My wife and I had a four hour drive, including driving east along the M27. At 19.30ish, we stopped at Rownham Services, as this was roughly halfway on our journey. I cannot believe how bad the ‘experience’ was….
- The only facilities open eastbound were the retail shop and Costa. So no hot meals, and a decidedly thin stock level in Costa’s display cabinet.
- The server behind the counter explained that the cafeteria and a McDonalds were open on the other side of the motorway. I can only assume the manner in which she told us this was due to having to say it hundreds of previous customers, as she was clearly depressed.
- Services operators know that speed is an order winner in their business. Customers stop and pay premium prices because it is quick and easy. Trekking through a filthy pedestrian underpass to the other side of the M27 is not quick.
- Surprise, surprise. – the westbound complex was heaving with customers. Not really surprising since it was serving eastbound ones too. Forget McDonalds – at least 40 people queuing there.
- No queue at the cafeteria, but soon found out why… Fish and chips? “It’s off”. Chilli con crane? “It’s off”. Chicken tikka Marsala? “It’s off”.
It is at this point we leave and head for an operator not stuck in the 1970s.