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Wednesday · August 25 2004

Yesterday I created a new category, “Businesses that treat me like a human being,” for the story of mechanic Dave. In less than 24 hours, I found a business to start another new category, “Businesses that treat me like a piece of shit.”

As we left Wrigley Monday night, an usher handed me a coupon for a free medium coffee at Dunkin Donuts. The Cubs and Dunkin Donuts have some promotion to give out free coffee (retail value $1.39) if the Cubs score in the 4th inning. I usually stop for a medium iced coffee (retail value $1.49) at DD on the way to work and I remembered to bring the coupon this morning.

Her: Can I help you sir?
Me: Medium iced coffee, milk, half sugar
…iced preparation…
Me: I have this coupon.
Her: That's not the same thing.
Me: I'll give you the dime difference.
Her: It's not a coupon for that.
Me: sigh

Why do we pay an extra 10 cents for cold coffee?

Please welcome Dunkin Donuts at 5200 N Lincoln Ave as the inaugural entry in “Businesses that treat me like a piece of shit.”

Correction: The DD is at 5200 N Lincoln, not 4200.

What you had to say:
August 25 2004

I redeemed one of those coupons with hot coffee. The guy behind the counter couldn't believe I was using a coupon AND not even buying anything else. I have two more - I should make sure I use them at the same Dunkin Donuts without another purchase.

August 25 2004

In defense of the people at the Dunkin' Donuts on Lawrence and Ravenswood, and in my building downtown . . . they're super-nice. The other day, I went to the drive-through window after not having been by that way in over a month. They recognized my car and had my coffee ready and waiting, just the way I like it, when I pulled up to the window.

August 25 2004

the people at my dunkin' donuts are super-nice too. they give my dogs free munchins every time i drive thru. when i've gone without my dogs they have even given them to me to bring home to them!

but... i've encountered so MANY people such as the ones at j & s 's local d&d. especially on the phone. people seem to really let the attitude fly when they don't have to look at you. for example: my bank- absolute nazis.

August 25 2004

Banks! Yes, evil banks. Bank One once "lost" my checking account. When you entered in my account number, someone else's name (and balance) came up. The best line ever, from a senior manager, when I explained the problem after a week of inaction: "I don't understand why you're so worried." They lost my business, forever, right then, and sent me on a crusade to discredit their very name.

I never did find out if that other person's balance was worth having . . .

August 25 2004

I have had the pleasure of only running into businesses like Dave's mechanic shop in the good ol' central valley. Not only do I constantly run into my patient's as workers or customers at businesses in town but the service is SO friendly! On my birthday last year when I was new to this town, my car broke down- it was about 112 degrees (literally) and after the mechanic let me know I had merely run out of gas (dumbass i am :) he not only trekked the mile to the gas station to fill a gallon of gas but then didn't charge me for his trouble and told me to have a great birthday and welcome to Visalia...3 weeks later i had all of my laundry stolen from my apartment complex- go figure!

August 25 2004

My brother once worked at a Dunkin Donuts. They had a ten second rule. I've never eaten a Dunkin Donut since.

August 25 2004

Subway's on my shitlist. I don't remember the people at the one below my office ever being particularly nice, but the time when I stood there waiting and waiting for one guy behind the counter to finish his conversation with the other guy behind the counter (after noticing me standing there, of all things), the first guy glared at me and said, "YES?!", like I had no business bothering them. I walked away and haven't been to any Subway since then.

August 25 2004

Sensitive topic.

August 25 2004

The one town I lived in where Dunkin was a success, the DD had one thing going for it: It was open 24 hour a day. It had one thing against it: No drive-up window. And, they over-filled their jelly filled donut so that if you didn't release the pressure just right, a major eruption would occur all over your clean white blouse on the way to work in the morning.

Jason, this is a sensitive topic. I once based my decision on where to live on the quality of the local donuts. No, not really, but I could have.

August 25 2004

More evil: Delta Airlines

45 minutes before my Denver to DC flight, just waited in line for skycap and kiosk service and the machine can't find my reservation

Me: I think the gate has taken over my flight
Delta lady: What do you mean?
Me: Sometimes when it's close to the flight time, the gate takes over and...
Delta lady: (looks up flight) Well, you're late.
Me: Yes, I know
Delta lady: What are you going to do?

At this point I check to be sure I am talking to someone wearing a Delta uniform before I ask her if maybe she can tell me what to do next. She points to a phone - apparently Delta ticket agents do not work behind the counter anymore. The woman who picks up the phone says, 'this is Karen.'
Me: You do work for Delta Airlines, right?

They also no longer allow stand-by tickets - you cannot get to a gate without a confirmed seat.

Another: Aetna health insurance
I have four separate conversations with people on the phone and each time I get told something that turns out to later be untrue, including: I check on coverage before starting allergy shots, and am told that they would be completely covered. Four months (and 30 visits later) I get a bill. I call, and the nice call center lady looks at the records, notes that 'Trina' did indeed tell me that I would be covered, but that she was wrong. No apologies, just a faxed copy of the rules book with that info. Which, by the way, I do not have access to. They only keep those books in the HR office at Allen's office (his insurance)(also not in his actual building) which of course is protected by security and I am not allowed in without an ID. Hmm.... We switched to my Cigna insurance after that.

Really, I'm not at all mad about this any more.

August 26 2004

I'm with you on Delta. I fly all the time, and they are far and away the least efficient, helpful airline in the skies. Delta appears to be replacing human contact entirely. Last time I flew Delta out of O'Hare, the gate attendant had to push a button that made an electronic announcement about which rows were boarding. There were seven people on the plane, one in each group of rows. It was like we each got our own personal electronic announcement. I asked him why he didn't just announce, in his own voice, that we could all board the plane. He said he would be disciplined, and maybe fired, if he did that. They keep track to make sure the button got pushed the proper number of times. How demeaning.

August 26 2004

So, what do people think all this bitterness says about modern American commerce?

August 29 2004

I have yet to find a large U.S. business that really tries hard to enhance service, whether it be Sprint PCS (I don't even want to tell you the conversation I had with them, but it ended with me saying, "I hope you're taping this call as an example for your employees on how NOT to perform customer service"), United, Walgreens, McDonald's, etc. etc.

Clearly, wherever you go, it depends on the person that's helping you. No matter what the company policies are, or any training that they give their employees, your experience is dependent on who you happen to interface with. And that person is obviously a reflection of the company and whether you will continue to give them your business. As obvious as that last sentence it is, it's lost on many managers and employers.

Many in the service industry think one of the following:
"I don't care if you ever come back here, we make $1B a year, and will continue on without your business". "I don't care about this job, it's just one for now - I'm not making career of this." "I expect you to have attitude since you're in a hurry and impatient and I've dealt with 50 of your type today already, so I'll act impatient and irritated first."

I don't know if there is a solution, as you not going to a particular DD, or using a particular airline will not really affect how they move forward in their customer service approach and training. Yes, if enough people go elsewhere, things may change, but you will continue to book your Delta flight if it's the cheapest of flights available, and buy the DD coffee if it's convenient and again, the cheapest. But part of the price of cheaper services & goods may be cheaper customer service.

An approach that I almost always use, especially if I'm about to get attitude, is to give a huge smile, be positive, and a "hey! how are you?" it throws people off and oddly enough: I usually get great treatment. it works on the phone too. Should I have to be the "good customer" to get "good customer service"? No, but I don't have to be the bad customer either...

August 29 2004

Stevie, you said "interface with." Are you taking consultant-ese as a law school class this semester?

I've seen you do they smiley bit when people are being annoying, and it does work. You're making the transaction human. Most business transactions are dehumanizing for both the rep and the customer. Cost and efficiency drive this. Bringing the human element back is bound to improve the mood. I'd do it more, but being grumpy is so much easier.

September 01 2004

Ha, I guess learning how to think like a lawyer encompasses learning how to talk like a lawyer-consultant. I am learning how to mediate, maybe that's where it's coming from.


© 2004 Jason Keglovitz