Excellent Lebanese Customer Service: Roadster Diner

The amount of professionalism at Roadster Diner keeps blowing me away. It could be because we’re not used to such levels of courtesy with customers in Lebanon.

During lent last year, the only and last time I decided to go all Bible belt-Christian and gave up 95% of types of food that man can eat, I ordered some form of a modified crab sandwich-turned vegan from Roadster. There was something wrong with the sauce. So I let them know via a DM on Twitter – I didn’t mind but I felt like they should know to prevent such a thing from occurring with other customers.

A day later, I was contacted by their HQ and discussed the matter for 40 minutes. Discussing sauce for slightly less than an hour can be refreshing.  They requested my address and sent me a package including a free dinner voucher.

Over the past few months, my visits to Rd less and less frequent. You can blame my diet for that, being way up North (they should consider opening something north of Jounieh, something I’ve said before) and medical school for that.

However, a few days ago I decided to indulge in a guilt-full burger as a way to celebrate a weight-related milestone I had crossed. First time in a long time I’m under 100kg!

I ended up finding the tiniest hair possible in my fries, something that is not unusual at restaurants. I am not the type to throw a fit when I see such a thing – there are much worse things that could take place with your food – but I always point it out. So I quietly called over a waiter and did so. He exchanged the fries and I figured that was it, as it should have been.

When we asked for the bill, I was surprised to find a lazy cake being placed on my table and the bill excluding my burger. I complained about this but they were adamant. And this happens every single time something like that happens.

This isn’t a rare occurrence that only happens with me. A friend of mine was having lunch once with a group of friends. He ordered some chicken tenders which came in late and were in less than optimal condition. He pointed it out. The entire table’s bill was on the house. The examples don’t stop there.

For many, such practices should come as second nature to businesses. But the fact of the matter is what Roadster and some very few select companies across the company do is not only rare, it’s borderline unique.

No, I’m not getting paid to write this. I am not a business guru or savant. My extent of business knowledge is the stock app on my iPhone. But as a customer, I believe that the practices of Roadster diner, as an example, make me feel like more than a number with some monetary input associated with it. If anything what Roadster and some other companies do is anything but what we’ve come to associate with typical Lebanese business behavior. And for that, they should be applauded.

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MEA Flight Number 427, Dubai – Beirut: Broken Tables and TVs, Dirty Floor, Bad Customer Service

Hussein Dajani is like any other Lebanese expat who feels a belonging to home. His airline of choice is to go and see his land and family is non-other than his country’s own Middle East Airlines (MEA). Why not support your country’s company that’s supposedly among the world’s top airliners?

Once he boarded flight number 427, taking him from Dubai to Beirut, Dajani felt something was wrong. The scorching heat of Dubai was blowing full force inside the plane. There was no AC. He figured it was a glitch. But when the AC refused to start, he knew something was wrong. As the plane took off, his attention turned to other things. Some of the tables were broken. The entertainment system in the plane was all messed up. He looked around and noticed the plane was seriously dirty. Looking in front of him, he saw a safety leaflet. He opened the safety leaflet and there was a chewing gum sticking it together.

Dajani was outraged. He called for the hostess to see what was wrong. Instead of being calming and reassuring, the hostess was patronizing in typical Lebanese ways “ya 7ayete, ya albe….” So he decided to take it into his own hands. He went around and started to interview people on the airplane. He wasn’t the only one who was suffering on the flight. In business class, he met with minister Jihad Azour who also thought the flight was all kinds of wrong. They exchanged contact information to pursue the matter.

Once he landed, Dajani took it to MEA’s Facebook page. Even though he found response from people who shared his ordeal, MEA ignored him. They eventually deleted his Facebook posts and banned him from their page.

Today, Marcel Ghanem’s Kalem el Neis and MTV’s Enta 7or are interested in pursuing the matter. I’ve decided to help Dajani as well. Why do I want to do that? Because Lebanese companies trampling on their customers needs to stop. We, as people, have become used to horrible customer service that we take it as part of the package. This shouldn’t be acceptable. Buying a product or a service doesn’t mean you need to put up with typical Lebanese mentality of “dabber 7alak” as soon as the purchase is fulfilled.

If MEA didn’t know the plane was in bad condition, the least they can do is issue an apology and a refund. If MEA knew about the plane’s condition, then that’s way worse.

Sure, other airlines experience such problems as well. It is not out of the ordinary. But other airlines assume responsibility as well. I don’t judge MEA based on that flight – after all, they are rated very well. But I judge them on how they handled it afterwards. You cannot simply ban a person who’s complaining from your Facebook page and expect no response whatsoever. You simply can’t offer such horrible service to people and expect them not to talk back.

It gets worse. While interviewing people, someone told Dajani he overheard the crew saying this plane should have been put out of service a while back for repairs and maintenance. Then why wasn’t it? Why was it still used for transporting people if they knew it was in bad shape? Or do the lives of people not matter in front of a money? Or are we seeking another national tragedy to feel relevant?

MEA might have lots of good publicity. But it takes one scandal to put it way back. I’m already reconsidering using MEA for my flight this summer. And no, that doesn’t make me unpatriotic.

I’ll leave you with a few videos and pictures.