Customer Disservice

I owe some blogs, certainly, but this one couldn’t wait. I bought appliances in October, I bought them from Warners’ Stellian, a locally owned/family owned appliance store and people I know have happily bought appliances from them. My story is a trainwreck. And unfortunately I didn’t look at reviews until afterward, but my story is not uncommon.

I’m going to post the full text of the email complaint I sent in yesterday, it explains it better and then you’ll know the whole story. Stay tuned at the end for the results.

Okay, so I don’t feel like I was irrational or even asking for the moon. They screwed up, royally and repeatedly and at MY cost. It was a disaster from the get go. I think my point that they should have given me my money back and been done with it is valid. Instead, after a full business day of waiting, they lowballed me.

They offered me the exact cost of the contractor’s estimate, which did not include the cost of paint and said so right on the invoice, which was $250, plus the cost of groceries, if I sent them an itemized list.

That pissed me off, too. I am the wronged party here, ME, and they have the nerve to lowball me and then ask me to itemize my costs? Um, no. That’s what the email was, and itemized list of grievances, and I gave you my cost, you ignored it. But, I also am so sick of dealing with this mess. It has been consuming my life for a month. I want to be done. So I responded and told him I would settle for $400, but made it clear that they were in the wrong and that they didn’t even apologize.

Okay, they sent me a form letter apology. That doesn’t count. Not in my book. It wasn’t even personalized. “Dear customer we strive for the best and are sorry that your situation….blahblahblah” is not an apology.  I think at the very least the asshole lowballing could have offered up a sincere apology. But no.

I want this out there, not to complain or vent, but to tell anyone who is in Minnesota to simply not use them. Their customer service is atrocious. And from what I have seen, they simply do not care.

DO NOT BUY FROM WARNERS’ STELLIAN.

The Lost Library Book

Here’s a story for you. Once upon a library book….

Back in January, Kelly had me come in to her class to do a book talk for her students as the official kickoff to “I Love to Read” month (which is February). I’ve done this for years for her. I bring in a ton of books from different genres and talk to the kids about what the genres mean and what types of books they can read. It’s a ton of fun, the kids love it and learn a lot.

Then I leave the entire pile of books with Kelly for the kids to use and explore and play with. Now, I would not do this for just anyone. The books are checked out to me, so I’m responsible for them, but Kelly loves the library as much as I do, and she’s very responsible with the books. YEARS we’ve done this and never had a problem.

Of course, this year, there was a problem.

She kept the books and the due date slip and returned them all by the date. As she returned, she checked them off the list to make sure she had them all. She didn’t. There was one missing. She looked for it. And looked for it and looked for it. The kids cleaned their desks, scoured the room, looked at home, this book is missing.

Kelly had told me all of this from the minute she couldn’t find it, so I knew. I fully believed that she would find the book. I figured one of these little kids had it tucked away somewhere and it would turn up. But, it’s been 2.5 months now and it still hasn’t turned up. Kelly offered to pay for the cost of the book, because it is in fact lost.

I’ve been renewing the book this whole time, hoping it would just turn up. But, it’s been so long now, Kelly is sure it won’t. Last night, I went to the library with the intent of paying for the book. There are no more renewals, so I just wanted to deal with it.

I explained this story to the woman working there. She said, “did you get a bill?” Um, no. I didn’t even know they did that. Honestly, I’ve never lost a library book in my life, so I have no idea how this process works. I only know it from the librarian end, how to handle payment for a lost book. And I only know that procedure for Anoka. She said that after a period of time, she thought 30 days, but wasn’t sure, the system would send me a bill for the lost item. At that point, she said, I can come in and pay for it.

Now, I wasn’t trying to be difficult, but I asked “why do I have to wait?” I explained that the book is 100% lost and we’ve been looking for it for months already and I’d like it taken care of. At this point, she is staring at me like I’ve grown another head while talking to her. She explained that until the system registers the book as lost, she can’t accept payment because there is nothing to pay. I’d really like to know who comes up with these things. That’s not true. She should have the ability to mark the item as lost, forcing the system to add the charges to my account. Thus, allowing me to pay for it. But, whatever, it’s not a huge deal and I wasn’t there to make trouble. So I just said fine, that I would wait until I get the bill.

Then she asked if she could call me with additional information, she said she wanted to talk to her boss today. She would find out the details of the this procedure. I couldn’t believe she didn’t know them, but I agreed and gave her my cell phone number.

She kind of hesitated and then she looked at me and said, “thank you for being such a conscientious library user.” I asked what she meant, because it is kind of an unusual compliment.

She said that it is extremely rare to have people step up and take responsibility for something like this, usually it is a fight that the library loses. Now, having worked in a public library myself, I can understand that, people don’t usually take responsibility. They claim they returned it or they accuse us of making a mistake or whatever. But this situation has nothing to do with being a librarian. I told her, “well, the book belongs to you, you trusted me to take care of it and I didn’t do that, so I am responsible for what happens next.”

She nodded and said, “that’s what I mean, very conscientious, so I just wanted to say thank you.”

And that made my day. And they still won’t let me pay for the book yet. When I get the bill, I’ll take care of it, because I am a conscientious library user. And it was nice to be recognized, but nicer still was the fact that I know I somehow made HER day just by doing the right thing.

Customer Service (aka Target FTW!)

Ready for the flip side?

I don’t want to be a complainer, so I figure if I was going to write the Jimmy John’s story, I had to write something complimentary as a counterpoint.

About two weeks ago, I was desperately in need of some staples. Both product and grocery. Since I basically despise this sort of necessary shopping, I decided to do it at Target and save myself some grief. I made a list, I clipped the coupons, I was set. I went after work and it was busy. BUSY. The WB Target is pretty much always busy, but evidently all Target-goers shop after work, instead of on weekends.

At any rate, I started in the Halloween store, because I needed a couple tiny accessories for Arionna’s costume. I was muddling through the mess that is Halloween accoutrements when a nice employee approached, with a smile, and said “is there anything I can help you find?”

Now, I’m not an idiot, I can probably find it on my own, but heck, I have a lot to buy and don’t want to be here all night, so I figure I could save the time and let her help. It worked. I thanked her and she left with a final smile.

I am pretty sure everyone who is reading this has been to Target. I have to ask, when is the last time this happened to you in Target? Me, I am pretty sure never. Employees do not offer help in Target. I have generally found that if I do need help, they are nowhere to be found and if you do ask, they are begrudging at best. I’ve actually gone on rants about disliking Target’s service levels. I think they take advantage of their virtual corner on the market and disregard their customers.

But then…

So I continued to shop. I was in the kitchen area looking for….I forget, honestly, but it was a weird thing I don’t normally buy. Like magic, a young man in red and khaki came around the corner and asked if there was anything he could help me find. I told him and bam! I was off to the next item on my list.

I needed kitchen hand soap. I could not find it. I went up and down aisles looking for it (because how hard can it be?) and suddenly an older man approached in his Target uniform “you look like you’re looking for something” he said with a warm smile “can I help?” I asked and he led me right to it. By the body wash, for the curious, which makes no sense at all.

During the maybe 90 minutes I was shopping that store, I was approached SIX different times and offered help. Can you believe that? I don’t think it has ever happened ONCE, and suddenly it was all that was happening. I honestly was amazed. I can often get annoyed by sales people in stores, they come across as pushy because they are trying to sell me something, but this was different. They came across as helpful and friendly, and, face it, I actually needed help.

I don’t know if Target corporation is making changes or if it is just the management of my local store, but this was the most I’ve ever loved Target.  Then, when I went to check out, I was the annoying woman with a full cart using the self checkout. I love self checkouts, use them everywhere. My grocery store has made them express stations, so I don’t often get the chance to do it, but Target has not. Until they do, yeah, I’m gonna be that person. At any rate, of course after ringing up my huge cart, I had a ginormous pile of coupons.

I started scanning them and they didn’t work. Not all of them. The girl working that area came over and helped. When I needed help again (HUGE pile of coupons) she popped over. The third time, she smiled at me and said “you know, so you don’t have to wait, I’m just going to stand over here, instead of at the podium, so I’ll be on hand if you need me.”

I mean, come on, the service was practically over the top at that point. But, true enough, she stood by my side and keyed in her code probably 10 different times in order to allow me to use my coupons. (Side note, I save THIRTY FIVE DOLLARS in straight coupons that day!)

I left that Target happy, content, and encouraged to go back, which is exactly what good customer service does. I never thought Target would make this list, but they deserve kudos for their increase in service.

I’m headed back tonight to pick up a few things, I’ll let you know how it goes!

Customer Service (aka Jimmy Johns FAIL)

I ordered lunch from Jimmy Johns today. I have little at home and I figured why not? I’ve ordered JJ several times to work. They deliver. It’s been a while since I ordered from them, though. First thing I noticed was that they redesigned the website. And it is less user friendly. Next? The prices went up.

Fine, it is either that or go pick up something. I toyed with Pei Wei, but in the end, my time was limited enough that I ordered JJ. I always order to be delivered at a certain time, because I’m at work. While the when of my lunch is flexible, sometimes, like today, I have meetings and things.

The guy showed up 5 minutes after the designated time. No worries. I signed the slip and took the bag. I always open the bag (really at any fast food) to make sure my order is right. Literally before I was able to open the bag, maybe 4 seconds, the delivery guy was gone.

Of course, I open it up and they sent the wrong chips. Not a huge deal by any means, not even something I would complain about, it’s an inconvenience, not a problem. I checked the sandwich and it was right. Unfortunately, they didn’t send a straw for my drink. That is a problem.  Again, by itself, I probably wouldn’t worry, but now that is two out of three items that are a problem. And I just paid over $15 for this!

So I call the store. I explain to the woman on the phone. She starts repeating my words to someone else while I am still talking. RUDE. Listen to me, then ask me to hold on and THEN explain the issue to someone else.

Finally, I just stopped speaking. I could then hear THEM discussing ME while I was on the phone, not on hold. The 2nd woman said to the woman who answered, “ask what she got.”

I can hear her, so before she could relay the question, I told her.

She repeated my answer. 2nd woman said “well, what did she ORDER”? And it was so snotty, like I might have ordered the wrong thing and they had to verify that I was telling the truth. I mean, even if I did screw up and order incorrectly, which I did not, it would still benefit them to give me good customer service and fix the problem. But instead they are trying to make out like it was my screw up.

So I explained AGAIN what went wrong. Then 2nd woman demanded my order number to CHECK MY STORY. I gave it, even though this is beyond ridiculous. I didn’t even want anything and I wasn’t mad. Stuff happens. I would have liked a straw, but the chips? I didn’t really care. However, now I was being treated like some sort of criminal?

Finally, answering woman said “we’re gonna send out new chips and a straw, hon.” And she hung up.

1. WAIT for a response before hanging up. Otherwise it’s like hanging up on me.

2. Unless you’re actually friendly , “hon” is not acceptable. When you’ve been rude the entire call, it only sounds patronizing.

Then I waited. And waited. Jimmy John’s is know for the speed of their service. I think it is great, unless that speed starts messing with the customer service quality. And that phone call? Not speedy, nor polite. #FAIL

Finally, more than 15 minutes after the PHONE CALL, the same guy shows up. He hands me a bag, stapled shut, and turns to go. I barely registered the bag before he was gone. I certainly didn’t have time to open it. And he didn’t say anything, didn’t apologize. Again, I wasn’t mad…but this poor service was making me mad.

I open the bag and, inside, were the same WRONG CHIPS. They sent me the wrong item….TWICE! Now, after I have called and complained and you sent out a second deliver to fix the problem, wouldn’t you make certain that it was correct? Normally, people would, yes, but as I said, I barely felt as though they were listening so why should I have expected more?

At least they remembered the straw.

I sat here for a moment (by the way, the time I carved out for lunch was gone at this point, so I had to wait until after a meeting before I would even get to eat.) and considered my options. Finally, I decided they needed to know that they screwed up.

I called.

A different woman answered the phone. She was not either of the voices from phone call #1. I start to briefly explain and she went “uh-huh, I have to get my manager”. And didn’t even listen. It’s fine, I will happily speak to the manager, but seriously, how about basic phone manners?

Then the manager gets on the phone. Surprise, surprise, she is the voice of 2nd woman from the first call. The rude one who insisted that there be PROOF that I wasn’t trying to scam Jimmy John’s out of a bag of chips. I repeat the story.

She said, disbelievingly, “so he brought the wrong chips again?”

Um, yeah, that’s exactly what i just got done saying. I affirmed that not only did he bring me the wrong chips twice, he brought the SAME wrong chips, twice.

Then, and really, this might be my favorite part, she said “so you are saying that you have two red bags of chips in front of you, both are red bags?”

Now she’s trying to verify my veracity through color? Because i can’t be trusted to READ THE NAME off the bag of chips? It was so insulting I actually wanted to scream. How dare she? I had been scrupulously polite and courteous during both calls and in my interactions with the delivery guy and I do not deserve to be treated like this.

I said, “I am telling you that you have twice delivered me the same wrong bag of chips.”

She sighed, she actually sighed into the phone and said, “fine I’ll have him bring you a new bag of chips.”

THAT’S your solution? How many chances to you think you get? What you should have done is….apologize. Never, not once, did anyone apologize or take ownership. Instead they blamed, insulted, patronized and degraded someone who is a loyal customer. And I didn’t even want an apology but by that point I felt as if I deserved that at the very least.

Considering the compounding screw ups and the multiple phone calls, at this point she should have offered to comp my lunch or at least offer me a free lunch in the future. That would have been the accepted thing to do.

This time, I told her that I do not want a third bag of chips.  I explained that I am at work and do not have infinite amounts of time to wait for chip delivery.  Then I said, “all I really wanted was to point out the error and let you know that a lot of this could be avoided if the delivery person would just slow for a moment and allow me to check the order before leaving.”

She said, “ok, I’ll tell him to slow down.” And she hung up.

Summarily dismissed. That’s how I felt. If I weren’t so busy I would have actually taken my sandwich, etc. back and gotten my money back. That is how mad I was.  Instead, I griped to a few nearby students and shut up and wolfed down my sandwich in the time I had remaining.

Yeah, I know this is an extremely long story (it’s taken me two days and three computers to write!) but I wanted to put it down. I love Jimmy John’s I’m a huge fan. And have been basically since Joe Watson gave me a free sandwich nine years ago. Jimmy John’s has never done me wrong. I keep seeing this trend of poor customer service and I wanted to stop. Stop and say, “Jimmy John’s you need to step up.” Speed is great, but not at the expense of service. And, most importantly, you need to remember that customers are not an annoyance or something to put up with or suffer through. They are the reason you have a job. Without customers, the franchise would cease to exist.

Kindness, courtesy, simplicity, authenticity. Customer service is not that hard.

Library Woes Revisited

Remember this tale?

If not, or if you never read it, I beseech you to do so now, otherwise, this will be a confusing post.

Next, I am going to print the email I sent to the branch manager.

Hi Carrie,

 I was in your library (N. St. Paul) on Thursday night to pick up a holds request. My card was out of date and I handed over my ID to the staff member working. Two years ago, I moved from Washington County to Ramsey. I still have my Wash Co card. Your staff member insisted that I get a Ramsey county card. I protested this switch. I am a long time library user and I have had the same card since I first moved to Wash Co, more than 20 years ago. I keep updating my address, but the card and the card number have remained the same. 

In addition, I’ve registered my current card in all the 7 county area MELSA libraries, as well as several independent libraries. I am an avid library user and have my card number memorized. Given the fact that I go out of my way to keep my card current and use it heavily, it is a huge inconvenience for me to change to a new card. 

I tried explaining this to the staff member but he simply would not listen. His response “you have to have a card from where you live.” Clearly that is not true as I’ve lived in Ramsey Co for two years and still use my Wash Co card. Even with my unwillingness, he signed me up for a new library card, without my consent.

 I do not want this new card and I do not plan to use it. At one point he even said to me “I will allow you to keep the old card but you can’t use it here” as though he had some right to confiscate my library card. This is not acceptable.

 I rarely complain and do not wish to do so now. What I would like is for my old card to be updated with my new information and allowed to continue using my Wash Co card, correctly registered in Ramsey Co. As it is, I now have one card for six systems and four independent libraries and a separate card for Ramsey County.

 Can you please tell me how we can make this happen?

 Thank you, 

Livlife

That was sent directly to the branch manager. I fully expected that she’d email me back and we’d solve the problem. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Two days after I emailed her, she called me. CALLED ME ON MY CELL PHONE. Aside from the grievous breach of etiquette in returning by email, there is the privacy issue as well. Yes, I use my cell phone as my only number, and yes, it is registered with my card, but that does not give her license to use it at will. She could have responded to my email to ask if we could talk via phone, but she did not. So, she had one strike against her going in. Well, two actually, because it should not have taken her two days to respond if she only had to pick up the phone.

While we spoke, she was condescending. She kept referring to complicated policy and repeating things over and over again, as though I couldn’t possibly understand. Never mind the fact that I am highly intelligent, I am also a librarian and incredibly familiar with all these policies, as I had already explained to her. However, she clearly had an agenda and a script in mind and she wasn’t willing to deviate.

Eventually, after more than ten minutes on the phone with her, I simply cut to the chase and said that I wanted my card reinstated in her system. She waffled and wavered and said she had to check with some people. It was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and she said it wasn’t likely she’d get back to me by the end of the day, but promised to call me no later than Monday the 26th with an answer.

Naturally, she didn’t call on Monday. Or Tuesday. In fact, it wasn’t until the end of the business day on Wednesday that she finally called, just to say “the answer is no.” She mentioned speaking with the director. And that’s it.

I was understandably and justifiably upset. What I am asking for, while it may not be strict policy, is not that big of a deal. It costs them nothing. It means a great deal to me.

I’ve been working on composing a letter. I’ve decided to go over her head and approach the library director. I am writing a personal appeal, which I will happily publish here, after I’ve finished it. I am honestly surprised that this is such a big deal. There is no reason under the sun why they should care. Or if there is, no one has shared it with me. It is as though they’ve dug in their heels on some imagined principle and just feel like they need to stand strong.

I promised to keep it updated and I will do so. Anyone else feeling like this is a bizarre reaction to a simple request?

We’ll see what happens next.

Dear Woodbury Wal-Mart,

My friend Kelly was having issues with the Wal-Mart near her home. Due to those issues, she had to send her photo order to you, Woodbury Wal-Mart. As I am visiting her today, she called me and asked if I could stop, yesterday, and pick up her already-paid-for pictures. I was happy to do it.

When I arrived at your store, I found that evidently, the entire populous of Woodbury shops at 5:15 on a Thursday. I parked approximately 17 miles away and hoofed it up to the store. Upon entering, I was surprised to learn that you’ve added an entire grocery store since my last visit. I guess it’s been a while, sorry about that.

When I got to the photo department, a woman was already in line, she was dealing with the photo associate, who might have been alive when photographs were invented. He simply could not find her pictures. He looked and checked the computer and…nada. She was very upset and, while he was pleasant, he did nothing to alleviate her distress. She couldn’t find her confirmation number, even though he was still able to look her up online. Her concern was that her pictures were already paid for. As the associate did not one thing to help her, he offered no advice or solutions, I finally stepped in. I told her if she ordered her pictures online (she had mentioned that she did) she would have had to use an email address and Wal-Mart.com would have sent her a confirmation number to her email, so she can go home and print it off. That relaxed her enough she was able to step away. My turn.

I asked the associate for pictures, using Kelly’s name. He looked in the H’s. Nothing. He asked if there were 8x10s, of course, I didn’t know, as they aren’t my pictures, so I said, thinking quickly, “actually, my husband printed them, so I’m not sure, could you just check?” I don’t know why I felt the need to lie, but I did. I didn’t want there to be any hassle, since the pictures weren’t in my name…and I somehow felt hassle headed my way.

The associate, let’s call him Don, looked again and couldn’t find them. He then checked the computer–I think he might have called it “that darn-tootin’ newfangled machine” or something. He told me the computer said the pictures were printed. Well, of course, that’s great. But he couldn’t find them.

Again, Don offered no solutions. So, I stepped up and said, “why don’t you check under other letters in case they were misfiled?” Don checked the letters immediately preceding and succeeding Kelly’s last name, but no others. I suggested Don call the associate that was working when the pictures were printed, to see if they could help. He did not seem inclined to follow that suggestion. Finally, I asked Don what he could do to help me.

“I can reprint them.”

Now, you’re talking! It’ll mean another trip back to the store, but to actually get the pictures, I’m willing. “When will they be done?”

“About a day.”

Okay, we’re back to no good. I needed them absolutely no later than noon on Friday (today). So I asked Don if a day meant actually 24 hours, or just Friday.

He said, “well, it’s hard to say, my printer’s broken”. Which means, I suppose, that he couldn’t actually do the one solution he offered me. Eventually, I settled the matter by trading numbers with Don. I gave him “Kelly’s” number (mine, but he thinks I’m her) and got the store number from him. He promised to call if he could get the printer fixed and print them last night.

No call came.

When I woke up this morning, I called you, Woodbury Wal-Mart. The very unpleasant woman who answered the phone responded to my request of “photo department, please” with…nothing. There was a click and then deafening silence. No elevator music, no ringing, just nothing. I checked and I was not disconnected. I waited 90 seconds before hanging up and calling back. Same woman, same reaction. I, again, requested “photo department, please” and received that same silence. Who has no sound when someone is on hold? It’s worse than the terrible music.

After about 90 more seconds, the unpleasant woman came back on the line and said, “no one seems to be answering, what can I do for you?” but though the words read courteously enough, they were said in what can only be described as a snide tone.

I politely (though I am not at my best in the mornings and I was quickly losing my patience) told her my story and said I just wanted to know if the pictures were done. Her response?

“Oh, you said PHOTO department. I thought you said SODA department and I didn’t know what to do.”

Um, so you just set the phone down and did nothing? That’s why I was getting silence? Why not just ask me to repeat myself? When did, “I’m sorry I didn’t get that, could you repeat it?” stop being acceptable?

I took a bracing breath because this was already the most frustrating phone call I’ve endured in 2012 and I had yet to get to the heart of things. I was transferred and this time, the phone rang. And rang and rang and rang and rang.

Eventually, the idiot/snide woman picked up again and said, “what do you want?” No kidding, that is what she said. This time, I snapped, “I want the photo department, do you think you can manage that?”

Deep breath.

She said she’d page overhead.

Finally, someone picked up the phone. I explained my issue and asked her to check for the photos. She came back and said she couldn’t find them. I asked if the printer was fixed. She didn’t know. I was ready to kill someone when she saved herself by admitting that she didn’t work in that department, she worked in hardware (I don’t know why she felt that was pertinent), and she was just trying to help out.

Then she ruined it by adding that there was not an associate in the photo department that morning, they don’t start until 9am.

Perhaps, Woodbury Wal-Mart, you could explain why the woman who answers the main phone and directs calls is unaware that no associate will be in the department I am calling for at least another HOUR. That seems like information she should have and should share with the customer. Had she said, “no one in that department will be available until 9am, I would have just called back.”

Now, back to the hardware associate I was currently dealing with.

She said she didn’t know how to help me, but she could clearly tell my annoyance level was off.the.charts.

I asked her to please find someone who could. I was polite, but very firm. I was done with this. This is terrible customer service, Woodbury Wal-Mart, and I wanted satisfaction.

She said “I’m going to put you down for a second.” And she did. Why she chose not to put me on hold is beyond me, but I could hear every little sound of your store as I waited. I lifted the phone away from my ear to check the timer. When she came back, I checked again, she left me like that for two full minutes.

Her answer?

She said her XYZ (I don’t remember what she called him, some acronym) which she explained is the boss above the store manager (Yowza!) was there and he was going to help. They were going to look again for the pictures and could she “put me down again?”

I gritted my teeth and said “of course.” I figured after all this hassle, if they came back and said they couldn’t find them I was going to lose it and argue until I got Kelly her pictures for free AND a compensation of some kind, like a gift card. This was beyond ridiculous (as you can probably tell by the 1,500 word essay, that is still not complete).

I checked the timer again.

I waited.

And waited.

And

W

A

I

T

E

D

I kept checking the timer.

Finally, after SEVEN solid minutes of waiting, not on hold, a man picked up the phone.

“Ma’am?” (FYI, Woodbury Wal-Mart, I detest being called ma’am, you might want to advise your above-the-store-managers of this. There are other greetings)

I braced myself to hear bad news when he said, “your greeting cards are finished and they are here waiting for you.”

I didn’t know they were greeting cards, but it seems like Kelly, so I assumed we’re on the right page….finally.

I thanked him and hung up the phone. When I checked, my total time on that call?

Would you like to guess?

No?

Fine. 17 minutes. SEVENTEEN minutes. Does it seem necessary for that to have taken 17 minutes, for something that should have been done the day before?

And, that should have been the end of it, it really should have, but when I got to work, I was doing some things and I was just going to let this go.

Then, at 9:55am, my phone rang. I answered and the voice on the other end said, “Kelly?”

It was Don. Remember him, from the beginning of this novel?

He was calling to tell me that my photos were done. Really? He said he’d finally gotten his printer fixed and just printed them this morning.

Wait. What?

Don claimed the pictures were just printed this morning. I know from the previous marathon call that Don did not start until 9am, but my pictures were done by 8:23 am, so, they were either printed last night and Don was LYING to me or a fairy came in and printed a copy this morning and Don printed a second set, unaware of the fairy’s work.

Which one do you think is the more likely scenario, Woodbury Wal-Mart?

I’m guessing this was just the final straw in one of the worst customer service experiences I have ever had, with any company. Of course, as I haven’t yet picked them up, it is possible that this saga is not yet over. I’ll have to let you know. But for now, Woodbury Wal-Mart, I hope it is clear that this is unacceptable.

Get your shit together. It ain’t rocket science.

Sincerely,

Liv “A for Effort” Life

***UPDATE***

Here’s the end to this very long story. When I arrived to pick up the photos. Don couldn’t find them! <gasp> I know, it’s shocking. He looked and looked. Finally, a guy from another department (perhaps the mystery manager, I don’t know) came over and said, “oh, they’re in here” and pulled out the small box of photos. Don then said to me, “sorry, guess I was looking in the wrong place this whole time.”

So, I guess Don lied to me…again. Clearly, he never reprinted them or he would have known where they were when I arrived. Someone else found them, right where they were supposed to be, and had been the entire time. Awesome. All this hassle and the pictures were there all along. Good work, Woodbury Wal-Mart. {sarcasm font needed}

Dear McDonalds Drive-Thru Boy,

I apologize for my behavior. I bet you never thought you’d hear that, hmm?

Well, I mean it. I really am sorry that I sat in your drive-thru line for 12 minutes at 8:00 PM. It wasn’t even busy. I’m sorry that when you finally gave me my food, you just thrust the bag at me and said, “here”.

I’m guessing it isn’t your fault that you have shitty customer service skills. You’re, what? 16? 17?  You’re a child. You still have a lot to learn and, while the training program may be fantastic, that doesn’t mean that you’ve learned the best way to handle customers.

I’ve worked in customer service my entire life. I’ve chosen to make it my life’s work. And, Drive-thru boy, I’m really good at it. I pride myself on being good with customers, on knowing exactly what to say in any given situation. I’ve achieved the ability to diffuse a nasty situation with a thoughtful remark, a well-placed quip, or a sincere apology. But, it has taken time. I didn’t gain these skills overnight–and, Lord knows, I didn’t have them, in full, when I was sixteen.

So, it isn’t like I expected much of you. Still, I enjoy being surprised. I like it when children like you act with maturity and do the right thing in a given situation, letting me know there is hope for the future.

Then, we have you.

It was a minor annoyance. It was long past peak time for dinner and well before the drunken munchies would come roaring through. I should have been in and out. Instead, it took me 12 minutes. That’s not a significant amount of time in the whole of the universe, but slightly draggy for McDonalds. When I finally inched up to the 2nd window, there you were. You made me wait. You didn’t say you’d be right with me. You never made eye contact. Then, after what seemed an interminable amount of time, you creaked open that window and thrust a crumpled bag in my direction.

“Here.”

Nothing else. Not even eye contact or embarrassed chagrin.

I ripped open the bag to check the contents and the fries weren’t even fresh. I lost my cool.

I yelled at you. Do you remember me now? Or is it run of the mill to have people yell at you in the drive-thru lane?

I said, “Really? Not even a ‘thank you’ or a ‘sorry for the wait’?” And I glared, right into your unshaven, peach-fuzzy, face. I stared you down. Or, I would have, if you’d had the gumption to look at me. I watched your eyes nervously dart in every direction that was not my angry face. When enough tense, terse, silence had overtaken us, I gave my temper full rein and snarled in your direction.

Fuck you.

And then I squealed my tires as I drove away. Do you remember me now? Did you think, “what a bitch”, as I drove away? It’s okay if you did. I was a bitch. I can’t recall being that deliberately rude in my entire life. As I drove away, I was ashamed of my behavior.

I get that you don’t know me. And you probably don’t care. You might have just shrugged it off. But that is not me. I am not that person who verbally abuses teenagers (or anyone, really) because I’m having a bad day. There is no excuse for my deplorable actions. I was just wrong. And I am very sorry.

I keep thinking how I would have felt. I was once a teenage girl, working in customer service. Bagging groceries, telemarketing, cashiering, it doesn’t matter the job. I was once that girl. If me-from-back-then had to wait on me-from-this-story, she would have been upset. Visibly, as she had to wait on the next customer. She would know that the job doesn’t stop because someone upset you or was rude to you, but that doesn’t mean she would have liked it. She would have finished her shift and gone home. She would have told her parents what happened and let them comfort her that sometimes people just say the wrong thing and it is no one’s fault.

I know she would have reacted that way, because me-from-this-story hasn’t changed that much. I called my mom. I told her what I had done and I let her tell me it’s going to be okay. That everyone has a breaking point. But, I couldn’t feel better. Wanna know why?

Because I could picture you, Drive-thru boy, going home at the end of the night and telling your mom how some mean lady in a Cadillac was rude to you, very rude, for no reason at all. You didn’t even do anything wrong.

It’s true, you know, that everyone does have a breaking point. I might have reached mine that Saturday night, at 8:00 pm. But that doesn’t mean I was justified. I was being self-centered and letting the world around me shake what I know to be right. I know better, but I did it anyway. I let loose my life’s frustrations on you. And it didn’t make me feel better. In fact, it made me feel so much worse. When I think of that moment, I get a pit in the center of my stomach. That’s not new, I’ve been feeling it for weeks, but when I think of you, and my bad behavior, the pit grows. It comes to life and it growls and writhes and makes me well aware that I did something wrong.

I’m sorry.

That’s not to make me feel better. That’s the truth. I’m sorry for what I did. I won’t do it again. It wasn’t your fault and it didn’t help. Lesson learned. If you’re lucky, you’ll never understand. That’s what I hope for you.

If I see you again, Drive-thru boy, I will apologize in person. I’d rather you think of me as “that weird lady” rather than “that rude bitch” but that is beside the point. You deserve to hear it, and, I think, I need to say it.

Thanks for listening.

And the fries were really awful. (but, that’s Karma for you…)