Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Customer Service

I swear, every single time I deal with those folks behind the photo counter at Costco I feel like a convict. If I'm told, just one more time, that "it's the LAW" with that sneery face, I will take my considerable business elsewhere. I'm serious. Not kidding around. Because honestly. By now SOMEONE in the department should recognize me. And know that I am a repeat customer. And know that I am not trying to steal someone else's photos. Or steal my own, for that matter. Crumbles - So. Much. Hassle. to pick up four 4 x 6 prints... total cost of order? Under $2. Please, please, please ... spare me the lecture on confirmation numbers and receipts and rules and laws. I've got my membership card. I can describe when the order was placed (online, last night, after midnight.) I can tell you exactly what the photos are images of. I can tell you when you confirmed that my order was ready. I am paying in cash. You know you will see me again in a few days. When I tell you that my laptop is not connected to the printer so I didn't print out the confirmation page - please put your attitude away. Do not suggest I drive home and open up my computer so that I can get the number, write it down on a scrap piece of paper and bring it back to you. 

Just don't.
Ever again.

And if you tell me, that BY LAW you can't give me my photos, I will invite you to keep them forever.
And then?
If I felt like it.
I would place orders everynight after midnight.
Big orders.
Bigger than four 4 x 6's.
Enlargements. Hundreds of reprints. Special calendars.

And never pick them up.


The other night a friend and I were having supper in White Rock at an upper scale restaurant. We sat out front, in a squeezy corner booth, overlooking the ocean with a lovely heater above us and fresh sea air blowing at us. We were situated awkwardly, but were so thrilled that it wasn't raining and delighted to be in our happy place it didn't matter.

When our meals were placed in front of us, I asked if I could please have some cutlery (I had a schnitzel dinner) and my friend asked if some malt vinegar could be brought for her fish.
"No worries, I'll be right back," our waitress cheerfully claimed.

We waited.
And waited.
And waited.

After 12 minutes, (which, is a long time if you've got food in front of you that you can't eat) I manouevered my way out of my seat, went in to the bar and asked for a fork and knife.

I came back to my seat and realized I'd forgotten to ask for Malt Vinegar. It didn't matter, she was handling things her way. She was calling them on her cell phone (the number was printed on their door):
"Hello? I am sitting outside at the corner table and I'd like some service. My friend has been waiting for cutlery and I'm waiting for Malt Vinegar. It's now been 13 minutes."
The owner was at our side in 20 seconds, apologizing.
"I can't do anything about your experience so far, but I assure you, it'll be better from this point on."
We assured him we didn't want special treatment, it's just that we were abandoned. We hadn't seen our server since she dropped off our meals.

We finished our supper, and the owner was back out again. Could he get us dessert?
"No thanks, but I'd love some Earl Grey tea," I said.
"And I'll have more hot water, if you don't mind."
"No worries. I'll be right back."

We never saw him again.
Our waitress resurfaced though, after 20 minutes with our bills.


That same weekend I stopped in at Safeway to pick up at few things at 10 pm. There was nobody at the one till that was open. Ten minutes later when I returned to the front with my basket of healthy foods, a lineup was forming. I was forth in line, with about 6 people behind me.

The first two people in line where emptying their baskets at the til, so, when the backup clerk opened her cash register and said, "I'll take the next one in line", the guy in front of me and I both walked over to her till. The folks behind me divided themselves between the two tills.
"Were you the next in line?" she asks the fellow in front of me who has emptied his basket onto the belt.
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, I was."
"Because if you weren't, I'd have to ask you to put your things back in the basket. I said I would take the next in line."
"I was the next in line."
"I don't like dealing with budgers..."
"I was the next in line."

She starts ringing through his purchases, commenting now and then on the products he was buying. He pays with an assortment of currencies, first 4 american one dollar bills, then a canadian $20, then some on his bank card and the last bit on his Visa. (The total purchase was less than $50.) She suggests that next time he keep his American bills so he has them on hand for when he goes to the States. She talks about her American Money Wallet and how clever it is to have one.

As he walks away, she turns her attention to me.
"Look how many of you there are here! What is wrong with you people? Why are you shopping so late? Don't any of you have lives?"

She was probably 17 years old.


Another Safeway story. A two parter.
A few months ago I was doing my shopping, again, later in the evening, and there was only one till open. A particular clerk was working who I often get when I shop at this specific store at night and I usually try to avoid her. She always talks to me. And I can never understand what she's saying. Her voice is super quiet, she mumbles something fierce and English is not her native tongue. It's so hard to converse with her, I keep saying "excuse me?" or "pardon?" or "Can you say that again?" and it's just tiring, y'know? By 10:30 pm, I'm not chatty. I just want to get home and blog.

So, on this evening, I can see she's going especially slow. And she mumbling like crazy to the woman in front of me. She's making multiple errors and the bank card reader is not accepting the password and the clerk is getting agitated, but I don't know what she's saying.

Finally it's my turn and she turns her attention to me and starts crying.
"I need go pee. But supervisor won't let me go."
Or something like that.
"She hate me. You don't know... hard ... to work here."
Mumble mumble
"She said I go pee on break. But no time, I eat."
Blows nose.
She's not pushing any of my items through, she's just standing there angry and mad.
I nod.
And feel incredibly uncomfortable.
"She fire me. She no like me. She mean."
Slowly she starts scanning my, ahem, fruits and vegetables.
"I need go pee. Now. But she so mean. So mean."
I pay my bill, and gather up my bags. The lady in the line up behind me says to her, "Why don't you zip over to the bathroom right now? I'll wait. If you have to go, you have to go."
"Oh, NO! I can't. My supervisor watching me. She see me. She fire me. She mean. So mean."

I know the supervisor. She's worked there for years. I've shopped there for years. I doubt she's meaner than your average floor supervisor. I'm tempted to stop by the desk and let her know her only clerk is going to leave a puddle behind her till, but decide to mind my own business. I had games of facebook scrabble waiting for me at home.


Then about 3 weeks ago, I get that same clerk again. Inside I'm cringing. Because seriously? I don't need drama with my groceries.
She sees it's me, notices I have a buggie this time and says, "Just a minute," then uses the speaker to call another clerk to open another til. She tells the gal behind me to go to a different til, then she turns off her light. She has a big smile on her face.
Then she runs over to the newly opened til and turns on that light.
She runs back, giggling.
Then she goes to the front of her til, and puts a sign up, directing people to go to the open til on the left.
She comes back to her til with a huge smile on her face.
"Oh wait, one more thing."
She shuffles behind me and pulls out the little rope thingy that indicates her til is closed.
Then she goes back to her til again.
"I like take time. If someone behind you, I have to rush rush rush. Now. No hurry. Talk. See? Good."

I have emails to write. I want to get home. She wants to talk?

"So. What new with you?" She asks as she pushes my items, one at a time, slowly across the scanner.
What's new with me? What's old with me? She knows nothing about me. Nothing.
"You tell me something."
Oh good grief.
"Well, I am looking forward to something fun. I'm going on a cruise next week with 16 friends. We're going to celebr..."
"A CRUISE! I want cruise. A cruise is good. I say I go cruise."
She gets a slip of paper and a pen.
"Is cheap? Cruise? I no spend alot money."
I tell her it's a good deal. "If you're looking for cruise ideas, check into repositioning cruises. They're pretty affordable."
She hands me the piece of paper.
"How much your cruise? You write it. All it. You write down cruise."
I write down the name of the cruise line, the price per inside cabin, and the departuer point.
She tucks the paper into her jeans.
"Good. I see you on cruise. I need holiday. Cruise good. I want go sooo long. Cheap yeah? No much money?"

Oh my goodness, oh my goodness.

Seriously, I kept expecting her to pop up on that cruise. It wasn't until the third day that I finally relaxed.


Mostly this post is just a rant.
And it's not so much a rant against the servers/clerks as it is against the way they were trained.

Have they been adequately prepared to do their jobs with excellence? Is the training program sufficient? Thorough? Does an experienced clerk mentor the inexperienced one? Is there feedback or reviews that are helpful. Is additional/ongoing training available? Is customer service even a priority for organizations besides Disney?

And yes, I totally get that in one case I'm annoyed because they don't recognize me (Costco) and in the other case I'm annoyed that they do (Safeway).

It's probably just a case of PMS.

Ignore me, it'll go away.

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. It's my dad's 75th Birthday! He is way older than I ever thought he'd be. So very thankful that I am his daughter. So very thankful that he's still with us. So very thankful for my mom. He is still alive because of her selfless care.

2. We have not yet, in 2011, had more than 2 consecutive days of sunshine. I think we might break that record this week. YAY. Spring is here. I even worked in my garden tonight.

3. My bladder infection is back. (Ahhh, so that explains this crabby post...) but I'm thankful that my doctor (Now he's a great example of excellent customer service) (jus sayin) squeezed me at the end of the day to sympathize with my incredible discomfort and prescribe something new that should take care of any and all impurities anywhere in my body or my house or my neighbourhood.  I should feel like my cheerful ol self in a few days. Come back then. This blog will be all sunshine and lollipops.


1 comment:

ramblin'andie said...

I know exactly who you're talking about at Safeway and I try to avoid her too. I don't go to Safeway to make friends or influence people.
And Costco's customer service? Is exactly why we didn't renew our membership and continue to refuse to renew it there.
But seriously? I think 99% of the population could use a lesson on customer service and professionalism. It's crazy making.