On New Year ’s Eve my friend and I decided to ring in the New Year at XL Nightclub. We both purchased VIP tickets and made our way to the club prior to midnight. I had journeyed from New Haven, CT to experience the nightclub for the first time and he made his way from Brooklyn.
While I was at Grand Central Station, I rang the club to find out what to expect once I arrived. The response I received set the tone for everything that was to happen that night. When I informed the contact at the other end of the phone that I had bought a VIP ticket and wanted to know if I had to wait in line, I was essentially told that I would find out what to do when I got there.
Upon arrival, I was ushered inside and asked for my ticket. I advised the representative that the link that was texted to my phone was broken. There was no apology. This had caused me some trouble when trying to access 42nd street which was mostly cordoned off because of the ball drop. I was asked to see customer service to obtain a band and then allowed inside. I found my friend waiting for me by the entrance but was as clueless as he was on where to go, where to check my coat and very unimpressed by the treatment I had received so far.
I went downstairs and paid $6 to check my coat. My friend, Kenny, advised me that this was what he was advised by the person at the VIP coat check area upstairs. I found this quite peculiar but decided not to argue because I was frankly exhausted after my travels. We went back upstairs to the buffet area to get some food to nibble on. I could sense Kenny was slightly irritated but I didn’t really understand why until the next set of events unfolded. I beckoned one of the staff members over and asked him about the free bottle of champagne I was to receive. He asked me if I had a table and I advised him that I had just arrived. Kenny had been at the club about 30 minutes to an hour before me and was not seated at a table. The attendant, who was dressed in a grayish-looking suit with what appeared to be a white trim, said that we could stand by the bar or sit in a corner area of the club and he would bring over a bottle of champagne. I was totally against standing by the bar and so I told him we would get seated in one of the corners. He brought over the bottle of champagne. Before he left, I asked him if he was going to bring over another bottle of champagne for Kenny. He said it was only one bottle per table. I found this confusing. I advised him Kenny had also paid for a VIP ticket and should also be entitled to a bottle of champagne. He, Kenny and I spent a good 5 minutes arguing over the logistics of how this process worked. Kenny and I honestly felt we were being duped…and disrespected because of the manner in which we were being spoken to. He was downright rude. At this point, we were not being treated like VIPs but like hoodlums who had crashed an upscale party. We asked for the general manager and were told he was busy. I insisted he get the general manager so we could put this issue to bed.
When the general manager arrived, we explained that we had both bought VIP tickets and didn’t understand the concept of sharing a bottle of champagne. I asked him if Kenny were a total stranger if I was still expected to share the bottle of champagne with him. He said yes. At this point, I was totally perplexed. Mid-conversation, the attendant and the general manager turned their backs on us and walked away. The attendant took the bottle of champagne with him. I thought that we were on an episode of Punk’d with Ashton Kutcher. I asked the attendant what happened to our bottle of champagne and he had the wait staff return it to our area. We were virtually ignored for the rest of the night. Kenny also advised me that the general manager uttered something to the effect of him forgetting about his f&^*ing bottle of champagne.
I decided to put my rational hat on and speak with the couple seated next to us. She was a fabulous Latina who suggested I speak with her friend, David Lopez, who is the general manager of The Out – an ultra chic hotel within the same building. David confirmed what XL’s nightclub manager and the attendant had told us. It was supposed to be one bottle per table. I told him that this was a rather confusing promotion and he did not disagree. Then, David did something that totally resolved the entire matter for me. He noted that he had VIPs at his table who had all paid for their tickets and were all sharing his bottle of champagne. Apart from that, David was courteous, an effective listener and truly a class act. He exemplifies everything a small to medium business owner/manager should be. I explained what I had learned to Kenny and this calmed him down somewhat. David even offered to try and get us another bottle of champagne for all the aggravation we had been through.
I think XL nightclub’s staff is in desperate need of customer service training. Kenny and I could have chosen to patronize any business that night. We certainly do not lack the means. We selected this nightclub and are ever so regretful that we did. Needless to say, we will never patronize this establishment again. We would, however, visit The Out, where Mr. Lopez seems to have a handle on what superior customer service is. XL Nightclub’s staff needs to understand the meaning of the word VIP and recognize that they do not get to select which paying VIP customers get treated like one based on their impressions. Not surprisingly, an email that was forwarded to managing partner, Mr. Brian Voss, has gone without a response for over a week, leaving me with the impression that he is about as concerned with our experience as his staff was.