Friday, September 9, 2011

You Want It When?

We've all experienced bad customer service in one form or another during our lifetime, and for the most part, we don't put up with it for very long. We find ways to make our opinion known that we won't be treated like chattel. We complain to the manager, we complain to the business owner and in cases where it's a continuing problem, we take our money elsewhere.

I fall into the above category about 25% of the time and one of the reasons as to why the percentage is so low, is because I've spent most of my working life in a multitude of different customer service oriented jobs.

I've delivered newspapers when I was both my son's and daughter's ages. I've worked in various cashiering jobs and had a few retail management jobs. All of which require a major degree of customer service skills not usually seen in today's world. Even my current job requires a level of customer service that the average person probably wouldn't even consider doing on a quarterly basis, let alone a daily basis.

Because of this vast experience in standing on the other side of the counter asking people, "You all want fries with that?", I developed an incredibly high tolerance for what people might call bad customer service. While people would get upset at what they perceive to be bad customer service, I usually let that type of service fall by the wayside because what might be bad to one might seen by another with a sympathetic eye, especially since some people don't know how to follow the rule of "Do unto others as others would do unto you."

Now that isn't to say that I treat all bad service with the same sympathetic eye. If I get what I consider to be genuinely bad service, then I simply take my business elsewhere. Case closed.

However there has been the rare occasion in which I have escalated my usual response and entered the realm of actually complaining about it.

On Sundays, my early afternoon routine usually consists of the following: lunch, grocery/shopping at Big Lots, and picking up staples (milk, bread, eggs) at Aldi's.

I used to do Burger King for lunch, but the g(rease) factor got to be a bit too much for me to handle, so I started going to Wendy's. However, the customer service for both of these particular restaurants in my hometown are complete polar opposites.

Whereas the service was fast enough at Burger King so that I could take my fast acting insulin prior to entering the restaurant without worrying about the potential side effects, Wendy's was so slow that I didn't dare risk applying the same strategy there. Instead, my lunches were always to go, that way, I could safely take my insulin and eat my lunch without worrying about the side effects.

However, this past Sunday (9/4), service sank to a brand new low. I was already ticked about the previous Sunday's visit, in which I got hung up behind two frat boys with a dozen burger meal combos to go (seriously, about 12 separate bags) and the cashier on duty was incredibly slow and incredibly stupid because he continued to take new orders without really expediting the old orders.

So here I is, standing line and once again hung up behind three groups of people who were waiting for their order. And just like last week, the kitchen seemed to be concentrating more on the drive-thru than the front, so people were waiting so long for their order to be completed that they actually starting eating what little food there was on the tray. So when the cashier asked if she could take my order, I said loud enough for everyone to hear, "I am not putting my order in until you get rid of the back log in front of me."

It took about another five minutes before the back log was finally cleared so that I could put my order in (chicken sandwich, fries and a small diet soda). I was so pissed when I got to my car, that I decided to actually pay attention to the website printed on the bag that wanted to know how your visit went.

When I got home from my grocery shopping, I went to that website and absolutely buried that store's rep. I complained about the poor management skills, the poor cashiering skills, the poor way that the front was run and the overall poor quality of the restaurant (they actually did an entire business day without any napkins in the store). That particular store is notorious for slow service to begin with (seeing people walk out because they didn't want to wait that long is a frequent happening) but this is making a visit to a busy eye doctor's office seem like a drag race.

What does the future hold in store for this particular Wendy's? Well, just like a particular Subway, a particular Friendly's and a particular D&D that I experienced piss poor service at, it will fall by the wayside because my hard earned dollars will be spent elsewhere.


  1. My experience with Wendy's is the exact same thing you describe - I once left the line on the inside of the store because I had already stood there 15 minutes with my sisters and just didn't have time to wait. They said they finally got their food after 30 minutes. It's not good enough for that kind of wait, in my opinion. I do like that salad with the chicken and cranberries though, so will go through the drivethru for that - which is always fast. Go figure.

    It's the management that is the cause of that, I think.

    I also quit going to a place I used to like that sold wrap sandwiches, because the guy at the counter kept making customers in line wait while he answered phone and took takeout calls. No way would I go through that again. :)

  2. Yesterday after calling at least 10 times to the "specialty pharmacy" for my insurance to manage a charge the insurance company keeps saying I don't owe, I finally got pissed enough that I actually for the first time in my life hung up on a rep.

  3. I've actually never worked in a specific customer service job. Been either a factory worker, farm work, or a teacher, which is pretty close to customer service at times.

  4. I hear you, G. I normally can forgive a lot but there comes a breaking point.

  5. I spent a lot of time in customer service, too, and I am extremely tolerant. But, I do expect that they at least try.

  6. Lynn: There's a Wendy's that I used to frequent when I would go to Middletown, CT twice a month to do payroll. The only why I stopped was due to monetary issues. But even though it was super busy at lunch time, they had a guy who knew how to work the line and get people out in a decent time, so it didn't feel like you were waiting forever and a day for your food.

    But you are right, it starts with basic management skills. If you got poor management running the business, not even good food will overcome that rep.

    Bearman: I feel your pain. I use to get seriously aggravated with AT&T like that (used to have phone/'net/cable thru them) because they would always forget to put me on the account whenever I called and had my mother give permission for me to speak on her behalf. Did the exact same thing a few occasions myself.

    Would love to do that at work, but I value my job.

    Charles: Being a teacher, I think, is about as hazardous as customer service job you can get. One wrong move and viola! no more job/career.

    David: I have a very high breaking point as well, but this Wendy's completely surpassed it with flying colors.

    Mama Z: I can tolerate and appreciate when they make the honest effort to fix the problem and work thru it. But to not even try to fix it and simply ignore in the hope that it will go away is simply incomprehensible.

  7. I always get stuck in line behind people who order like 12 specialty coffee drinks. There should be a rule against that, or one that would allow me to spank them.

  8. R: The ones I hate the most are when I get stuck behind people who play lottery. Now even though I play lottery (mostly numbers) on a daily basis, I've dealt with the lottery on the other side of the counter since from 1986-99, and I can tell you that retailers make absolutely squat per ticket sold (about 3 to 5 cents for every ticket sold), so it's considered a loss leader.

    People who concentrate on lottery customers when they have a line of customers willing to spend money on what you're actually stocking your store with run the risk of screwing up their bottom line.

  9. Thing about places like Wendys, BK, McDs...they are FAST FOOD.

    If I want GOOD food, I go to a real restaurant or make it myself.

    If I go to a fast food place I want fast, efficient service.

    I know going in food quality will be...well, lets face it, it is what it is. There is a certain charm to some of the flavors...much like for athletes there is a charm in experiencing pain and blowing it off as "feeling the burn".

    I am one of those guys everyone McDs standing order is two McChickens plain add cheese and a dollar Dr. Pepper. $3.80. Takes about 40 seconds to make because they keep them in the warmer.

    And when they cannot get it straight 3 consecutive times...I am off to a different McDs. Make it fast, I will enjoy it for what it is. If I had timje to wait 20 minutes for my food...there is a Red Lobster across the street. Just sayin'

  10. Darth: Sometimes FAST FOOD doesn't necessarily translate into FAST SERVICE.

    And sometimes GOOD FOOD doesn't necessarily translate into GOOD SERVICE.

    I have been on the receiving end of some seriously shoddy service in sit-down restaurants in my day, the worst of which was when I was on vaca with the wife and we were in Missouri having breakfast. They completely forgot to put our order in because a couple who got seated at the same time as we did, ordered, got their food, ate it, paid for it and left, all before we got ours.

    I don't do sit-down restaurants much because my finances are at the point where unless it's a special occasion, we don't go.

  11. I don't give the guys a second chance. If I do not like the service I simply do not go there again. Ah well why waste my money on something I do not appreciate 100%....

  12. Chintan: It's tough for me to do that right off the bat. I've spent about 20 years in retail, and because of that, I have a deep understanding on what its like on the other side.

    I'm willing to give up to a 2nd or 3rd chance with a place, especially if people have given it a positive review. But if you can't get it right after three tries, then you don't deserve my business.

  13. Here we have a main road "Strip" with abour 30 restaurants on it. All in a cluster is Burger King, McDonalds, Wendy's, Subway, KFC, Taco Bell, D-Angelos, Papa Ginos, Dunkin Donuts, n many other finer seafood n steak dining spots. The reason they exist in such proximity is to test the other competition for corporate info. Friendly's did close n move across town tho.
    These places have to be good to hold onto faithful customers, also they make most of the yearly income during the summer tourist season.

    A shame your Wendy's didn't train the help properly- that would close them down around here!

  14. Snaggle: That sounds both wierd and sensible at the same time.

    Most of our fast food restaurants and other normal restaurants are concentrated on a three plus mile stretch of the higway, so if you have bad service at one, you really can't simply walk out and go to another place within a minute.

    You have to get into your car and spend about five minutes traveling to another place to get your food, which is really ironic because there's a Mickie D's direcly across the highway from this Wendy's, but because it's so close to a major intersection, it literally takes you about five minutes to get there.


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