Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Another Perth restaurant with attitude

I find that the sort of bad service described below is actually rather common in fancy restaurants everywhere.  The staff are too often up themselves.  But it seems to be particularly bad in Perth. 

I eat out frequently and have long done so.  But these days I eat almost exclusively  at ethnic restaurants, where both the service and the food are almost invariably good. 

I ordered Peking Duck at a local Chinese restaurant last week and the duck was being carved in front of us within 15 minutes.  It was perfectly done too.  In my experience, you can't beat Chinese restaurants for service.  It's always been a mystery to me why other restaurants can't seem to emulate them.

Hint:  Avoid like the plague any restaurant that advertises "innovative" cuisine. The egos you are likely to find there will be elephantine and the food will likely be small serves on large plates

The debate over customer service in Perth has been renewed after a disgruntled customer posted his email chain with a restaurant owner online.

Hadyn Green, a retired police superintendent, was disappointed after waiting more than an hour without receiving his meal or an apology at Northbridge restaurant Positano, but was more shocked with the response from its managing director when he complained via email.

Instead of receiving an apology, Mr Green was told "If you wanted fast food you should have gone to McDonald's" and "I don't need you or want you to come back".

When Mr Green said he would post the email chain on Facebook and restaurant review website Urbanspoon, the response from Positano was: "It's only miserable people like yourself who write pathetic reviews. Get a life mate and if it makes you feel better to write a review then go right ahead... Your threats don't worry me at all. If you think you are smarter then me why don't you come and try to run my restaurant".

Mr Green isn't alone in expressing his distaste on Urbanspoon; of 78 reviews listed for the restaurant, 38 were negative and Positano has just a 51 per cent approval rating.

However, Positano managing director Anthony Brekalo called the complaint "ridiculous" and said it was rare they received a complaint.

"He's misunderstood what I've said to him," said Mr Brekalo.  "He's taken this too far, he's come in at 8 o'clock on a busy night and expected to sit down, get his main and get out by 9 o'clock."

Mr Brekalo admitted he had regrets about his emails since they had been posted online, but stood by what he said.  "I didn't think the guy would be as spiteful as that," he said.  "I tried to be nice to him at the beginning, but I don't want customers like that."

"That happens quite a bit, people will say things, they'll find a long black hair in their food and my chefs don't have long hair, they've all got short hair," he said.

He believed the incident was representative of a trend in people expecting too much from restaurants.

"Customer service to me: we're in the business to make money, we're not there just to be a convenience to people who want to eat out," Mr Brekalo said.  "We're also trying to make a living, it's not a Hollywood lifestyle.


Google claims victory in court battle with Australian watchdog

This was a stupid prosecution from the beginning that has cost the Australian taxpayer a lot of money for no apparent reason.  But the ACCC is something of a bully organization.  Most  businesses settle with them rather that wear the expense of court proceedings.  Getting into the High Court was no strain on Google's funds, however

Internet search giant Google has won its legal battle with the consumer watchdog, after the High Court overturned a ruling that the company had engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission had taken legal action against Google over sponsored links its search engine delivered in response to searches for particular companies. The sponsored links took the user to the websites of rival companies.

The full court of the Federal Court found Google had engaged misleading and deceptive conduct by publishing these links.

Google appealed to the High Court which today unanimously found in its favour.

The High Court found that Google did not create the sponsored links and ordinary reasonable users of Google would have understood that the sponsored links conveyed the representation of advertisers, and Google's conduct was not misleading or deceptive.

John Swinson, technology partner with law firm King & Wood Mallesons, said the 5-0 judgment in Google’s favour, after it had previously lost 3-0 on an earlier appeal, would be welcomed by tech companies as it limits their liability for actions by users of their technology.


Strict new hygiene rules for childcare will wrap kids in a bubble, says AMA

KIDS will be banned from blowing out candles on communal birthday cakes, under strict new hygiene rules for childcare.  But doctors warn the latest National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines go too far in "bubble-wrapping" children.

The NHMRC is urging childcare centres to stand up to parents who insist on sending a sick child to daycare - even if they have a medical certificate.

And daycare staff will now have to wash toys, doorknobs, floors and cushion covers every day.

The new guidelines state that kids who want to blow out a candle on their birthday should bring their very own cupcake - to avoid blowing germs all over a shared cake.

"Children love to blow out their candles while their friends are singing 'Happy birthday'," the document says.

"To prevent the spread of germs when the child blows out the candles, parents should either provide a separate cupcake, with a candle if they wish, for the birthday child and (either) enough cupcakes for all the other children ... (or) a large cake that can be cut and shared."

The NHMRC says children who play in the sandpit must wash their hands with alcohol sanitiser before and afterwards.

But the Australian Medical Association warned the clean-freak regulations place "kids in a bubble".

"If somebody sneezes on a cake, I probably don't want to eat it either - but if you're blowing out candles, how many organisms are transferred to a communal cake, for goodness' sake?" AMA president Steve Hambleton told News Ltd.

He also criticised the rule requiring children to wash their hands before and after playing in a sandpit.  "Just wash your hands before you eat," he said.

"It's normal and healthy to be exposed to a certain amount of environmental antigens that build up our immune systems.  "If you live in a plastic bubble you're going to get infections (later in life) that you can't handle."

The NHMRC document sets out the "exclusion periods" for sick children to stay home, depending on the illness.  It states that centres "will not be influenced by letters from doctors stating that the child can return to care".

"Parents may find an exclusion ruling difficult, and some parents may put pressure on educators to vary the exclusion rules," it says.  "These parents are often under pressure themselves to fulfil work, study or other family commitments."

The NHMRC says the best way to "avoid stress and conflict between parents and educators" is to have a written policy setting out when children must stay home.

But Dr Hambelton said a child's GP was in the best position to clear a child for daycare.

"You don't want to put kids into childcare with infectious diseases but at times you find a child has a post-viral cough that is not infectious, and I'm very happy to certify they can go to school," he said.

Australian Childcare Alliance president Gwynn Bridge yesterday said she was certain that parents did not disinfect the door handles at home every day, as the new rules will require of centres.

"We want children to be healthy but world research is now saying a little bit of dirt is healthy," she said.

Health Minister Tanya Plibersek, who launched the guidelines yesterday, said the advice was "if you're sick you should stay home".


These corals would find global warming a snack

Hoagy and his friends screech about a 2 degree temperature rise killing off Australia's coral reefs.  In the Persian gulf, however an extra 8 degrees doesn't bother corals. And the Warmists below admit their confusion

We tend to associate coral reefs with tropical seas of around 28 degrees, where even slight warming can have devastating effects on corals. But in the Arabian/Persian Gulf, corals survive seawater temperatures of up to 36 degrees Celsius every summer, heat levels that would kill corals elsewhere.

In their study, the NOCS team worked closely with NYUAD researchers to select and characterise model corals from the Arabian/Persian Gulf, which will facilitate future molecular-scale investigations into why they can tolerate heat stress.

“We have established successful laboratory cultures of Gulf corals,” said Dr Jörg Wiedenmann, Head of the Coral Reef Laboratory and Senior Lecturer at University of Southampton Ocean and Earth Science, both of which are based at NOCS. “This will greatly accelerate the progress of unravelling the mechanisms that underlie their surprising heat resistance.”

Reefs are made up of many species of coral, each of which have a mutually beneficial, or “symbiotic”, relationship with algae living in their tissue. These algae supply vital nutrition to the host but are sensitive to environmental changes including increases in seawater temperature.

Even a temperature rise of just one degree Celsius can harm the symbiotic algae, which in turn can increase mortality in corals. The associated loss of symbiotic algae is known as “coral bleaching” because the white skeletons of the corals become visible through the tissue depleted from the algal pigments.

“In Gulf corals, both the coral host and the associated algal partners need to withstand the high seawater temperatures,” said Dr Wiedenmann who led the study.

But the scientists were surprised to discover that the algae in Gulf corals belong to a group not known for its thermal tolerance.

“We see that the algae are indeed special but in a way that we did not expect,” said Dr Wiedenmann. “The algae that we found in most of the corals in Abu Dhabi reefs were previously described as a ‘generalist strain’ that is usually not found in corals exposed to high levels of heat stress.”

“The system seems to be more complex than it is commonly thought but now we are in an excellent position to tackle these important questions.”

The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) has recently granted funding to Dr Wiedenmann and the Coral Reef Laboratory, so that the team can do just that. The researchers will build on their previous findings and use their model corals to investigate the molecular mechanisms that allow corals to thrive at extreme temperatures.


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