A customer enters a pet shop.
Mr. Praline: ‘Ello, I wish to register a complaint.
(The owner does not respond.)
Mr. Praline: ‘Ello, Miss?
Owner: What do you mean “miss”?
Mr. Praline: I’m sorry, I have a cold. I wish to make a complaint!
I’ve written two complaint letters over the last couple of months.
I say “letters” but one of them was an email, but more on that later. As usual, I digress …
I don’t know if I’m suddenly of an age where I’m more likely to complain, or angrier generally perhaps, or maybe I’m just at a stage of life where I actively want to make a fuss about things. This never would have happened ten years ago, anyway …
Before I go on, I want to make it perfectly clear that the praise pendulum swings both ways with me. If I receive good service, I make a point of telling someone in charge what’s happened and why I’m so pleased. I like to make it look like I’m about to complain first (not hard when you see me) and then it becomes an even more enjoyable experience both for the manager (not having to deal with a complaint) and for me (I love watching them squirm first).
However, if I receive bad service or am not happy with something, these days I’m highly likely to write to someone both to vent and to let them know why.
A few months ago, I was in Goblets in Southampton with a couple of friends. Then my girlfriend turned up and I went to the bar to get her a drink. I’d just got the third round in moments before she arrived, so I asked the barmaid to add a half a lager and lime. She paused for a second and asked if my lovely lady had any ID. I laughed and whispered “She’s gonna love you – she’s 40!”
The stony-faced response and the fact the woman just looked at me and said in a deadpan voice “I’m still going to need some ID” let me know I was about to experience something unusual …
To cut a long story short, the company policy of Greene King is that all customers should look 25 if they want to avoid being asked to produce ID. Like I said, my girlfriend is 40. She does look young, say around 30, but younger than 25 would be pushing it. She admonished me a few days after all this, by the way, asking “Can’t I just bloody enjoy it?” when we talked about the whole age thing. Oh, how we laughed.
I asked to see the manager, who happened to be standing very close by and had witnessed the whole thing. She just backed up her staff member and said I could be an undercover cop.
I left. I didn’t even finish my pint. I will never go back.
I wrote to Greene King.
An actual letter.
There’s no contact email on their website unless you’re applying to “invest” in one of their public houses or want to become a manager for them. No customer contact email at all. Rubbish. It’s 2012.
Some faceless arse got back to me saying the same thing about the company policy and how there are sting operations in our area. I felt like giving Jack Bauer a quick ring to see if he fancied a pint as he was obviously in gainful employment in the UK hospitality industry and probably quite local …
It wasn’t even a personal letter, just the standard company response, polite but not engaging with the correspondent in any way, shape or form.
I’ve been drinking in that pub since I was 16. That’s almost 30 years. I didn’t tell them that as they’d probably try to card me retrospectively, but come on … there were only about half a dozen people in the damned place when it happened. As if bars need to lose any more custom ?
I wanted to buy a bread-maker.
I had some West Quay gift cards burning a hole in my pocket. £75 worth.
I hate going in there at the best of times, but to find something to spend that much on would be tricky … especially now that Quizno’s has closed down …
I love Quizno’s.
This is not about them.
John Lewis: the paragon of customer service! The home of quality products and old-fashioned toe-lickers who’ll do anything to make you happy.
(or so I thought)
To be fair to the staff member who served me, she was great: friendly and polite without ever being “matey” or anything less than entirely professional throughout our encounter.
I’m just gonna list what’s wrong with this scenario:
– The bread-maker I wanted was out of stock despite their being a little ticket there to take to the counter if you wanted to buy one. What’s the point in having a system, blah, blah, blah …
– I couldn’t order the item online at the desk because I wanted to pay with my gift cards and the system doesn’t take payment in that way. So I made a “Customer Requirement” for it instead, meaning it would be delivered to the store and I would have to go and collect it.
– I was told I’d get a phone call in a couple of days. Not her fault (lack of training) but I got a letter three days later.
– I’d already called anyway only to be told again that I couldn’t pay using my gift cards. But I had to pay to secure the item as it was currently in a holding warehouse somewhere on the moon. Evidently, Panasonic only make one of these things every once in a while, you see.
– So I couldn’t get the thing over the phone, not even have it delivered to the store for me to collect as I wanted to pay with my gift cards. I’d have to physically go to the store, then pay for it then go back and get it when it arrived. Maybe they do home delivery, but do you think I want to try and find out ?
– I went back today to see if it was in stock or at the very least to pay for it with the gift cards whether or not it was there or not. They had NO RECORD OF MY ORDER. I wasn’t on the system. We searched using my surname, the date, my postcode. Nothing.
So all in all, I’m not impressed. The fact the girl on the phone said “Oh my god!” in a strong Hampshire accent within a minute of speaking to me kind of blew away any last remnants of “olde worlde service” that may have still been festering at the back of the department of my mind marked “John Lewis – your mum liked it there”.
All that … and I still haven’t made any bread.
Use your loaf, Mr Lewis. I’m waiting …