Today we present another episode of Great Moments in Customer Service.
A few weeks ago, after getting home late on a Friday night, St. Pauli Girl and I decided to order Chinese food for delivery. We called our favorite establishment(which also has good Chinese mustard ). Thirty minutes later our food arrived, although we had already realized they never asked for our credit card number on the phone. So St. Pauli Girl presented the credit card to the deliveryman who, not surprisingly, told her he couldn't process credit cards.
“No problem,” St. Pauli Girl said, “I'll just call the restaurant back. Wait here.”
A few moments later the man on the phone told her, “We cannot process your credit card right now.”
“But we always use a credit card when we order. We're good, loyal customers.”
“No, we cannot do that right now.”
“Oka-a-ay. How about I give the driver a check?”
“We don't take checks.”
“But we don't have any cash,” St. Pauli Girl reasoned.
“No checks. Cash only.”
We handed the food back to the driver who apologized and left, all the while wondering why they didn't tell us "cash only" when we called.
In short, the driver lost out on a tip, the restaurant had to throw out perfectly good food, and they lost a loyal customer forever . . . all because they wouldn't bend a no-checks policy even under unusual circumstances. (A broken card reader? Cancelled bank account? We'll never know.)
Not to be outdone, an "upscale taco shop" we visited for the first time last weekend made us question the sanity of yet another restaurant management team. After ordering at the counter, the cashier handed us our “chips and salsa” receipt which we were instructed to take to the food window a few steps away.
We stood on the right side of the window in front of the four people working on the other side. No one even looked up. Then we saw the sign on the left side of the window which said “Pick up food here.” So we moved over to the left side of the window and waggled our receipt in the air . . . where the four workers continued to ignore us.
St. Pauli Girl held the receipt up to the window. The four workers continued to plate food and talk among themselves, still refusing to acknowledge our existence. Lucky for them I had a beer in my hand or I would have been forced to take some kind of action.
I glanced through the window and saw a huge metal container with a couple bushels of chips just waiting to be scooped into a basket. I'm sure the salsa was nearby. It would probably take about five seconds to load up a basket of chips and a cup of salsa.
“Do you think we're supposed to walk back there and get it ourselves?” I asked.
St. Pauli Girl pulled on the locked door next to the window. “Guess not,” she said.
“I've already decided I'm never coming back here. Even before we get our food,” I said.
Finally, one of the worker bees grabbed the receipt from St. Pauli Girl's hand, looked at it, then wordlessly set it on the counter. He continued doing other things. When we had just about reached the breaking point, he glanced up, spent about five seconds filling a basket with chips, grabbed a cup of salsa, and set them on the window counter. He still didn't say anything. Without asking, we grabbed the chips and ran.
Later, our number for our tacos were called and I went back to the window to get our food.
“Both of those trays are yours,” said the guy behind the window.
“What? You mean you guys actually speak?” I said, grabbing the trays.
I brought the food back to our table, and St. Pauli Girl realized she forgot to ask for sour cream. Easily remedied, you would think, and you would be wrong. She had to wait in the main line behind a crowd of people to order a side of sour cream. After paying, the cashier gave her a receipt, which then had to be presented at the food window. This all came with the now-familiar ticket-waving and getting-ignored ritual.
Meanwhile I finished my tacos and tried to imagine the business plan pitch for this establishment: “We're going to make really big tacos with interesting toppings but then we'll make it very big city, upscale by providing the kind of service you can expect in a prison cafeteria... except worse.”