey and cranberry sandwich off the bill, or something like that, we would have gone away happy enough. But because of the attitude he had already taken, we wanted to raise our issues with the manager. Again, if the manager had offered a decent apology and perhaps offered to take the turkey and cranberry sandwich off the bill, we would have gone away basically happy and he would have kept our custom.

BUT, I have never, ever come across a manager who was less interested in the issues and less willing to appease dissatisfied customers. He was defensive from the moment he responded to my initial comment that "I know you're busy" (in fact, although they were pretty busy by that time, they had been pretty quiet when we arrived and put in our order) by saying, curtly, "yes, we are". I told him we were disappointed at having to wait so long for our simple dishes when we had a couple of young children who had both finished eating by the time our food arrived. Then I started to tell him about the turkey and cranberry sandwich, and at that point it became clear what his attitude was going to be. He argued against each point I made, when any decent manager knows that there's no better approach in these circumstances than to let the dissatisfied person communicate their issues. People feel better after letting out what they have been bottling up. But I had to fight to get my issues on the table.

He had no interest whatsoever in being informed about things that any competent person in his position would want to be informed about, such as: the menu says the fish finger sandwich is a toasted bap, but it wasn't toasted; the menu does not indicate that the turkey and cranberry sandwich will actually be a wrap; the menu says that the turkey and cranberry sandwich will include cranberry sauce and a salad garnish, neither of which were included. He became increasingly aggressive (and when I suggested he was being aggressive, he said it was because *I* was being aggressive) until it was clear that there wasn't much point continuing. In the end, both of the adult meals were taken off the bill. Fine, but why not graciously offer to do that after listening to the points we had to make, or, if he had no interest in the nature of the issues, as soon as he came over to our table?! I've never seen such a clear example of shooting oneself in the foot, not only because we shall never return, but also because a number of other customers nearby overheard the conversation and one or two were even moved to offer a sympathetic word to us as we departed.

Sadly, even in today's environment, some managers don't see why they should listen to or care about their customers.
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Posted:
6:19 PM 04-09-2010
Idyllic & Lovely
  9 / 10
This little country pub in an idyllic setting is lovely. The beer is good, and the food is excellent. Shown by its consistently busy restaurant.

The restaurant has a varied menu that accounts for all tastes and appetites, a pleasurable dining experience and recommend booking in advance just to be sure
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