Friday, September 11, 2015

The Annals Of Bad Retail Experiences



This is a tale of customer service woe.

I frequent a local gas station/food dispensary in the area where I live (I don’t want to name names, but the first part is a word that means “Get” and the second part is a word that means “Go”. And early this week I had an unfortunate experience with one.

To be frank—this is unusual. I’ve been going to this chain for years and have had hardly any problems, aside from delicious sandwiches that are way too expensive. Although we’ve recently tried to eat a late-night meal there once and ended up having to have both of our orders fixed (they forgot my French fries and they forgot my wife’s chicken salad) but I was more than willing to chalk that up to the fact that one poor woman was preparing what I estimated to be six thousand orders in twenty minutes. It happens.

On Tuesday of this past week, my wife and I went to a concert. We are way too old for concerts, but we did it anyway and it was fun—but it was also hot and sweaty and gross and crowded and the room was probably 25% oxycontin. So when we left—had we been able to make it to the bar, which is a questionable endeavor, we really didn’t want to pay eight bucks for a bottle of water—I was incredibly thirsty.

Fast forward a few miles down the road and we stop at the gas station slash food dispensary. All I wanted was a drink. Specifically a fountain drink, because I find those to be more refreshing. It’s a simple task, but one that ended up deviling me for a very desperate five minutes.

First, I went to grab a large cup. Nope! They were completely out of large cups. Oh well, I figured, it happens, I’ll settle for a medium. So I look at the Diet Pepsi—my drink of choice—and see that it is out of order. Oh no! But, luckily, they had two such buttons, and the other one seemed to work fine. So I filled my medium cup up and went to grab a straw—no straws! The only straws they had were the kind intended for slushies, with an awkward little fake spoon at one end that increases the difficulty of using it as an actual straw. Well, I thought, this isn’t great, but I am that. Thirsty. I’ll power through.

I took a quick sip and—of course!—it was bitter and flat. They forgot the special secret fountain pop syrup.

Now, the logical part of me would have dumped it and got another fountain drink and settled for, say, Diet Dr. Pepper or something similar. But at this point, the relatively simple task of getting a drink—stretched out to a Kaizan-level three steps—failed in some fashion in each of those steps. It was maddening. It was dump-the-soda-and-storm-out maddening, although my wife wisely told me to go get a regular bottled drink because she didn’t want to hear me bitch about being thirsty the rest of the way home. Even at this point, the clerk double-charged me and I had to have it corrected. At this point I figured if I hung around any longer I’d get hit with a plague of locusts or a pirate would hand me the black spot or something, so I just didn’t complain and left.

I mean, I get it—it was the day after Labor Day, and it was late at night; the C Team was on their way home and they had to drag in the Z Team and pump them full of amphetamines. But it barely registered the minimal amount of standards of a retail transaction.

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