Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Death of Customer Service


A few nights ago, my son and I stopped at a local Dunkin' Donuts so he could get his new favorite snack, a cinnamon raisin bagel with strawberry cream cheese. He didn't realize until we'd gotten home that the bagel had regular cream cheese. To erase the look of utter sadness and dejection that had covered his face, I told him we'd take it back.

I didn't go back into the store with him, but knew something was wrong when he came out a few seconds later holding the very same bag he went in with. "They're all out of bagels," he said. Did they offer him anything else or a credit or refund, I wondered? They hadn't he told me. So, I did what any mama bear protecting her cub would do: I went into the store with him to get his $2.15 back.

The woman behind the counter had a look in her eye that said she'd been there for hours and was ready to just get the heck up out of Dodge and off her feet already. When she saw us step to the counter, she literally sighed like we were planning on plucking her last good nerve. Politely, I explained what my son had just explained a few minutes before. I even threw in the obligatory "I'm sure it wasn't intentional, but..." speech hoping it would ease the tension and help move things along. Not.

"So he CAN'T eat regular cream cheese?" counter woman snarled.

"I didn't say CAN'T - I said doesn't like - which is why he ordered strawberry cream cheese to begin with," I said through clenched teeth. "Can't he just get a credit or something?"

"It may take a while," she sighed again. Honestly, I had no idea what we had done to so upset her, other than ask her to correct a mistake she'd made. Guess she didn't get the memo about the customer always being right.

Thirty seconds later, the register opened and she handed my son his cash. When he put down the bag to get his money, counter woman quickly SNATCHED it off the counter. To make matters worse, her manager was standing right next to her. It was difficult to wish them a nice evening, but I did.

What's wrong with this picture? Is customer service that dead that folks working the register at the neighborhood Dunkin' Donuts have to get snooty when their "authority" is challenged? Why wasn't a refund offered in the first place? Did she see a 15-yr-old and think she could treat him like his money wasn't green enough? Did the calm Black woman politely asking for a refund unnerve her so much that she had to get indignant? To me, the manager's silence was truly a non-verbal agreement that her actions were appropriate and condoned. What the heck was that all about?

Yesterday, my son wanted to get another bagel but was a little leery about going back to the scene of the crime. And to add insult to injury, he's filled out an application to work there over the summer. Although the store is about a two minute drive from my home, I don't think I want him working there.

If he does happen to get the job, hopefully he'll understand how NOT to treat a customer from personal experience - and that's truly a shame.