October 7, 2011

Fact Is Better: How to Lose Customers 101

It’s no secret that The Photographer and I like to eat. Like a normal couple, we have a few favorite foods that we crave time to time, including this veggie bagel sandwich from a local wannabe-New York deli in town.

After our recent experience, I’m not sure we’ll be craving their food again.

The Photographer: “I’d like a veggie breakfast sandwich on a cheddar-jalapeno bagel with NO onions.”
Me: “I’d also like a veggie breakfast sandwich on a cheddar-jalapeno bagel but NO onions AND NO sprouts.”
Disgruntled, Rude Blonde Employee: *Sighs heavily like we’re interrupting her and rolls her eyes before repeating our order* “Yep, two sandwiches, no onions, no tomatoes.”
Me: “No onions, no SPROUTS on ONE OF THEM.”
Disgruntled, Rude Blonde Employee: *She looks angrily at me and storms away to make the sandwiches.*
*The Photographer and I look at each other confused.*
The Photographer: “Those have NO onions and one has NO sprouts, right?”
*She looks over at us, stacking on the sprouts to both sandwiches*
The Photographer: “Excuse me!? One of those has NO sprouts.”
Disgruntled, Rude Blonde Employee: *makes a nasty face* “That’s NOT what you said.”
Me: *patiently* “Yes, TWICE we asked for NO onions on both, NO sprouts on ONE.”
Disgruntled, Rude Blonde Employee: *very, very loudly* “NO. YOU DIDN’T. BUT FINE.”
*She scrapes off half of the sprouts on one of the sandwiches. She finishes making my boyfriends sandwich, and begins to make mine, pausing to ask angrily* “So you just want tomatoes on this?”
Me: “No, I’d like the avocados, cucumbers, AND tomatoes. No ONIONS.”
Disgruntled, Rude Blonde Employee: *She sighs, turns around to make the sandwich, pauses again and asks,* “I don’t understand, so you want JUST avocado on this?!”
Me: *shaking my head* “No, I’d like whatever’s on a veggie breakfast sandwich, but with NO onions and NO sprouts.”
Disgruntled, Rude Blonde Employee: *this time, really embarrassingly loudly – making me look like the idiot – she yells* “I REALLY DON’T UNDERSYAND WHAT YOU WANT, MA’AM. You want JUST cucumbers?!”
Me: *I clear my throat and as patiently as I can muster I say* “No. I’d like the veggie breakfast sandwich – the avocados, the tomatoes, the cucumbers, the cream cheese, and the special sauce. I would like NO onions. I would like NO sprouts. Just the rest of the veggies.
Disgruntled, Rude Blonde Employee: *she rolls her eyes again, slams her knife angrily on the cutting board, and finishes making my sandwich.*

Which had cream cheese, special sauce, sprouts on half, and a single piece of a cucumber the size of a fifty cent piece.

When The Photographer and I went back to complain, she was suddenly “unavailable.”

About a week ago I wrote a letter to this deli explaining to them the awful encounter I had . . . I haven't heard back from them yet. Shocker.

As I told them in the letter, I’ve been in retail before. I understand what it’s like to mis-hear someone – but a) I am very articulate when I speak; b) it was not loud in the store; c) I repeated my order almost half a dozen times. And I also understand what it’s like to have a bad day – but you certainly don’t take it out on the customer and belittle them/make them look like a fool in front of other customers like this blonde girl did to me.

Absolutely unacceptable, disgusting behavior.

(And because I've been in marketing my entire professional career - you won't find me mention their name here, because as we all know: any press is good press. And these folks don't deserve even that. I'm not about to give them free advertising on my blog.)

True story.

Proof that fact is better (and sometime's less satisfying) than fiction.