A Lack of Customer Service at The Market Arms

I’ve gotten use to a certain lack in customer service over the last few years, but what happened to us on Sunday, September 27 at The Market Arms in Ballard, Seattle tops all expectations of poor customer service.

As most who read this blog know, we live in Boise. We lived in Seattle for a number of years and spend 3 – 6 weeks of time coming back to visit every year. In July of 2010 we found a new soccer pub in Ballard called The Market Arms. Great soccer atmosphere for games. We’ve watched a number of out of town Sounders games there, UEFA games and Championship games. Their food has always been good and the wait staff have always been nice and efficient.

But on Sunday, we got to meet the owner, John Bayliss.

In order to explain things in context, I need to set the stage a bit.

This Sunday there were two sporting events taking place, nearly simultaneously. The SoundersFC were playing a key game against Kansas City on the road at 2:00 pm and the Seahawks were playing at home against Chicago at 1:25 pm.

Shelley had more interest in the Sounders game and I just wanted to be able to keep track of both. In the big scheme of things, the Sounders game was more important in the playoff run, so I had a bit more interest there as well.

So we needed a place that would have both games on. Having been going to The Market Arms since 2010, we knew they would find a way to have the Sounders. So we left my sister’s house early to go there first and check it out.

When we arrived, we found they had their five inside televisions labeled with which game would be on which TV. They split their restaurant into half with 2 TVs showing the Sounders and 3 TVs showing the Seahawks. Having got there a little before noon, we had our choice of tables and we picked a good one that had perfect views of two TVs. One was labeled “Sounders” and the other one was currently playing the Dallas/Atlanta game and was labeled “Seahawks.” The two TVs labeled “Sounders” were turned off. We found out later there was a WNBA Championship game taking place on ESPN (the channel showing the Sounders game).

So we thought we had the perfect set up. We arrived early enough to get a good seat to watch both games. We ordered a couple beers and an appetizer of potato skins and hunkered down till kickoff.

Just before the Seahawks kickoff we ordered another round of drinks and lunch.

Things got silly around 2:00.

The restaurant started filling up with Seahawk fans around 1:00, with many of them overflowing into the Sounders half of the restaurant. The two TVs over there were still off. Many of these people were asking about the TV situation and our waitress was telling them that the TVs tagged with “Sounders” would be showing that game at 2:00. When the Seahawk game started, on of the TVs labeled “Sounders” (the one we were going to watch) was changed to the Seahawk game. The other Sounders TV was still off. Needless to say, there was no where to sit over by the other “Sounders” TV now as that area of the restaurant was full of Sounders fans. Our perfect seat was in jeopardy. We asked our waitress if the game would be switched and we were told if it said “Sounders,” it would show the Sounders.

The Sounders kickoff was delayed 15-ish minutes to accommodate the end of the WNBA game. When the only indoor Sounders TV was turned on, the one at the other end of the restaurant away from us, the WNBA game was just wrapping up. The Sounders then kicked off and the TV closest to us that was supposed to show the Sounders, still had the Seahawks game on.

So, we did what anyone in our position would do. We asked our waitress if the TV could be switched to the Sounders. I watched her walk over to the owner, John, who mouthed “no” to her. Their conversation went on for a few moments and she came back to us and told us she was told there were technical reasons the channel couldn’t be switched. Something about switching this TV would affect the other three TVs showing the Seahawks game. I suspected this was BS, but I couldn’t say anything about it.

A few moments later the waitress brought the owner over to explain what was going on, but he went to the wrong table. There was a group of Sounders fans sitting next to us and he went up to them and said, “You want to watch the Sounders? There’s a table on the patio. You can go out back.” They didn’t move. I don’t even recall them saying anything to him.

Our waitress was standing behind him and told him he was at the wrong table and he came over to us and, leaning on the table in front of me, asked us “You want to watch the game?” I’ve been around long enough to know this was a “gotcha” question that had no correct answer. If I said yes, he would tell me to go out to the patio, if I said, no, the conversation would be over.

So I thought I’d try to explain our situation. How we got here at noon, picked out seat specifically for it’s location to both TVs, etc. When I tried to talk, he interrupted me with, “Do you want to watch the game?” I tried to talk again and he interrupted me a second time, “Do you want to watch the game?” I tried to explain things again, and he interrupted me a third time, “Do you want to watch the game?” This time, exasperated, I said, “Dude, you gonna let me talk and finish a sentence or you just gonna keep interrupting me?” He said, “There’s a table on the patio out back if you want to watch the game.” He then waved his hand at my face, giving me the “brush off,” and turned his back and started walking off.

So, I called him a jerk.

Now, did I say “fucking jerk”? Or “you’re a jerk”? Or “Way to be a jerk”? Honestly, I don’t know. And it doesn’t matter. His arrogant attitude, condescending behavior….his lack of concern for a customer’s complaint and his indifference made him a jerk. He was a jerk.

He heard me and turned back around and got right in my space. Up close and personal. Stuck his finger in my face and started yelling at me for calling him a jerk. He told me how he wasn’t gonna stand for being called names and how I wouldn’t answer his question. I tried to explain again that he wouldn’t let me talk or finish a sentence, and he interrupted me again, over and over. I couldn’t even get four words out. Having to talk over him I said, “You’re doing it again. You keep interrupting me and won’t let me speak.”

His reply? He sticks his middle finger in my face and says, “Fuck off!”

At this point, the only negative thing I said to him was calling him a jerk. I never swore at him, never disparaged his mother, family or staff. I was just trying to explain our position and he didn’t care and refused to listen to me. When I called him on it, he tells me to “Fuck off.”

Yeah, real professional. Real good customer service.

Now he storms away. Evidently, the Seahawk game is staying on the TV we, and those Sounders fans around us, thought was going to show the Sounders.

Our waitress came back over and apologized. She said she thought the Sounders would be on that TV, etc. She was very nice. Very embarrassed. When she left, the Sounders game was now on the TV that the Seahawks game was on. The TV that was labeled “Sounders.”

But wait a second….didn’t the owner tell our waitress there were technical reasons it couldn’t be switched? Yeah, he did.

So now he’s a liar too. He lies to his own staff, so they can pass the lie on to his customers.

What a jerk. What a fucking jerk.

After our waitress left, another woman approached and we had a conversation with her. She tried to explain that, “He’s really not a jerk.” Okay, maybe he’s not. Maybe he is Mother Theresa during the other 99.99999% of his life. I get it. People have bad days. But right then, right at that moment when he’s interrupting me, arrogant, condescending and waving me off like a fly…..he was a jerk. This woman really did try to explain things, but there really isn’t much she could say. I felt she was in a very difficult position and I was polite with her.

At one point the John Bayliss came back over, interjected himself into our conversation and said something about being at work since 5:00 am, working hard and, “I’m not going to be called names!” Then he looked at me and told me to, “Fuck off!” again before walking away. Oh, yeah, none of us (including his employee) could get a word in edgewise. She was even trying to shoo him away and he would have none of it.

I finished my conversation with this second woman and things were over.

We were asked if we needed anything as the second half of both games were still left to play, but we were done. I had no intention of ordering another beer or any more food. We couldn’t really leave as we had no where we could get to in order to watch either of the games. Being from out of town, we couldn’t go home and my sister was watching the Seahawks at their house.

So we stayed and drank water till the Sounders were over.

In the end, our waitress gave us our bill and she took two beers off our tab, leaving us with a $41 bill, before her tip. Yes, I did tip her. She was great. Plus, I assume the owner doesn’t get any of the tip money.

So, after being lied to by the owner, being treated like garbage by the owner, being waved off like a fly by the owner and being told to “Fuck off” by the owner, they took two beers off my tab.

That was pretty disappointing, too.

Needless to say, we are never going back to that place.

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