September 21, 2009

The Customer's Always Right and Other Unfortunate Myths

We had an exceptionally bad experience at a local restaurant yesterday. I woke knowing that I would never be able to continue my day if I didn’t write about it. Let me preface this by saying I'm not a particularly patient consumer. By definition, I'm intolerant of poor customer service and especially unforgiving when spending my hard earned money results in dissatisfaction. I think this attitude keeps me keenly aware of how I treat my own customers as well as how I respond to their needs and desires. Because I've experienced my fair share of bad attitudes and reckless detachment from retail clerks and other service providers, when I receive phenomenal service I shout it from the rooftops. In my own business, I'm always in search of new ways to have the wonderful people who buy my jewelry and keep me in business during this particularly tough economic downturn wanting to sing my praises and return time and time again. I'm human. I have made mistakes. But the one thing I'm proud of is that I can admit them when made and I will make every effort to make things right immediately. Now that you know this about me, you will understand my burning need to tell this story....

My town boasts many eating options from fast food to fine dining and since I'm such a foodie, I look forward to ending a hard work week with a great meal or celebrating the culmination of a fantastic weekend with a fabulous brunch. There's a popular establishment conveniently no more than 2 blocks from my home that's known for having a creative brunch menu and after other restaurants have come and gone, it remains as popular as ever. We'd stopped going a few years back but yesterday we couldn't remember why so despite a gnawing feeling that there was an important piece of information we were missing, we took a chance and stopped in for fresh squeezed orange juice, duck pork sausage and French Toast made from rich, buttery croissants. After waiting 1 hour for our food, I checked my tolerance level, took a deep breath and inquired rather meekly to our waiter if our meal would be arriving soon, I was met with a bored sigh and an attitude that felt like it was screaming "You have no right to ask about your food! Don't you see we're busy here?!" Ahhhhhh I remember now. THAT'S why we'd stopped coming. And that's why next time we will remember to never return. We noticed other patrons experiencing the same exasperating situation yet most seemed numb to it. Have we really devolved into a society that just accepts bad service and dreadful behavior as a consequence of the times? Has requiring common courtesy become an exception rather than the rule? If we had just been told that the kitchen was swamped and even a semi-sincere apology had been offered, I would've had no burning desire to write this post. We would've happily enjoyed our beverages and chatted merrily until our meal arrived. Instead, we left feeling slightly bruised and abused. I guess as customers, we just weren't right for this restaurant. I guess it doesn't matter that I have a voice, a rather loud one at times and I intend to use it. My mother taught me that we teach people how to treat us by what we show we are willing to accept. That restaurant owner will be getting an email from me.

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