Well it started like any other night, a nice gathering with work chums to celebrate the success of another hard days at work. We ended up going to the Boulevard Bar in Tower 1 of MArina Bay Financial Centre (MBFC), and it kinda snowed balled from there.
We ordered out drinks which came pretty promptly, we also ordered a pizza and a side dish of fries.
Issue 1 – Smoking in a non-smoking area
We noticed that the table next to us continued to lit off during the first round of our drinks. As one of the members of our group suffered from asthma, we reported this to the staff member. The first one said that we were in a smoking area (which was not true, as the law forbids smoking in any ‘covered areas’. They then walked away. After another cigarette was lit, we again reported the breach to the staff, this time they advised us that they would asked the other table to refrain from smoking in the non-smoking area – but this fell on deaf ears. After they lit up again, the staff advised us that they couldn’t enforce the ban – even though we reminded them that the establishment was also liable for any fines if the smokers were caught by inspectors.
Issue 2 – Appalling Service
Whilst we chatted away with our drinks, we started to notice that our food dishes did not show up. We asked one of the staff members, and was brushed off with the “it is coming excuse”. A few minutes later (about 15 minutes wait) the pizza arrived, and we chatted and enjoyed this. After another 20-25 minutes we noticed that the fries had still not yet appeared. We asked the status and again was told “they were on their way”. Another 10-15 minutes passed and we again asked, only to be told that there were some delays at the dish would take another 15 minutes – at this point we asked for the dish to be cancelled. The waitress then returned with the dish. We told her that we didn’t want the dish and to return it to the kitchen. We also asked to speak to the manager, he offered no support and allowed us to voice our concerns, but simply asked whether we wanted to cancel the dish, which we once again repeated (third time now) that yes we did.
We then asked for another dish that “was quick” to order, and duly ordered this from him – which he agreed to waive. A couple of minutes later, the other bar staff returned and then asked us “if everything was okay”, which of course, we responded as “sorry no it wasn’t” – not knowing what to do, she simply rolled her eyes and went away. How insulting, you don’t ask that questions (which would result in a negative response) shortly after a complaint has been filed to the manager.
Issue 3 – ‘Discretionary’ Service Charge
During the evening I considered asking for the service charge to be removed, but was told by the establishment that they couldn’t do this – advising it was a fixed charge. I am not sure of the Singapore consumer law, but in the US, UK, Australia and Europe, you can request this to be removed if the service being provided was significantly sub-standarded.
Issue 4 – confusion on soft drink happy hour
One of the group ordered a soft drink and settled before leaving, and didn’t realise that it was not under the ‘happy hour’ rule. What I found interesting is that the soft drink happy hour starts at 4pm but ends at 5pm, but whilst the alcohol happy hour (actually hours) started at 4pm and ended at 9pm. Talk about injustice for those that don’t drink alcohol. Either way, it is fine if 1 or 2 of us misunderstood this, but all 5 of us!?!? Therefore, something must be wrong with the way they presented this to the customer.
Having written a formal complaint to the Boulevard Head Office on all of these 4 concerns, I was invited to meet with the owner, their servicing head and the manager of Boulevard Marina Bay. They attempted to discount every single point I made, blaming the rain, unenforceable non-smoking law (which the landlord, not the establishment was liable for), that they didn’t feel the service issues was their fault and the service charge was indeed fix – and quoting this to be a “stealth tax”.
With Compliments from Boulevard Bayfront
Relating to my request for a fully refund (S$138), they then advised me that if was really that dissatisfied that they actually would consider not serving me again in the future – this wasn’t exactly the best way for them to ‘deal’ with a complaint, trying to make it sound like it was my fault that I was unhappy, not theirs. I did explain that none of the 5 people who were present enjoyed the experience and it was multitude or failures that they needed to learn from – ranging from a recap for the non-smoking law, education and re-training. They then decided to offer a bottle of wine as an alternative ‘way’ of settling my complaint.
All in all, I found the owner and the experience extremely unsettling, and actually would personally consider stopping going they myself. After all there are plenty of nicer places to visit in Singapore than this :). But more importantly, it was the altitude of the owner and the way they tried to quash all elements of the feedback that caused me more concern – basically implying that they don’t care about the customer satisfaction!! How wrong can they be…
Moet and Chandon – Lovely Huvly Bubbly
Funnily, they then agreed to give me this free bottle of wine – which turned into a bottle of Möet and Chandon…
The bottle costs around S120 – so covers the majority of the meal that we were complaining about (yes I know that the wholesale prices is a portion of this – but still, I never say no to a freebie)…
I guess the magic question is whether I want to go back to the Boulevard Bars or not in the future
Well we’ll see how I feel after a few weeks…there’s always plenty of places to drink in Singapore, so I am sure I won’t miss the place!!
Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 1
8 Marina Boulevard #01-02
Tel: +65 – 6634 8761