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Cafeteria blues

by Archives April 10, 2002

Sodexho, Sodexho, Sodexho… What are we going to do with you?
Sodexho Marriott, for those who do not know, is Concordia University’s food service provider. The cafeteria on the seventh floor of the Hall Building, the cafeteria at Loyola, all the Tim Horton locations on campus and the Dagwood’s outlet are all owned and operated by Sodexho Marriott. A pretty large contract if you ask me.
See, the problem that I have with Sodexho Marriott, is not with the way they treat the prison inmates – by the way, they own a company that operates prisons – or the fact that they are a large conglomerate. It is simply that our food sucks.
So many problems!
The problem list for Sodexho Marriott is very long. They seem to annoy and mystify consumers on a regular basis. If you’ve ever eaten at the cafeteria, you will have probably noticed that the food and service are sub-par. From the rude cashiers to the disgruntled manager that has to fill in for them once in a while, Sodexho cannot seem to score points anywhere.
If you have ever eaten at the Tim Hortons, you would have noticed that nothing tastes like Tim Hortons except for the coffee. The muffins you get on the seventh floor of the Hall Building at the caf are the same that you get at the Tim’s on the fourth floor. Talk about falsely advertising the name Tim Hortons.
If you have ever eaten at the Dagwood’s, you would have noticed that the fresh ain’t so fresh. Once you order, you have to wait a minimum of seven minutes to receive your sandwich. The service times are horrible.
If you have ever ordered a drink from the vending machines – serviced by Sodexho – you would have noticed that your loonie, or toonie was swallowed whole with nothing in exchange. If you were lucky enough for the machines to work, you just might have the wrong beverage.
Lastly, if you were one of the close to forty lucky individuals to have eaten food at the Loyola cafeteria last semester, you would have noticed that you were suffering the effects of food poisoning. (It was the chicken fajitas, I’m told.)
This whole setup makes The People’s Potato look like Baton Rouge… minus the meat.
The bottom line is that Sodexho has taken advantage of us as consumers and of the companies that they are partnered with. I used to despise every time anybody made references to Sodexho and how inhumane their subsidiary company is to the prison inmates. I used to ask myself what relevance this had with the food on our campus.
Well I finally have an answer: Sodexho must send the managers from Concordia to the prisons to receive training. Hey, if the managers poison us, who cares?
Oh, by the way, have you ever tried to complain to one of these managers? If you don’t speak French, good luck – and if you do speak French, it is like talking to a brick wall.
What this company must realize is that this: sure they have the cafeteria rights to Concordia, but it is not a monopoly. This school is not an island in the western Pacific. We are downtown and as consumers we will vote on the worthiness of Sodexho-Marriott with our feet: out the door.
Another issue I have is with the partnering companies. These companies must do a bit of mystery shopping. (That’s when people from those companies pretend to be customers to inspect quality at their own shops.) I cannot say if Sodexho-Marriott is infringing on any contract stipulations, but what I can say is that they are hurting the reputations of all the partnering companies.
Dagwood’s and Tim Hortons should open their eyes and see that partnering up with a company that ultimately does not have the same core values (i.e. staying in business to meet consumer needs) can be detrimental to the reputation of the brand.
Sodexho runs hotels? WTF???
One thing I cannot fathom is how one of the world’s most renowned hotel chains can be associated with our food services. Talk about the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.
I have only one last thing to say. Consumers, you all have a choice. Generally speaking, if a company does not make an effort to keep you as a client or if a company does not care about your well-being, you always have a choice, so exercise it.

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