M. Giant's
Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks

Saturday, April 09, 2005  

How Can I Help You?

Between the long, cold winter and having what used to be a brand-new preemie, Trash and I haven't gotten out of the house much the past six months. Now that it's warming up enough for us to go back out into the world a little, I think our short period of exile gives us a unique perspective on how much the world's standards of customer service have in the last half-year turned to shit. For example:

1. The other day, Trash was waiting to get out of a parking ramp. And waiting, and waiting, because the one cashier at the gate was having a personal conversation with a friend while ten cars lined up behind her. Trash, of course, had M. Tiny in the car, who has two automotive modes: asleep, when the car is moving, and awake and pissed-off, when the car is stationary. Guess which mode this put him in?

2. From there, Trash went to the local crap store. It's not actually billed as a crap store; that's just what I call it. Trash spent about an hour shopping there, then got to the counter with a shopping cart full of crap and found out that the cash register was broken. Obviously, waiting around with a baby who was still not entirely over having to sit in a stationary car for no reason was out of the question, so Trash said never mind. "Are you going to but this stuff back away?" the "cashier" said. "No," Trash said. Personally, I don't think it would have taken her much time; she could have just flung everything at the nearest shelf and it wouldn't have made a difference from the way they normally display stuff.

3. The next day, she was having lunch with Bitter at the restaurant at her office park. One of the main things this place has going for it is the cheese bread she likes. Until this week, when it apparently disappeared from the menu. She asked the waiter if they still had it. He suggested a wide variety of other appetizer options, nary a one of them having to do with cheese bread, bread cheese, cheese, or bread. Eventually trash nailed him down to confessing the existence of "breadsticks with cheese melted on 'em." Trash spelled it out for him: "So you do you not make the cheese bread any more?" The waiter spelled it out right back: "I'm sorry, ma'am. I don't cook."

4. Today Trash and I went to Sam's Club, and among the other large-volume items we purchase, we picked up a set of interlocking foam-rubber floor mats, thinking they'd be a good surface upon which M. Tiny could develop his crawling skillz. Than we got home and remembered we already owned something nearly identical, so back to the store it was.

Things were somewhat complicated by the fact that we'd somehow gotten out of the store without our receipt, but not too complicated. I called before heading back, and some nice person explained to me that they have a list on the computer of the stuff purchased on my membership card, which they can print out and it'll be all good.

I get to the member service counter with my big ol' pack-o-mats and slide them over the counter. The person I'm dealing with--not the person I spoke to earlier, and noticeably less nice, prints up a little list and starts processing my refund.

"That's kinda crazy," she says.

"What's that?" I ask.

"I can only credit you $17.44."

"That's how much I paid for them, so that's fine."

At this point she directs my attention to the line-item on the list, and the corresponding amount of $34.88.

"Oh," I say. "They must have rung it up twice by accident. But I only bought one set."

At which point she asserts that no, there was only one of these items purchased, as she could clearly see. And it was at the price listed before me. But she'd be happy to refund half of that cost, since half of it is what the system is now telling her it's worth. Even though I paid twice that earlier the same day. At this point, in her head, apparently I'm supposed to go, "Oh. Okay," and turn around and go home, without the item, and without the money I thought I was paying for it. Like it just isn't my day or something.

Instead, I very calmly and politely insisted that obviously some mistake had been made at the store's end, and I expected the store to fix it. A brief conference with a manager out of my earshot seemed to resolve things in my favor, and she came pouting back to the counter, grumbling something about how she was going to get in trouble for this. I was pregnant with not caring. Sorry for asking you to fix the problem that you pointed out, lady.

5. I actually feel more guilty than annoyed about this last one. I went to the pharmacy and picked up Strat's insulin syringes. Upon getting home, Trash noticed that in addition to the other stuff I bought, there were two items on the receipt that appeared to relate to the syringes: one for the actual item, and something listed as "pet RX." I returned, and learned that these are the same thing and that I should have only been charged once. The aged cashier who'd rung me up refunded me, apologized, and said, "My first mistake since 1949."

I really hope he's lying about that, or I'm going to feel bad.

Today's best search phrase: "Recipe for trash." Sorry, but she's tasty enough just the way she is.

posted by M. Giant 5:46 PM 4 comments


Yeah, I lament the lack of decent customer service in this world all the time.

Yesterday, I stopped on my motorcycle for gas, took $4.75 worth (hey, it's a bike) and handed the foreign gentlement one of four brand new crisp $20s. He gave me a $5 and a quarter. I asked for the rest and he flatly denied I gave him a $20 but rather a $10. I had to explain for 5 minutes that I come to this station every other day for my car and I wouldn't rip them off and I wasn't going to pay $15 for $5 worth of gas. He finally, and irritatedly, handed me a $10. Then the women he had neglected drove away with her car still attached to the gas pump. I found this hilarious and deserved.

By Blogger J, at April 11, 2005 at 8:19 AM  

Interestingly enough, I just had the best customer service experience I think I've ever had.

I had called to cancel my Vonage account, due to the fact that the equipment they sent out wasn't compatible with my hardware configuration (and to make use of the "14-days-I-get-all-my-cashola-back" window). They gave me the option of continuing to cancel, or purchasing (at their expense via refund to my CC) hardware that would work and extending my trial period. I don't know if I won't cancel in the long run, but they certainly won me over with service.

But on the whole, I agree with y'all... >:(

By Anonymous klobbermeister, at April 11, 2005 at 9:11 AM  

You should NOT feel bad about that being his first mistake. You should feel proud you're the one who finally caused Mr. Perfect to mess up.

No one should be perfect. It screw up the system of us all being big walking messes.

By Blogger DeAnn, at April 11, 2005 at 8:56 PM  

Speaking as someone who has worked in the service industries, I lament the lack of decent customers.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at April 13, 2005 at 4:29 AM  

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