It was a "Kitchen Nightmares" first. In the latest episode, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay got so fed up he refused to help a pair of restaurant owners, Amy and Samy Bouzaglo, of Amy's Baking Company in Scottsdale, Arizona, salvage their business.
In spite of the episode's predictable "trainwreck" outcome, the couple proudly promoted it on their company's Facebook page in April before it was shown on television. When the episode aired on Friday, a storm of social media criticism ensued—and the feisty Bouzaglos fought back.
After finding a freezer filled with packaged ravioli and a bakery case displaying "homemade desserts" that were actually bought elsewhere, Ramsay struggled to stop the combative couple from cursing out the customers and taking away their servers' tips. Finally, he got up and walked away, saying, "I can't help people who can't help themselves."
The couple jumped on Facebook to defend themselves.
"We do not feel the need to make any excuses for our behavior on tonight’s show," they said in a statement on Friday. "We do not, nor have we ever stolen or taken any of our servers, waitresses, or waiters tips at Amy’s Baking Company." They added that they pay their staff "anywhere between $8.00 to $14.00 per hour" and challenged any of the more than 100 people who have worked for them in the past year to prove the allegations uncovered by "Kitchen Nightmares." They ended the statement with: "So please enjoy the show! Amy & Samy"
By Sunday, after the local paper ran jaw-dropping details from the first day of filming, they went into PR mode:
"Samy and I would just like to thank all of our loyal friends, family and customers who have supported us," Amy posted on the company's public Facebook page on Sunday. "We would also like to thank all of our NEW customers that have shown an OVERWHELMING amount of support for us!!! You are all wonderful people and we commend you for being intelligent enough to realize that everything you see on TV or read is not necessarily true!"
In many cases, the bad reviews for Amy's Baking Company describing "toxic customer service" were posted on Yelp years before the restaurant appeared on "Kitchen Nightmares," making one wonder why the Bouzaglos decided to appear on the reality TV show at all. Positive reviews focused on Amy's homemade baked goods, which Ramsay discovered were actually bought from other bakers. Still, a few new customers spoke up in defense of the Bouzaglos after the episode. "I saw the show and I like the way the do not give the tips to the help, because that will help them to pull themselves up by their bootstraps!!" wrote Jim Donaldson on Facebook. "With God's love anything is possible!"
But by Monday afternoon, after Reddit, Yelp, and Facebook users criticized them and accused them of reselling other company's baked goods—some posted links proving that almost all of the pictures of Amy's "homemade" items had been lifted from other people's blogs (example: see this and this)—things got ugly. It's probably best to just let some of the Bouzaglos' actual Facebook posts speak for them.
But the internet can be relentless and, by dinnertime, Amy Bouzaglo was lashing out even at her supporters, and started posting things like this:
And, for good measure, they posted one last defiant statement on Twitter before locking down their account:
The Bouzaglos have a history of reacting badly to negative reviews. In 2010, after receiving a negative, one-star review on Yelp!, they started insulting the critic and arguing with readers, the Phoenix New Times reported. Yahoo! Shine tried to get their side of the story, but multiple phone calls to Amy's Baking Company were not returned on Tuesday.
Even after "Kitchen Nightmares" and all of the Bouzaglos' confessions, the company's website still states: "All of our Pastries are baked fresh daily by me." It also still features a page devoted to Amy's baking, with photos—like the gorgeous Henna Mehndi Cake— that critics have shown were taken from other sites. "I have been busy creating new cake designs," Amy writes under the photos. "What do you think?"
The owners admitted to pocketing 100% of tips meant to be left for servers. This is not only just plain wrong and unfair, but illegal, too.
Have Amy Bouzaglo Committed. (A person in Dacono, Colo., started a petition on the White House website titled “Have Amy Bouzaglo Committed.” It had several hundred signatures in a few hours. If it reaches 100,000, the petition would be reviewed by the Obama Administration and a response would be issued.)_
I've written about a custy at The Big Fancy who called me up on a busy afternoon and told me I was a dumbass salesperson because I had never heard of Las Vegas bags. She complained that I should have been better trained and "Why is there a guy in handbags anyways! Surely you must have seen these purses. They have LV initials on them and they are everywhere!" Yeah, the dumbassness was on her - - the snooty little bitch thought LV stood for Las Vegas! If only I could have told her, "No ma'am the LV actually stands for Lord Voldemort!" She was such a brainless fashion pirrahanna she probably would have asked me if we carried his clothes!
Dannika Nash is the college student who wrote a wonderful open letter to the Christian church at large:
I’m writing this because I’m worried about the safety of the Church. The Church keeps scratching its head, wondering why 70% of 23-30 year-olds who were brought up in church leave. I’m going to offer a pretty candid answer, and it’s going to make some people upset, but I care about the Church too much to be quiet. We’re scared of change. We always have been. When scientists proposed that the Earth could be moving through space, church bishops condemned the teaching, citing Psalm 104:5 to say that God “set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.” But the scientific theory continued, and the Church still exists. I’m saying this: we cannot keep pitting the church against humanity, or progress… my generation, the generation that can smell bullshit, especially holy bullshit, from a mile away, will not stick around to see the church fight gay marriage against our better judgment. It’s my generation who is overwhelmingly supporting marriage equality, and Church, as a young person and as a theologian, it is not in your best interest to give them that ultimatum.
The very honest, very blunt, very needed-to-be-heard-by-the-church letter had a serious impact.
It led the Christian summer camp Dannika worked at to fire her:
She was sitting in a coffee shop with her boyfriend when the camp director called to politely, regretfully dismiss her.
“I just cried in public,” Nash says. “People probably thought (my boyfriend) was breaking up with me. The place and the people are really, really important to me, and even though I knew I was risking that a bit with the blog post, it hurt to have it taken away.”
The 10-week job would have provided her income for the upcoming school year. Although she has received job offers from other ELCA camps, gay reconciliation ministries and people on Facebook and Twitter, she hasn’t decided what she will do yet.
What she won’t do is back off from her stance on marriage equality.
Unbelievable. Dannika pointed out why the church is pushing younger Christians out of their congregations for good… and her summer camp just proves her exact point.
Fred Clark is stunned by the sheer perfection of how badly the camp handled this matter:
[The camp director's] first reaction to reading Nash’s explanation of why so many young people no longer feel welcome in the church was to pick up the telephone and personally inform a young person that she was no longer welcome in the church. Faced with Nash’s eloquent complaint that young people were figuratively being forced out of the church, his first reaction was to actually force a young person out of the church.
… There’s almost a kind of beauty in how exactly wrong this particular response was to this particular open letter. It’s like his tone-deafness has perfect pitch.
Keep in mind this goes beyond mere homophobia. If Dannika were fired for admitting she was a lesbian, the camp’s actions would have been bad, but not even all that surprising. Instead, she got fired for merely explaining why the church is doing such a horrible job of keeping young Christians in the fold. She wanted the church to succeed and even gifted them with the playbook for how to get themselves back on the right path.
And they thanked her by telling her that her services were no longer needed.
Dannika should write her camp director a thank-you card for proving her thesis.
Retail Balls Award goes to a Dunkin Donuts drive-thru cashier who confronted a NAT!
In a West Haven, CT Dunkin Donuts drive-thru, cashier Angelica fended off a custy trying to rob her. She threw a pot of hot scalding coffee at the NAT! As he ran off like a bitch, Angelica shouted: "Go run on Dunkin!" - this was in references to the company's tagline "American Runs on Dunkin." Nothing warms my skeleton heart more than seeing a NAT get taken down!
Angelica gets an RHU Retail Balls Award! Way to go girl!
By Corrie Pikul
"Will you be a bridesmaid in my wedding?"
Personal trainers realize that some clients get a little more, well, personal than others, says Geralyn Coopersmith, the national director of the Equinox Fitness Training Institute. "They may spend more one-on-one time with you than with their friends or even their spouse," Coopersmith says. "They also know that you genuinely care about their health -- that's part of your job." When one of Coopersmith's clients became pregnant, Coopersmith was the first person she told (before her husband!), and another invited her on an island vacation. ("Her friend had bailed, but I still felt uncomfortable.") During her 20 years of helping people get in shape, Coopersmith has even been asked to be in a client's wedding. "I tried to talk her out of it, but she said, 'You're such an important part of my life!' " (Coopersmith, who felt honored, went -- and had a blast.)
"Can I touch you?"
... And then there are always those clients who want more than friendship. Mike Donavanik, a Los Angeles–based personal trainer, says that early in his career a potential client was grilling him on the phone, when he suddenly threw out this zinger: "Boxers or briefs?" Donavanik was so stunned that he brought the conversation to a close and never called that person back. Another time, Donavanik had just finished leading a body-sculpting class at Crunch when a student came up to him and asked if she could touch his abs -- "for motivation," she said. Donavanik demurred. He says that most trainers have a policy against dating clients, and his strategy to deflect romantic interest is the same one used by women in bars around the world: He keeps mentioning that he's in a relationship.
"Could I have gained five pounds since this morning?"
"Not unless you were in a pie-eating contest," is Coopersmith's response to these panicked clients. "You'd need to consume about 18,700 to 19,500 calories for breakfast to gain five pounds of body fat," she says. Coopersmith calms clients by telling them that the number on the scale can fluctuate by one to five pounds throughout the day, "depending on how much water you're retaining and how much you're losing through sweat, urination, dehydration." It's highly unlikely you'd put on any more than half a pound of fat in 24 hours, she says. Now, if you start putting on half a pound every day, then you should worry.
"How can I get sexier knees?"
Every trainer we talked to has heard some version of this request: a client wants her knees to look less prominent or her clavicle to look more prominent. "This change may involve a significant decrease in body fat," says Jessica Matthews, an exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise. (Or, more likely, it's simply not possible without plastic surgery). Matthews says that she'll remind her clients that we can't spot-shrink (you'd think we'd have gotten that message by now), but she'll sometimes use the question to motivate them to try something new. She'll tell them that while they may be stuck with the shape of their knees, they can sculpt sexier legs with targeted strength-training exercises, and they can kick up the number of calories they burn with high-intensity interval training.
"Can you help me lose 20 pounds for my reunion -- which, by the way, is a month away?"
Trainers often get calls from people who suddenly realize they're just four weeks away from a big event and want to slim down, stat. The industry recommendation for weight loss is one to two pounds per week, says Matthews. This means it could take five months to safely lose 20 pounds. But if Matthews only has one month to work with, she says she'll gently dissuade the client from trying to drop too much too fast and will instead get that person to focus on creating definition. "You may not be able to drop two dress sizes in one month, but you can feel more confident and look better in the dress you already have," Matthews says.
"Where's my quad?"
"I used to take it for granted that people know what I'm referring to when I talk about parts of the body," says Donavanik. But that's not always the case. One clueless client admitted he had no idea where his quads or glutes were. He was new to the gym -- but he happened to be an avid cyclist and runner. Since then, Donavanik makes a point to clearly identify each part of the body as he's explaining exercises. We know you know where your quad is... but in case you're secretly wondering about the exact location of, say, your iliotibial band -- or IT band, it's the wide piece of tendon that runs down the outside of your thigh and attaches to the front of your knee.
It was not long after noon, during a bit of a lull when an older woman came to my counter to enlarge some knitting patterns that she couldn’t read. No problem at all. While I’m helping her, Superhag rolled up, seeming like a nice person at the time. She was doing some shipping but still needed to pack up her boxes, so I let her pack while I helped the older lady, and when Superhag signaled she was ready, I turned the computer around for her to type her shipping info, and resumed the copies.
At Office Ghetto, copy slaves are basically trained to multitask. If you can’t, you’ll never make it. I’ve actually been complimented many times on my ability to take care of several customers at once; they all seem to understand that I’m helping them all, and therefore delays of a few seconds will happen, but that I’ll keep moving and taking care of their jobs. I pride myself on making sure none of them feel left out. So I kept an eye on Superhag while running copies for the older lady.
Superhag was having trouble with the computer. I helped her whenever she called for me. It was just her and the older lady there, but I could see Superhag getting impatient, so I tried to be available the second she called. Then, OF COURSE, the computer for whatever dumb reason dumped one of her shipping manifests and she had to type it again, which, while annoying, only takes a few minutes. While she did that, I finished with the older lady and had her go ring out up front because Superhag was now ready.
While I’m printing the sticker for the first package, another woman walks up. I tell her it’ll be just a moment (per Ghetto rules, we have to acknowledge anyone waiting – and I’d feel bad about ignoring someone anyway!) and keep helping Superhag. After I ship the second box and start on the third, (a process that needs no input from the customer btw. We do it all ourselves.), the woman waiting speaks up and says she’s just there to pick something up and she doesn’t mind ringing out up front. So, while the third sticker is printing, I take exactly three steps from the computer to pick up the lady’s boxes.
Superhag explodes into a gusty sigh. “This is ridiculous!”
I set the boxes on the counter for the lady waiting, grab the sticker from the printer, and walk to the third package to find Superhag glaring at me and snarling, “I can’t believe you, you’ve waited on three people since I’ve been here! That is unacceptable!”
Me: *stunned* “I…I’m sorry.”
Superhag: “You know what, you ARE sorry. This is ridiculous.”
Me: *beginning to tremble* “Would you like me to call a manager?”
Superhag: “No, I’ll take care of this online.”
I should have called for a manager anyway, but at that point I was in the middle of an anxiety attack and was unable to speak, and just wanted to get her out. I put the sticker on the box, and I guess Superhag hadn’t unloaded enough, because she exploded again: “And I suppose you’ll probably smash my boxes now, so I will be taking out a complaint on that.”
Me: (Surprise at such an insinuation taking over my fear for a moment.) “Wh-what? I won’t do that.”
Superhag: “Oh really?”
Me: “Of course not, I would never do that.” (I mean yeah, she’s a bitch, but I’d never destroy someone’s stuff on purpose out of vindication.)
I take the barcodes to the register and have her sign the store’s copy, which, for some reason, she makes a point of scrawling all over: “Please do not break these boxes!” I didn’t feel like telling her the mailperson will never see that note because these papers are for our records only. She then insisted on copies of her signed sheets, which I gave her. Right about then another lady walked up and got in line.
Then, when I ask how Superhag wants to pay, she says she already gave me her card. I tell her I don’t think she did, (starting to panic anew that she did and I somehow lost it even though I was 100% sure she never gave it to me) when she finds it under the papers. Obviously she had set it on the counter and one of the papers fluttered over it. She throws it at me, snapping, “Here it is, you shoved it back at me with the papers.”
I finish the transaction, she snatches the receipt from me, and storms away. I take a step back and try to breathe, and the lady waiting glances after her and goes, “Well, she wasn’t a very nice person!”
This, apparently, was my cue to start sobbing. I’m not proud, RHU. I wish I didn’t cry so easily. But this woman rattled me. I started to panic that she would write a bad letter full of lies to the company, and that somehow her boxes would get damaged and she’d come back and yell at me, and I would be fired, (after I was JUST made full time!) and my family/coworkers would be disappointed in me and I’d never be able to show my face at the Ghetto again and I wouldn’t be able to make my car or insurance payments or help my mom with bills and it just kept spiraling. On top of which, the reviews affect the whole store, and our store hasn’t had many surveys this year, so I know my boss is under pressure from the DM to get more. A single bad survey would ruin our average at this point. I love my boss, and letting her down breaks my heart. So I’m crying preemptively over disappointing her, too. It was horribly embarrassing, I hate that I can’t be cool and stoic. I tried to apologize to the woman waiting between sobs, who was really nice and saying, “Oh honey, what did she do? It’s okay, don’t worry.”
Then, suddenly, she took off at a stride down the hallway. I assumed that she was going to get my manager, but it turns out she was going after Superhag! After a moment she came back, saying that Superhag had gotten in her car and “got away this time.” I don’t know what she was planning to do if she’d caught Superhag, but knowing that she’d gone after her at all was amazing enough! She then proceeded to tell me everything would be okay again and that karma’s going to bite some haggy ass one day. (Which I do believe.) There are some really great people in the world.
In the end, everything was basically okay. My coworkers were sympathetic, I apologized to my boss for if we get a bad review (to which my boss replied, “if she writes a bad review about you, then she can kiss my tushie.” My boss is the best. <3) and I know my job is safe and my car won’t be repossessed and we won’t lose the house. (Gotta love the ridiculous things anxiety makes us think, eh?)
Yet Superhag’s ghost haunts me, even a day later. I keep remembering her sneering at me and how cruel her tone was. I don’t understand what I did wrong. The old woman I was helping was there BEFORE the hag, so logically she should get help first, and I tried to always stop and help Superhag whenever she asked and worked on the other job only when she was typing. I guess I could have made the pick up lady wait, but all I did was grab her boxes and set them on the counter for her. It took five seconds, and I did it WHILE a sticker was printing, so it wasn’t like there was anything I could have done for Superhag during those five seconds anyway. I don’t even know where that “you helped three people” thing came from since I only helped two…and why would she accuse me of smashing her boxes?! I’m so afraid now that somehow they’ll be damaged in transit and she’ll come after me, or that she’ll lie and claim they were damaged. We all know corporate doesn’t care if crusties lie, the customer is always right!
WHY am I letting one bitchy ass crusty get to me so much? Crazy flash drive lady is a silly memory! Jerkhole paper guy means nothing to me! I LAUGH about the woman who said I needed plastic surgery! But fifteen minutes with Superhag and I can’t even come home and chillax with some pie without getting a stomachache when I remember her words. (And fuck her for that, too. Dessert should be sacred and should not be allowed to be ruined by memories of jerks.) GAH. Retail Gods help my sanity if she actually does write a bad review. I may have to rent a room under a rock for a few days.
I hate haggy customers. May they stay far away from you all!
-- <3 BookAce
PS: What is “you ARE sorry” supposed to mean, anyway? Did she think I wasn’t really sorry and it means “you SHOULD BE sorry?” Is it short for “you are a sorry excuse for a person?” Is sorry a descriptive word, like “you are awful?” Damn it Superhag, if you have to haunt me why couldn’t you be more specific?
A dark nut is on the rise.
A man wearing white face paint, a green wig and the same red, menacing grin as Heath Ledger's character in "The Dark Knight" was arrested for drunkenly harassing Applebee's patrons in western New York, police said.
Aaron Chase, 24, sat at a Chautauqua County Applebee's bar on Sunday, intoxicated and without money, and hassled people around him, the Smoking Gun reported. He refused to leave when asked, according to a Lakewood-Busti Police Department incident report. Authorities charged Chase with trespassing and issued an appearance ticket.
He'd already been kicked out of a bar up the road from Applebee's for making gun gestures toward the bartender earlier that night, according to WIVB.
"People get a little uptight and nervous," bar owner Tim Ruch told WIVB, "You don't see this everyday." Chase has shown up in his establishment dressed up like the Joker before, Ruch said.
The 24-year-old was taken to WCA Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation, according to the Jamestown Post Journal. "We take any call of this nature very seriously," said Sgt. Paul Gustafson of LBPD told the paper, "especially in a situation where a person dresses up in this manner."
In light of last summer's Aurora, Col. movie theater shooting -- where James Holmes, hair painted red, allegedly cried "I am the Joker" before allegedly opening fire and killing 12 people -- Lakewood police officials told the Buffalo News that they are treating instances like Chase's extremely seriously.
An office clerk brings a customer to me. An unusual start, certainly, rather than paging me.
Anyway, he starts out, "I was just over at the Deli-ca-tessen (I knew I was in for it when he stretched it out and, oh yeah, didn't just say 'Deli') and I was going to get some meatloaf. Now when she got the container she had to go all the way to the end to get it, is that common practice? Usually the containers are just right there."
My first thought is "How the fuck should I know if that's common practice?", quickly followed by "Wait, if you know the containers are *usually* right there, meaning you have purchased the meatloaf on more than one occasion, then obviously IT IS NOT FUCKING COMMON PRACTICE."
"I don't know, maybe they were out at the counter."
"Ok, whatever, well I wanted to get some meatloaf (we have meatloaf in the the case) and the slices are all the same in there but she was holding them up like this (he indicated tray at about chest level) and was talking over it just drooling, spraying her germs all over it".
Ok, this is at least a semi-valid complaint, especially with the flu as bad as it is. So he says he's going to go find a manager to complain because she apparently said something smart back to him. (To which I am thinking, but not saying, "Is this all your complaint is? She might just be justified.)
Then he says that Bakery Boy, who "I don't know if he's got a thing for the girl or what, but he came out to try to defend her, I guess," and ended up following him the 300 feet or so up to the Service Desk. (Bakery Boy is married, by the way.)
So I find out who the clerks were, we part ways, and I go to the bathroom, which was my intent in the first place.
On my way I pass the store manager, who is getting ready to go, and the security guard. Boss man asks what the deal was, and said that other office clerk had told them that they may want to come to the office when the guy came up there. I just assumed that was because he knew the guy had a complaint. Oh, was I wrong.
After I download some converted Coke Zero, I went over to the Deli. I told the Deli clerk that the correct response to guy was, "I'm sorry, I'll get you another piece". Because, as asinine as the guy seemed to be, it may have fixed the situation then and there.
Then I went to Bakery Boy, and said "Answer me one question and one question only. Why would you follow him all the way to the Service Desk???
At that moment, it all fell into place.
Bakery Boy says that he wanted to make sure he got there without hurting anybody, because he didn't seem to be in his right mind. He said when Nutjob left the Deli he was yelling at other customers and pushing them out of the way and sticking his fingers in his ears saying "I don't want to hear it!" Just generally playing the part of Nutjob to a T.
So remember folks, never judge a nut by it's shell, and stay classy, RHU.
Greetings Curious Scroller,
If you've never landed in this part of cyber space before, you have taken a hard, fast plunge into the fiery depths of work hell. RHU is dedicated to giving the service worker a voice. If you are an angry customer, a corporate suite, a homophobic race-hater, and you don't like skull masks or swear words, this blog isn't for you. Click away now, before your ears bleed and your eyes explode.
I'm Freddy, Crypt Keeper of Retail Hell Underground RHU -- a place for service slaves to have a voice, tell their story, support each other, or just have a chuckle about the insanity of working in the 10th Circle of Hell! I'm also the author of "Retail Hell," the funny memoir about life as a handbag sales associate at an upscale department store! The sequel, "Return To The Big Fancy," has just been released in hardcover and e-reader and is available wherever books are sold!