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Customer Service Reaches New Lows As Prices Soar

by Heather Renee (writer), Lomita, July 25, 2008

Credit:

No Need to Upsize; The Attitude is Complimentary

Think you're paying too much for gas, rent, clothes and food? Well...you are.

But what makes this all the more painful is that this high price often includes a bad attitude. In a capitalistic society with endless choices and competition for your hard-earned money, unsavory customer service remains free and increasingly plentiful. Uncertain times seem to have no positive effect on this constant.

Therefore, as the dollar weakens, and buying power decreases, consumers need to become more savvy and selective about where they choose to spend a buck, or ten (two cups of coffee and a pastry). It is time to open the eyes of corporate bigwigs by expressing displeasure with unacceptable service and inferior product. The purchasing public has the power to disarm and disable these unrelenting bullies.

Most recently, a well-known, Seattle -based coffee franchise chose to close 600 of their low-performing stores. With the loss of over 12,000 jobs, it is conclusively unfortunate, and may not have removed the people who caused the demise of the stores in the first place. Marketing the souvenir stuffed bears and Cranium word games must have taken precedence over the one thing people wouldn't mind paying for; being served.

Ultimately , consumers are willing to pay a %1000 (.50cents x 10 = $5.00 which is 10 x %100 of the price) mark-up on a cup of coffee to have it handed to them as they ordered it and with a smile. However, recent experiences have left many with a taste worst than their coffee.

A customer recalls a recent visit at a store in Hawthorne, CA:

"It was terrible. I pulled up to the drive-thru window and waited to be served. There was no answer. After a few minutes, I figured it was broken, so I pulled up only to discover there was a line of three cars around the corner. So I waited. When I got to the window, I tried to give my order; at this point it had been about 10-15 minutes. I asked for a cup of the daily brew and was told that I would have to pull back around to place my order!"

She added, "After refusing to do as told, I insisted on my coffee... mind you this IS the drive-thru. So when they handed it to me with the sugars and creamers on the top, rather than in it, I kindly asked them to put it in for me. This is a coffee business, right?"

She concluded her story, horrified. They slammed the service window shut, mimicked her request within earshot, and then, upon reopening the bullet-proof barrier that separated customer from server, handed her the unsatisfactory cup of overpriced, three-hour old coffee.

Similar incidents at the same store on 120th Street and Crenshaw included incomplete/wrong orders, slow service, cold coffee, and unnecessary, explicit conversations between employees, as a line of customers spiraled the coffee bean stand. One "server" even got on the drive-thru speaker to tell waiting customers that the current customer was causing a problem and that that was the reason for the long line. But, these infringements on paying clientele are not exclusive to said coffee chain...sadly, it's a norm for many frequently visited local businesses.

A call to the district office doesn't seem to have a desired impact. Although seemingly concerned, with promises of a free coffee at the same disappointing location, the "higher-ups" at corporate still receive their paychecks whether or not you receive a product worthy of your money. Only with mass attention and action can capitalism be effective. Competition, free markets, supply and demand...Economics 101, not brain surgery. With so many choices, why is the abuse so rampant? Go where your money is appreciated and you receive the service you are worthy of.

Recently, stores have implemented a system of surveys and websites for commenting on their services. Often, they even include a discount as incentive. Many of the sites are anonymous and quite easy to navigate; they are relatively quick and worth the two cents you have to put in. Those who are afraid to sell themselves out on the internet can also take a moment to write comments on comment cards, which are also readily available in most retail/restaurant locales. Also, take the liberty to speak with a manager when you haven't been served to your standards.

Chronic complaining is not the goal, however every time poor service is ignored, companies are mislead into believing that they are serving the public satisfactorily and ultimately may justify a rise in prices or a decline in product quality. As you reach for your wallet, but find yourself unsatisfied with the thought of parting with your dough due to poor service or substandard goods, take a moment to assess how you can contribute to change.

Likewise, it is important to patronize those places that serve as a model as a reward for a job well done. Supporting smaller, privately-owned businesses also contributes to a local economy and community solidarity. Most corporations are now outsourcing and your money goes with it.

For further consideration, here is a list of the best and worst in customer service experiences of some local retailers/restaurants in Southern California.

Do they really need your money?:

Osh Hardware Stores, A,T & T, in general, Kelly's Coffee and Fudge,Del Amo

Home Depot, Verizon, in general, Mc Donald's, in general

Starbucks, in general, Buca Di Beppo, Santa Monica , Macy's

Willing to Work for your money:

Griddle Cafe, Hollywood, Best Buy, El Segundo

Buca Di Beppo, Redondo Beach, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Redondo Beach

Apple Stores Trader Joe's, in general, Arby's, Redondo Beach

Something has to change.



About the Writer

Heather Renee is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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10 comments on Customer Service Reaches New Lows As Prices Soar

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By Christopher Gibson on July 25, 2008 at 04:08 pm

So true.  Customer service is the pits now, and I will go out of my way to patronize establishments where service is good, even if it costs a little more.

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By Lila M. on July 25, 2008 at 10:28 pm

I agree, it's worse than ever.  And I like the fact that at the end of your article you gave props to the businesses you've encountered who actually DO care about the customer.   I'm going to start giving good reviews of one I encounter as well.  We should all do this and maybe by some miracle the bad ones will actually take notice and change. 

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By Heather Renee on July 25, 2008 at 11:04 pm

Thanks to all the comments! 

Morgana....Your article and mine are in sync..funny we both targeted Home Depot too..hmm do you think there is some truth in that????? Hmm  I wonder!

Christopher.....I agree its worth more to enjoy the services you want..but its sad that we have to pay more for something that should be included as part of the price regardless of who the owners are. 

Lila....I like giving compliments, too. I especially think that the positives are much more effective because if you take the time to praise someone, that goodwill goes MUCH farther than a complaint. 

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By D. E. Carson on July 25, 2008 at 11:49 pm

My article Friendly Skies My Left Foot even goes out to the complaint department against the airlines.  As for Home Despot, you're pretty much right on the money there.  As the #2 retailer in the nation (don't ask me how either) they have adopted The (New) Wal-Mart Way of treating the customer like crap.  Retailers are more concerned with their bottom line than they are with customer service.  That is why on some weekends you can go into a Home Despot and find 50 customers standing in two checkout lines and a week later you'll see 8 check out clerks standing around with nothing to do because there are only 6 customers in line.

The practice is called forecasting.  It's where a store manager looks at past sales performance and tries to staff the store based on predicting sales on a future date.  Hmmm...we had 3800 customers between 9 am and 5 pm last Saturday, so let's staff the store accordingly next Saturday.  Problem is the next Saturday then ends up being dead and the Saturday after that gets slammed again.

Forecasting is stupid because 1) it leads to poorly staffed stores at crunch times and 2) when the store is slow, the employees get yelled at or sent home early for standing around doing nothing because there are no customers to service and therefore morale goes down.  When you're working for minimum wage and your hours keep getting cut because there are no customers in the store it is very depressing.  It's why many places like Home Despot and Wal-Mart have high turnover.  People want the jobs for the money, but when the boss is more interested in making the store's numbers look good enough to keep his bonus in tact, it tends to make the workers disgruntled and leave.

I have the solution to retailer's problems, but again, no one bothers to ask me.

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By Jen on July 26, 2008 at 08:20 pm

With the exception of trying to deal with Sprints outsourcing its customer service to India without providing proper training I haven't had too much trouble getting treated decently by the service industry...even at Home Depot.  In fact...I've been pretty pleased with the customer service there as they typically bend over backwards to help me find what I need and in most cases have actually helped me save money with their ideas.

I must appear pathetically in need of help!

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By icanluvulongtime on July 27, 2008 at 02:28 am

I don't expect good service in the current economy and I haven't been disaponted yet.  Oh wait, I'm CONSTANTLY disapointed by customer service but it's become the norm.  Swearing, bad mouthing, yelling to the cashier three lanes over or in another department, talking about how much they drank the night before or how much they plan to drink tonight when they are FINALLY off work, complaining about their job or ignoring me is pretty much what I experience in most stores.  I guess minimum wage means minimum service and respectability.  Most managers don't want to hear about it either.  I shop as little as possible and don't do a lot online because I haven't mastered the East Indian accent very well, yet.

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By 'Mean' Mike Duffau on August 01, 2008 at 02:23 am

customer service sucks out here in L.A.

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By S. Vaughan on August 19, 2008 at 01:06 pm

I agree completely.

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By Lila M. on September 15, 2008 at 07:07 pm

Morgana - Unforutantely I have not had any "earth shattering" or even "good' customer service since making that statement.  I think if anything I've gotten some bad ones, I could tell you about, but I'm still searching....will keep you posted.

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By Eufemia88 on July 04, 2014 at 01:07 am

This is so great wózki

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