RIP, Customer Service

Service with a Smile? I wish...

Service with a Smile? I wish...

Two tales of CAT RAGGEDY customer service in one week!

The first didn’t happen to me, but to my mom at a… let’s say a very popular chain eatery that just came to Memphis. She’d been there on a Tuesday, and had a bad experience. I didn’t know this when I told her and my dad I’d take them there on Friday to celebrate Dad’s birthday – but as we approached the counter on Friday, my mom said, I’m not going to that cashier, she was rude to me earlier this week.

WHA? Now, I am super-protective of my fam, especially my mom, who is NEVER mean to anyone ever. So apparently, on Tuesday, the female cashier asked my mom her name. My mom’s name is unusual, but it’s not but one syllable, so how hard could it really be? According to my mom, it went like this:

Cashier: What’s your name?

My mom: (answers with name)

Cashier: What?

My mom: (repeats her name)

Cashier: What?

My mom: (repeats her name)

Cashier: Lady, the questions don’t get any easier than this.

OH. HELL. TO. THE. NAW. (Channeling my inner Whitney Houston, sans drug addiction or abusive relationship) If I’d been there then, someone would have had to pull me across the counter and off that woman because I really would have gone Raleigh-Bartlett on her a**. Yes, I know that’s not Christian or mature or appropriate but being rude to my MOMMA!?????? You taking orders and you gonna get attitudinal with a senior citizen? I pray I would have been able to not make it a physical encounter, but she would have gotten called the HECK OUT RIGHT THEN.

So we go to another cashier, order our food, give my name, get our food and sit down to eat.

My dad and I are cut from the same cloth – if he gets poor customer service, he writes the CEO of the company and explains what happened. We both figure – companies cannot improve if they are unaware of their failings. So… we’re doing them a favor by telling them politely where they can improve. (My dad has gotten more free coupons and personal letters of apology doing this, it’s not even funny.)

I’m like – Mom, I’m telling the manager. And dad is encouraging me to. And ever-peaceful Mom is like no, let it go…. they might do something to our food next time we’re here.

I’m like – that’s why I pray over my food, and I call the manager over and tell him first how much we enjoy this food and their desserts and breads (hint, hint), but how how his cashier’s behavior was completely inappropriate and she had so many other options – like asking my mom how to spell her name, or asking her what her last name is – Thomas, pretty simple – or just typing up what she thought my Mom said, because it’s not like my Mom isn’t going to recognize what she ordered when she goes to pick up her food.

The manager seemed to understand (although I’m still going to file a more formal complaint with the franchise owner) and like 10 minutes later, I see that cashier leaving. Shifts usually start on the hour, or half hour, and it’s neither. Oh well. I don’t want anyone to lose his/her job, which is why you should not be an a** .

So that’s story 1 – the next story happened when I had finally got up the nerve to buy a flat screen TV to replace a big tube TV that died months ago. My dad encouraged me to go to this locally owned, non-chain appliance store – and I’m ALL FOR supporting locally owned spots. I won’t name it either.

So I go in just after one man and just before another couple. Otherwise, there are no customers in there. A salesman approaches the man before me and tells me that someone will be right with me. I nod – that’s cool. Then another salesman comes out and approaches the other couple. The salesman interrupts the other salesman and says – the woman over there was here first. And do you know the second salesman seems to be like – whatever, and goes ahead and talks to the couple that came in after me.

Here’s where  prejudice or the specter of it gets touchy – I’m the only black person in the store. I came with money to spend, my dad’s recommendation that these people really know their stuff and ready to patronize their business. I’ve taken measurements, etc. But when the first salesman tells the second salesman that I was there first and I am still overlooked – what am I supposed to think?

I just walked out, and as I did, the second salesman follows me outside and I PUNKED OUT and said I didn’t see anything I was interested in – but I should have told him  that I was there first, your co-worker TOLD you I was there first and STILL you weren’t going to take your customers in the order they arrived. So why would I reward that with my hard-earned money that I have been reluctant to part with anyway??? SIGH.

I want to believe that maybe dude knew that couple that came in after me, or they’re related to him and he really didn’t feel like he could put them off to talk to me – and that race had nothing to do with it. But I can’t be sure, so I wonder.

Debating whether to call the store and explain why I didn’t shop there and won’t. SIGH.


5 thoughts on “RIP, Customer Service

  1. Things like #2 happen to me all the time and I’m white. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes a rude customer service jerk is just a rude customer service jerk. It seems to be more and more common. Incidents like that, actually, are the reason I stopped shopping at Circuit City, and you can see where they are now.

    Don’t bother calling them. If you spend your time on the people who give you bad service, there will be no end to it. Find someplace that treats you right and tell the manager about that instead. You’ll certainly make that salesperson’s day.

  2. I’m a long time fan of yours. I wish you’d share the names of these places on your site, but if not I’m wondering if you’d share with me in private via email?
    I’d like to avoid these places too.


  3. Chris – I have yet (because I’m slow) to share my complaints in writing with the businesses in question, so until I have had a chance to give them a formal opportunity to make amends or at least apologize, I’m not going to put them on blast. It wouldn’t be fair and they had no way of knowing that the customer they dissed, or the daughter of the customer they dissed was going to blast them online. Then again, all businesses should treat EVERY customer like he/she has a wildly popular customer service blog and is just LOOKING to catch folk behaving wonderfully or acting a fool.

  4. Pesky, I don’t think we’ll ever agree! First of all, I didn’t say the treatment I got was because I’m black. I said I wondered. Big huge fat distinction. You don’t have to usually wonder about that because people who look like you were never, oh, prohibited from trying on clothes in department stores in this country. Be grateful you don’t have to wonder about that – and have the courtesy to allow me to WONDER whether race was involved. Thanks much.

    As for not calling folks when their customer service sucks – how, exactly, do you expect them to have an opportunity to improve if you don’t tell them when they fall short? We all make mistakes, and if we were all just fired for the first mistake we made, well, I’d imagine the unemployment rate would be 99%. (The 1% would be you, because I’m guessing you don’t make mistakes.)

    And when I do get great service, I take great pleasure in calling the manager over and bragging on the server.

  5. Just read through your site on a link from my cousin who lives in Memphis… Love your writing! I will definitely try to come through again. Great use of humor, observation and style!
    Best wishes!

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