Saturday, 28 May 2016

Squeak up!

A few years ago, I posted about the growing problem of walking into a pub, finding nobody behind the bar, and having no means of summoning any service. Sadly, this phenomenon, if anything, seems to have got worse in the intervening years. Of course I appreciate that, at times, pub staff can be struggling to do three things at once. But, whatever the pressures, leaving the bar without service for five minutes or more is rank bad practice. I have on occasions walked out of pubs because of that. Even if staff are rushed off their feet, a quick acknowledgement of your presence and saying “I’ll be with you in a minute” works wonders.

The obvious answer would be to provide a service bell, as I proposed at the time. However, in British culture, that can come across as a touch aggressive and peremptory, rather like sounding a car horn. So surely the ideal solution, as one of my twitter followers has suggested, is to have a squeaky toy rubber duck on the bar. Friendly, humorous and completely non-confrontational.


  1. I stopped going to pubs back in 2007 after changes in the law made me into an outcast, offended my sense of dignity, allowed no tolerance or respect for me as a senior citizen and basically threw me to the street. So if someone nowadays is offended nobody speaks up at the pub when they walk in the door, my offense was 100x worse - and still is.

  2. Not sure about a duck, but agree that the immediate instinct after hitting a bell is to deaden it for some reason. Equally irritating, if admittedly occasional, is standing at the bar smiling (don't say it) with money in hand and being totally ignored. Saying"can I have a beer please" sounds rude, but you'd be surprised how often staff say "Oh, I didn't know you wanted serving", and not just when the bar is full of empties either. Staff in Germany seem a lot sharper.

    1. The all-too-common situation where there are several members of staff faffing about behind the bar but none actually serving customers is a slightly different issue, of course. Only happens in chain pubs, of course, not independent ones.

  3. This is just one aspect of a problem that is endemic in the British high street - under-staffing. It is impossible to get served anywhere - shop, bank, post office, coffee shop, pub - without queuing for several minutes. Of course this is our own fault for preferring low prices to good service. And it is the reason that the high street is becoming dominated by service outlets - anything that can be done online is better done online


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