My long-time online friend Finbarr O’Brien, most notable to most of our readers as the namesake of our Finbarr’s Revenge Irish Breakfast Tea, sent me a link to a story from an Irish Journal.
It concerns a spat that has gone viral in that fair country over poor quality tea.
The vendor in this case in Marks and Spencer, the UK grocery chain. When we spent a month in London in 2012, there were four major supermarkets within a few minutes walk, M&S was the furthest away but also the best.
But of course, I wouldn’t be caught dead using their teab*gs – or anyone else’s.
So, in their cafeterias in Ireland and elsewhere, they serve teab*gs, and the story unfolds when someone wrote a complaint on the M&S facebook page.
M&S replied promptly, and they really had a bob each way:
On the face of it, a polite reply, but what does it actually mean? It means “yes, this is the instruction we give to our staff, but however, we expect them to somehow intuitively bend the rules sometimes. And we’ll let them know you are unhappy.”
Putting my HR hat on, I’m appalled. What if the staff are now getting abuse from other customers? There’s no protection for them here. M&S have hung them out to dry. And what about the next customer that says: I want extra jam and cream on my scone, and a chocolate frog, or I’m going to slam you on Facebook?
Putting my tea hat on, I’m further appalled. Not just because of the issue of blatantly, criminally, unethically, lazily serving teab*gs in any establishment, but because of the public response.
There was a smattering of ” They are 80, give them what they want”, but those people really avoid the issue. I’m more interested in the bunch of respondents who basically said ” I always ask for a second b*g, and usually get one with no fuss” and the other bunch said “It’s only tea, hardly worth getting worked up about.”
Let’s handle the latter first. “It’s only tea” is a really stupid attitude. How many of us don’t have unlimited wealth? Most of us, I’d guess. Check your bank account: Can you have the perfect house, the best car, all the travel you want? Even those of us who are happy with what we have are probably not possessed of unlimited funds.
Yes, tea is a luxury item we can have. The difference between the cost of preparing a decent pot of tea and the cost to M&S (or anyone else) of preparing the most revolting teab*g swill is mere Eurocents in this case. How plainly STUPID of M&S. They could add 30% to the sale price of the pot by adding a few Eurocents to the cost. I don’t know why these guy don’t get that. “They are useless tossers” is the usual theory.
But the Irish customer needs to take control here. LISTEN UP! You should not be asking for a second teab*g, you should be throwing that disgusting filth up the wall, climbing on the counter and screaming “I WILL NOT TAKE THIS FILTH ANYMORE” until the constabulary arrive.
A country with a long history of rebellion is merely taking this crap the multi-nationals are dishing out. Did you guys not invent a whole form of dance just to annoy the British? Have you not demanded control of your destiny since Viking times?
Stand up for your destiny Ireland! One of the “second teab*g” brigade venting on Facebook says “I love the tea when you can trot a mouse on it” which seems to be a colourful expression for strong tea.
Take that expression, Ireland. Make banners with teapots, loose leaf and mice having a Jesus moment. March in the streets! Be the country that leads the charge, consigning the teab*g to being a shameful blip in the proud history of tea.
Or are you just another European backwater? UK-lite?
I’m waiting, Ireland. And my loose leaf tea is getting cold.
The original article Finbarr linked me to is here.