Friday, January 1, 2010

American Customer Service?

Ah, we used to long for it, especially when living in Germany, where customer service is "take it or leave it" for the most part. However, customer "service" has deteriorated here, and people are just accepting it without question. Several examples come to mind from just the past couple of weeks. Watch out, I say!

Example #1: My neighbor and I went to our favorite local restaurant, Shorty's, for supper and took seats at the bar instead of a table as we often do. The bartender was not there, but a cook from the kitchen was getting himself a soda. He said, "Chris (the bartender) is out back taking a personal phone call. He'll be here in little while." Then he went back to the kitchen. Patsy and I just looked dumbfounded and then started to laugh. Since when is it okay to be taking a personal phone call instead of waiting on customers? We don't think Shorty (if he exists) would like that.

Example #2: I flew on Delta Airlines from Atlanta to Orlando in December. It's a direct flight of about an hour and a half. As usual, it was completely full. I dozed off, and when I awoke, I asked my seatmates if they had come around with beverages. They said they hadn't. Then we began to descend for landing. An announcement came over the PA: "We are sorry that we were not able to offer you a beverage service on the flight. We hope you get one the next time you fly Delta." Like it's a lottery or something? This, by the way, after you have to check yourself in, print your own boarding pass, and carry your luggage to the screener. What next, bring your bag to the plane and throw it on?

Example #3: Very recently, my family and I stopped at a McDonald's for a quick lunch. We got four sandwiches, some fries to share, and four soft drinks. It was a self-service soft drink fountain. We quickly found out that the carbonation was not working for any of the soft drinks. An employee assured us that it was being fixed quickly. However, that did not happen (I think they had no re-fills of CO2), and we were eating lunch without any drinks while we had paid for four. Much to our surprise, the staff continued to sell soft drinks (or empty cups, anyway) in spite of the non-functioning machine. Apparently, people were just okay with drinking flat Cokes. My family discussed it. I thought that they should offer us another drink in place of the flat soda. My daughter said, "Go for it, mom!" I took their orders and went to the counter and said, "We've paid for four soft drinks and your soda machine isn't working. Would you be willing to substitute other drinks for us?" The manager quickly agreed and they gave us a shake, two iced mochas, and a hot chocolate. "But this is great service!" you might say. The point is, we were the only ones who received this, and only because I asked. The continued to sell flat sodas to everyone else without even a warning. Ha!

Watch out, I say. American service isn't what it used to be.