Trust and the customer

I recently had lunch at the Atlanta Bread Company (the one on Old Milton near Northpoint Parkway). The food was good and the experience enjoyable enough. Later in the day, when I was cleaning out my pockets, I happened across my lunch receipt and was about to discard it when I saw that they had overcharged me for both my meal and for my drink. The amount was not great about 40 cents for the meal and 20 for the drink, but it irked me that they should be so cavalier or careless with one of their customers. Admittedly *I* was also careless in not double-checking my receipt but the price was in the right ballpark and I was thinking about other things at the time.

Even though the amount is not great, I do not like dealing with people and businesses on whom I need to keep a watchful eye.

For me, this is not limited to being overcharged. I’m also not at all happy when the error is in my favor. If I look at a price-list and the final receipt is for less than I expect. I am left to wonder if we both are agreeing to what we think we are agreeing to. Certainly if the other person tells me “We’re having a 10% off promotion for these items today.” and then goes on to apply it then I’m satisfied (ok, ok pretty happy that I lucked into their offering) but the mystery is gone and I know with certainty what is going on.

That fast food drive-thrus began using those confirmation screens where you can see your order forming as you place it is great boon. I’d say probably 1 in 4 times using it I end up making corrections since I can see where they have either not heard me correctly or they have made bad assumptions about my order.
Recently, the Wendy’s restaurant that I eat at a couple of times a week for lunch has stopped using their confirmation screen. Now I’m finding that my order is wrong about a third of the time and I need to check it at the window before driving off. Little things like cheese on a hamburger, wrong condiments, etc. But the point is that now it’s something that I need to be alert for.

My expectations have been raised over the years and those expectations are:

  • I’ll get what I paid for
  • I’ll pay what we agreed (based on price tags or posted prices)
  • I’ll get it when we agreed

If I detect a problem, I’ll correct it or have it corrected by speaking up to the person with whom I am dealing.
If I don’t notice the problem until later or if it will be awkward for others with me I’ll often send a message to the business involved to let them know. Where I receive a satisfactory response, and even a “we’re sorry, here’s what happened” can be sufficient, I can be mollified.

But violate my trust or ignore my complaint and I simply vote with my dollars. The Atlanta Bread Company item above is a situation where it’s not worth my time or the hassle of rectification, I simply will not go there again for a long time. Probably 6 months or a year. It’s not a matter of holding a grudge, it’s a matter of not wanting to feel irked and there are plenty of other places with which to do business that there is little loss to me in simply eating somewhere else.

I like to think that others do likewise and that businesses that do not treat their customers respectfully ultimately feel the pinch as other folks likewise elect to patronize places where they do not need to be on their guard and can devote those energies to other, more productive aspects of their lives.

Am I being OCD on this? What do YOU do?

Posted under Opinions, Retail Experiences

This post was written by Marc
on October 25, 2008 at 9:20 am

1,832 views

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