Friday, 27 August 2010

Vacation Blog Day 18

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Today started off rather rainy, with a cloud blanket that looked like it would never end. But I encouraged Bob to go for it, so eventually we left the house. He wanted to go west – the ultimate goal to reach the end of this peninsula – and visit some beaches, and maybe go up to the Aberdulais waterfall. Several sources say people surf on these beaches, and we thought some big waves might be nice to look at.

Our first stop was in Port Talbot, where we followed the signs through a very circuitous route to the seaside. Once there we realized that we should eat first, so we worked our way back to what we thought was the road we came in on, but somehow the McDonald’s we’d seen had turned into a KFC. No matter, we can eat chicken, too. They had everything we ordered in stock, and though the accents were unbelievably thick, we managed to order and get our food.

Across the road was a large grocery store, so Bob dropped me off there and I got some water and some candy. And we were off to the beach. By now the clouds were starting to break up. We got parked and unloaded the children, the stroller, diaper bag, water bottles, and sand toys (I bought a set at Poundland the other day, and it just happened to have one toy for each child – how cool is that?). We changed into our flip-flops and walked down to the beach. It was so nice there. The sand by the steps (giant concrete steps all along the length of the beach) was very fluffy and clean, and down closer to the water it was firm enough to push the stroller. The children rolled up their pants and skirts and went wading. The water was pretty cold, so I didn’t stay in. They splashed around for quite a while, and then we went back up to the steps where we sat down and they built castles. Just a few inches below the surface the sand was the perfect consistency for molding into shapes. We did see some people try to surf (it looked like lessons), but the waves weren’t big enough to do anything with.

That was great fun, but Bob had spotted a lighthouse across the bay and wanted to get closer. So we drove past Swansea and through Mumbles, which was very crowded but not as nice as Llandudno, and out to Mumbles point (or is it head? I don’t want to bother looking it up). That spot was apparently unfashionable, because the parking was free and plenteous, the playground wasn’t overcrowded, and there was no queue at the toilet. Perfect. Except, we’d overshot the lighthouse a little bit. Anyway, Bob climbed a little hill there and took pictures of a sailboat going around the lighthouse. The children played and Elijah tried to eat woodchips.

It was after 4, and I’d heard a lady talking about traffic getting bad (it was bad enough coming down!), so we talked it over, and Bob really did want to get out to the western end, so we decided to go for it. The only problem with this idea is that Wales is behind England in the modernizing of road signs, and they still have signs that point towards a town (with the name in Welch) instead of giving the road number. And half of the towns (villages, really) on the peninsula aren’t on the map at all. So we managed to turn off our A road and ended up in a parking lot. Seems like Dad and I did that once in Salisbury, back in ’94. Anyway, we persevered, and made it down to Worm’s Head after the shop and visitor’s center had closed. We paid a pound to park, and went for a walk. There was an ice cream truck there, so we each got one, even as we put on our coats because it was so chilly and windy. William dropped his ice cream, so Ella shared with him, which somehow got it all over her own back as well both of their faces and hands.
It was pretty there, and the sun was starting to set, so we dallied as long as we could stand it, and then tore ourselves away in search of food. (Being about 7pm). There were a couple of pubs down there, but I thought we’d save time by eating at McDonald’s, and we’d seen a few in Swansea. So we found our way back to Swansea, missing a turn to the bypass (again with the bad signs here!), but traffic wasn’t unbearable even through the town center.

We arrived at McDonald’s after 8pm (the children are usually in bed by this time). We ordered our food, and the guy asked if we wanted any sauces. We said “just ketchup” and he said “Ketchup mumble mumble. Do you want any sauces?” Clearly putting ketchup in a different category than ‘sauce.’ I asked for sweet and sour (great with the fries), and he rang them up at 5p each. Whatever; it IS good. So we got our food after about 10 minutes, during which I managed to get online and found it to be a good connection, but no ketchup on the tray or out on a counter where we could get it. We sorted the food and waited for the rush to die down; I took a bite of my quarter pounder and found it kinda yucky, so ate some fries and sauce while waiting. Taryn went up to ask for ketchup, and came back saying she thought he said you had to pay for it. What?! So I jumped up, waited 5 minutes to get anybody’s attention – it happened to be the manager – and asked for ketchup. He said it was 5p each. I tried to talk him out of it, being McDonald’s and all, but he wasn’t buying it. I asked if I could get my money back on my burger, because I couldn’t eat it without ketchup, and he refused that, too. He was sorry, but wouldn’t do anything to fix it because it was franchise policy to sell bad burgers and not fix it. All the McDonald’s in Swansea are owned by the same franchise. I got so upset I was trembling all over, and crying to nearly throwing up, so of course I couldn’t eat anything anyway. The children proved they don’t have to have piles of ketchup as they always claim, by eating their food dry. I got back online and posted a review of McDonald’s on Google maps, and here on the blog. It was 9:30 by the time we left.

Okay, restaurant people, (HoJo’s, Wil, ?) if a customer came to you with food that was too gross to eat, would you not offer a refund or a fix? I understand this cuts profit immediately, but how can you keep customers otherwise? And if you lose money because you are a bad restaurant, shouldn’t that inspire you to be a better one?

Anyway, in retrospect, if I’d chosen the way of peace, I could have just enjoyed my fries and soda, and been full and happy without the burger. We’d all have been better off. I think the burgers really were bad, as Bob had to stop on the way home to throw up.

On that pleasant note, I’ll end. It is high time for bed.


Anonymous said...

Too bad about McD's and their sauce issues. I know the feeling and yes, it is better not to get upset. I've been there, done that (not at McD's) a dozen times. The worst part is the regret one has afterwards. jc

Wil said...

"I understand this cuts profit immediately..."

It's just not true, and McDonald's knows it. Those packets of ketchup are purchased (on their end) in cases of hundreds of packets, for a few dollars per case.

They could give you 50 packets of ketchup for 20 cents, and still make a profit.

They also know that real profit comes from repeat business and a good reputation.

I've worked at five different McDonald's restaurants in three different franchises. All managers in all of them are trained to "fix it" in any way possible, including -- as a last resort -- refunding the cost of a meal or offering coupons for future free meals. A happy customer is a repeat customer.

(The only situations I know of where this isn't true is those few people who try to take advantage of this... You learn to recognize them after a while, coming in every few weeks trying to scam for free meals or coupons. After about three tries, you have to tell them they'll probably be happier with another restaurant. Even then, you have to be aware of what *other* customers see during this conversation. You have to mention aloud that they've pulled this scam repeatedly.)

MamaOlive said...

Thanks for your support on this, Wil. Looking back now it seems a little silly, but I still think they were "wrong."

MamaOlive said...

Dear spammer person, you may as well give up; Blogger has a filter now.