Recently, I planned a Christmas activity with two different local businesses. One of them is well-known in this group, and another hasn’t often been mentioned but appears to be a well-run, popular, and high-end restaurant. These two businesses are Dublin Irish Pub and 1981. 1981 has three different locations in Tianjin, all of them set up just a little bit differently to cater to various themes and tastes. With both businesses, I reached out to contact them through mutual acquaintances.
As the owner of the Tianjin Foodies group and as an active member of the expat community for many years, I’m always trying out new community activities and attempting to establish a relationship with many of the area businesses. As a popular expat destination, I expected Dublin Irish Pub to be friendly, welcoming, helpful and understanding of a shared cultural experience. I wasn’t sure what to expect from 1981, because I had only heard of them within the past couple months.
Right away I noticed an interesting difference. Dublin Irish Pub was not interested in the activity except as a direct line of profit. They didn’t seem to care about the potential future relationship possibilities with members of the community or the free advertising. They stated that 50¥ per child with only 10 children in the activity was not enough of a profit for them. They insisted on a minimum number of participants, which I was unable to provide based on the nature of the activity. Obviously, I can’t tell ahead of time how many people would purchase admission to the activity. We agreed that I would pay a deposit for 10 children which equals 500¥, and if there were more signed up I would pay the balance due on the day of the activity.
The activity was scheduled for a Sunday in December. On the Thursday prior to the scheduled activity, I had only sold 2 tickets. Worried about my fledgling relationship with them and desiring to respect their priorities, I canceled the event. This was four days prior to the scheduled activity. The employee I was speaking with said ok, and confirmed the date of the event. Receiving no further communication, I inquired about the deposit the following day.
At this point, for the first time in our communication, I was told that the deposit is non-refundable. The best they could do is let me use it as a 500¥ gift card at the restaurant. Having never been there, and the location being inconvenient to my home, I couldn’t imagine wanting to spend 500¥ there on my own. Furthermore, this had never been discussed at any point in our arrangement. If I had known this ahead of time, of course I would not have canceled the event to try to make up some of the loss. I was very angry and frustrated. I felt like they were taking my money and providing nothing for it.
I proceeded to talk with the boss who confirmed what his employee had said. He said the business had a loss, because even 4 days ahead of the event they had spent money on materials for the activity. I said I understood that and I would be happy for them to deduct the materials from the 500¥ deposit and return the remainder to me as well as the materials that I was now the owner of. He said he would collect the receipts and get back to me. Of course, he never did.
At the moment of publishing this message, Dublin Irish Pub has 500¥ of my money and has not provided any materials or service for this income. I will never step foot in this establishment based on my interaction with them. If someone would like to purchase this credit from me, I’m happy to let it go at 50%. Otherwise, it seems an awful lot like manipulative business practices, if not outright theft.
On the other hand, 1981 never required a deposit, in fact, denied it when I offered to pay one. They were friendly, accommodating, had excellent staff who were also friendly and helpful and provided a wonderful environment for the children’s Christmas activity. We ended up having 11 children purchase admission to the activity and it was a wonderful success. I will absolutely attend any of their businesses or activities again in the future and encourage others to try as well.
nothing to really recommend it for, it's a bar
Girlfriend discovered a ribbon of steel in her Cottage pie, presumably from pot scrubbing brush, which put an end to the meal, reported it to the staff. Staff seemed to think it was perfectly acceptable to charge for the barely touched meal, asked for the boss, "Jessica" if I remember correctly who reluctantly removed that item from the bill but only after being pressed.