Mind your manners, say baristas

20:10, Apr 17 2012
TAKE NOTE: Ripe coffee barista Nicholas Hollier, with a sign asking customers not to use cellphones or headphones while ordering.
TAKE NOTE: Ripe coffee barista Nicholas Hollier, with a sign asking customers not to use cellphones or headphones while ordering.

Modern technology may be moving ahead in leaps and bounds, but some say it is leaving behind common courtesy.

Some baristas and retailers are fed up with the lack of manners from customers speaking on cellphones or listening to music while placing orders and are speaking out against the trend.

In England this week a coffee trader refused to serve customers if they were talking on a cellphone and put up a sign to that effect.

In Wellington, Ripe cafe in Boulcott St also has a sign asking customers to put down their cellphones while ordering. Senior barista Tracey Austin put the sign up briefly last month and said it was intended as a gentle reminder.

"I put the sign up because I had quite a large influx of people coming in on their cellphone ordering their coffee. It's really hard to get the order correct, you're trying to provide a service and give them what they want but if you can't communicate with them it is really hard."

She said people also came in with headphones and it was difficult to know if they could hear her or not. "It does pay to speak out. They tend to just forget."


Etiquette consultant Ana Maria Moore said people were becoming desensitised to technology, but manners never went out of fashion.

Etiquette in many cafes now was to order as fast as possible and not take up too much time deciding – taking a call while ordering was not only rude to the person serving but to people waiting in line behind them as well, she said.

"It's being noticed more often these days; the service provider has to be extremely tactful in order to not upset a customer. It's a sign of modernisation and technology. They forget they are going to be in contact with another human being and they should take a break and pick it up again when they go back to the office."

Other baristas and retailers said they had encountered the issue more frequently in recent times but would never go as far as to put up a sign.

Mojo The Terrace owner Tom Williams said it was a little frustrating and an acknowledgment from the customer was all that was needed. But staff would always "take the hit" and serve them anyway.

"It already bothers a lot of us to a degree, but at the same time who knows what important phone call they may be taking at that time."

Body Shop Lambton Quay store manager Nicola Robinson said people came in texting or planning meetings on their smartphones quite regularly.

"It is a bit rude, especially when people don't look you in the eye when you're serving them. They don't look up or connect; it is a bit disheartening."

Even ruder than talking on a cellphone, though, was listening to music while being served, she said.

Memphis Belle owner Nick Clark said occasionally a customer would come in and order coffee while on the phone but he didn't see it as a problem.

John Wiggins at Victoria St Cafe said a few customers came in while on the phone, but most were regulars and staff knew their orders anyway.

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