Have Customers Become a Pain in the Ass?

I am back.

Sorry I have been away so long but I returned to work for a while. Yes I went back to the food industry and got my hands dirty again. I loved it!!

No I did not love the 14 hour days or the constant running back and forth, unable to even sit down. I did not love the fact that I was surviving on pain killers for my feet and back and the ever present worry who would show up for their shift today.

I especially did not like the way the customers have changed over the last few years. Their cell phones rule their lives to the point of being rude to the service staff and the other customers behind them. The number of times a customer has walked up to place an order talking on the phone and literally stood there chatting while the service person is trying to take their order only to receive dirty looks from the phone user with no regard for the 10 or 15 people behind them.

To clarify, the food establishment had a super high volume grill, artisan wood fired pizza and pastas done sauté style as well as fresh made deli sandwiches, southern food and heaps of catering. The lineup often went right back out the exit doors.

The level of arrogance and the way the average customer treats service staff today is almost criminal. Maybe it was because I was working in a high end tourist town where arrogance is a badge of distinction along with the lack of ability to read a menu prior to getting to the service area. Team that with more than 70% of the customers wanting something not on the menu and in this high volume establishment wait times went through the roof. Before you ask, yes we did put into play many ways of expediting order taking including line order taking but when Mrs. Smyth from the country club insists she has fried aardvark tails on her burger and won’t move until she gets them…. Well you get the idea.

What I did love was the people that put up with this day and day out, with hardly a complaint and a smile on their faces. These are the people who make the food business worth it, the people that work 12 to 14 hour days, 7 days a week through the season only to have the tax man take just about everything extra they have earned that week and just shrug and get on with it.

These are the people who can handle six months of damn hard work and still have a smile while handling Mrs. Smyth and her fried aardvark tails, sending her off happily without them and knowing she will be back tomorrow looking for sautéed shrimp testicles on her pizza.

Subway’s Five Dollar Footlong Promise


Subway, Oops!

What is all the fuss about?   Subway’s famous footlong sub is actually an 11 inch long footlong sub! Did anyone really think that each and every bun that Subway bakes will end up at exactly 12 inches long?  Ever heard of shrinkage?

Ok, Subway got caught not over delivering on their promise. The pans they use to bake their footlong subs are twelve inches long and the buns can’t get any bigger than the pan, but the occasional one will not rise to the occasion and end up shorter. Not Good Subway! If you advertise a foot, your end product should be 12 inches. (My wife reading over my shoulder mumbled something about the head baker at Subway probably being a man….not sure what she was talking about.)

What I found interesting is the person that alerted the media to this potential end to civilization as we know it…an Australian! I grew up in Australia and wonder where an Australian got a ruler with inches on it? Australia has been metric since the mid 60’s, did he raid his grandfather’s tool kit, or is he just one of those people that spend their lives looking for their 15 minutes of fame?

What should the consumer be angry about? Being misled by an inch? Or the reported ( by a Subway franchisee ) 25% percent reduction in the amount of meat that Subway puts on their shorter than advertised buns. Now that is something to get angry about!


Bad Customer Service – It Only Takes Once!

Today I had a customer service experience that made me so angry I had to blog about it! Although it was not in a QSR or other food service establishment it happens every day in businesses like yours.

The company that services our heating and A/C at home has always been a very efficient, helpful and fine company to deal with. The woman who handles the scheduling and customers is always kind and makes the customer experience a pleasant one. Last night our A/C stopped cooling and I called and left a message after hours for a callback. This morning I got a call from a lady who started the conversation like this; “This is Dawn from XYZ company, I have your message and we will have to wait to hear from the owner of the house before we send someone out.”  “Ahh?????” I said (or something like that, being so taken aback!).  When I informed her that the owner of the house lives in Germany and has a service contract and that we had NEVER had to wait for approval in the  past she replied “well that is our company policy.” Ok, I then asked to speak with Alison who is always very pleasant. To which she replied “ She’s off today and I am Alison’s boss!” WOW!! The boss….I hope they keep her locked in a dark room in the back away from any customers!

The experience further deteriorated when she proceeded to argue with me about the most recent repairs and when they were performed, she was wrong but didn’t apologize when she realized such.  So we have a customer service person who is a) aggressive  b) argumentative,  and c) unapologetic. Any one of these is grounds for termination or a strong warning.

In the end I went from being a champion of this company to an angry customer who will most definitely express my feelings to the owner. How many people just say, no way, never again?  And you never hear about it. Most.  And they will likely not be kind to your business in the local community. It only takes one. One person. One attitude. One moment of rudeness and you lose a customer and their goodwill.