Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Bad customer service

I've waited tables for years, and really notice when customer service is bad, whether it's at a restaurant or if I'm waiting in line at a grocery store. Bad customer service really makes me angry, because it's the fault of management. I've been fortunate to have good managers over the years waiting tables who explained how to handle different scenarios, including angry customers.

When someone walks into a restaurant, immediately make eye contact. If you're busy, greet them and say you'll be right with them. Resuming a conversation with your workmate will only cause them to get angry and I'd often walk right out the restaurant and take my money elsewhere.

I'll gladly pay for good customer service. That's why I shop at Raley's. At Raley's, when I come in, they say "How are you doing today, Mr. Zombieslayer?" and smile at me. I like that. Sure, I could save money shopping elsewhere, but they not only call me by name but they have simple courtesy.

I don't get that at Albertson's or Ralph's. Funny thing is, this isn't just a Chico thing. This includes the times in Santa Barbara/Goleta and also the San Francisco Bay Area. I get the feeling that Raley's is one of the few grocery stores that make their managers actually train their employees to be polite. So even if the bill will come out 10% higher than somewhere else, I'll go where I'm treated well.

Now, the one place I want to shame is Home Depot. I've never had decent customer service there. Do this. Walk into a Home Depot and grab a bunch of boards to cut. Watch. It will appear that you suddenly turn invisible.

This didn't just happen to me. My cousin had a bunch of boards to cut and one of their employees told her to operate the cutting machine, then went right back to a conversation with another employee.

Then the other night, I was with my real estate agent helping his buddy fix up his house to put on the market and we had a talk about bad customer service. Guess which store came up immediately?

Now OSH doesn't have the best prices, but the customer service is wonderful. So we shop there. If you're carrying a bunch of boards, they don't run away from you and hide like Home Depot employees. They actually help you. So I take my money there.

Okay folks, let it all out. Anyone you like? Anyone you hate? I'm wondering if anyone else has similar experiences while shopping, and noticed who has good customer service and who doesn't.


Blogger bsoholic said...

I've had the exact same thing happen at home depot with boards needing cut. I couldn't believe it. Downright shitty service. I really can't think of a worse place as far as bad customer service goes.

10/26/2005 11:22 AM  
Blogger Notta Wallflower said...

I abhor Fred Meyer - I don't know if you're familiar with the chain, but it's one of those grocery/all purpose stores where you can "get it all". Including excruciatingly slow checkers. Like you, ZS, I've been in customer service related jobs before (checker, waitress, deli) and I know when it's good and when it's awful. I would have gotten fired for going as slow as the Fred Meyer cashiers, and rightly so. Another place I've had awful experiences with lately is Wendy's drive through. I love the fact that I can go there and get healthy stuff, but they always fuck up my order and/or shortchange me. I'm usually home before I've discovered this. As a result, I've boycotted Wendy's. :-/

10/26/2005 11:49 AM  
Blogger exMI said...

Well, if you are buying fencing equipment I would avoid PhysicalChess for just that reason......

10/26/2005 12:10 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

At least you don't have to tip the Home Depot assholes.

10/26/2005 1:07 PM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Bsoholic - Yeah, they're probably my #1 for bad customer service as well.

Notta - Ah yes. I hated Fred Meyer when I lived in Seattle. They were zombie speed when it came to doing anything. As for Wendy's, I haven't been there since the 70s, so no opinion on it. If I wanted a fast food burger, I'd get an In & Out or Hamburger Habit anyways.

Exmi - Lol! Now to see if there's someone else who fences. ;)

Joe - That is true. But they won't be getting my business in the future regardless.

10/26/2005 3:27 PM  
Blogger Moni said...

Okay here's one,the DMV. Oh yeah, sure they aren't really a business...but they are rude!!!!!

10/26/2005 4:04 PM  
Blogger Shawn said...

Funny you should mention it... I was just in Bank One (now Chase) just yesterday to cash a check drawn on one of their accounts. First I was told it would be $3 to cash it there since it wasn't my bank. Then I needed two pieces of ID. I had a drivers license and a AAA card (not to be confused with an AA card, which wouldn't be a great pairing with a drivers license) with me.

No can do she says. I need a, or, b, c, d, nauseum... one of the things that would have worked would have been the check stub... as if that would show I didn't steal it...

Then, in the middle of not cashing this check, the woman asks if I would be interested in opening an account with them!

"Do you think your customer service warrants new customers?"

She sort of chuckled...

"No, seriously, do you think I would ever give you my business after this? Do you have a manager?"


I did get it cashed, by the way.

I'm planning on going back and when they don't want to cash another check, I'm going to mark it refused on the back. I will then go back again with the same check and do the same thing the next day. When it's refused twice, I'm giving it back to the business that issued it with an invoice for a returned check fee and a request for a new check... Screw the bank and screw the business for having a crap bank...

Sorry...I've got some anger issues right now.

I shall take some deep breaths.

10/26/2005 4:39 PM  
Blogger Bo Salisbury said...

You're right about Raley's... it's just a class act. Emma's roomate was a bagger at Raley's and said they really took pride in their work... moved to North Carolina (no Raley's) and was apalled at the lack of attention to cs by everyone from top to bottom.

10/26/2005 5:19 PM  
Blogger tshsmom said...

uLet me get this straight; they actually cut the boards for you at Home Depot? I know I live in the booneys, but I've never heard of this. How do they manage to sell saws if they cut the boards for you?

10/26/2005 5:52 PM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Tshsmom - Yeah, they're supposed to cut the boards. Like for instance, I was putting up soundproofing in Texas and had to buy wood that would fit in the room. So I gave them the measurements and they cut the boards. It's supposed to be a service they provide, but good luck grabbing an employee because when they see you carrying a bunch of boards, they all scatter and pretend to look busy with someone else.

Bo - It really is a pleasure shopping at Raley's. They keep their stores spotless and the people smile. Plus, I used to shop equally with Raley's and Albertson's, yet Raley's remembered my name and Albertson's didn't. Now I do 100% of my shopping at Raley's.

Shawn - Those are the stories I'm trying to coax out of people. When I find out that more than one person didn't like dealing with X company, I'll take my business to a place someone recommends.

Moni - A guy who works at the DMV goes on vacation and finds a magic lamp. He rubs it and a genie comes out. "Master, I grant you three wishes."

"Cool," the DMV employee says. "For my first wish, I want a big house."

Poof! The genie shows him with his magic his new house.

"Wow! For my second wish, I want a new sports car."

Poof! The genie hands him a set of keys and magically shows him the Ferrari waiting in his driveway.

"Awesome! For my third wish, I wish I never have to work again."

Poof! He's back at his desk at the DMV.

10/26/2005 6:07 PM  
Blogger Liquidplastic said...

Oh my, you have opened a can of worms here Zombie! Like you, I have been on both ends of the stick, waitress, sales clerk, landscaping, and/or maid --- you name it and this old one has done it.

I was always Johnny on the spot, because I knew good service meant good tips or good sales. I would ask the customer their names, and address them as Mr., Mrs., or Miss …

With brown skin, when I go into restaurant I am treated like I don't know how to tip. I get so pissed of these days, when I go into one, the first thing I tell the waiter or waitress, no matter the color of their skin, is that I tip based on services rendered. After that I have no problem. What piss me off is that I shouldn't have to say this to begin with. BROWN FOLKS GIVE TIPS TOO! I can’t speak for all of them, but I do when I get good services.

Here’s something that will make you laugh. My husband is colored, but he looks white, so he gets better service then I do, even when I am sitting right besides him. Go figure!

You are right about Office Depot, Lowe’s, and even major computer stores, like Comp USA, Conn’s, etc. don’t have good customer services, especially if your skin is brown. It as if our money is not green or our credit cards are not plastic!

And what about the stores where I am followed around like I am trying to steal something? At least once a month me and my grandchildren go shopping at a couple of these stores, and we buy a couple hundred dollar of stuff, and go out the door wait a few minutes and bring it back in for full refund. When they ask me why, I tell them to send for the manager … then I tell him/her what happen and why I won’t give them another penny of my money. Sometimes the stores change, but the majority of the time, they remain the same!

On the other hand, when I go into HEB I get all the help I want, and then some, unlike Kroger. I even take the time to tell the manager about any negative incident I have, but it’s like talking to a wall.

What about the drive through where you come up against someone who deliberately throws your change on the ground? When this happens I give them back the food and ask for my money and the manager. These days I stay at home and cook and order online most of the time. But I don’t choose the stores that give bad services … see I told you; you opened a can of worms. So I will end my rant!

10/26/2005 6:26 PM  
Blogger lime said...

i can't stand walmart for many reasons, customer service being a big one. in spite of the fact that they pay ppl to 'greet' you. they are the least helpful people anywhere. is it because the average collective IQ of walmart employess is still a full standard deviation below norm?

10/26/2005 7:33 PM  
Blogger Levi Nunnink said...

The people in K-Mark literaly run from you if it looks like you're going to ask them for help. You almost have to tackle them to learn where buy the toilet paper.

I find that the places with the best customer service are the Mom & Pop shops where the owner waits on you. They actually care about thier customers.

10/26/2005 7:59 PM  
Blogger Levi Nunnink said...

I meant K-Mart. Not "K-Mark". *sheesh*

10/26/2005 8:00 PM  
Blogger tenxinchoden said...

wai Zombie... you'll be dissapointed to know that there is no such thing as customer service here... boy! its mad..
Nways i HATE shoppin:)

10/26/2005 8:56 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Oh Home Despot is the WORST. Not only do you become invisible, but when you DO find someone they either cannot speak English or are about 12 years old and have NO idea what you're talking about.

There's a great grocery store by Navy Pier - it's a highline gourmet store, so unfortunately we can't afford to shop there for everything. But their staff is wonderful. Look like you're looking for something you can't find? Someone (even if it's not their area) will help you.

Most of the restaurants in our new neighborhood have great service. Like you, I understand that when you're busy, I might have to wait. But at least acknowledge my existence and the fact that I am in your establishment. I don't mind being told "just a moment" - just don't ignore me.

10/27/2005 6:16 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Levi- My grandma used to call it K-Marks... Then again, she also confused Nintendo and Atari (Natari)... Ahh, the memories

10/27/2005 6:19 AM  
Blogger Sadie Lou said...

I used to be a waitress--I'm so critical of other waitresses, it drives my husband nuts.

worst customer service stores as a rule:
K-Mart--right on, Levi
Rite Aid
Home Depot
Ross--gah! I once had the absolute worst experience at a Ross store. I'll have to blog about it.
Great stores with great customer service:

Ma and Pa Video stores--usually
Trader Joe's

Customer service is such an art and if you're a prideful person, never get into customer service. You have to have a tongue of steel because you'll be biting it on a regular basis.

10/27/2005 10:01 AM  
Blogger Raemius said...

I've never had good servic at Home Depot or Rona (the Canadian competitor). I tend to go to Totem, a little smaller, but much better service. Prices are about 10% higher, but it doesn't bother me.

10/27/2005 11:21 AM  
Blogger Slade said...

ZS, Let us not forget that people in these types of customer service jobs (cashiers, waiters) don't get paid shit...this is why they don't care to treat customers in a friendly manner. I know it is not an excuse, but I just think that a lot of CS workers are fed up with taking shit from customers and getting paid nothing. And what about those times you bust your ass working a table and you get little to nothing in all the people out there who don't realize it yet: Wait staff DO NOT even get minimum wage!!! They make about $2.19 an hour! My father used to think that they got paid at least min. wage and would never tip when he ate out...I had to school him on this concept.

But then again, I do see what you are saying...I just dont' like it when people are rude to you for no reason!

10/27/2005 11:27 AM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

LP - I can't stand Office Depot or Comp USA. Forgot about them. Their level of bad service though is nothing compared to Home Depot though. I think Home Depot is about the worst.

I forgot about HEB. I love that store. They not only have exotic Asian foods, but their service is wonderful. Kroger's service on the other hand stinks.

Funny story about HEB. Mrs. Z, Junior, and I used to pretend that HEB stood for a name that the guy was ashamed of, so he used his initials instead. We used to say it was something like Harold Edwardo Buttsniff or something along those lines. Turned out the guy's last name was Butts. When we found that out, we were laughing.

Glad I got a rant out of you. ;)
That was the intention of this post. For the record when I delivered pizza, my best three tippers were a white, gay Theatre teacher, an Asian kid who used to order pizza when his parents were out and let me keep the change (which was always a lot), and a black girl who was not only hot, but flirting with me too. I was too dumb to notice because I'm one of those guys who never notices those things. :(

Lime - Sometimes I wonder if they make their employees take IQ tests and those who fail get hired. Sad thing is the greeters at the front door are probably the former owners of the Mom and Pop stores they put out of business.

Levi - The people in K-Mark literaly run from you if it looks like you're going to ask them for help. You almost have to tackle them to learn where buy the toilet paper.

And that's why we never shop at K-Mart. Customer service there is horrible.

As for Mom and Pop stores, very true. They're also the most likely to remember your name. I don't think people realize how big of a deal it is for someone to call you by your name when you walk into a store.

TC - You hate shopping? Really? I actually like shopping, but only go to select stores. The local independent bookstore, the coffee shop I'm writing this from, and Raley's all call me by name and smile when they see me, so I enjoy giving them my business.

Laura - Yes! Another Home Depot hater.

I don't mind being told "just a moment" - just don't ignore me.

That's exactly how I feel. When I waited tables, I'd always at least acknowledge the person's presence. Ignoring someone is a sure way for them not to come back.

Sadie - That's too funny. My wife and I are reading your list and store by store, we agree with you 100%. I've never shopped in Ross, but my wife said they're horrible when it comes to customer service so she's once found a nice dress and put it back, then walked out the store because they were so bad. No wonder their prices are so low, they have no employees to cash you out.

If everyone says the same places, then there definitely is a pattern.

Raemius - Right on. That's how I feel. I'd rather pay the extra 10% to get decent service too.

10/27/2005 11:47 AM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Slade - Whoops. Missed ya by a second after posting.

I used to average $20-25/hr waiting tables in the mid-90s, so that's probably equivalent to $30-35/hr today. The reason? I was fast, super nice, knew the right places to work, had a knack for remembering people's names and details about their lifes, and got them boozed up right away. Booze loosens up the wallet.

I knew that some people don't tip no matter what service you give them, but waiting tables is a semi-sales job. It's percentages. If you get discouraged, it shows and you won't make as much. I knew that so didn't let bad customers bring me down because I knew there will be other customers that will make up the difference.

As for cashier's, you're correct. It's a crap job and the companies give them no incentive to be nice. However, some companies do take care of their employees because they know it will help their sales. I'm convinced that Raley's does because their people are always smiling. Either that or they must have some very charismatic managers.

10/27/2005 11:55 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

It's funny, but for the most part I agree with you on Home Depot, but Joe at my local store is the exception to the rule. He was a plumber for many years and coached me through a solder repair job on some piping I broke while removing an old toilet. And for that matter, I would call it 50/50 there, because many is the time someone has really took the effort to show me what I need and where to find it. I don't know about cutting boards though...

10/27/2005 12:46 PM  
Blogger tshsmom said...

You guys think YOU have it bad? All we have is K-Mart! You think the service in your K-Mart is bad, try shopping at one that's the only horse in a one horse town.

We can't NOT shop there as it's the only place in town to buy basic necessities such as underwear and kid's shoes.

10/27/2005 2:02 PM  
Blogger Sadie Lou said...

tshsmom--Our KMart is the only game in town too. We drive at least a half hour out of our way to go to Target. It's worth it.

Zombie--Tell Mrs.Z that I'll do my Ross horror story for tomorrow's post.

10/27/2005 2:07 PM  
Blogger tshsmom said...

Sadie, we're 100 miles away from ANY other store. It's no wonder I do a LOT of online shopping.

10/27/2005 2:41 PM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Scott - It's always cool to see there are a few good apples in a spoiled, well, you know the rest of the cliche but I think I screwed it up.

Tshsmom - I'm sorry. :p

Sadie - Looking forward to it. I'll read your post to her.

10/27/2005 4:48 PM  
Blogger Vest said...

Catching up with the news, regarding Rosa Parks.
Liquid-Plastic, It must make you feel proud to be brown and in such circumstances as those of Rosa Parks, I recall the story going back half a century, great stuff, and a great Lady.
The nearest I became to becoming brown was when my widowed mother married my stepfather, a Mr Brown.
But never mind, in the not so distant future we will all be Green and the same rules will apply, "Dark greens go to the back of the bus".

Two adjacent Sup/Mkts here in Oz each sold similar products but one was 5% cheaper and took ten minutes longer to get through the checkout. I then explained to several whining women that they were earning thity bucks an hour doing sod all while in the Queue (line up).

11/01/2005 8:04 PM  

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