Highland’s Coffee – No Pictures Allowed

This one surprised me today.  I was at Highlands Coffee at the Big C in the Phu Nhuan District to meet a friend this morning.  As I was about to take a picture of the coffee shop for a blog entry, one the waitresses came up to me and informed me that I could not take a picture there.

Yeah, really!!!

I thought she was joking and informed her that I have been taking pictures inside Highlands Coffee for over 4 years now.  She again told me that I could not take the picture and walked away.  She said a sign outside the coffeeshop says I cannot.

Very funny since you can find many pictures taken at Highlands Coffee online and in my blog.  My friend laughed when I told her.

Highlands Coffee may be reacting to some of the bad reviews they are getting from Expats and Vietnamese alike the last couple of months.  Some complaints include low quality coffee and bad service (Saigon Centre’s Highlands has one of the worst service in the city now.).

Anyway, my original posting for this blog focussed on the raise of prices starting September 1st.  Highlands Coffee stated that to keep the current high level of quality for their customers, they needed to raise the prices.  Trung Nguyen Coffee used the same excuse 3-4 years ago and looked what happened to them…

Anyway, my review of this particular coffeeshop was that it was a good central location to meet up.  The coffee and service is acceptable but not like it was when it first opened up.

Has Highlands Coffee peaked in Saigon?  Who will be the next coffeeshop King/Queen of Saigon?

  • Maybe it’s a Big C thing. I was stopped four years ago for taking pictures… didn’t stop me though…

    http://www.noodlepie.com/2004/07/supermarket_swe.html

    I later noticed they had signs up saying no cameras.

  • I have taken pictures inside Big C, they did not seem to care.

    Maybe I got the girl on her bad day 🙂

  • Which is your favorite Highlands so far Kevin?

    I still go to Highlands Saigon Center for business appointments nevertheless for 2 reasons: my clients prefer that place and it’s easy to locate.

    About taking photos: if decoration style is what they’re trying to protect, they’re not taking a very smart move.

  • I was just taking a picture of my table and the menu. It was not even pointed anywhere else. Again, just Google Highlands.

    I like Highlands for meetings as well but the service is getting poor. If there is a large group, Highlands prefers to give one large bill. This turns into arguments since their staff normally double charge. Normally I do not get mad but a couple times I nearly did when they wanted me to pay twice for the same meal!

    I like Java Cafe for meetings now. The staff are much nicer, food much better though the coffee is just so so.

  • Ooh… Java. that’s where I used to go for meetings. Glad to hear it’s still going, I was worried it might get drowned by all the chain Vietnamese crap. As for Trung Nguyen, glad it went under. Bloody awful stuff.

  • Java is great. I go there twice a week if I can. The only place where the wifi works all the time 🙂

    Trung Nguyen was horrible though I liked their very strong coffee.

    Soho is not bad these days too.

  • It’s funny that one of my pictures is up on the first page of that google search… I wonder if you would get more of my pictures if SafeSearch was turned off 😉

    So how much will HC’s prices go up by?

    Java Cafe needs more electrical outlets. Gloria Jeans by the Sheraton gets business meetings as well – easy to find and you tend not to have to cover for everyone’s drinks because of their ordering system.

  • Clifton

    While I am not a coffee imbiber, it is interesting to notice how Highlands is copying Starbucks model and opening new stores seemingly without regard to how they might/will cannibalize the sales at the older existing nearby locations. Right near where I live, near the Ben Thanh market, on Le Thanh Ton a new store opened at the same intersection where another Highlands outlet has been for a couple of years.

    Starbucks is quickly closing a lot of their stores in the USA due to declining sales often caused by this propinquity problem.

  • @D: I did not go to Highland’s Coffee today. I will check next time I go in. I suspect at least a 5 percent increase.

    I have always been able to find an electrical outlet at Java Cafe 🙂 Six tables in the first floor have access to them. I hate Gloria Jeans since the wifi is so slow even when there are no customers. I do like the pay before you buy approach though.

    @Clifton: You noticed that too. I went to meet a friend at the Highlands at that intersection. I could not find her even though she told me she was already there. Then the staff pointed me to the other side of the street. I think it is owned by the same owner since they let me keep my motorbike there. I think Highlands will run themselves out of business similarly to Trung Nguyen a couple years ago (meaning many stores will close). Trung Nguyen used to be everywhere. I am curious to see how Lee’s Coffee will succeed. Bobby Brewer’s franchise seems to be failing as well though the main store is still popular.

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