Patra's Other Place

I started out with Patra's Place, primarily dedicated to my linen collection and stitching projects. But I kept getting side-tracked, so I decided to create Patra's Other Place for anything not related to embroidery topics. So you now have a choice. If you are interested in me, read this. If you only want to see my linen and stitching, visit Patra's (original) Place! (Please note that by clicking on any of the photos, they will be enlarged to fill your computer screen.)

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Location: Melbourne, Vic., Australia

I am married to Ken. We have no children except a cat and a collection of Australian parrots, finches, canaries and a dozen hens.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Time for a change.

I am a strong believer in supporting local small business, and for the past 29 years, I have been a regular customer at our food shops in Eltham. There were three butchers here when we first moved into this suburb, so I tried them all, and eventually stayed with one of them for about ten years, until the quality of their meats was so poor I decided it was time to move on. The shop I went to next had an excellent reputation among the locals; some of my friends have been shopping there for years, raving about the fresh fish selection as well as the meat. I started buying my weekly meat supply there about three years ago, and until recent months, had nothing to complain about. But lately...I spend on average $55 a week, which I guess isn't much compared to what somebody with four kids might spend. Still, last year it added up to about $2500. Surely that makes me a good customer?

About two months ago, I requested a pumped leg of mutton. The younger of the two butchers didn't know what I was talking about, but the older man did, and said he would see to it. (If you don't know, it is liked Corned Beef, but they use lamb instead of beef. It used to be mutton when I was a kid in the 50's, but the butcher said mutton isn't used at all now for human consumption). I collected my pumped leg the following week and was very happy with it. About a month later, I ordered another one. The next week I arrived to pick it up, but they'd forgotten to do it. I was philosophical about it, these things happen. The following week, they'd forgotten again. I wasn't so easy on them this time. "Don't you have an order book where you write things down?" "Yes". "Well? Wasn't mine written in?" "No".
I finally got it last week. When I cooked it last night, it was almost unedible. The corning process had only penetrated about an inch into the meat, instead of the whole leg, so we got plain boiled lamb for most of our dinner - utterly flavorless. Just as well we had no guests for dinner - I would have been mortified.

But this wasn't the only thing that they'd done badly by me in this shop. Two weeks ago, I bought 400g of steak, pre-sliced for stirfrying. The woman who served me asked if I wanted it tenderised and I said yes, so she went off out the back and returned with the meat all wrapped up. When I got it out of the wrapping that night to cook it, I smelt something strange, like perfume. After checking the other meat I'd bought and finding nothing wrong, I decided it must have been the plastic bag it was in, and went ahead and cooked the meat. Ken took one bite and refused to eat the rest, saying it tasted like perfume. I ate two or three pieces and couldn't bring myself to eat any more, and of course it had tainted everything, so the whole lot - vegies and all - had to go in the garbage. We ended up with baked beans on toast.

I salvaged a small section of the wasted meal and took it to the butcher the next day. He listened to my story, had a sniff of the meat and the plastic bag it had been packed in, and told me to wait. He went outside, and brought back a bottle of pink liquid. "Does it smell like that?" he asked, and I sniffed. "Yes, that's it". He laughed and said, "Well, at least you know we are clean - that's the disinfectant we use - ha ha!" I'm afraid I didn't see the funny side of it at all, and told him I didn't pay $12 to eat meat tasting like disinfectant. He didn't offer a refund, but said he would make good on my next order. On Friday, after adding up my weekly order to $67, I reminded him of the meat I'd had to throw out. "Oh well, make it $60", he said. I felt like saying "Thanks for nothing, arsehole", but I didn't. I just handed over the $60 and said to myself it was the last time I would be going there.

But then we copped the lamb last night. So I will be going back - but not to shop. I'll be taking the remains of the leg of lamb to show them, and I will be telling them why I won't be going back there. I don't like buying meat at the big supermarkets, but it looks like I am being forced to do just that now. What do you think - am I being a bit tough on this shop?


Blogger Jeanette said...

Hi Gina, Its certainly time to take your trade away from that butcher and find a new
Oh I havent heard of leg of mutton, too tooth or pumped leg since Mum used to cook it many moons ago, but must say it was very nice and tasty. Btw my daughter lived in Eltham a few years ago but not sure were she bought her meat,I lived in Viewbank and always bought mine in Warringal shopping centre..

Monday, 21 May, 2007  
Blogger Crazee4books said...

It seems that customer service is the same in many places. It doesn't exist! You'd think the smaller businesses would be falling all over themselves to do right by their regular customers to keep them coming back. And that butchers was lucky you both didn't get sick on the disinfectant. I'd have reported that incident for sure to the health authorities. Time to find another butcher indeed.
We don't eat much lamb here so I was interested to hear about your methods of cooking it.
Hope you've fully recovered from your virus Gina. It sucks getting sick, doesn't it? Cheers

Monday, 21 May, 2007  
Blogger Lee-ann said...

Gina in this day of big supermarkets I would think that the local corner butcher would be way more interested in your customer! Then what has been shown here that is for sure!

I would also this very day, yes! Taking back the lamb and asking for my money back and also the other $5.00’s they owe you on the other meat.

I believe the law is they must wrap all meets in front of you and not outback also I would tell them that if they do not refund ALL! Your monies then the health department may like to see some of their practices, I know it is harsh but think about an elderly person trying to fight that attitude they display. No you go get your money and tell them exactly why you will not return and how your words of dissatisfaction will be gladly spread around the area too.

((smiles)) ((that is what I would do!))

Monday, 21 May, 2007  
Blogger Meow said...

Hmmmm, I'd be telling this butcher where to go, I think. Too many mistakes ... not good business. Fancy laughing about disinfectant tainted meat ... that's horrible ... and then not offering a refund. Not good enough !!
There's a great butcher in Mansfield (I know it' a long way), and they do home delivery and order over the internet ... their prices are pretty high, but their meat is to-die-for (at least in my experience, and everyone else I know). They are called Nolans Butchery. Check them out on the web !!
We are lucky, we have a wonderful little local butcher just around the corner, on High Street Wantirna South. They have great meat, and reasonable prices, and would do anything for you.
Good luck, otherwise, with the butcher hunt.
Take care, Meow

Monday, 21 May, 2007  
Blogger Val said...

So, I came here via Jeanette's blog, and after reading your tale of woe with the butchers (unbelievable), I discover that YOU'RE the Gina who Lee-Ann was expecting for afternoon tea recently. And I see Meow visits here too. What a small world!

Tuesday, 22 May, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree about getting a full refund Gina. Get your butt back into that shop and tell them that you will report them if they don't refund all your money. Then tell them to enjoy the view as you walk out the door waving a $50 as that is the last view of you and your $50 they will ever have. Oh, and don't forget to tell them that word of mouth gets about very quick these days.

Who do they think they are?

You are definitely not being too rough on them. I would consider this a disrespectful act on their behalf and they need to be told.

I will gladly do it for you if you like......

I know what else I'd like to say to them!

Tuesday, 22 May, 2007  

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