Sorry, Woodford Café! Live Wire’s totally sincere apology to an angry businessman

The following is a response to a pre-action protocol letter sent by the Woodford Café owner (hereinto referred to as “Mr Uptight, Over-reacting and Overly Aggressive Proprietor”) sent, via attorney Keith C Scotland—and ‘C’ is unlikely to stand for ‘Cheap’—to a confused, frustrated and battered restaurant patron, Ms Abi La-La (hereinto referred to as “A Customer You Will Never See Again”):

Photo: First order of business. Can we interest you in a hug, Sir? (Copyright Disney)
Photo: First order of business. Can we interest you in a hug, Sir?
(Copyright Disney)

Dear Mr Uptight Over-reacting and Overly Aggressive Proprietor,

I, Mr Live Wire, being of satirical mind and busybody, am writing in response to Mr Uptight, Over-reacting and Overly Aggressive Proprietor’s legal threats against A Customer You Will Never See Again. For which, of course, you have every right.

I do not act on behalf of A Customer You Will Never See Again. Partly because I have never met her. And mostly because—as is evident from my profile photograph—I am a cat with a Rubik’s Cube and courtrooms have strict dress codes.

However, after the great pains you took to ensure you extracted a fully comprehensive apology from A Customer You Will Never See Again, I decided you deserve a third party apology as well. Free of charge. No hidden taxes.

First, let me establish the facts of this matter through the reproduction of excerpts from A Customer You Will Never See Again’s Facebook post, which you felt comfortable with:

“I went to Woodford Café in Price Plaza on Feb 21st, my first time going since the reduction of VAT to 12.5%, got some and checked my bill only to realise the tax I was charged worked out to 13.5%. Was I going to accept that? Of course not!

Photo: Yes, there is a tax on service charge too.
Photo: Yes, there is a tax on service charge too.

“I tried calling them and no one answered the telephone so I sent a message via their Facebook page on Feb 24th. Their response on Feb 26th is to come in and speak with either some man named Warren or the floor manager on duty.

“Finally got a chance to go back yesterday, March 1st, and spoke to the floor manager. Well it seems that their policy is to add in a 10% service charge, add that to the subtotal then charge VAT on that…”

I pause, Mr Uptight, Over-reacting and Overly Aggressive Proprietor, because the rest of A Customer You Will Never See Again’s Facebook post chilled me to the bone.

All I will say is that, I paraphrase for legal reasons, A Customer You Will Never See Again felt cheated and irate, after being allegedly told by one of your waitresses that she has never gotten one cent from service charge.

And that, Mr Uptight, Over-reacting and Overly Aggressive Proprietor, is completely unacceptable.

I’m not referring to the fact you might not have spelt out your policy for taxing service charge. Or that your phone supposedly rings unanswered during business hours. Or that your company allegedly takes two days to answer messages left by patrons on your social media page.

Photo: Come for the tasty food. Come back to find out why your service charge was taxed.
Photo: Come for the tasty food. Come back to find out why your service charge was taxed.

Or that you supposedly had a customer take time off from her day and, with today’s high gas prices—but not as exorbitant as your mojitos—find her way to your establishment, simply to answer a question on taxes.

Or that your employees allegedly misled her into thinking that you, Mr Uptight, Over-reacting and Overly Aggressive Proprietor, are not the wonderful, caring and loving boss that you must surely think yourself to be.

What is unacceptable is that, after nine days of running around before receiving a supposedly unconvincing response to her complaint as a paying customer, A Customer You Will Never See Again dared to respond by angrily questioning your business principles on Facebook.

If that scenario does not show unquestionable appreciation for your paying customers, then you must have no idea of what customer appreciation is. And, frankly, it is silly to even suggest such a thing.

I’d bet you have the A to Z on customer appreciation printed and hung up in a room that you never visit.

Who could ask for more than that?

Photo: Want to ask me if you don't have to pay service charge again? (Copyright The Simpsons)
Photo: Want to ask me if you don’t have to pay service charge again?
(Copyright The Simpsons)

I can only apologise sincerely—from the bottom of my paws—for the distress caused to your goodly self.

A Customer You Will Never See Again deserves everything she gets. What sort of Trini does not forget what they were mad about in the first place after nine days?!

How dare she question the business practices that have surely given you some fantastic vacations?!

Your subsequent response, Mr Uptight, Over-reacting and Overly Aggressive Proprietor, was fair and just.

You, via Mr Scotland, gave A Customer You Will Never See Again “twelve (12) hours from the date of receipt of this letter” to respond or face “legal proceedings being commenced against you without further notice.”

And A Customer You Will Never See Again was left in no doubt as to seriousness of the threat, as it was underlined, written in bold and typed in a different size font to the rest of the message.

It is the literary equivalent of getting a foot stool and megaphone and screaming down at your victim. Which is not my way of saying that you are probably short and often ignored by your peers.

Photo: Mr Live Wire cannot confirm whether this was an accurate depiction of the legal strategy meeting between Mr Woodford Cafe and his attorney. (Copyright Anger Management)
Photo: Mr Live Wire cannot confirm whether this was an accurate depiction of the legal strategy meeting between Mr Woodford Cafe and his attorney.
(Copyright Anger Management)

Mr Scotland, on your behalf, quoted the Pre Action Protocol Provisions of the Civil Proceedings Rules (1998) in serving A Customer You Will Never See Again.

Interestingly, Section 4.3 of that document states that you, Mr Uptight Over-reacting and Overly Aggressive Proprietor, should—as the claimant—offer the defendant a reasonable period to acknowledge your pre action protocol letter.

According to the legal document: “A normal reasonable period for a full response may be one month” or, elsewhere in the document, “14 calendar days” was mentioned.

But was A Customer You Will Never See Again reasonable to you by growing irate at her inability to have her questions serviced, after being service charged and taxed to boot?

She was not. And it stands to reason that one may similarly see unreasonableness as a reasonable response. In much the same way as we walk in the rain to get dry.

Photo: Eh?
Photo: Eh?

Twelve hours to formulate a legal response was more than sufficient time for someone who spent nine days trying to have their own taxation question answered by Mr Uptight, Over-reacting and Overly Aggressive Proprietor.

The legal letter also made it clear that all correspondence should be sent to Scotland’s St Vincent Street, Port of Spain address, within the same 12 hour time frame.

Of course, it would have been easier for her to reply to your email. But it is not your duty to make things easy for A Customer You Will Never See Again.

You sent your own legal letter to A Customer You Will Never See Again’s email address, although Section 2 states: “Where a party seeks to serve a document by electronic means he should first seek to clarify with the party who is to be served: (a) whether there are any limitations to the recipient’s agreement to accept service by such means; and (b) the format in which documents are to be sent; and (c) the maximum size of attachments that may be received.”

But I fully agree that we should not get tied up in legal jargon here. Except for the bit where A Customer You Will Never See Again spoke ill of Woodford Café, of course.

Photo: This will teach her to say nice things about me! (Courtesy
Photo: This will teach her to say nice things about me!

Mr Uptight Over-reacting and Overly Aggressive Proprietor might have picked up the phone when A Customer You Will Never See Again called. Or he might have responded to her message which sat on the Woodford Café’s Facebook page for nearly three days.

Or spoken to her at the restaurant. Or track her down after he heard of her complaint.

Or even contacted her after he learned of her irate Facebook post, so as to explain why Woodford Café’s business practices are beyond reproach and—despite her fears in a climate of uncertainty following the changes in VAT—she should return for more mojitos at the earliest opportunity.

But that is not how Mr Uptight Over-reacting and Overly Aggressive Proprietor rolls. Legal letter in yuh pueffen! He’s damn right too.

So, again, Mr Live Wire would like to join A Customer You Will Never See Again in offering a heartfelt apology for all the trouble we caused to Mr Uptight Over-reacting and Overly Aggressive Proprietor.

We will miss you. And Woodford Café.

Photo: Breathe fellah, breathe. (Copyright Forbes)
Photo: Breathe fellah, breathe.
(Copyright Forbes)

Abi La La’s apology, which was posted on Facebook:

A few days ago I wrote a post about my experience at Woodford Cafe. I felt taken advantage of and while still in that headspace I made some statements that were inaccurate. And although, as some of you noted, I edited the post as I learned more through my inquiries at the BIR, VAT Hotline and through our conversation in the comment section, I have been requested to remove it in its entirety and I have agreed.

I also should have been more careful repeating allegations that I cannot myself verify. This has been a learning experience which has surely impacted me as a consumer and the way I will interact with businesses going forward. So:

1. I apologize as I was misguided with respect to the application of Value Added Tax;

2. Clarification has been provided with respect to the law, its application to the business of Woodford Cafe and further the manner in which it is operated by its owners;

3. Through correspondence with Woodford Cafe’s lawyer, I have been advised that the employees of Woodford Cafe are accurately remunerated;

4. I request that there be no further commentary or debate with respect to my original post.

About Mr. Live Wire

Mr. Live Wire
Mr. Live Wire is an avid news reader who translates media reports for persons who can handle the truth. And satire. Unlike Jack Nicholson, he rarely yells.

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  1. Well, I’m customer you’ll never see again # 2. Send me one of your pre-action protocol letter nah! I dare you, coward!

  2. I’m surprised people still go to woodford cafe.

  3. This will never change, because many people go to such establishments to show off that they can spend with the big boys, and would never risk the embarrassment to stand up for what is right, because they don’t want to look cheap, but in my opinion it’s better to look cheap than to get rob like a dunce.
    Money has no value over false pride, enjoy it ,i can’t afford to pay for ambience i also require quality and value for money.

  4. What started this ppl….it feels like i saw part two without part one

  5. Shut them down by not patronising.

  6. wtf is this shit. the article is unreadable. very poor journalism.

  7. a service charge is optional ….you can refuse to pay it

  8. To date has Woodford Café’s management offered an apology to the patron in question about how blown outta proportion their handling of the situation got?

    Probably not, because dem is big business with a slew of lick bamsees like Patricia doing their bidding.

    Epic failures.

  9. Wow, you’ll all attacking the busyness for standing up for themselves! Without oil money, guess who’s going to save your economy? Local businesses, so go ahead and boycott them, close down a next business, and feel proud for up your own economy

    • You sound like somebody who has never started a business

      • Maybe ive started businesses. Maybe not. But that doesn’t matter.

        Threatening to sue your customers is a bad business strategy. Especially for a business that caters to the public.

        That’s not just bad business. Its idiocy.

    • You advocate threatening to sue persons for expressing their opinion?

      Well OK. Go ahead and run with that idea.

      I’ll wager that…oil and gas or not…you and your business go buss like a rotten tomato in the hot sun.

    • You’re missing the point Geevan. The customer has a right to question what they’ve been charged. The business owner showed that if you don’t like how he runs business or how he charged you that he has money (most likely from the same customers) and he will sue you. People have a right to boycott or stop buying from any business they deem unfair. How can you say that they shouldn’t boycott? So you saying that they have to buy there? Come on…

    • Ron, I think you’re missing the point. Obviously she did more than question. And the business has every right to protect itself. You’ll want to boycott for that business protecting yourself…. Well you’ll can do as you like. But what I see is a typical third world mentality… Which is “fight down business” , not realistic that it’s the same businesses are the only hope of prosperity for us

    • You’ll basically give the woman no accountability for her actions. You assume she simply enquired…. No business going to go to a lawyer for a simple enquire. That’s why this is the third world. And the sad them truth is that after this explain you’ll still not going to get it

      • Agreed. Everyone should be accountable for their actions.

        But Woodford Cafe hasnt offered an explanation for their actions. We are left to speculate.

        Strictly speaking they don’t need to. But they are being tried in the court of public opinion. And their business does benefit or suffer from public opinion.

        So its in their best interest to offer their side of the story.

        Its difficult to understand how a single customer can threaten a well known restaurant to the point that lawyers would get involved.

        But that’s the point.

        Woodford Cafe hasn’t offered an explanation. There could be a reasonable explanation. But we don’t know.

        So the sentence in the court of public opinion is guilty.

    • WHY OH WHY do some feel people can piss in others face and call IT RAIN BAD SERVICE IS BAD SERVICE I WILL NEVER SETTLE FOR IT smh you keep your mediocrity to yourself the rest of us who work damn hard for our “oil prices falling ” money HAVE A RIGHT TO PROTECT IT just saying also a hhhhmmmmm forget it

  10. Never was a Woodford Cafe fan…and never will be.

  11. Woodford Cafe was great when it was on Tragarete Rd.When they moved, service and food quality went down hill. The owners response,is interesting, Call in reputable lawyer. So as a paying customer you cant complain. That ‘s T&T, we settle for mediocrity for so long, that when someone do right , we criticize. Congrats Mr Uptight, you did right, at least you stood up for something. The workers are all remunerated. I dont believe that. I know people who work in such establishments and the owners take all the monies, and give the workers little or nothing, Such employers are exploiters, who know people are desperate . chk out worker turnover at these establishments. You did right Mr Uptight, you have your dignity.

  12. They don’t even know what real service is, and they rush put service charge on your bill. Been there once and I’m not returning. Ruby Tuesdays is the next one

  13. Unless service charge is stated on the menu, you can refuse to pay it. Tip the server separately.

  14. People in trinidad go for name not the taste they so feel that just being at the so called big establishments make them feel as if there in something just to say they go to those spots an the next morning they vex with they self Stop Hang Your Hat Where Your Hand Can’t Reach

  15. I’ve stopped going here years now. The food doesn’t wow me, service mediocre and prices are too high. Consumer affairs division needs to clarify to the public exactly what is legal where these practices are concerned.

  16. Samantha Kirby Chan another reason this could no longer be our place!

  17. basically this service charge at restaurants is exactly like President Carmona accepting a state housing allowance while enjoying state housing. What exactly are you being charged “service” on?
    You go to a restaurant for the luxury of not having to prepare your own meal, I don’t understand being charged for a meal and then being charged separately for having it served to me as well!

  18. Lasana for a number of years I heard the Law Association have wanted to lobby on two consumer issues. Landlords who increase rent without any justifiable improvements in the property and 2. This service charge issue where it is mandatory on bills. In my opinion service charge should be optional. I like tipping when I get decent service I typically tip in cash even if there is a service charge because I know that is really going to the server. I think food places should have that cost included in their overall costs. I also get really upset when I see a service cost on takeout order

  19. Hope this opens the eyes of customers throughout the country because I am sure it’s not just this place doing this practice!!! #boycott #saveyuhmoney

  20. Aye, Good Morning,
    I very much like the way you analyze our 9-day catastrophic events; no wait, make that 3-day catastrophic events. (Trinbagonians doh waast more dan 3 days macoing anyting)
    This ‘Sorry, Woodford Cafe’ is the first article I’ve seen. Your style and voice is “Jus my drink ah Puncheon”. I rarely drink tea.
    I’ve read some of the back issues and look forward to future ones

    Keep up the good works and God Bless you richly
    Thanks much,
    Gregory Diaz,

  21. I sometimes go to this Guyanese roti shop near my job….it’s the only roti shop in the area and their food is pretty good. Once I had experienced bad service there when they took the order of a Guyanese fella who came after me and I walked out.
    I went back after work and complained, since then they have treated me as well as before.
    Now mind you, I’m Trini and black and there aren’t any other choices if I want roti for lunch but they appreciated my business enough to apologize and make sure that never happened again.

  22. I agree with Soyini Denise, i once had dinner at a restaurant in Ohio, I didnt like the meal so barely ate anything. Someone came over and asked if my meal was okay, I said i was okay just didnt enjoy my meal

    When i got my bill they only charged me for my appetiser and drinks.

    Apparently the person who spoke to me was the Manager.

    Compare this to an experience I had at Woodford a few years ago, I am sitting at a table near the bar and ask a passing waitress for a menu. I get engrossed in our group ol’ talk and realise about 15 mins later i havent gotten the menu.

    I stop the same waitress and ask about the menu, her response was i tell “dat gyul”, this is not my table

    My response was, what does that have to do with me, i ask a waitress at the establishment for a menu, i have no clue who waitress have which table

    To make matters worst the supervisor or manager comes over about 10 minutes later to apologise but tells me that i should understand that the waitress not at fault as it wasnt her table.

    I promptly asked for my bill and left.

    I didnt go back for a couple of years, went back earlier this year, experienced bad service again and have vowed never to return

    The pre-action protocol letter and how the whole matter was handled shows that the lack of customer service goes all the way to the top

  23. I’m not buying there. It’s a matter of how they treat their customers. I don’t expect people accustomed to bad service to get it. If I complained in the states they would probably explain then give me a free meal voucher right or wrong

  24. Look Fayola Bostic posted a Woodford bill Vernal Damion Cadogan. All the figures are quite correct. So all it is is that woman cyar count

  25. Had a horrid experience there from the first drink and I chooses not to say further or even visit there again. We need to know and understand the power of our dollar and close these places down by not patronising these establishments

  26. They darmmm right to charge people for horrible service. We have choices

  27. My business won’t be going to them

  28. Vernal Damion Cadogan where I think the logic of that way of thinking falls down is access and choice. This ain’t NY where there a million things to do for entertainment and half a million new things opening each week. We grumble, we make noise, some people actually stop going and then after some time you fold because you fed up watch Netflix and you want a night out. Now me, any business I vex with get right off. I still don’t mess with Micles cause the woman in the store didn’t let me try on a dress when I was shopping for my 5th form graduation. But from time to time I need carnival tights and only they sell the toeless ones so what to do??

  29. But from what I’ve gathered the person that posted the bill is incorrect. So people should stop patronizing an establishment because one patron cannot read a bill?! ?????

  30. No it’s actually not, but some folks do take it that way Nicole. My point is if this is really such a big deal there would naturally be a slowdown in their business.

  31. And one with rubbish food like Woodford to boot ?????

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