Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Customer Disservice

Over the years, I have been fortunate enough to have worked for companies with a high standard of customer service. And, I like to believe that I am "smarter than the average bear" and have a good level of common sense to begin with. One of the companies had all these little catch phrases, and we went through a whole training in how to properly greet people, how to prioritize interactions with guests on the phone and in front of us, etc. Due to this, I now have a more heightened awareness of when I am NOT being treated with proper customer service. Thus begins my saga.

On Friday the 9th, I bought a jug of milk from Fred Meyer (Kroger for you East coast people). The sell-by date was 1/11, and the best-by date was marked 1/17. Last Friday (the 16th), I opened the jug to pour Joy some cereal and was hit with that wonderful aroma of spoiled milk. It was 1 day before the best-by date, and generally, the dates are marked for 1-2 weeks before they are ever supposed to spoil, so there clearly was no reason the milk should have been bad. My mother-in-law works at "Freddy's," so I called and asked her what to do about the spoiled milk, since I had only used less than 1/4 of the jug. She told me to go in and tell them what had happened and they would replace it.

I normally don't shop at Freddy's because its a 20 minute drive, as opposed to Safeway which is about a 4 minute drive. But I decided I wanted to try and get a new jug of milk, so I made a special trip up there on Sunday with both girls in tow. I went to the customer service desk and explained about my milk, and the lady just looked at me and said, "Well, do you have the receipt?" "No, I don't save my receipts unless its for clothing or a large item." "Well, do you have the bad milk?" "No, because I didn't think you would want my jug of bad milk." "Welllll....I am going to need to see either the receipt or the jug of milk before I can give you an exchange." At this point, I was trying hard not to roll my eyes or lose my patience, so I just kind of stood there looking "politely irritated." (Its an art, truly.) Finally, she said, "Welllll....let me call a manager and see if there is any other option, but I'm pretty sure there isn't." The girls and I stood there for about 2 minutes while she was on the phone - with her back to us, no less - and finally she hung up and said, "No, I'm sorry. You will need to bring us either the receipt or the jug of milk." I just smiled, said a half-hearted thank you, and walked off.

I wasn't about to drive 20 mins back home to get the milk jug and turn around and drive up there again. But the principle of it all just bugs me. At Safeway (where I worked for a 5 month stint), if a customer has a complaint, you fix it. You take them at their word - even without the spoiled food or a receipt - and you replace their item. Simple as that. As my friend's company says, "The customer may not always be right, but the customer is always the customer," which in essence means, you treat them with respect and do whatever is in your power to make them happy. I was asking for a replacement of MILK, not a stereo system, for gosh sakes! Even if I WAS taking advantage of the system, how much are they out for giving me 1 jug of milk? $2.39!!! Suck it up and give me my milk! And furthermore, WHO is that desperate for milk that they would LIE to get a jug?? If you are that desperate, then by all means, you should have the milk gratis anyway! ....Ridiculous.

Okay, then onto the eye doctor's office. There used to be a great tech there who was about my age named Joy. Joy left a year ago to have her 1st child and be a stay-at-home mom, and since she left, the quality of service at that office has gone appallingly downhill. When I called to make my appointment, the woman answered the phone by saying, "Can you hold please?" Not, "Name of business, this is so-and-so, how may I help you?," then waiting for my response, THEN asking me to hold. That is such a peeve of mine!! Then....when I went in a week later to pick up my glasses, the lady answered 2 phone calls while I was standing right there, before even acknowledging me or asking what I needed. Had she asked, she could have grabbed my glasses for me while jabbering on the phone, rather than making me stand there feeling ignored and unimportant. I was taught that the person you are face-to-face with is ALWAYS more important than the person on the phone. Get to the person on the phone in a timely fashion, but not at the expense of ignoring the needs of the person you are interfacing with.

Anyway, this isn't to rip on these businesses, its simply to point out that so few people take the time to learn, use, or even understand customer service anymore. I mean, its not brain surgery....common sense will do.

....I digress.


Ashley Randolph said...

you and I are a lot alike, this sounds like something I would be saying to my mother or someone of the sorts... I am peeved by ridiculous crap too

Liberty said...

I totally agree!