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Nightmare Customers at the Bubble Tea Shop

I have opened a bubble tea shop for several reasons. Being fascinated by the Chinese culture is just one of the reason. Loving the taste of bubble tea is surely another reason. I then add the fact that I enjoy working with the public and putting all my efforts in building my own shop and seeing it growing and the list is complete. At the bubble tea shop we have generally very young customers and also some adults and seniors who are just curious about the beverage: they just spot our shop while walking or their sons and grandchildren just manage to convince them to come together in order to try the bubble tea or even just for a coffee. What I mostly like of the bubble tea shop is the fact, whatever is the age of our customers, we often deal with people who are generally open to try new things and who are not generally closed minded towards different cultures or something which is not local (and in fact it may be difficult to imagine a racist or even just a closed minded who believes that only local food is good, entering a bubble tea shop or any other place that looks different from the traditional local shops he may used to visit regularly). Working in a bubble tea shop is, in my experience, a very relaxing activity, if we limit to the interaction with customers: of course it becomes stressful just when we receive many orders in the rush hours, but we are still working in a nice place and by doing something we love to do, because there is surely a big difference between opening a shop because you need money and nobody selected you for a job, and opening a shop because this is what you have truly wanted since the beginning. Still, also at the bubble tea shop we have dealt with some difficult customers: even in the happiest place of the world it is something that sometimes happens. This article is going to highlight some of the worst customers a bubble tea shop may deal with.

A bubble tea ordered in Zhejiang, China

A bubble tea ordered in Zhejiang, China

The Nazi Health-Conscious

Let’s face it: when restaurants, pastry shops and ice cream shops were used to just do their job, so preparing delicious food one could enjoy when on a special occasion or just to satisfy a little sin of gluttony, everything was better. Nowadays some of these places are real marketing centers where everything should be perfect, branded (like if the expensive branded bag instead of a simple white and cheaper bag is going to make my takeaway or delivery order more delicious), ready to satisfy the most absurd requests a customer may even think. The result can be seen, for example, in customers who have no intolerances or eating disorders behaving like people who have them just because someone convinced them that ‘gluten free is the new health trend’ or that a little less sugar in the ice cream will make them not become fat (the fact one should even imagine to become fat for an ice cream eaten sometimes is already tragicomic). In the meantime, those who have real food disorders or intolerances sometimes struggle to find a good place for them that provide them safe and good food at fair prices (and not prices inflated by places making all marketing for those who have no intolerances or food disorders and who just want to follow another yet useless health trend, maybe by counting the calories the day a month they go at the restaurant for then spending the rest of the day sitting on the sofa).

Why all the premise I have written before? Because marketing and health trends have grown up a specific category of people who are afraid to become fat if they put sugar instead of stevia in their coffee or who believe that eating gluten free or that counting the calories the day a month they go to the restaurant is going to make them in health (not only by selling their soul to marketing and to disinformation made for profit, but also by being disrespectful towards those who really need to follow specific diet plans or who really need to avoid eating certain allergens).

That‘s why I really disliked an episode it happened in my bubble tea shop with one of those ’nazi health-conscious’ people who have to demonize food at any cost instead of simply realizing that quantity is what makes the difference. A boy who regularly comes to my shop to order a bubble tea (he comes generally once or twice a week, so he is not really a bubble tea addicted, he is just someone who likes our beverage and so does not give up a little satisfaction with moderation), a day suddenly decides to come with his mother. His mother - without saying a good morning (while her son is always very polite and nice to us) - suddenly said the magic phrase: ‘who knows how many sugars and dyes these drinks will have’, with a clearly contemptuous tone. I have answered her, in a very calm way, that she could refer to our ingredients and allergen list located near the counter and that, in any case, the drink ordered by her son was even less caloric than an ice cream (here boys generally like simple fruit teas, not milk teas and exaggerate toppings that are still good if ordered occasionally). That ‘Karen who was already speaking with the manager‘ looked at the ingredients for literally few seconds (it was more than clear that she was not really interested and maybe not even able to understand the ingredients, she was just in the mood of criticizing things she was not used to know) and then she went out, of course without greeting. I guess she went later to eat a ’bio proteic ice cream with stevia made with selected milk coming from cows fed with edible gold’, of course before sitting to the sofa for the rest of the day.

What’s the moral? Being health-conscious is surely good, as long as you are polite and aware that drinking a bubble tea sometimes doesn’t harm your health and that demonizing a specific aliment just because you don’t know it, without even trying to open your mind, is not a good thing. What I mostly hated was the way that mother has asked a question that, in a polite and not pretentious way, was surely more than legit, and that instead was asked in a way that was meant to demonize our bubble tea and depict us as the only people in the city selling something with sugars and dyes. Of course that boy is still coming to our shop (without the mother, maybe Karen didn’t enjoy speaking with the manager, despite the manager was even more polite than her).

A milk tea with brown sugar ordered in Hunan, China

A milk tea with brown sugar ordered in Hunan, China

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’Cups Cost Nothing To You’

Do you imagine going to your local coffee shop and asking to divide a coffee in two cups so that you pay just one coffee in two? I could not conceive such a boorish request even if it was made for coffee served in the classic coffee cups, I can’t conceive it even more if we are talking about disposable cups, that represent a higher cost for the coffee shop. So here we come to a day in which one of our regular customers comes with friends and a grandma of them. The grandma orders a granita and asks for it divided in two cups, with the literal statement ‘you can do it, it costs nothing to you’. The girls were a little embarrassed and clearly noticed the way I was looking at that grandma. I then managed to give her a small cup as an extra (yes, this was a big mistake, I know) and as a courtesy, remembering her that cups represent a cost for us. At least the small cup is cheaper than the regular granita cup and I also showed the girls I was still trying to accommodate the absurd request made by the grandma. Was the hag satisfied? Of course not! After having heard her quarreling with the girls because they have decided to bring her to the bubble tea shop and after arriving at the table in order to know if there was something wrong, I have suddenly discovered that ’everything was wrong’. The granita had no taste (the same granita we make with the same recipe since the first day of opening), the second cup was too small, the seat (a soft pouf) is not comfortable … she was trying every second to find something to say. Of course the real reason was the fact I haven’t give her two cups for the single granita she has paid for (yes, the second cup was too small and that had to be remarked instead of saying ’thank you’ for something I definitely shouldn’t had to do). I have replied her with the same tones and by remembering her the cost of the cups and some other things regarding her boorishness and the fact she was also disturbing the other customers - it was the rush hour. She stopped whining. The girls were totally embarassed and have clearly understood the grandma of one of them was totally wrong, ungrateful and pretentious. I let the reader guess who, of the group, said ‘thank you, goodbye’ and who, instead, slammed the door by showing, for another time, the particular situation in which a granddaughter and her friends were definitely more polite than someone who - for their age and experience with life - should be expected to be an example and a reference for sons and grandsons.

‘I want it normal’

As a bubble tea shop, we allow customers to compose the drink of their choice by selecting a flavored green or black tea, a milk tea or a special drink. Then they have to choose the flavor, 1 or 2 flavors of boba and the temperature. When customers order a bubble tea, they generally say all the options they have chosen so that the order is complete, still, sometimes, they just say a flavor and then I have to ask for all the rest. Here we come to some people that are surely better than the two bad mannered examples of before, but that can still make you lose much time, especially if you have also a long queue outside: those who only know one word to say as an answer: ’normal’. They arrive at the counter and order ‘a normal bubble tea’. You ask them what flavor do they like and they answer ‘normal’, you ask them if they want green, black tea or milk tea and they reply ‘don’t you have normal tea?‘. You ask them what temperature do they prefer and they reply ‘normal’. As written before, these people generally make the cashier lose much time: still, it is surely better to have the shop crowded with ‘I want it normal’ customers than to have even a single bad mannered like the two examples of before inside the shop.

Of course we had also to deal with other situations that may happen in any shop: people trying to ask for more change pretending you haven’t given it before after you walk away from the counter and people trying to negotiate the price of bubble tea (ours is already the lowest price in all the area) are surely other nightmare customers we have to deal with sometimes.

As written at the beginning, most of our customers are pleasant and working in a bubble tea shop is a really nice activity: like in any shop, sometimes we have to deal with difficult customers too. The most important thing is to know how to deal with them and to never lose love for your job because of some specific people.

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