Sunday, February 6, 2011

Armed and Dangerous

Based on this title, one might think this post is about guns, but it is not.  It is about poor customer service.  In this day and age, many people have smart phones with cameras.  Pissing customers off is a very bad idea, and as one of my friends commented on my tweet that cross-posted to facebook, it goes viral.

A little over a week ago, I went to my usual weekend hangout.  Over the last so many months, there have been changes and other issues.  Fewer of the regulars go there now.  Some have moved, and others have different reasons.  Two of them quit going after the place switched to Pepsi products.  Now, that may seem like a silly reason to stop going to a hangout, but there is more to it that.  The friend in question cannot drink Pepsi products--she cannot physically tolerate them.  Tea makes her sick, and she cannot drink alcohol for health reasons.  So she and her husband no longer go.

After last Saturday though, the place may have lost other regulars--possibly for good.  I am sorry to say I may be among that number.  I work in a service industry too, albeit a different sort, so I try to be fairly patient with the waitstaff.  I have my limits though.  For some time now, it has not felt right there, and I have not been going there as regularly as I once did.  However, one of my friends was celebrating his birthday, and he chose to have it there, so I went.

The customer service has not been very good on Saturdays for quite some time--largely due to turnover, but this time it was much worse.  It was not terribly busy at the time, yet some of us were having to flag down the waitress just so we could order.  The friend who was celebrating his birthday (a regular) ordered cheese fries.  This waitress has worked there long enough that she has probably served him cheese fries before, so when she got them from the kitchen, she should have realized they were not right and taken care of it.  She did not. She brought them out to my friend without the bacon.  When he complained, he was told they were running low on it.  Okay, they ought to know that the weekends tend to be busy, and they either should have made sure they had adequate supplies, or they should have warned him ahead of time.  Apparently they did neither. She eventually brought him a little bacon, but it was not the usual amount.  He eventually talked her into bringing him more, but I doubt it was equal to the amount they normally put on them.

It did not stop there.  Another person at our table ordered potato chips.  The business in question makes its own, and they are usually quite good.  This time they were undercooked--so much so, that she could bend them without breaking.  She complained, they were sent back, and someone brought her out a fresh batch, guaranteeing they would be crispy.  They were not, and back they went.  Third time was the charm though.

Undercooked potato chips are one thing--they are just annoying.  Undercooked chicken is quite another.  The person who ordered potato chips also ordered chicken wings.  So did one of my other friends. Both of them were brought chicken wings that were noticeably undercooked.  I went and asked the bartender if the owner (I asked for him by name) was around.  He indicated the owner was not there, but that someone else was.  I told him the kitchen was sending out undercooked food.  The person who appeared to be manager of the day came over to take them back, and eventually more chicken wings were brought out.  The person who ordered the potato chips went ahead and ate hers without looking at them, but my friend's new batch of chicken wings were once again undercooked.  They went back and she ended up getting something else that was pre-cooked.

Another of my friends ordered a burger.  It was fully cooked when he got it, but it was also cold.  My burger was both fully cooked and warm when I got it, but that may be because I complained about the kitchen sending out undercooked food.

We were told that they had lost their head cook, but still, that is no reason to be sending out undercooked food.  Apparently it was enough of a problem that the owner did come in.  I saw him there, and someone else saw him head back to the kitchen.

I decided I was not having a very good time and I asked for my check.  The amount owed was only $8.17, because she did not charge me for my drink.  I brought it to her attention, and she told me not to worry about it.  I gave her a twenty to pay for it, and she only brought me back $11.00.  Okay, unless I tell them to keep some of that or to only bring me a specific amount, I expect all my change back.  I still tipped her, but it was not as much as I would have normally tipped.

I do not know if people were comped for their undercooked food or not.  I asked my friend if the owner ever came over to apologize to us, and he did not.  An apology could have gone a long way.  The owner used to be a waiter there before he bought the place, and he knows we are regulars.  However, a couple of us feel that he really does not care about making us mad.  Maybe he thinks we will remain loyal and continue to patronize his business.  Maybe he really does not want us there.  Either way, I did not go this weekend.

And that brings me back to why I named this post the way I did.  I was pretty unhappy with the way things were going that night, and I posted it as my facebook status.  I also posted something a bit more generic to twitter which also posted to facebook.  The friend who was celebrating his birthday posted something to facebook about his unhappiness.

The next day I deleted most of my posts about it.  However, one of my other friends posted something on facebook about getting a little upset with people who do not treat people in the service industry very well, especially when they are busy.  I responded, and I brought up the undercooked food--which he had not known about.  So any one who saw my posts, or either of my friends' posts now know there was a problem.

Unhappy customers are bad for business--they tell their friends, family, coworkers, etc.  In the age of smartphones, they can do it more quickly and effectively.  As an unhappy customer, I expressed my displeasure by not going there this weekend.  Granted I do not spend as much money there as some people, but I have been there both Friday and Saturday nights many a weekend.

One of the other regulars was there Friday night, and he told me that it was fine.  It does not really make me want to go back though.  I used to encourage people to go there, because it used to be such a fun place.  Now I do not want to go, and I am not the only one.

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