In Which Chapterhouse Coffee Apologizes

So two weeks ago, I had a bad customer service experience. Let’s just say customer service was a little lacking when I went to Chapterhouse Cafe & Gallery on 620 S. 9th Street. In short, I tried to buy something with my debit card (the store has a $10 minimum policy) and was refused service. I was willing to pay the minimum, but the clerk was not willing to sell for whatever reason. Well, the discussion moved on to Yelp where it sparked a fierce debate about credit/debit card minimum.

And yesterday, the co-owner of the Chapterhouse responded. Here’s what she writes:

“i am the co owner of chapterhouse and sister of the guy you are speaking of…..not sure what to say. i do not condone his behavior in anyway so i will just personally apologize for it upfront. it hurts me to read the story over and over as i have. what i can say is cc company’s charge an exorbitant amount of money to the business. we have debated (my brother and i) a lot about whether to continue taking cc. it is really tough for a small shop such as ourselves. i have really been the one that thinks we need to because we are also a gallery. anyway i feel he was taking out his frustration for me and the cc company’s on you & i am so sorry for that. he is a really good guy…i could have never started chapterhouse without him. everyone has bad days… sometimes it is hard for us to put that away before we get to work. im sure you have all been there….i love my shop and would like to stick around and beat the odds. so you can take this for what its worth…which may be nothing but i had to say it ….chapterhouse is my baby.”

And later:

“once again i am sorry for this situation. but let me reiterate…susan….he was not telling her not to waist her money on our product. we have great products and work hard to pick out only things that we are proud to sell. he was telling not to waist her money trying to get to $10. he was hoping she would avoid using cc (which would in turn avoid the fee to us) and go to a bank machine. like i said what he said and did was not even close to justified….but he was angry about the fee’s from cc companies and me for making us keep the machine…im sorry to anyone that had to experience that…..he is my brother sometime i want to kill him myself. just wanted to clarify. thanks  for caring enough to respond.”

Sigh. Here we go again.

Dear Coffeehouse peeps,

I appreciate the apology. (Luckily I happened by it, or I would’ve missed it altogether.) I swear I’m not mean spirited. I strongly and wholeheartedly support small business owners. I go out of my way to go to local shops in Philly. I could’ve walked a block to my local Starbucks or biked five blocks to my local Cosi’s. I chose not to. I chose to patronize your shop.

At the same time, I believe small businesses should respect their own rules. If, say for instance, you decide (as Franklin Fountain does), that  your business cannot afford to process credit card transactions and you’re cash-only, that’s your prerogative. Customers will learn to adapt. Perhaps. But whatever, that’s your prerogative.

You say ” i have really been the one that thinks we need to because we are also a gallery.” So if credit card transactions at your store are meant only for art purchases, perhaps you should raise the minimum. In any case, the current minimum IS $10 and it should be honored.

You also say “he was telling not to waist her money trying to get to $10. he was hoping she would avoid using cc (which would in turn avoid the fee to us) and go to a bank machine.”

Okay, so you’re a small business trying to cut costs, that’s cool. If you’re a small business trying to forcibly browbeat your customers into changing their purchasing habits, that’s not cool. Unless the clerk somehow transformed into my father, or my accountant, he should not be telling me how to spend my money. I appreciate honest advice. I really do. But I don’t need it hammered over my head. (I also do not need it screamed at me by my coffeehouse clerk.) I can calculate numbers all on my  own. (I do teach high school math, ya know.) But I am not some silly little girl who needs help deciding what to buy or not (and it’s debatable whether a man in my position would’ve gotten the same attitude from your brother).

All I can hope is that nobody else is ever treated the way I was treated at your establishment. If they aren’t, I’m satisfied. I’ve found other local places with happy (at least they fake it) employees, but I wish CH all the best.



4 responses to “In Which Chapterhouse Coffee Apologizes

  1. Pingback: I’m difficult « My Philadelphia Story

  2. and let’s remember that atm machines charge up to 3 dollars for a withdrawl – so how exactly is it more economically responible to pay that charge just to buy some coffee?

  3. That is a lovely response to the Chapter House owner. What a great way to respond to poor/rude customer service – it sure got their attention. Not to spread random negativity, but we should write up these incidents more often!

  4. True, they were in the wrong here, but this is not a common occurrence. I’ve been to Chapter House dozens of times and have always experienced really great service. Chalk it up to a bad day… they are good people trying to make an honest living… and they run one of the best cafes in the city.

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