Customer Service??????

Has anyone else noticed a real decline in
the service received at stores, movies, ect?
This weekend my wife and I went to the movies
and were blatantly lied to by the counter
person and the manager. We are writing to
the company, which has had success in the past for us. I know a lot of customer service jobs stink, the workers are underpaid and treated like crap by the customers, but management is there to keep the workers working. I have worked crappy retail and counter jobs, and I would have been fired if I treated customers like that. Its not like I’m talking about all that long ago, it was only about 5 years since I was on that side of the counter. Does anyone else have any comments or suggestions on this?

I cringe every time I think of nearly choking to death at Fazoli’s a few months ago on a big old piece of wood in a veggie sub. I was feeding bites of it to my daughters, ages 1 and 2. The manager never came out to investigate, they gave us moldy breadstcks, the counter person told my 8 year old son about the cool toy he would be getting with his pizza kids’ meal, only to tell him a few minutes later they were out.

I filled out a comment card as did my mother who was dining with us, and sent them numerous e-mails. A few weeks later they sent me a “gift certificate” for a free spaghetti dinner.


Oh yeah, I’ve definitely noticed this. Pisses me off big time. I think it has a lot to do with the economy - it’s easy to get good jobs, so the jobs that require next to no skills end up being done by either teenagers or the dregs of society. I’m so damn sick of having bad service, asking to speak to the manager, and when the manager comes out it turns out to be an 18 year old who doesn’t care any more than the 16 year old worker who gave me bad service did.

Recent event: I’m at the movie theater with my mother. I get up to get popcorn in the middle of the movie. The concession stand has ONE teenager working. In the corner, there’s 3 more teenagers gossiping and laughing. There’s a BIG line. I miss 15 minutes of the movie getting popcorn for my mother. I complained at the end of the movie, the 18 year old manager gave me my money back. What I would have really liked was an apology, and something along the lines of “Did you see the names of the workers who were gossiping instead of helping customers? I’d like to talk to them.”

One of the topics I teach is Winning Customer Commitment. In that class we discuss the decline of good customer service.

I personally view the overall decline as a great opportunity for a company that maintains good customer service to gain a larger share of the marketplace. The effort required to stand out from the crowd is so nominal, and the rewards so great, that any company that doesn’t constantly monitor and insure good customer service is, basically, handing over sales to the good guys.

[teacher hat on] And, simply meeting customer expectations isn’t enough to engender loyalty; you need to exceed their expectations in order to do that. [/teacher hat]

I have found the same thing throughout the Washington D.C. area. I feel that the companies who have the least customer service the are the larger chains, who buy the way claim to have great customer service.

I was in national electronic, you know the one with the big price tag running around in the commrercials, the front line had, no kidding, 45 people checking out with 3 sales people ringing people up. When I complained to the front line manager, he said this is all of the money that corporate will allow us to spend. I replyed with:

  1. Find better people to do the job.
  2. Find a better way to ring people up.
  3. Advocate to corporate/your district manager that you need more money for better customer service.
  4. It’s your job as a manager to make the customers happy.
  5. The customer is always right.
  6. Cross train employees that are not effective on the floor to ring people up.
  7. Pay higher wages to recruit better people.

The guy looked at me like I was crazy, how dare I complain, and then dare offer suggestions. I guess the blame other people attitude has saturated the business world.

I used to work for a Erol’s, a video chain that was bought out by Blockbuster. When I was there, the customer came first followed by employees, managers, and then suppliers. This type of philosophy has been replaced by people more interested in the price of the stock and their own profitability rather than the longevity of the company.

Have companies forget that it is costly to train new-hires, and the old 80-20 rule, 80% of your profits come from 20% of your customers.

The worst thing about this is the fact that there are fewer and fewer stores that offer great customer service where I could even go and support(pay more) for the same product.

Sorry, I had to get that off my chest, and now I have to go christmas shopping.

I am so there with you people, you wouldn’t even believe it.

Our local Sam’s Club is just the worst. They have two policies that are just clashing with each other.

  1. It’s a price club (members only) so they check the IDs of people on the way in the front door.
  2. They are trying to keep prices low, so on the way out they have someone check to make sure that all of the items in your cart are on your receipt.

They have the same two people doing both of these jobs at the same door. People who are coming in have to wait in a line to have their IDs checked. People who are leaving have to wait in a line to get their cart checked. And if you have an item in your cart that is not on your receipt, you have to stand in another line to get it added! I have stood in four lines on the same frikkin’ trip to Sam’s!

And cashiers are driving me crazy lately. I’ll be in line at the grocery store when the cash register malfunctions. The cashier will turn on their “Manager Needed” light, cross their arms and avoid eye contact with the customers. What is so hard about telling us what’s wrong? A “I’m sorry. There’s something wrong with the tape that I can’t fix without help. It should only be a couple of minutes. Thanks for your patience.” would do so much!!!

The fact is, almost no one is willing to pay more at a business that provides better customer service. All competition is based on wars of price/quality - if you disagree then witness the abject failure of the small business (when the owner works the counter, you get great service everytime).

Modern businesses do not reward associates for good customer service (other than a picture on a wall, gimme a break), nor do they punish them for providing bad service (for the most part). This is because it is not worth the time and money spent to do so. It is easier and cheaper to create ads that tell you they have great service than to provide great service. If you don’t like it you have no one to blame but the Vidiots who believe these ads.

Businesses exist to make a profit, not to make you happy.

I wish you weren’t right, but I suspect you are. Times are flush, and people are spending money like crazy, and so there’s no need to compete.

In our area, what the stores ARE competing for is sullen teenagers to run the registers! They literally can’t hire enough warm bodies to do the job. They’re basically hiring whoever they can get, and believe me it shows.

Cooper, I’m not sure that this is the case. Personally, I’ll pay 5-10% more for good service. I think it’s money well spent. For example, if it weren’t for the local plumbing supply pointing out the difference, I would be happily buying thin wall pipe from the Home Depot that might only last half as long with our water. Alternately, getting interrupted by the manager of a local Taco Cabana * while I was telling him what I wanted to buy * was a lousy way to start my lunch yesterday.

Rysdad, I don’t mean to put you on the spot, but do you have a figure on how much bad service can cost a business?

Cornflakes, it most certainly is the case and the market is proof of it. If bad customer service were really bad for business, these businesses would be going under but they are not. Rather, as the OP stated, CS has been getting more prevalent over the years. I agree this is partly due to the economic boom and low unemployment - but I also do not think there is a significant percentage of people who expect good customer service and are willing to pay extra for it. I personally, do not and am not. I get in, get what I want and leave. If I don’t get what I want I ignore it unless its a real problem because its not worth the time it takes to ball out some 16 year old because my big mac has pickles on it when I didn’t want pickles.

I posted in the good customer service thread too, because I’ve had some good experiences recently. But I had to post here, not because of a bad experience, but because I work in customer service, for my local government.

Some of us customer service clerks know what we’re doing, and genuinely want to help. We really, really do. Then there’s some others. Fuck-offs who think that because they’ve got a government job they’re set for life, and they don’t have to do diddly. Unfortunately, they’re darn close to right. Then there’s the rest–untrained clerks hired because we’re desperately short-staffed. They’re stuck right on the counter or the phones, with next to no training, and this is the freaking government they’re working for. It does more than make us look bad. We feel bad, too. People don’t like having to deal with the government, but it’s a little better when they’re dealing with someone who has a clue.

Okay, I’m done ranting. Thanks!

Here’s a good one for you. Well, I guess it’s a bad one…

I was at a Friendly’s with my sister a few months back. We were sitting there eating our burgers and chatting. I took a big scoop of coleslaw. As I’m chewing it, this huge green worm comes crawling out of the part that was still on my plate. I’m really squeemish, so I scream and jump up. My sister is sitting there watching it and goes EEEEEWWWWW really loud. No waitress even came over to find out what was going on. We go get her. She says (I SWEAR to God I am not making this up) “oh, yea, we’ve been having a problem with that lately, I’ll take the coleslaw off the check.” My sister says, “oh, no, you’ll be taking everything off the check”. The waitress starts arguing, saying she can’t give us the meal for free. She goes to get the manager (at our DEMAND), she looks at the worm and says “I’ll have the waitress take the coleslaw off the check.” The long and the short of it was that even the manager thought that as long as they took that wormy coleslaw off my plate and they didn’t charge me for the coleslaw (which comes with the meal for FREE) that I should sit down, shut up, and eat my meal. We walked out. I have never eaten at a Friendly’s since. And, I still can’t look at coleslaw.

Besides everything else - they knew that they were having a worm problem and decided to serve the slaw anyway. Hello?

Let me guess…you guys all had service problems at UNITED ARTISTS’ theaters, right? (Rant follows…) They refuse to pay more than mimimum wage and you can’t get anyone to work for that these days. You’re left with the social misfits who can’t get a job anywhere else. One of the reasons I finally quit there was they spent all this money on printing up these signs saying some crap like “if your experience today wasn’t absolutely orgasmic, please talk to a manager!” Well NO SHIT! Why didn’t you spend some of that money fixing my leaky roof? Or putting in a heating system that didn’t drown out the movie? Or how about a sound system built within the last 50 years? How about letting me pay people a decent wage so I can actually hire someone and I don’t have to work entire shifts BY MYSELF because I have no employees and I’m stuck working 14 hour days because I’m on salary (which works out to about $3 an hour!) THAT’s what people have to complain about! BLeaaargh! (Rant peters out…) sorry. So very frustrated.

Anyways, I had a strange service experience the other day too. Hubby and I were travelling and pulled off the interstate at a Red Robin and I asked if I could still get the “three kinds of cheeseburger” even though it was technically no longer on the menu. Usually they either say “no” which is no problem, or “sure, no problem” which is even better. Well, this guy was all “Oh, I’m pretty sure we never had that on the menu…” Huh? I’ve only been ordering it for the last 2 years every single time I come in! He then goes on to say they could MAKE me one but I’d have to order the regular cheeseburger (like $7) and pay a dollar extra for each extra slice of cheese! RIGHT! Well, I’m not a rabble rouser so I ordered some chicken pasta thingie and when he brings it out he says “Oh by the way! I asked the manager about that Cheeseburger and while I’m still pretty sure we never had it here, we do have the code for it and can make one for you next time you come in.” Well what the hell good does that do me now? Next time? Guess what pal, there’s not going to be a next time…my husband’s ice tea was complete water tinged brown and my chicken was so undercooked it was pink in the middle.

Anyways…Keep in mind: If you have crappy service somewhere, be sure not to write off the whole chain or even that location. Turnover in most service industries is high and sometimes you just get a bad bunch altogether. And with luck you may get new management. (Of course, that’s probably what everyone’s saying about my old theater – hey! That bitch is gone!)

"There’s a snake in my boot!

I keep fighting banks. I do my banking via the internet, and the only vendors I EVER have a problem with is other banks. My cable company accepts electronic payments, but apparently other banks do not. Ain’t technology grand?

One bank didn’t credit me for paying off my computer in a 6 months-same-as-cash deal. I finally sent in a copy of my bank statement that listed the bank along with the exact amount that I had owed and paid. Thinking that this would be proof, of course. They wrote a letter back saying they needed a copy of the actual check.

I called the bank and explained to them that I do internet banking. And the great part about internet banking is that I don’t write out checks anymore. The CSR couldn’t understand when I kept repeating, “I don’t have a physical check to send you because I never wrote one out.”

CSR (speaking as if I’m 5 years old): “If you never wrote out a check, ma’am, that’s why you didn’t receive credit for it.”


BTW, Barto…what was it you were so obviously lied to about? I’m just curious because I know a lot of customers assumed I was lying to them about our soundsystem or something when the fact is they just weren’t getting what I was trying to tell them or I wasn’t explaining it the way they wanted to hear. I can’t think of anything at a movie theater that would need to be lied about. Most of the time I was distubingly frank. Even if people would ask about how old the popcorn was or something I’d tell them “This is actually yesterday’s popcorn, but it has a shelf life of about six years. If you don’t like the way it tastes I can make you some fresh, but most of the returns we get are on the FRESH corn, which comes out chewy because the oil hasn’t had a chance to dry out yet.” or “The oil-popped is less than a half hour old, but the air-popped is actually shipped in from Colorado, and has been in our possession for about a month. I have no idea how old it was before that.” I think I was pretty good about customer service; I’d let people bring in coffee and water even though it was against policy, and if you lost your ticket or something I’d usually remember you and let you in anyway. I do have a big beef though with people who think customer service=getting stuff free. If people had to leave a movie early because they got paged or their baby was crying or even if they didn’t like it (within a reasonable amount of time, of course) I didn’t have a problem giving them passes or refunds. If you watch a whole 3 hour movie and want a refund because you think there was too much cussing in it – tough crap! Once one guy was mad because we ran out of the small sized bottle water that was chilled. I said “I’m sorry, I can offer you the large size for 50 cents more, or a small size at room tempature.” This guy’s solution was that we should give both him AND his wife a large cold size FOR FREE. Oh brother! When I told him, “sorry, this is a business, not a charity.” His wife blurted “Jesus! Great customer service!” Wha? I realise the point of customer service is to get people to come back, but hey…that type could just go bug another theater as far as I was concerned!

The economy is doing great there is a shortage of workers, so they take what they can get.

Best service I get is from staff that volunteers.

You know how some business like to say Utilize instead of Use, Facilitate instead of Help, etc.? “Customer Service” is business-speak for screwing the customers.


Squeaks from BrainWeasel’s Cage