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:
Apple Stores Trader Joe's, in general, Arby's, Redondo Beach
Something has to change.