“Lunch today with the family?”A text I received last week from my academic father. What to do? With exams all this week, I was going to decline a weekday restaurant meal, but the fact that I had recently neglected the “family” made me think otherwise. I wish I hadn’t.
Whereabouts for lunch, I asked. “Nando’s at 12,” came the reply. To say that this ruined my day would be an understatement. I hate Nando’s with a passion. I bit my tongue as I reluctantly dragged my feet towards Market Street.
As I slowly crept forward, I was calculating how many alcoholic beverages I was sacrificing for an overpriced, glamourised KFC. Roughly 4.6 vodka and cokes! I tried to take my mind off this factoid and started to dream about a scenario where the entire academic family somehow all cancelled at the last minute, simultaneously. That way I could run back home and recover from the post-traumatic stress of nearly being subjected to the strange ambience of a South African-meets-Portuguese environment.
To my utter dismay, everyone turned up on time. Disaster. As we entered the building I tried to avoid all eye contact with staff. The words “Have you ever been to Nando’s before, guys?” from the waiter sting my inner cochlea. I had to answer, quite truthfully: “Yes, twice unfortunately.”
My answer would have been yes regardless of whether I’d been before or not: anything to avoid the drivel about how Nandos is best-known for its wonderful, fantastical and incredulous fusion of peri-peri sauce smeared all over a fowl. I look around, as we’re being escorted to our culinary death, at all the happy, innocent and naive individuals, paying a hugely overpriced bill for nothing other than cheap, bad quality, battery farmed chicken.
Looking at the menu I truly was shaken to the core, discovering that a chicken fillet wrap with no side is £7 or that a whole chicken is £12. The service would have been farcical, if there had been any service. They don’t even put out your cutlery and serviettes!
Here is a lesson in economics: one whole chicken, cooked with a lemon and herb seasoning in Morrisons: £3. The cost of getting there (on foot or by car): 50p. Is the experience of sitting down in a horribly designed chamber and having your food brought to you for an extra £8.50?
My meal finally graces the table after a long wait – all £13.50 of it. A chicken burger and a measly side of chips, seemingly oven baked rather than freshly fried. I suffered through the experience, each bite worse than the last. At every open and close of my mandible I had horrible nightmares as to what the directors would be doing with their £11.02 profit, courtesy of yours truly. A cocktail in Monaco, a meal in London, a seminar on value for money? Most certainly not the latter.
It is not that I am opposed to businesses making money off of me; I’m not. I am a staunch capitalist. I love business and money. There is a distinction, though, between “good” profit and “bad” profit. If I make money off you by ripping you off and giving you a subpar experience, this is classed as bad profit regardless of how much money I make. The fact that you may have purchased my services makes no difference, as you realised the experience was not up to standard and thus will not be giving me money again in the long term.
To truly flourish, a company must really show value for money and excellent service – always. I feel strongly that Nandos falls short of this, by a long shot.
There are two good things about Nando’s, both of which occur at the end of your meal. The first: you have already paid for your meal at the beginning and can run out of the building quickly and discreetly. The second: you get to leave and never (hopefully) have to come back.
The views expressed in this article do not represent the views of The Saint, but an individual’s opinion.