Had a very surreal and disturbing experience a few days ago at the Anti-Café in Paris.
It will definitely be my last time coming to this place.
It's a nice concept but this café is SO BADLY MANAGED by people who are utterly clueless about how to interact with clients, that it's just more trouble than it's worth to come here.
We had been there for about 2 hours when a couple of young Romanian girls walk right into the café and come directly up to my table--placing a piece of paper over the IPhone that I had lying in front of me. Fortunately--I knew the trick--they cover your phone with a paper and when you say you're not interested in the paper--they take it away, and remove your phone at the same time.
I knew the trick because about a year ago I had seen an employee at another café here in Paris stop an attempted theft of a client's smartphone in the same way. That employee had yelled at the young thief and had escorted them vigorously out of the café, removing the client's phone from the thief's hand. They had saved the day--and everyone, and especially the client was very grateful.
When the girl came up to me and started to steal my phone, I stood up and very loudly told her to get out of the café and to leave my possessions alone--purposely trying to get the attention--and help--of the manager or the servers.
Not only did no one come up to me during or afterwards to make sure that I was alright (it's a rattling experience to be aggressed in that way) or to apologize for that happening, but when I went to pay my bill a little while later I had a very surreal conversation with the manager of Anti-Café.
He was stony-faced while he was calculating my bill and I was confused. If anything I was perhaps expecting some acknowledgment or some slight empathy for what had just happened. Instead when I said something in French referring to the attempted theft, he said to me reproachfully, "Ce sont des êtres humains"--They are human beings.
I looked at him and replied that absolutely they were human beings and I wasn't implying that they weren't--but they were human beings who had just tried to steal something from me in his café.
He was treating me as though I had committed some terrible faux pas by reacting in the way I had done. I had simply told her very loudly to stop stealing my phone and to leave the café—something that he, as Manager should have “managed.”
I said that it would be a good idea for him to put up a very clear sign to let people know that this could happen--people walking in off the street and grabbing your stuff. He pointed to a tiny sign above his head that apparently indicates that the café is not responsible for your stuff. You are.
OK—sure, whatever. Yet it’s still another way to not take responsibility.
At this point in the conversation he admitted to me that yes, they do have a problem--this has happened before. More than once. And they're “not sure what to do.”
No problem--I can tell them what to do.
Go ask other cafés for a crash course in constructive client relations and how to react appropriately when your clients are getting ripped off.
After all, clients—they’re human beings, too. N’est-ce pas ?