Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wacky Wednesday - When did Sub-standard become the new Standard?

This is an article I have been planning on for quite some time.   Have you ever had a poor customer service experience?  (Who hasn't?)  How about an exceptional one?  Have you ever not had any customer service? 

My wife, son, and I like to go out to eat to "family" places occasionally, and have found the service to be lacking in general in quite a few restaurants we have frequented.  Now, before you say it is the caliber of restaurant, we have tried lower and higher priced, and found that in 5 or 6 times out of 10, the service is just sub-standard.  Not that it is terrible, it is just eh..ok.  Things like having to wait for 20 minutes for a drink refill, or bill.  Now, there have been quite a few times that service has been worse than sub-standard.  For example twice in the last 2 months we have gone into a restaurant, were promptly seated, no drink orders taken, and then we were "forgotten about"  My wife even held the menu on her head to get some attention, and 3 times I made eye contact with staff, only to be ignored.  We got up after 15 minutes and went somewhere else.  I realize there are circumstances etc that we don't know about.  I also realize that if a business treats all their customers this way, they will soon close.  How about this scenario?  My wife and I were looking through a cake book at the bakery in a grocery store recently to get ideas for my son's birthday.  (At the time, it was a month out.)  The worker behind the counter said, "When you need it by?"  My wife and I figured she was talking on the phone since she was like 30 feet from us.  Then the employee stated again, this time louder and more rudely, "Excuse me!  I said, when you need it by?!"  My wife and I just turned and walked out.  I have complained to managers, written letters, and the answer is pretty much always the same.  "We are truly sorry for your experience at 'X', that is not how we normally do business.  I have informed the manager on duty of that situation."  That's it.  It seems that the new standard of customer service is to be sub-standard, upset the customer, and then give an apology and that's all.  As far as I know, the employees involved are still employed at those businesses.  You would think that with the economy being as poor as it is a few things would be considered by either the management/company and employee.
1.) I need this job, and can't afford to get terminated, so I better provide each and every customer with top knotch service.
2.)  The company cannot afford to lose customers or bad public image.
So, I got to thinking, when has this "sub-standard" attitude instilled itself into our society here in America?  I was always taught to do a good job and go above and beyond at anything I do.  Have we not instilled that into our children?  If so, do they just "not care"? 
Perhaps I am just being an old grumpy gus.  Or, has this attitude started leaking into our gaming?  I really thought of that  for a while now, and realized that I was guilty of a number of minor infractions in the last game I played.  I asked my opponent, "Hey I forgot "x" do you mind if?..."  The answer has usually been, "No, go ahead." ( I play with really courteous/generous opponents.)  But, what is your attitude during a game?  I am not talking tournament play where every rule could mean "life or death" but a friendly game.  Have you forgotten stuff?  If so, how did your opponent react?  Is it just a lax attitude?  Have you noticed a surprising amount of "laziness/uncaring attitude" at various establishments?  Am I just being too grumpy?

In unrelated is a close match on the "How to paint my Nob bikers" poll...tell your friends to vote!


  1. I have to wonder when service charges started being automatically added to bills of fare, and whether there's a connection between the two trends.

  2. I must admit, I started off laughing at this article from the moment you said you had to wait 20 mins for a refill or a bill. Here in England, you have to pay for the refill and you have to get up and get it yourself.

    Seriously though, I do sympathise with you over customer service.I have provided customer service in every job I have ever had and I have never once been rude or lacking. I hate, hate, hate it when I receive bad service from a shop because I feel there is just no excuse for it. I have to deal with the abuses of the public all day most days and I'm still polite and civil so why the hell arn't you?!

    In the UK, I find that generally it is people that don't care that end up providing poor service. People that feel they are above taking abuse from the public. People that feel they are destined for greater things than pandering to an often sarcastic, opinionated and judgmental customer, demanding this and that and expecting it to be just so.

    It's these people that seem to not care if they get sacked or not and drift between temporary positions. I don't know what the pay is like in America for service jobs, but here in the UK it is often minimum wage. Minimum wage is absolutely crap money, and so most people need to work two jobs just to make a living. This, undoubtedly, affects your attitude as a person and can affect the service they provide.

    I guess the reasons are as unique as the situations themselves. I would say you were right to complain about the last incident. There was no excuse for such abrupt language, especially if you had not been greeted first. However, I would suggest raising your hand, or getting up and asking next time you want service in a restaurant. If the situation is that the staff are all rushing about getting people refills for everybody, there's a good chance you may be forgotten.

    From one grumpy git to another....kazzar