Tuesday, 17 April 2012
The Groom Room
This blog is posted here purely for anyone living in Vancouver, BC, doing a search for The Groom Room - 3728 Oak Street, Vancouver, BC V6H 2M3 - a dog grooming salon. Anyone else might be disinterested.
DON'T GO THERE!
This is what the owner, a bitchy little man, says on his website:
goal is to see his clients leaving happy and satisfied.
Could've fooled me buddy! Read on to find out why; but at least it gave me good cause for a blog rant:
Are we really pampering our pets when we take them to a grooming salon, or are we putting them through a day of hairdressing hell?
There's a lady I know, whom, as a white man, I affectionately call my 'Chinese Mom'. This lady lives in the past; thinks of computers as what the bible calls 666, yet is always asking me to look up things on my 'machine' for her; companies with good reputations for both maintenance work on her property and reputable businesses to service items like her 1960's answering machine or a cobbler for her thirty-yr-old boots. Yes, refusing to update anything, or buy new, despite the fact she has more money than a small African country.
She calls me every other night to discuss the state of the world today; her philosophy; 'nothing's as good quality as back in the old days' - which, trust me, she's still immersed within behind the mysterious wrought iron gates that fortify both front and back entrances to her building, heavily padlocked too, her house, a veritable and well-preserved museum depicting life exactly as it was in the last century; stuffed with pristine artefacts, good as the day they were bought. Better, maybe.
Her most consistent observation is about how people aren't polite any more, that they're unprofessional, lack-lustre, self-serving, and, for the service industry, astonished that its staff just don't seem to care.
Now, of a different generation, I've always raised my eyes at that; thinking she just hasn't moved with the times; still expects everyone to smile and say 'good day', servicemen to wear peaked caps and give a cheery wave from the window of their trucks as if we were all living in a fifties utopia. But she might just have a point; may have converted me, after all, made me wish that I'd been born in a different era.
The horrendous experience I had this morning at 'The Groom Room' (or as I found out, more gloom, than groom) - a dog grooming service on Oak Street, Vancouver - left me stunned, and, as an otherwise quiet and calm person, saw me screaming like an Irish fishwife as I left the place, my blood not just proverbially boiling, my eyes popping like a futuristic gargoyle on crack, other customers needing to duck lest they got zapped by the laser cross-fire of my glare.
First, I should point out that The Groom Room's website goes to great lengths to say how professional they are, praises the owner as if he's the second coming; is comprised of self-praising comments and testimonials comprising of, in my opinion as a writer well used to deciphering such applaud, manufactured reviews, and, if not, at least purely selective; not open to receiving general comments from their customers. Now I know why. But we have social media to express ourselves, these days - platforms not just for Kamikaze Stanley Cup rioters to jump from. Yes, word of mouth, not literal anymore as might've been in latter day, but a way to share our experiences, good and bad, to get to the truth of it. And this one was so horrendous, I want to shout it from the satellite in space.
When I was told to come back five and a half hours later to pick up my dog, I expressed complete surprise at that length of time, questioned it, and was told, before the girl going into great detail as to what the procedures were for grooming a dog, that 'its not just your dog we have to groom'.
"Yes, "I said, "I do know what's involved, but I did make an appointment. Are you telling me that my dog will be locked in a cage for most of the day, waiting around at every turn for the next stage, grooming, washing, drying, whatever?"
And I'm not sure she understood English exactly, as they do state that they have an 'open room policy', but quickly, she said 'yes' to this, and obviously shocked that I was unhappy with that answer; convinced, I suppose, by her blank expression, that that's what I'd wanted to hear.
"Well that's a bit much, " I said, again, still maintaining calm; knowing how to be civilised, "what happened to my appointment, I don't want to leave him in a cage for the entire day; he's just not used to that?"
"Well, you still want us to do?" she said, obviously wanting me to say 'no' now.
"Well I'm here now, and he is overdue, so I suppose so," I said against my better judgement, "but I will have to reconsider in the future."
Then, someone, apparently, the owner, comes through from the grooming station, the guy whose managed many stores before opening his own according to the website that also claims he might just be 'best in show' himself, but in actual fact, surlier than a pit-bull with a toothache, the kind of owner you might see flouncing pretentiously through a high end hair salon, and declares that they 'don't have time to do him today', dismissing my dog with his hand as he saw to the next customer, obviously deeming me an awkward one off the bat; a cheek to have even questioned their operation.
"Well, after that... no; I don't want him to stay here now, anyway," I retorted, still, relatively calmly.
"Whatever,' he said, as I walked out the door, again with a flick of his hand.
Yes, the top-dog owner of this apparently highly acclaimed business, shouted at me more bitchily than the actual bitches running around him behind the counter, more-so than two drag queens double-booked in a sleazy night-club might have each other. And so that's when I lost it; coming back through the door to shout like the aforementioned fishwife; pointing out the actual meaning of the word 'appointment', closing with a statement that he can look forward to a 'nice testimonial' on his website - but then, of course, they don't invite honest general opinion.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," he shouted, again with a flick of his wrist, regardless that he was checking in the other victim a man in a business suit who might just have been happy to have his dog incarcerated for his working day.
And while as a business owner myself, I don't always agree that the customer is right, I damn well would never speak to, or dismiss anyone like the owner of this business did to me; a new customer, who simply, and reasonably, I feel, objected to a five and a hour so called 'appointment' to groom my mini-schnauzer, leaving him in what is tantamount to a production line, one where he wouldn't get to pee, eat, walk, nothing.
Dog business is big business, in this city and I thought it was too good to be true from such, an, apparently, highly acclaimed place; getting an appointment with only a few days notice, but if I'd known my puppy would be stuck in an assembly line for the entire day, I wouldn't have bothered booking.
So beware; find a groomer that actually works to a schedule, dedicates time to your pet - which generally should be about two and a hours to three for most small to mid-sized dogs, in my (other) experience - and not pushed and shoved around waiting for the next stage in the grooming process, oftentimes cooped up in a small kennel in a hot room and feeling abandoned.
If this is how the owner of The Groom Room treated me, I can only imagine how he'd treat my dog when I wasn't there to see. And talking of which, I wouldn't even speak to my dog, with as much disrespect as he showed to me, a paying customer.
So yes, my Chinese mom might just have a point, common courtesy and professionalism far less than pedigree these days, it seems. An extinct breed, right enough, no wonder she locks herself away from society and craves the good old days where people knew the meaning of customer service. No wonder, that she'd rather resort to using '666' than go out into the world in person.