I hate being ripped off, and it’s not so much the waste of money that gets me, it’s my meek acceptance of it. I get really annoyed with myself for not complaining vociferously enough when I feel that I’ve been had. I simply pay the bill and vow never to go back, but really I should be protesting against this tendency we have here in KZN for fly-by-night, get-rich-quick (namby-pamby, wishy-washy, hoity-toity!) rip-off artists. For Peter’s birthday a few months ago we decided to treat ourselves to lunch at Old Halliwell’s “new” restaurant, called Lemon & Lavender. A write up in the local rag claimed it had a new chef and new menu, and on their website it was further claimed that “the food is honest, wholesome country cuisine with a generous dollop of passion in every dish”. What bloody pretentious crap and, with hindsight, that should have put us off straight away! The alarm bells should also have started ringing when we walked into an empty restaurant and looked at the so-called new menu, which was more-or-less as we remembered it from several years ago. This is when I want to kick myself because we should’ve listened to our gut feelings and left then and there. Anyhow, we stayed; Peter ordered fish and chips and I ordered a fancy sounding south-east Indian vegetarian curry. Peter’s fish was smothered in a thick casing of burnt batter, which he had to remove before he could eat the fish, and the chips reeked of old oil. My curry was disgusting. Huge chunks of uncooked carrot and broccoli in a sauce that tasted of burnt curry powder. Obviously, the kitchen had tried to rustle it up while we were waiting. I took a few mouthfuls and gave up. Why did I not send it back, why did I not complain? Instead we paid the bill and left, muttering that we would never go back.
Apart from cruddy restaurants and cafés popping up all over the place to make a quick buck, there has also been a profusion of spas opening in the area. I’ve been to the following: Brookdale Health Hydro, Granny Mouse Spa, Fordoun Spa, Indigo Fields and, earlier this week, Woodridge Spa. Usually I’ve gone with friends and we’ve made a morning or afternoon of it, enjoying a bit of pampering as well as a meal. Brookdale Health Hydro has been around the longest, since 1992, and I would rate it as the best. You pay a bit more but the facilities are really nice and the therapists are well-trained and take pride in what they do. In my opinion, Granny Mouse Spa comes second. It is more reasonably priced than Brookdale and the treatments we had there were good. The rest of the spas just don’t come up to scratch. I won’t go back to Fordoun even though the spa facilities are lovely, which is unfortunate because it’s the one closest to where I stay. I’ve had good treatments at Fordoun but I’ve also had one too many shabby treatments, as have some of my friends, and the conclusion I’ve drawn is that some of the staff are not very professional. Indigo Fields is in a lovely location but my experience there was disappointing. Judy, Nicky and I booked to spend a morning at Indigo Fields in December. It turned out to be an extremely cold and wet day and we had to endure a trip in an open Land Rover to and from our massages, which took place in a rather draughty boma. Not very conducive to relaxation, but I will admit that the brunch afterwards was yummy. However, this was by no means the worst; we still had to experience Woodridge.
On Sunday, Peter’s sister, Sue, and her husband, Corrie, and their son and his girlfriend visited us for a lunchtime braai. They insisted on bringing the meat and Corrie and Mark, Peter’s nephew, cooked up a storm. The food just kept on coming. I ate more meat in one meal than I normally do in a week and it was all delicious, including the raw jalapeño chillies that we were eating with the boerewors. Not only did I totally overeat but I also overindulged in wine. Needless to say, I woke up on Monday feeling extremely vrot (rotten). I decided that what I needed was a facial as most of the toxins coursing through my body seemed to be congregating in my sinuses and under my eyes. I persuaded Peter to come with me and have a massage. The only place that we could get a booking was Woodridge Spa (hmm, ignoring those alarm bells again). We were not greeted when we arrived and the staff looked more like cleaners than therapists (alarm bells going ballistic). So why didn’t we just turn around and go home? My facial was terrible, the person doing it was quite clearly untrained and simply going through the motions. She stopped after 45 minutes (it was supposed to be an hour) and I was relieved. Peter said the same about his massage. There was no effort, no communication, as if they couldn’t wait for us to leave. And they had the gall to charge professional rates. It was a total rip-off and how places like that can get away with calling themselves a spa, I do not know. But apart from muttering under my breath about the facial not being very good and not being an hour long, I DID NOT COMPLAIN. We paid and vowed never to return.
So, I’ve decided to turn over a new leaf, no more fannying about. Firstly, I’m going to trust my instincts by acknowledging any gut feelings that something is not quite as it should be and I am going to act on them, no matter who I offend. I am no longer prepared to give new places the benefit of the doubt. Secondly, I’m going to start complaining whenever I feel that I’m being ripped-off. The more we put up with crap, the more we get it; that’s my new motto. And thirdly, perhaps less wine!