Customer Encounters #9 – Get off your phone, do you want to order or not?

About a month ago there was an LBC phone-in about County Stores in Taunton, which has banned customers from using their phones in the shop and will refuse service to anyone who makes a call.

I must confess that quite recently I was guilty of doing this myself whilst buying a Starbucks. Quite naturally it’s a habit that irks quite a lot of people behind the counter, and it is genuinely bad manners. But if it’s an emergency phone call to find out what your pregnant missus wants to eat or if you’ve just come in and you’re still on the phone and you tell the other person: “just hang on one minute I just need to order a Chinese”.

But it is incredibly rude not just to the queue of five people standing behind you waiting to be served (and I would’ve served all five of them and have their orders prepared before you even hang up on your phone conversation), but it’s also quite frustrating for the person behind the counter, particularly in a place like the takeaway where I work because the chances are that someone else would’ve put in a big order before you and the longer you spend on your phone means that you delay the preparation time not just for that order but possibly for anyone else.

Get off the phone! You’re messing up the system!

And it is very frustrating that even ten minutes later, they are still on the phone and then just go “yeah a chicken chow mein”. Seriously? You couldn’t bear to bring yourself away from a phone conversation to order a meal that just took you 10 seconds?

A few weeks ago a guy came and he was on the phone for 20 minutes and it would appear that he was buying something. He took his card out and was reading the card number quite a few times (whilst I copied it down). He was getting annoyed that something he ordered costing £57 he was being charged £57.20 and he was demanding that 20p back and was asking why they were charging him 20p extra for something? (Maybe you should’ve read the terms and conditions before pressing buy?)

Anyway spent a great deal of time getting unnecesarily irked by this mystery 20p, and then finally got round to ordering… a chicken chow mein.

Another common habit is when a customer is on their phone and then for them to tell the person on the other end “right, you tell the lady what you want to eat” and then they will pass the phone on to me, they will order, then I will hand the phone back and then go to the person on the phone “is that all you want?” and a mini conversation will ensue before they actually pay.


Customer Encounters #8 – Refunding food because you don’t like it

A few months ago a customer from the day before came in with one of our trays and said that he bought a portion of our spare ribs last night and said he wanted a refund simply because “he didn’t like the taste”.

For the time being lets call this man Steve; now Steve looks very much like your typical white guy from Essex; a bit stocky, bit of a beer belly, shaved skinhead, dried skin that was quite raw from the cold, worn out polo shirt, battered jeans and trainers that were probably white once upon a time.

We’re going to name this man Steve because he makes another appearance in this blog in a future post.

Anyway, Steve didn’t go any further into explaining why it tasted horrible, just that it didn’t taste as good as it used to. But as we do with difficult customers, we just gave him the money without another word, and hope that he doesn’t come back.

You would think that that would be the end of him but we were wrong; the next day he came back and asked for spare ribs.

Spare ribs at the takeaway are soaking it in herb infused juices and then storing it in the fridge. Dad would do this in large batches say every week to every two weeks. In other words the spare ribs that he ordered just now would have been no different to the ones he refunded the day before.

We tried explaining this to him yet he remained adamant that he wanted spare ribs from our takeaway. We simply said “you didn’t like it yesterday, and the ones we serve you now will be no different to the ones you refunded, so it’s best we save you the trouble of coming back again to complain.”

Quite naturally he left very much dissatisfied, and to be fair to him, you would be. But given the account I have just given you, would you have taken his order knowing that he was likely to come back and file the same complaint again?