Lewisham café customer calls police 'after he was served the wrong type of tea'

Lewisham café customer calls police 'after he was served the wrong type of tea'

Police were called to a London cafe after a bizarre row broke out over a customer's cup of tea.

Sevjan Melissa, 30, who owns Birdie Num Nums in Lewisham Way, New Cross, said staff gave the customer a lemon and ginger tea instead of the lemongrass and ginger tea that he ordered.

She claims that when the man complained staff apologised and offered him a full refund but he was unsatisfied and started writing a TripAdvisor review while still in the cafe.

Ms Melissa claims that when she asked him to leave, the man then called the police.

However, the customer, Roberto Lattarulo, a 33-year-old recruitment manager for a healthcare regulator, has defended his actions, and claims he was not given a proper reason for being asked to leave.

Mr Lattarulo, who lives in Lewisham and was visiting the cafe with his girlfriend, told the Standard: "I wanted a lemongrass and ginger tea, it's not something you find commonly in cafes, so I was quite surprised, but instead I got a lemon and ginger teabag.

"If you haven't got something, you tell the customer you haven't got what they ordered and then offer them an alternative, but they just brought the wrong thing."

Mr Lattarulo claims he was shown a box labelled "lemongrass and ginger tea" - but it contained lemon and ginger teabags.

He said he was then told that the cafe was waiting for delivery of lemongrass tea, so had substituted in the meantime.

He told the Standard: "I'm a senior contributor (on TripAdvisor), I review restaurants and experiences as much as I can, and because I felt a bit puzzled by the incident, a bit silly, when clearly it was something that was her fault, I started writing a review.

"Obviously she got really p****d off, she said with a hand gesture 'I want you out of this cafe'."

Mr Lattarulo said the couple were not asked to pay for their drinks, but were told to leave immediately.

He told the Standard he felt he had not been given a proper reason for being asked to leave, and called the police to intervene.

Police said it was not a matter for them, and he and his girlfriend then went to eat at a takeaway next door.

Ms Melissa told the Standard: "I didn't throw him out, I just asked him to leave quite politely.

"He was leaving a review over a 9p teabag and I said 'I'm going to have to ask you to leave, you're not using my internet to do that.'

"I thought he was leaving but he went outside and phoned the police."

Ms Melissa said she later recounted the tale to some police officers who are regular customers, who happened to stop by shortly after Mr Lattarulo had left, and posed next to their van with the teabag.

Wrong tea: Mr Lattarulo was given lemon tea instead of lemongrass tea (Rex)

She told the Standard she thought the situation was over when the man left the cafe, but she logged on to TripAdvisor a few days later to find that he had left her a one star rating on the review site - prompting her to leave a response of her own.

In his review, Mr Lattarulo slammed the cafe's "shocking customer service and vile, awful staff."

He wrote: "Stopped for a quick tea after workout and specifically ordered Lemongrass and ginger tea, as I love lemongrass, though got served Lemon and ginger tea, and when questioned it, I was shown a box with a label 'Lemongrass and ginger tea.'

"When questioned why I was mis-sold something, the waitress said she run out of them yesterday, and I said fine, as I specifically wanted a tea with lemongrass, hence my request.

"As she saw me writing a review on TripAdvisor, she asked me to leave the premises, CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?

"Shocking customer service and vile, awful staff. I will also be reporting them to Lewisham Trading Standards for deceiving customers."

Ms Melissa told the Standard that although she doesn't normally respond to unfavourable reviews, she had to wanted to put her side of the story across.

She said: "I found it really hilarious. We've had negative TripAdvisor reviews in the past and thought 'fair enough we were in wrong' and haven't responded, but this one was so, so petty and the guy was so, so rude that I just couldn't let it go."

In her reply, she wrote: "You have left out a couple of key points. Such as the fact that we agreed we were totally at fault, you were wrongly given the tea bag and should have been informed prior to purchasing that we had made a last minute substitute.

"We apologised repeatedly and offered you a refund or exchange. Neither of which were satisfactory to you.

"My staff were polite and understanding of the distress receiving a lemon & ginger teabag instead of a lemongrass and ginger teabag caused you and it would have been nice if you were a little more understanding to what was clearly human error.

"Unfortunately, after I asked you to leave because you thought you could raise your voice and intimidate my staff. You thought I should let you use MY internet that I work 90 hours a week to pay for to let you post scathing reviews about my small independent business that I have poured my heart and soul into.

"You then took it one step further and decided it best to phone the police and report me for asking you to leave the premises?! (NO, seriously people this actually happened!)

"Obviously the police thought it was ludicrous as I did that a grown man would phone them to report being given a teabag with an incorrect ingredient in and then offered an apologetic refund, so opted not to waste their time coming out and stick to the real emergencies."

She went on to say that Mr Lattarulo was "without a exception the rudest and most exasperating customer" she had dealt with in ten years in the catering industry, and was was no longer welcome in the cafe, although his girlfriend, who apparently "looked mortified throughout the entire exchange" was "more than welcome, anytime".

However, Mr Lattarulo has in turn criticised her for "ridiculing and belittling customers" in her TripAdvisor response.

"All I wanted was a clarification and she's made a storm in a teacup.

"I'm not going to come back. I don't go to places where they enjoy belittling customers," he said.