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Old 06.12.2015, 20:57
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Swiss bar staff awareness when serving drinks...

Haven't made a light-hearted complaint thread in a while, and while I love this country to the nth degree, in my years here one of my wee gripes has always been...bar staff.

For some reason, many Swiss bar staff completely lack the ability to keep an eye on who has been waiting at the bar and making a mental queue of who to serve next. It's like, despite their eyes flickering across you multiple times as they make their drinks during the 10 minutes you have been waiting to be served, they have just really only seen you for the first time, and ask "Who is next?" while looking at everyone. This inevitably results in some plonk or plonkette who know full well that they have just got to the bar ordering their drinks before everyone else.

This is such a basic skill for any bar man or woman, and I am so used to it in the UK (or UK pubs in CH) that I find it absolutely baffling that it seems to be such a problem in Switzerland. Add to this a trend for staff to look flustered and service to massively degrade in a bar that is only half or less full, and after a while it genuinely becomes an annoyance.

Anyone else experienced this in Swiss bars, or is it only Zürich that has this problem?
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Old 06.12.2015, 21:03
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Re: Swiss bar staff awareness when serving drinks...

You are suffering from the WASP queue gene. In Switzerland the rule is not survival of the politest, but rather survival of the line jumper. The bar staff are just watching to see who is the Alpha animal.


Yes, it annoys me also.
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Old 06.12.2015, 21:09
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Re: Swiss bar staff awareness when serving drinks...

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You are suffering from the WASP queue gene. In Switzerland the rule is not survival of the politest, but rather survival of the line jumper. The bar staff are just watching to see who is the Alpha animal.


Yes, it annoys me also.
There's a sense of fair play in the U.K. that doesn't exist here. It's the same with serving drinks and getting served.

It's the same when queuing.

Before the Swiss on this forum jump down my throat (again), I ought to add that it's a culture thing and nothing malicious.
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Old 06.12.2015, 21:14
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Re: Swiss bar staff awareness when serving drinks...

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There's a sense of fair play in the U.K. that doesn't exist here. It's the same with serving drinks and getting served.

It's the same when queuing.

Before the Swiss on this forum jump down my throat (again), I ought to add that it's a culture thing and nothing malicious.
This is true. It used to annoy me more than it does now. One gets used to anything....

Having said that, I still cannot bring myself to do it. I'm integrated to a point, but not to THAT point...
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Old 06.12.2015, 21:18
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Re: Swiss bar staff awareness when serving drinks...

I had trouble getting a drink once in the US, therefore CH isn't any worse than anywhere else.

Besides, you probably gave off a condescending air and didn't treat your server as an equal.

They probably heard you speak English too. Why don't you integrate?

Lastly, if it is so bad, why don't you go home to your terrible country and complain about it there!




Beat you to it, all you STTS!
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Old 06.12.2015, 21:18
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Re: Swiss bar staff awareness when serving drinks...

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There's a sense of fair play in the U.K. that doesn't exist here.
Do you know what Tom, that sentence sums it up perfectly and eloquently and applies to pretty much all complaints of this nature. In the UK/US we (for the most part) have a culturally ingrained sense of politeness and fair play which we just take for granted, and we automatically weigh it into our decision making at any given point or normal everyday situation. While the Swiss are in general very polite and decent people, that sense of fairness and social etiquette doesn't seem to exist for the more trivial aspects of daily life like queueing and serving.
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Old 06.12.2015, 21:24
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Re: Swiss bar staff awareness when serving drinks...

I don't line-jump, but after having this happen a couple of times I learned to stand my ground - because otherwise you'll stand there all day. Also, it shocks the heck out of the line-jumper.

I see this behavior at the supermarket too. Most recently some lady was trying to get the butcher to serve her first, and I stepped in front and said, "Nein. Bitte, Ich war hier zuerst." (No. Please, I was here first).

That's probably horrible German and even more horrible Swiss etiquette, but it gets the point across. Never had anyone insist they were first after saying that.
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Old 06.12.2015, 21:35
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Re: Swiss bar staff awareness when serving drinks...

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I don't line-jump, but after having this happen a couple of times I learned to stand my ground - because otherwise you'll stand there all day. Also, it shocks the heck out of the line-jumper.

I see this behavior at the supermarket too. Most recently some lady was trying to get the butcher to serve her first, and I stepped in front and said, "Nein. Bitte, Ich war hier zuerst." (No. Please, I was here first).

That's probably horrible German and even more horrible Swiss etiquette, but it gets the point across. Never had anyone insist they were first after saying that.
Yeah I love that too. Yesterday we were queueing for a gluhwein, there was an obvious line of people leading tot he stall and someone walked to the front before hearing a comment and turning around, looking shocked, and asking "Oh, is this the queue?". You have to laugh.

Last edited by Richdog; 06.12.2015 at 21:57.
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Old 06.12.2015, 21:40
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Re: Swiss bar staff awareness when serving drinks...

You're not Vadar are you

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Old 06.12.2015, 21:48
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Re: Swiss bar staff awareness when serving drinks...

It was not always like this *sigh*
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Old 06.12.2015, 21:54
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Re: Swiss bar staff awareness when serving drinks...

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There's a sense of fair play in the U.K. that doesn't exist here. It's the same with serving drinks and getting served.

It's the same when queuing.

Before the Swiss on this forum jump down my throat (again), I ought to add that it's a culture thing and nothing malicious.
Agreed- queuing is so so British, and not French, not Swiss, not Italian- not European (Tom, I certainly can't remember ever jumping down your throat, have I?) - having lived in England all my adult life, I am very happy to say British waiters are generally much better- and I love the fairness of the 'queuing' system- be it in shops, or in a bar or at the bus stop.
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Old 06.12.2015, 21:55
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Re: Swiss bar staff awareness when serving drinks...

Have to find ways to gain their attention then.

Varies depending on establishments, but often it is not the bartender's main responsibility to pay attention to who is next in line. Of course a brilliant bartender will try to pay attention, but then even the most attentive one will struggle if it is a large crowd.

The basic tasks of bartenders are usually:

Giving customers the highest standard of service
Serving the highest quality drinks to each customer
Ensuring the bar top is kept clean and dry at all times

And those three are hard enough on most nights.


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Haven't made a light-hearted complaint thread in a while, and while I love this country to the nth degree, in my years here one of my wee gripes has always been...bar staff.

For some reason, many Swiss bar staff completely lack the ability to keep an eye on who has been waiting at the bar and making a mental queue of who to serve next. It's like, despite their eyes flickering across you multiple times as they make their drinks during the 10 minutes you have been waiting to be served, they have just really only seen you for the first time, and ask "Who is next?" while looking at everyone. This inevitably results in some plonk or plonkette who know full well that they have just got to the bar ordering their drinks before everyone else.

This is such a basic skill for any bar man or woman, and I am so used to it in the UK (or UK pubs in CH) that I find it absolutely baffling that it seems to be such a problem in Switzerland. Add to this a trend for staff to look flustered and service to massively degrade in a bar that is only half or less full, and after a while it genuinely becomes an annoyance.

Anyone else experienced this in Swiss bars, or is it only Zürich that has this problem?
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Old 06.12.2015, 22:00
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Re: Swiss bar staff awareness when serving drinks...

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Have to find ways to gain their attention then.

Varies depending on establishments, but often it is not the bartender's main responsibility to pay attention to who is next in line. Of course a brilliant bartender will try to pay attention, but then even the most attentive one will struggle if it is a large crowd.

The basic tasks of bartenders are usually:

Giving customers the highest standard of service
Serving the highest quality drinks to each customer
Ensuring the bar top is kept clean and dry at all times

And those three are hard enough on most nights.
Oh come on what generic fluff, it sounds like you are simply making excuses for them, I worked in a bar for a while I was in my late teens so I know what I'm talking about.

I am not talking about "struggling in a big crowd", I am talking about everday levels of service. And yes, it is their job to keep an eye on the basics like that, and you don't have to be "brilliant" to do that.
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Old 06.12.2015, 22:14
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Re: Swiss bar staff awareness when serving drinks...

haha, I also worked bars and well.. some nights are easier than others. You can only do your best. As a customer, I rarely had problems getting my drinks quickly.. maybe it's easier for women?
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Old 06.12.2015, 22:17
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Re: Swiss bar staff awareness when serving drinks...

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Have to find ways to gain their attention then.

Varies depending on establishments, but often it is not the bartender's main responsibility to pay attention to who is next in line. Of course a brilliant bartender will try to pay attention, but then even the most attentive one will struggle if it is a large crowd.

The basic tasks of bartenders are usually:

Giving customers the highest standard of service
Serving the highest quality drinks to each customer
Ensuring the bar top is kept clean and dry at all times

And those three are hard enough on most nights.
One shouldn't have to find ways to gain their attention, as you put it, imho.

Getting service when it's your turn should fall on "giving he customers the highest standard of service".

I worked in bars when I was young, and keeping an eye on who was next was something one just did. And this, brace yourself Odile, in Spain!
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Old 06.12.2015, 22:18
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Re: Swiss bar staff awareness when serving drinks...

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Have to find ways to gain their attention then.

Varies depending on establishments, but often it is not the bartender's main responsibility to pay attention to who is next in line. Of course a brilliant bartender will try to pay attention, but then even the most attentive one will struggle if it is a large crowd.

The basic tasks of bartenders are usually:

Giving customers the highest standard of service
Serving the highest quality drinks to each customer
Ensuring the bar top is kept clean and dry at all times

And those three are hard enough on most nights.
What pray tell is the "highest standard of service" then if not to tend to your customers?
A good bartender can easily make the rounds, keep track of his new clientele, anticipate needs (need another?), stock and inventory the bar, clean, and support the wait staff, and still have time to chat up the ladies at the end of the bar.
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Old 06.12.2015, 22:30
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Re: Swiss bar staff awareness when serving drinks...

The way it works in Switzerland is how it works in my home country. I never had problems with it and, to be honest, I find it a bit loserish if someone doesn't manage to order a drink
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Old 06.12.2015, 22:31
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Re: Swiss bar staff awareness when serving drinks...

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Agreed- queuing is so so British, and not French, not Swiss, not Italian- not European (Tom, I certainly can't remember ever jumping down your throat, have I?) - having lived in England all my adult life, I am very happy to say British waiters are generally much better- and I love the fairness of the 'queuing' system- be it in shops, or in a bar or at the bus stop.
As I said - I thought it was cultural (and not genetic) so if you've lived in the U.K. for most of your adult life, you're going to see things a bit differently to other people who haven't.

It's where we live and interact that shapes us and not the colour of our passports.
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Old 06.12.2015, 22:39
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Re: Swiss bar staff awareness when serving drinks...

I'm calling bull on this story.

No expat can afford to buy a drink in a Zurich bar.
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Old 06.12.2015, 22:41
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Re: Swiss bar staff awareness when serving drinks...

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I'm calling bull on this story.

No expat can afford to buy a drink in a Zurich bar.
An expat can afford to buy drinks, it just means they can't afford to eat.

Last edited by Richdog; 06.12.2015 at 22:57.
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