Page 1 of 6

Volo's inconsistent service

Posted: Sun Sep 25, 2011 10:38 am
by aser
Look, I understand Volo's place in Toronto's pecking order. They're sourcing beers that can't be found elsewhere in the city. Yes, their pricing is high, you're paying a premium for the exclusivity. I understand and am happy to pay it for things I can't get elsewhere. However......

I find the service to be very inconsistent. There is definitely a class system involved in the place. People in the "beer clique", whether it be people working in the industry or beer nerds that frequent the establishment often, are given special treatment. Yes the world isn't fair and I don't expect it to be, I would just like some discretion in handling the situation. As a businessman, it makes sense to reward repeat customers with special treatment. The key is how you dole it out. Make sure the regular customers don't notice a huge discrepancy in treatment.

Case in point, last night at the DDC takeover event, my gf buys two beers. After paying, she asks if she can have a sample of another type to decide if she wants that next. A standard request that has been fulfilled at pretty much every bar out there. The bartender refused, stating they don't do that. Ok, that's fine if that's your policy.

Guess what, over the course of the next 10 mins, I see the same bartender pulling taster glasses for multiple people as samples. Why are you going to flat out lie to us like that? It's just not good business sense.

The size of pours vary drastically again according to the customer. I've seen regular customers get 1/3 of a full pint glass as a pour, then another customer right afterwards get 2/3 of a full pint glass, for the exact same beer. The problem exasperates itself because they will often use different glassware for the same drink.

For the people that will say, why didn't you complain right away? Well to be honest, it's not worth the hassle in a busy bar with a single bartender and a lineup behind you. Plus loud music is blaring so getting into an argument is simply not a good look.

This is a small scene, word gets around. I hope they take this as constructive criticism. I will go back to Volo, but I can't lie and say yesterday's service wasn't annoying. Finally, it wasn't the father or son (owners), but the other bartender to be specific.

Apparently we weren't the only ones to feel the wrath.!/beergeeksca/statu ... 1063790592

Posted: Sun Sep 25, 2011 11:46 am
by PeenSteen
Im a little confused when you mention that regular customers were getting 1/3 pint pours and people behind them got 2/3 of a pint poured right after. I don't understand how that would be preferential treatment, or perhaps I just read that wrong.

Considering how insane it was there last night I thought the service was pretty good. Also some beers (more specifically the sours) were all 4 or 5 oz pours. While I do understand that sometimes at Volo you may wait a little while for a drink and service might not always be stellar, the pros out weigh the cons in a big way.

Posted: Sun Sep 25, 2011 11:59 am
by cmadd
Sample could have been for waitstaff?

Posted: Sun Sep 25, 2011 12:02 pm
by aser
Let me rephrase it, people in the clique got double the portion. Normal people got 1/3 of a full pint glass, special treatment people got 2/3 of a full pint glass (ie. close to double of what a normal person got).

Tasters weren't for wait staff, it was for people coming up to the bar. Multiple sets of people.

Posted: Sun Sep 25, 2011 4:01 pm
by viggo
How do you know who is in this non existent clique or not?

Posted: Sun Sep 25, 2011 5:19 pm
by Bonesey
I'll add my $0.02. How can they charge $6+ for a tulip of a non-imperial house ale with a straight face?

Posted: Sun Sep 25, 2011 5:30 pm
by liamt07
Bonesey wrote:I'll add my $0.02. How can they charge $6+ for a tulip of a non-imperial house ale with a straight face?

Because (EVIDENCE: ) people will still buy it.

Posted: Sun Sep 25, 2011 5:34 pm
by Bonesey
Because they can indeed.

Posted: Sun Sep 25, 2011 6:13 pm
by Jon Walker
Sorry, I don't see the issue...for a number of reasons.

1) Who exactly is this clique of whom you speak? You are aware that these events, at Volo and other establishments, usually involve special guests. I believe some of the guests were from DDC, others were media, other brewers and restauranters you really expect them to get treated the same as you? Some of the regulars are there a couple of nights a week and their continued support keeps a place like Volo viable...why shouldn't they get the odd perk for their patronage? Why would you, the infrequent and apparently unknown patron get the same treatment?

2) I guess you aren't someone who participates in things like frequent flyer miles, Petro points, American Express's "Front of the Line" ticket buying perks, coffee cards for "buy 10 get 1 free", President's Choice grocery points etc...? All of these programs (granted, established programs by MAJOR retailers) are acceptable means of giving perks to valued customers. Why does it bother you so much that a small business person uses their own discretion to reward their valued customers?

3) I guess you've never gotten a table at a restaurant that was fully booked because you knew the owner and/or were a valued customer? Do you complain because clubs have a VIP line-up and a general public lineup? Does it bug you when Aeroplan Gold members get to board a flight first even if they are seated in economy? Ever gotten better service because you tip well?

What about in your line of work? Ever given a perk to a valued client who helped your bottom line? It happens in just about every line of business and most people don't have an issue with it. That's the benefit associated with putting money in someone's pocket. Do it often enough and you are likely going to get a thank-you in some form. So if it really grieves you I'd either suggest visiting Volo more often so you become one of the recognized and valued customers or drink at home. The price and the quantity of serving at the LCBO are the same for all customers (oops...unless you are a licencee, a diplomat or one of the other groups that gets a discount).

Posted: Sun Sep 25, 2011 6:52 pm
by The Mick
To be fair to aser, he just said he would prefer if the perks were doled out a bit more discreetly. No one likes to pay the same dollar amount as the next person for the same thing and get less.
That being said, I was there and didn't have any problems with service, given the high volume circumstances, and I'm not even associated with any underground beer clique, brewery, media outlet or otherwise that could skew my visibility or worth as far as I know..... Although, Thursday got pretty heavy and blurry by the end of the night, so it's possible I was initiated without my knowledge. That might explain why I woke up in a dress...

Posted: Sun Sep 25, 2011 9:33 pm
by aser
The Mick wrote:To be fair to aser, he just said he would prefer if the perks were doled out a bit more discreetly. No one likes to pay the same dollar amount as the next person for the same thing and get less.

Well, that's exactly it, but people are quick to jump to conclusion and ignore the points I made. They just focus on the negative and correspondingly feel like they have to attack me to discredit my point. I'm looking at you Jon Walker, don't be so judgemental without reading my post carefully.

Again, I understand preferential treatment. I just would like more discretion at play. Rather than refusing my gf a taster glass, then giving tasters out to the next two groups of people in plain sight of us. I just think that lacks tact. What don't you understand about that?

I go to Volo at least once a month. Why do you feel the need to assume and attack me? I want them to do well, but that doesn't mean I can't comment on a negative experience if it happens. I thought I explained myself thoroughly, I'm not angry at them.

I get it, a lot of people here have ties to Volo, either through working relationships or friendships. That doesn't mean I can't call it as I see it, especially within reason.

Sure, some of the suggestions made here could've been possible, but so are mine. It just seems folks want to discredit anything negative I say about Volo. Yes I do agree, overall they do way more good than bad for Toronto. At the same time they're not perfect, so why can't I talk about their faults? A personal experience at that, this is not conjecture or talking shit from the sidelines.

The point was to express my negative experience and hopefully things can be improved upon. This isn't meant to be a hate thread on Volo. Alas an internet msg board is a divisive place, everybody thinks they're right.

Posted: Sun Sep 25, 2011 10:13 pm
by SteelbackGuy
Volo is perfect and they've never made any mistakes.

Posted: Sun Sep 25, 2011 10:51 pm
by Jon Walker
You are entitled to your opinion and I'm entitled to disagree. If I miss characterized your original post or took your comments out of context then I apologize...however I do still take issue with your underlying point that these larger pours or samples were not handed out discreetly enough for your liking.

I'm also not defending Volo...I no longer live in Toronto and have no need to stand up for Ralph or his establishment...however there were several aspects of what you wrote that I still take issue with so perhaps I'll clarify;

As a businessman, it makes sense to reward repeat customers with special treatment. The key is how you dole it out. Make sure the regular customers don't notice a huge discrepancy in treatment.

Where exactly in the business world, let alone the bar and restaurant industry, is this philosophy actually implemented? Just about all the examples from other businesses that I cited use no discretion whatsoever in giving perks to valued customers. AmEx, Aeroplan and many of the other companies ADVERTISE the benefits of their perk program as a sales tool. Spend more, get more. Have you seriously never been in a restaurant where you are told there are no available tables only to watch a regular patron or someone of status to the establishment get seated ahead of you? Got to L.A. and expect to be shielded by the hidden nature of preference and you'll be in for a stark surprise...valued customers are singled out in front of generic customers in order to market the value of good patronage. It is the rule rather than the exception of business and, as a business man, I'm surprised you don't recognize that.

I'm also puzzled by the inherently mixed message of your post. You don't like it but you understand it. You wish it were more discreet but you didn't mention it to management, you complained about it on an internet forum filled with the very people you claim are the "beer clique" at the root of the issue. You also plan to return to the very same you expect anything to have changed?

I'm not a huge fan of feeling marginalized by privilege but I have the right as a customer to either play the game or chose to punish businesses that practice it by with-holding my patronage.

But that's just my opinion...

Posted: Sun Sep 25, 2011 11:05 pm
by aser
Let's just agree to disagree, you see my model as being flawed, I see it as valid. You don't have to belittle my points by making them seem unrealistic. I don't think comparing reward programs w/ corporate companies is comparable with restaurants/bars.

I thought I explained why complaining in the moment would be a bad idea, maybe you didn't read that part either.

I agree giving out tables to valued customers happen. I also think it can be done w/ more discreet than the way you've described. It does happen, high end restaurants do hold tables back for valued customers but they don't rub it in regular patrons' faces while doing it. That's all I'm asking for. Again, what don't you understand about that?

The world isn't black and white. Yes I'm trying to straddle both sides because I understand where an owner is coming from. Does that make me contradictory, a hypocrite? Would you rather I just hate on them with complete certainty to make my stance stronger? I work in the restaurant world so maybe that's why the lines are blurred for me.

The "beer clique" isn't an issue, there is a clique for every nerd hobby out there. The issue again is using better discretion at treating different sets of customers. I sound like a broken record in repeating this point.

For the record, we were planning on staying later for a few more but after the initial experience we decided to leave after 45 minutes. It might not matter much but they did lose a few sales for the night.

I will give them another chance because I've had good service from them before.

Posted: Sun Sep 25, 2011 11:50 pm
by Belgian
Bar Volo is a neat place. I'm sure there are regulars who may or may not be bread-and-butter clients. I've often seen Ralph & Co. go out of their way to make people feel recognized, welcomed, and valued (even me, a more 'occasional' customer.) I admire how they do business.

All bets are off when 500 people show up and all want something. The servers may struggle... slightly. But it's fun so I roll with it.