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Chai Yo on Polk Street - how not to make a good first impression

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Chai Yo on Polk Street - how not to make a good first impression

Frank Donovan | Oct 23, 2003 08:33 PM

It's been said that you have only one chance to make a good first impression. Unfortunately I ended up with a poor one at Chai Yo on Polk.

My friend and I stopped by for some cake and coffee. Cakes were fine, although the chocolate had an artificial taste.

After lingering for ten minutes or so, I noticed that my friend's coffee was probably getting cold, so I offered to top it off. I took it over to the carafes, added 2 inches of coffee, and returned to table. This was a narrow glass mug, narrower than an Irish Coffee cup, so we are not talking about much coffee here.

The woman working behind the counter came over and said "you have to pay 50 cents for refills." This was not posted in the coffee area, so of course I was surprised. I said that I didn't know, but next time I would be aware of it.

She pursued the matter and said that I had to pay for even such a small amount of coffee. I thought that was ridiculous. I explained that it was my first visit there, and having this kind of treatment over something which was an honest mistake was going to leave me with a bad first impression. I asked her if she'd rather have 50 cents for 2 inches of coffee, and lose the goodwill of a future customer, or say "no problem." To this question, I got no reply.

She insisted, telling me she'd be fired for letting me go without paying for the "refill." This, although there was nobody else in the shop. I paid, and now I have the feeling that I don't want to go back there again, not wanting to support places that can be so antagonistic to their customers.

Once I paid, she walked away, turned her back on me and started doing something at the sink.

The ironic thing is that I had just been talking to my friend about how much my friends would enjoy stopping by some evening for dessert. Now I feel this is the last place I'd like to bring friends.

In defense of this place, my friend assured me that he had never seen this woman before and had always had decent service there. So this might not be indicitave of the usual way people there get treated. I would hope! But I still don't want to go back there.

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