Sunday, August 19, 2007

May I not help you?

Boy, for an area that relies so heavily on the tourism and hospitality industries, I sure do run across a lot of crappy customer service here in Tampa Bay. Let me cite three very recent examples.

  1. BOSTON MARKET (Carrollwood) - Earlier this week, I was behind an elderly lady in line who ordered her meal and also wanted a salad to go along with it. The server said she had a choice between Caesar and Market Chopped. The lady was confused. "I just want a regular salad". Again, she was presented with the choices of Caesar or Market Chopped. "Is one of those like a small dinner salad?" "Well, one is a Caesar salad and the other is our Market Chopped salad." Now the lady was very confused and I can't say that I blame her in the least. She was getting replies but no answers. What the hell is a market chopped salad anyway? What does that even mean, 'market chopped'? Now I know that people who work at places like Boston Market are conditioned to speak only in the approved corporate jargon at all times and that if some jamoke in an office building somewhere decrees that what the rest of the universe knows as a standard, garden variety, garden salad shall henceforth be referred to as Market Chopped, then by God, so shall it be. But that shouldn't overrule common sense to the point that it prohibits serving the customer or even communicating with them. It was pretty obvious the lady just wanted some lettuce, a couple of cherry tomatoes and maybe some cucumber slices and carrot shavings. The server could have very easily just made that happen, instead of engaging in a verbal tug of war of semantics with someone who just wanted a freakin' salad with her dinner, for cryin' out loud. It's because of things like this that the diner scene in 'Five Easy Pieces' (click the link or see above) should be required viewing for everyone in the service industry.
  2. THE RINGLING MUSEUM (Sarasota) - We bought tickets last Sunday at 3:30PM, knowing full well that the museum would be closing at 5:00PM. I guess it was nice of the lady reluctantly selling us the tickets to point out that we probably wouldn't be able to see everything but it got annoying when several of the volunteer ushers we came across insisted on driving that point home to us repeatedly, thereby ruining what little time we did have to view the exhibits. At 4:30, one was actually following us and turning off lights behind us. If that wasn't bad enough, at one point I happened to make eye contact with him and in an effort to be friendly said "How ya doin?", he replied "Good night". Real nice. Museums, performing arts centers and such rely heavily on volunteers in order to keep costs down which helps to provide high quality programming and exhibits. The problem is the handful of these people who have bad attitudes, no people skills and false senses of entitlement who seem to find their way into these positions. I guess I just don't understand why anybody would do a job for free if they didn't have a genuine passion for it. I know that if I were so into art, or whatever, that I went out of my way to work at some place for no money, I'd be thrilled to see people who shared that interest and I'd go out of my way to engage them. That's one exhibit we definitely didn't see.
  3. RACETRAC GAS STATION (Gunn Highway) - I bought an Arizona Iced tea at this gas station today. It came to $1.06. I gave the cashier two one dollar bills. He said "you don't have the six cents?" and I said "Nope, I have no coins". "Well you should carry coins", he replied with disgust. I've had cashiers ask for exact change before and if I have, I'll use it. If not, I don't. But this was the first time I'd ever actually been chided for not carrying three quarters, two dimes, a nickel and four pennies with me in the event that I might have to come up with any possible combination of change from a dollar for the benefit of a clerk with a cash register full of money in front of him. I reminded him that I had two dollars, more than enough to pay for the item. He said "Don't worry about it" sneering, as though he were graciously doing me some kind of favor. If there had been more than one cashier on duty and nobody in line behind me, I would have made an issue out of it right then and there and insisted that he take my two dollar bills and give me the 94 cents change. I didn't but I kind of regret that now. I'm all about picking my battles and usually don't make a big deal out of things like this but I think it might have been satisfying to make a small mountain out of this particular mole hill. Instead, I just won't go there anymore, which is the customer's ultimate weapon anyway.

(Cross posted at Sticks Of Fire)

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