A True Story About Customer Service in Paris

interior of the alain ducasse restaurant

Last night, at trivia night, I decided I wanted not fish and chips (€13) but fish and mozzarella sticks (€6.50). Pourquoi pas? You only give your arteries one chance in this life; you might as well clog them with only your first choice of snack foods.

Anywhere else in Paris I would have gone up to the bar and paid my €19.50. But trivia night is at a Scottish-themed pub: Perhaps they would be amenable to some negotiation?

I went to the bar and explained my situation. “I would like fish and chips but no chips and an order of mozzarella sticks,” I said. Actually I explained it at significantly more length than that. “I’m not saying you should like swap the fries for the mozzarella sticks,” I said, because I am not a monster. “But could you maybe take like €2 off the total?”

“Sure!” the bartender said. “That’ll be €19.50!”

The bartender’s friend laughed and explained something I did not entirely understand in French.

“Oh, oh,” the bartender said. “Let me see what I can do.”

Now, the bartender was new, and French. If I had known any of that, I would, again, have just paid my money and sat down. But he was nice! And he seemed open to the idea of a discount.

TRAGICALLY, he was soon joined at the register by the regular bartender, who is anglophone. “No, sorry,” he said. He was not sorry. “No discounts. It’s €19.50.”

I did not explain that I did not want a discount, only no fries and — well, a small discount.

“Don’t worry,” the new bartender said. “I get you. Diet Coke.”

I was very excited about this, but I knew something he apparently did not, which was that the bar only served Pepsi Max. Pepsi Max was the absolutely worst way this could end.

I went back to my chair. What would happen next???

Ten minutes later, the new bartender came to my table. “I get you,” he said.

He gave me not one plate but two, with a plate of fish and mozzarella sticks(!) but A SECOND plate, entirely of mozzarella sticks.

And so concludes what I will always remember as the best possible customer service experience I have had or will ever have in France.

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Hi, I'm Diana. I've written about travel for The Wall Street Journal, Buzzfeed, The Cut, Travel + Leisure, Outside, and lots of other places. This is my blog.