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Customer Service Advice in the Hookah Industry

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Hello, all.

I am an experienced hookah "barista" (shisha-rista?... Is there a terminology? Haha.), with working in the field for almost six years now and have been smoking for almost nine years. I still have troubles with explaining to my customers that I cannot continue to give them coals when I know their bowls are dead - mind you, some will try a smoke a single bowl (with a phunnel/funnel) for nearly three hours. I explain to them that there is no tobacco left to smoke and that it is not good for them nor for our equipment. The usual response is, "Well, it's already unhealthy for me so it doesn't matter.".... I don't continue to give them coals but am looking for a way to POLITELY explain to them the negative effects and how I am doing my job by trying to provide them with the best smoking experience (despite the fact that, yes, smoking isn't good for you, duh). 

Any advice would be much appreciated. Thank you.

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There's a lot going on here. A lot to consider. 

Getting straight to the answer you are looking for, I would explain that "The coals are merely the heat source necessary for enjoying the actual consumable product; the tobacco. Your tobacco has been completely consumed and as such, it is against company policy to continue to provide coals to heat a tobacco product that is no longer viable". 

Digging deeper into this: claiming that this is company policy is likely untrue, unless you make the company policy. If this were already company policy, you wouldn't be looking for advice. 

You could get yourself into trouble by enforcing company policies that don't exist. 

I would discuss this issue directly with your manager or boss to try to work out a solution that they are comfortable with. 

I wouldn't argue that smoking a dead bowl is unhealthy because that's the customer's choice. They already paid good money to do something unhealthy. 

I wouldn't argue that it harms the equipment because that sounds as untrue as the company policy we made up earlier and much easier to dispute. Unless you can tell me how smoking a dead bowl actually harms the equipment. 

Now, 3 hours doesn't seem like a big deal to me. I routinely go 4-6 on a large Egyptian bowl myself. I will get to the point where the flavor is gone for the most part but still producing smooth smoke. I do understand that my bowl at home with me managing heat and mostly smoking alone is going to out last a bowl at a lounge with several friends sharing a hookah being heat managed by a (probably) inexperienced hookah lounge patron. Possibly with quick lights. 

With all that being said, a bowl that is still producing smooth smoke but with diminished flavor may still be enjoyable to your customers. It's not fair for you to say that you don't like the way they are enjoying the hookah they paid for so they have to stop or buy another. 

I can't imagine they are still asking for coals to put on a burning bowl or one that is smoking harshly. I would put a stop to that right away. 

How is the pricing set up at your lounge? Do you offer bowl refills? 

I would consider changing the pricing to include a 3 hour hookah rental. That way after 3 hours they are done regardless of the condition of the bowl.


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So you say you put tobacco in a barista machine and squeeze water through. That's a wonderful job just sounds like that to me woow :)

Wonderful that you just don't give these next coals my way would be just giving xD

Edited by Dominik

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