Snarky Customer Service

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As you all know, I’m a huge fan of Girlyman. I have an alert service that informs me whenever there is news about them (and The Wailin’ Jennys as wel). Today, I received an alert pointing me to a blog about Brooklyn. In this post, she writes about a Brooklyn-based group called Sweet Bitters. She lists their influences, which include Girlyman, hence my alert notification.

So, I listened to the four songs on their MySpace page (linked above), and liked their sound. They only have two upcoming live dates listed there, one being on April 5th, 2008 at Pete’s Candy Store in Brooklyn. I wouldn’t mind seeing them, and there’s a slight chance that we could make it there that night.

Sweet Bitters’ link to the venue makes it clear that the show is free. Since there is no place to purchase tickets, Pete’s is clear enough that tickets are free as well. They have a menu link, with five sandwiches listed and some cocktails, so one assumes that they make their money that way, but there’s no mention of a cover or minimum so who knows.

Utilizing the better safe than sorry theory, I sent an email to one of the addresses listed in their contact link (I think it rotates on reloads, because I saw another name appear at a different time).

If you read this space regularly you already know that the above italics aren’t rare for me. ;-) I will happily admit that I overdid the quote marks (to indicate the same emphasis I use italics for here). I thought I was helping highlight the underlying points. Here is my email in it’s entirety:

Hi. I’ve never been to Pete’s. I might be able to make it on 4/5 to see the 9pm show (Sweet Bitters), but I’m not sure yet.

Can you tell me how Pete’s “works”?

What time should we show up for the 9pm show to get good “seats”?

Are there tables or rows of chairs, etc.?

Obviously we’d like to give you “business”, so the above question is related to whether we show up early and order drinks and dinner, but whether we have to move afterwards or sit at the table and watch the show?

Do you “sell out” (we’d be coming from Manhattan, so it would be frustrating to show up and not get in)?

Thanks in advance, and I’m glad to have found out about your place today! :-)

P.S. I don’t know if it matters, but there would be two of us for sure, and possibly four…

OK, a little over-the-top, but reasonably clear, no? In particular, the part about my desire to want to support the venue given that the show is free?

Here is the entire unedited response, cutting out my original email from the bottom:

“all” pete’s shows are “free”. if you are worried about “it” being ” too full”, then “come early”. you do not have to “leave your seats” from one show to the next. i hope this “response” was “helpful”.

for more “info”, go to www.petescandystore.com.

“take care”

OK, let’s analyze. First and foremost, did he respond to my questions? Mostly, but not as accurately as one would hope. What does come early mean? 8pm, 7pm, 3pm? It would seem that he mistook my question about selling out to simply mean is it free. Otherwise, he might have said something like “on occasion, in particular on Saturdays, if you don’t get here by 8:45pm, there is no room left in the place”.

More importantly, is his response appropriate? I’m a potential customer. Could he be sure that I was savvy enough to take his sarcastic reply in the (hopefully amusing/entertaining) manner that he intended? Wasn’t it as likely that if I’m so clueless as to have put the quotes in to begin with, that I might be offended at being made fun of?

Let’s assume that he doesn’t care (that’s my assumption!). After all, they’re not charging for the concert. In any event, they must have some reason to open their doors, and perhaps I would never come there, not just that night. Perhaps I’d even blog about it, affecting other people. ;-)

Bottom line, I think his response was at best snarky, not necessarily out-and-out nasty, nor obviously meant simply to be humorous.

Is that the best way to get business? Who knows. I still don’t know whether I can make it or not, but I’d still like to. Whether I’m interested in giving them business is another matter, but we’ll see how that plays out as well.

I could have been indignant in my response, ignored it, or chosen something in between. Here’s the entire text of my response:

“thanks”, “cute answer” ;-)

Hope he doesn’t think I was insulting him. ;-)

Anyway, I really wrote this post to promote Sweet Bitters, even though I am also indirectly promoting Pete’s Candy Store. I just couldn’t resist telling the whole story behind it, because I have written about the lack of customer service in the past, and this is but one more example…

  • http://www.myspace.com/sweetbitters Sharon Goldman

    Hi Hadar!! Sharon from Sweet Bitters here…thanks again for friending on MySpace. And I am soooooo sorry that the contact at Pete’s was so lame when you e-mailed them! I’m not sure if it was intentional or they were just being “hipster-y” :) But I can say that Pete’s a cool, hip joint with a sizable back room where we’ll be playing…I can’t imagine that you’ll have a problem getting seats. And I can even hold some for you if you like, with our coats and bags! I’m pretty sure they don’t serve food…but they’re nearby all of the Williamsburg restaurants. But even if you can’t make it I assure you we’ll be playing in the ‘hood again soon…probably in Park Slope. So we’ll keep you updated and thanks again! — Sharon

  • http://www.opticality.com/blog/ hadar

    OK, now I’m gonna feel double bad if I don’t make it, so I’ll really try! Thanks so much for taking the time to give the extra info about Pete’s! :-)

  • sweetbit

    Pleeez don’t feel obligated…we wouldn’t want that! If you can make it that’s lovely but we’ll be in the hood again real soon…in fact, we already got word that we’ll be at Bar4 in Park Slope on Friday, May 30. Either way we’ll see you sometime soon! — Sharon :)

  • http://www.opticality.com/blog/ hadar

    No obligation, just desire! :-)

    Cool to hear about the Bar4 date, so at least there’s a backup plan for me.

    Hope to see you guys soon!

  • David

    Some “people” must get pretty “irked” at extraneous quotation marks as evidenced by the fact that there is an entire “blog” devoted to it. :-) http://quotation-marks.blogspot.com/

  • http://www.opticality.com/blog/ hadar

    Thanks for sharing that link. I love it!

  • sweetbit

    Just a note that Sweet Bitters’ show at Pete’s Candy Store in Williamsburg will be at 9 p.m. this Saturday, April 5th, not 8 p.m. Sorry for the mixup!
    Sharon :)

  • http://www.opticality.com/blog/ hadar

    I said 9pm above, so I’m hoping you just mis-read my note where I ask if I should show up by 8pm, etc. Still hoping to make it there! :-)

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