Archive for Thursday, June 6, 2002

Bad customer service prompts thoughts of boycotts

June 6, 2002

It was once said that there are two things certain in life: death and taxes. It appears as though another certainty can now be added to that list bad customer service.

Recently, I, or people I know, have been hit with an epidemic of bad customer service. One friend purchased pizza from a Lawrence business only to find dust bunnies on the edge of one slice. (Dust bunnies, for those unaware, are those little clumps of lint, hair, etc. that roam freely in dirty establishments.) After closer examination, the bottom of the pizza was covered with these little critters and looked as though it had been dropped on the floor shortly before delivery.

Ick.

I recently stopped in for a quick chicken sandwich at a drive-thru establishment and made a simple request: no mayo. Simple enough, but not for this particular business. After I got home, I found mayo smeared all over my seemingly tasty sandwich. I'll refrain from the details on how the unwanted condiment made me sick, but I was far from happy.

Plus, a recent software purchase at an area retail store left me $30 poorer after I got home and discovered my new purchase was outdated and needed an upgrade. I downloaded the upgrade from the company Web site, but it had bugs like the one I purchased. A nightlong effort to install the software left me with nothing more than computer crashes and worthless software. When I tried to return it, the store wouldn't take it back because of its policy on opened packages of software. Despite the fact I had purchased it from the store, it shared no responsibility in my worthless product. "You need to contact the manufacturer," I was told. "Our policy doesn't allow for this to be returned."

What I heard was, "Tough luck, buddy. Better luck next time."

My girlfriend, Amy, seems to have gotten the worst of it. One night, we were out on the town and stopped in at a downtown Lawrence restaurant. We placed our order and waited and waited and waited. Finally, my order came, but hers was nowhere to be seen. "It'll be out in just a sec," replied the waitress. She was right. It came out soon after, but went right by our table and to another. The waitress didn't bring the order to our table and instead went to the customer after us who had ordered the same thing. Plus, Amy had to stop eating at a particular pseudo-Mexican restaurant because of its repeated habit of serving her regular tacos instead of chicken, despite her requests.

These are just a few of many offenses. I wish I had the space to list all the offenses and the money to back up the libel lawsuits to name these places by name.

But there is something you and I can do.

In separate instances, these wouldn't look so bad. Maybe I have bad luck; maybe my friends have bad luck. Who knows, and who cares? I think everyone has been in a similar situation, and it's time to do something about it.

I daydream of starting an organization that organizes a mass of people who boycott businesses flagged with bad customer service.

Another option is to make a simple request.

Vote with your dollar. I've heard that before and never understood it until now. Now, I don't shop at places that can't get a simple request right. I avoid places with employees who act so arrogant that they don't think losing my business will hurt them. In return, I'm finding some great places great at providing customers with the decency of good customer service. Those places go on the "good" list. They get referred to friends, family members, whomever.

Although, I have to admit, there's a part of me that is just waiting for the good ones to go bad. Not that I want them to, but now I expect it.

What a sad thought. I think I'll go home and make some food from scratch.

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