Customer complaints

Gotta love them.

I used to get so stressed out and emotional dealing with fu$king TripAdvisor. Now our marvellous internet team deal with them. I realise that it’s part of life now. I also realised that I couldn’t continue answering every one of them.

So, what we do is basically any review that we get 3 blobs or below, we invite the author to email us with more details. Then sometimes we get comments written when people are in the business. Surely if you, the customer, has an issue, you would tell someone about it; whatever ‘it’ is. Not go home and write all about your issue? Sadly, it’s too easy to moan on the internet. People cannot be arsed getting up off their seat and telling us they don’t like the tea. Their lentil soup is too salty or their food isn’t hot enough.

A few months ago we had a complete belter. Here it is:

Personally, Kilted Yoga, it’s agreed by my girlfriends, is very acceptable viewing. Oh, the positions they get into and yet, not a thread out of place!

So, this week, a guy had the decency to write an email to us, telling us why he gave us a basically shit review. No comments, just a shit score.

I took a great deal of pleasure answering it. I also took a great deal of care.

His email:


You asked for me to email you regarding my comments.

I’ve spent the last 40 years working all over scotland as a service engineer. I’ve traveled and used many many petrol stations and road side shops….

But the green welly takes top place at where me and many of my fellow engineers avoid like the plague…

The cost of the prepared sandwiches in the petrol station shop outstrip every other shop along the edinburgh route to Oban/fort william.

Being an Edinburgh native I’m used to the inflated prices, but once again I’ve had a good few shocks at your pricing of tourist trinkets…

If it was that thought this then I would bow to it, but trust me it is a place to avoid at all costs..

Even buying fuel there, is only enough to get us to the next station…

Your only redeeming part, is the cafe, but it would be nice to see it open earlier for business travellers.”

Woop-dee-doo…. I’ve left his typos in just for you, my reader.

Dear *****,

Thank you very much for providing more details regarding your recent review on our Family Business.

I am so disappointed that you say our sandwiches are more expensive than every other shop on the route from Edinburgh to Oban / Fort William. I realise that anything I write won’t change your opinion on the subject, and we do a great deal of homework looking at prices of pretty much everything sold in our business, most certainly including sandwiches.

All our foods with our labels attached are made on the premises. We buy in part cooked breads, morning rolls and speciality sandwich bread (especially for producing our own sandwiches). Everything else is made by us, including all the baking, meals, soups, salads etc. This way we are able to control the quality of the goods. Not many places such as ours actually produce them on the premises. We take pride in using the best possible ingredients that are available to us, and, as you will be well aware, ingredient costs are on the increase. (I won’t go into the current politics going on in the UK at the moment!).

The challenge we face as an independent family business in Tyndrum, are product and delivery costs. This, combined with business rates, and other huge overheads have always been a challenge. There are some businesses in the glen that don’t have to pay business rates as their businesses are much smaller. Into the bargain, we are the ones that have to fork out the big bucks. We currently employ 90 staff. When you visit, and see the team members on the ‘shop floor’, consider we have the same amount of  back-of-house  team members preparing all the food. As an engineer, you can do the maths! This year we adopted the ‘real living wage’, after all, our hard working team deserve it.

Yes, there are some gifts and tourist trinkets that may be more expensive than your average small craft shop, and other goods that may be more expensive, however, we have to be able to meet our overhead expenses and wage bill every week. We also plough any profit we have back into the business. Some of these may be ‘unseen’ by the public, and not readily recognisable, for example our recently renovated toilets (which are free for the public to use, whether they buy anything or not. That’s a lot of bog roll!) A recent addition to our services being our 24hr laundry facilities. The council increased our rates for that one too! As you can imagine, we were just thrilled with that.

As a service engineer, you can maybe understand just how many pieces of machinery and equipment we have to maintain. From catering equipment, plumbing, gas, fuel, petrol pumps, wood-chip boiler, dishwashers, coffee machines…to mention just a few. Our annual bills for service engineers and their various services, would probably make your nose bleed!

The fuel price is a simple explanation that you are probably not aware of. All fuel stations west and north west of Tyndrum receive subsidised fuel and this has been going on for a good few years now. Into the bargain, the price north of us will reflect a 5p difference per litre. A 5p per litre subsidy on a tanker of fuel that delivers 36,000 litres at a time is a surprising amount of money. We follow Gulf’s guidelines for fuel prices and this is yet another area we have to keep as ‘tight’ as possible. There’s a tiny, tiny amount of profit in fuel. When my late father was alive, his last ‘business rant’ was still about buying a tanker and doing our own deliveries! So, I don’t blame you in the slightest for carrying on up the glen if you are wanting fuel 5p per litre cheaper! We did try very hard to be included in the subsidies, however, being 500m from Argyll and 1 mile from Highland boundaries didn’t work. We did try though!

Our café, The Snack Stop opens at 7am during the season from April-ish, depending on when Easter falls, and the main restaurant at 8:30am. Again, it’s the balance of having our team on duty and the business open at the best times. Opening any earlier would not be feasible. We just don’t have enough staff to be able to stretch to that, even with 90 of them. Staffing all over Scotland is proving to be a huge challenge this year, more so than others.

We are also one of the few businesses that operates throughout the winter months. So many smaller operators north of Tyndrum, close down. We maintain approximately 60 staff through the winter months so we can provide the service to all travellers, all year round. That’s a big commitment too.

I hope that this perhaps explains one or two things you might not have been aware of. I would be delighted to talk to you the next time you are passing. I would also love to show you behind the scenes so you can get a full picture of the scale of our family business.

We take constructive feedback very seriously, and like to learn from it. I appreciate the time you took to write your email to us.


I didn’t sign off “love and hugs”. I’ll let you know if he replies!





4 comments on “Customer complaints”

  1. Kenny W fi Fife. says:

    Ffs …. remind me never to email you … lol xxx

  2. Stuart Lothian says:

    You should write a book….

  3. Big Err says:

    You’ve got to love simplicity. It’s easy to complain when you’re unaware of how and why things operate the way they do.

    If your customers are balking at your fuel prices, send them to Moto Services at Jct 6 of the M90! I like to think of them as a time portal where you can see how much petrol will coat 15 years into the future.

    Keep up the good work!

  4. Stephen Cowie says:

    I must have sleeping when the gasket blew on that one but I don’t know how I managed to sleep through it.
    Don’t you just love the public though. Think they’re accountants that know the cost of everything and the value of nothing. It’s the added value of the service you provide at that location. It’s part of the reason I always make a point of calling in on way by. But that’s too hard to work out for a lot of people. Anyway, keep it up. I know how hard you and your staff work.

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