Service? - The Dollar Stretcher
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Like many of us, I got together with family over the holidays. I was visiting with my sister when she said something that caught my attention. She and my niece had decided that they would not accept poor service without taking note of it. She told me about a local Taco Bell that they visit. Typically, they go inside to order a take-out meal for the family. There's a sign that says that if you order a meal, the cashier is supposed to ask you if you want a drink. If they don't, they'll give you the drink for free. According to my sister, what was surprising was that they were getting free drinks every time they went in. It wasn't just one or two cashiers who neglected to ask, but almost all of them. And although they would be happy to drink whatever they had at home, it was foolish not to take the free drinks they had been promised.

(note: the reason the Taco Bell does this is to encourage people to buy drinks. They're a very high profit item for them.  So giving away a few drinks is a small price to pay to make sure that the servers remember to ask if you'd like a drink.)

The discussion went on about how my mother had a problem with her bank. She had given a clear instruction and it still got goofed up. Just about everyone there had one story or another about how even the simplest things weren't being done correctly.

I wonder what would happen if everyone did like my sister and niece. They're both polite, mild-mannered people, but they're tired of being treated as if their business wasn't important. I'm generally someone who avoids confrontation, even if I'm pretty sure I'm right. But I think that I'm going to do a little bit more of that myself in 2008. Maybe we all should.

I'd love to know what you think about it. Comments?




Jusmom1 said:

This article REALLY hit home for me.  It seems like customer service is the least of worries for a lot of businesses these days.  I was raised in a time when it was important to keep your customers happy and if they weren't happy you made it right!  Just since January 1st my husband and I have had major problems with two different businesses.  In each case we have contacted the higher ups in the company and have voiced our complaints (not something we would usually do).  In one case we received a $25 gift card to a men's clothing store.  In the other case we had $100 taken off the installation and first month's charges of our cable bill.  It is very nice to receive the compensation from a monetary standpoint, but also nice to have the company admit that their service was poor and they are willing to "make it right".  My husband, son and I will continue to make the higher ups in business aware of the shortcomings...and hopefully if they hear enough complaints they will once again put customers first.

January 12, 2008 6:50 AM

Gary said:

From the emails I get on this subject, it seems that it's not something that occasionally happens. It's an epidemic! Why do you think that is? Is it that people just don't care about their work? Do they lack the necessary skills? Training? Education? Are they being asked to try to cram too much into a workshift? Whatever the cause it sure does cost us all a lot of needless effort, time and money.

January 16, 2008 8:14 AM

Cheryl said:

I started in customer service several years ago, and was moved to quality assurance and later on a supervisor position.

Granted there are some customer service reps who are rude, or lack adequate training in a certain area, but that isn't the case with the majority. Most of the time, crazy as this may sound, the rep will get reprimanded if they dont follow the training manual exactly to the letter, and often times, there are even time limits for each type of call. Going over on a call can cost them points on their Quality Assurance scores. Even if common sense would dictate otherwise. Essentially, they are thinking human beings who are not allowed to use their brains because it isn't in the training manual. Yes, I realize that sounds bizarre. This is what is happening in the corporate world, and not just America anymore.

Even if a mixup could be resolved quite simply, the rep does not have the authority to act, without going through proper procedures (read: red tape) to resolve it. I know it's a pain and it doesn't make sense, but the corporate speak is that it protects the client, patient, customer.  Go figure!

January 17, 2008 2:17 AM

Edey said:

I hate it when I get taken advantage of by a business. And also hate it when I've had to sound like some shrew just to stand up for myself. It happens way too often now. There seems to be such a big indifferent or contemptuous attitude by anyone in service positions. I don't think anyone trains these employees, but they just get hired and put out on the floor (or wherever). If businesses raised the requirements for behavior of their employees maybe it would turn around. That also goes for the public in that they need to start being more considerate, patient and courteous. E

January 23, 2008 8:52 PM

aukxsona said:

This hit home for me!  Just this Friday I had TWO instances of very poor service.  At Marshall's Dry goods, I purchased elastic for 85 cents a yard.  However, at the register she charged me 95 cents a yard.  I spoke up about it and got 30 cents back, BUT the woman started throwing things and cussing!  I don't think I'll ever let her wait on me again!

Then at a local movie theater, I asked for no ice and even paid 1 dollar extra to not have it.  Being a mother of 4 young children I never noticed it until my kids had sucked down the cup.  I took it back to complain and the woman told me to pay 2.25 for a refill.  I had to ARGUE with her about it.  Her excuse, I didn't complain immediately.  I said, I'm sorry I just noticed since I have four small children with me that drank it down before I could get a sip!  I missed about 15 minutes of the movie as a result.  That is just ONE day.  I am tired of customer service, being more of a dis-service.  

January 28, 2008 7:20 PM

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About Gary

For more than 25 years, Gary Foreman has worked to manage money effectively. Prior to starting The Dollar Stretcher, he was a financial planner and purchasing manager. While helping clients manage their hard earned money as a financial planner, he applied commonsense, time-tested techniques during the turbulent 1980’s. The experience convinced him that you didn’t need to hit the lottery to accumulate significant wealth. Following that, Gary had an opportunity to learn more about how to get the best value for a dollar spent in the corporate world. As the Purchasing Manager for a computer manufacturer, he was responsible for supervising over $10 million in annual purchases. Gary began The Dollar Stretcher website <www.TheDollarStretcher.com> and newsletters in April 1996. Over 300,000 readers benefit from the time and money saving ideas presented in The Dollar Stretcher newsletters each week. His mission is to help people "Live Better for Less". He also provides private label newsletters for companies wishing to provide money saving information for their clients and/or prospects. Gary lives in Florida along with his wife of thirty years and their two children. Much of his time is spent working with the men's ministry of his church. One of their ongoing projects is the "Holy Smoke BBQ" which sells bbq on Friday nights with the profits going to support local foster kids and orphans. When he has a free moment you’ll find him restoring a Checker station wagon nicknamed “Two Ton” or cruising in a '65 Impala SS Convertible with doo-wops playing in the background.

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Gary is a former financial planner and purchasing manager who edits The Dollar Stretcher website <www.stretcher.com> and newsletters. You can follow Gary on Twitter.com/gary_foreman
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