Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Tales of Customer Service

A bit of an older post from Rob at Crab Apple Lane reminded me of a bad time at a diner. (Why yes, I'm from New Jersey, why do you ask?)

I was at the counter. I'd go in once or twice a month for late-night snacks and sit for while, nursing coffee and a good book, and then walk home. I did this for over two years, never trading more than a word or two with the manager, a taciturn older man who no doubt disapproved of my lengthy stays for minimal bills. But I never kept anyone waiting for a spot and I always tipped well, so he indulged me, and I just put him down as an old-school, get-em-in-and-out restauranteur.

One night a guy sat down next to me at the counter, got his meal about the same time I did, and we chatted off and on all through desert - sports, politics, whatever. When his bill came, he called the waitress - "You charged me for the large jello; I only asked for the small."

"Oh..." Small silence. "Lemme check with the manager."

That's the BIG red flag right there. Your staff ought to be able to handle piffling stuff like that on their own without being mother-henned through the process. They should not be afraid to make it right for the consumer.

But in this case, this poor waitress was right to cringe, because the manager strolled over and said, grimly, "You ate a large, you pay for a large."

"How am I supposed to know the difference just by looking at it?"

The manager shrugged, as if to say, Well, too damn bad.

This man cost his waitress what would have been a solid tip, and cost himself the future business of two people - I never went back either, the moreso because, when I paid, he actually asked, "Why are you still here?" Since I couldn't answer, I stopped going. No skin off my nose. I have since found the Official Diner of the Hive and couldn't be happier.

By the way - the cost difference between the small and large jello was 25 cents.

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