Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Expecting better customer service December 9, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 8:55 AM
Tags: , , , , ,

EVERY FOUR TO SIX WEEKS, my husband and I make a major grocery shopping trip with a divide and conquer plan. It’s easier that way.

With two lists and two carts, we work the store. He handles most of the meat and fruit selection, the snack aisle and dairy products. I take the rest. The tag team approach gets us in and out of the store faster. Less time in the store, less money spent.

Wednesday evening, however, after all 68 items had been scanned, my husband slid a gift card through the payment system and our plan disintegrated. The computer locked up. We wouldn’t be leaving anytime soon.

I realize these things happen. But the manager, rather than deal with the situation in a calm, professional manner, became visibly and verbally flustered. His agitation only added to my frustration.

I didn’t need to hear that this lock-up has happened previously on this computer with gift cards. Fix the darned thing then, alright.

While we stood there, the check-out clerk and two other employees moved, unbagged, rescanned and repacked all 68 items at an adjacent check-out lane.

Meanwhile, the manager directed other shoppers away from the “bad” lane and simultaneously paged for assistance. He finally realized that flicking off the lane light would effectively steer shoppers away from the malfunctioning computer.

When the final grocery bill of $118.02 was rung up for the second time, I expected perhaps a discount or a gift card as a good will expression of apology. That didn’t happen. We were simply reminded, for about the umpteenth time, that this problem has previously occurred and that, had we waited for the frozen computer to be fixed, we would have stood there at least 10 minutes.

Like we weren’t anyway. Waiting for more than 10 minutes.

Let’s all repeat these two words together umpteen times: “Good customer service.”

SHOULD THE MANAGER have responded differently? Tell me about an experience with customer service–good, bad or otherwise. Just keep your comments family-friendly and libel-free.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


8 Responses to “Expecting better customer service”

  1. Amy Says:

    The manager should have offered some token. A few years ago, shopping at my local Byerly’s, I opted to use the drive-through bag pick-up service. When I got there, however, it turned out that one of my bins had been unloaded into another car. The bag person immediately got a manager, who asked me to park in the parking lot. Together he and I went through my receipt to see what was in my car and what was missing. Then he asked me to stay in the car while he went and replaced the missing items for me. It turned out he refilled things quite generously–more oranges, bigger pork chops, etc. Plus he apologized profusely and gave me a $25 gift card. Was I satisfied? Oh, yeah.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Looks like you were well taken care of, Amy. I, honestly, expected some token, especially since I am a regular customer at this store. Thanks for sharing your story of great customer service.

  2. ceciliag Says:

    the manager doesn’t care.. it is not his store! He probably thought it was your fault for using a gift card. miserable sod.. ah well.. c

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Generally, he’s quite a friendly guy, cheerful and helpful, so his reaction truly surprised me. Obviously he could not read body language and facial expressions because I know I wasn’t looking too happy. I wasn’t trying to appear displeased, but I could tell I looked that way.

  3. Amy Says:

    Currently working at a grocery store, that doesn’t happen often. I think part of the “problem” of that not happening here is there are too many people looking to make an easy buck and trying to use fraudulent payment methods. They will usually get frustrated (angry, makes my job more difficult…etc.) and leave before the manager arrives to the front of the store. I hope he at least offered you an apology verbally and then proceeded to call a Tech in to fix the computer! (And just to be clear, I am not accusing you of using a bad gift card 😉 I know better!)

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Your input certainly puts a different spin on the situation, Amy. I would never even have thought of customers attempting to pass off fraudulent gift cards. Duh. If we received an apology, I don’t remember it. The impression left upon me was the “this has happened before…”

      By the way, I, too, once worked as a grocery store check-out clerk and I know how challenging that job can be. That was back in the day where every price had to be punched into the cash register. Ah…, the good old days. Not.

  4. Virgil Says:

    My wife uses FLS gift cards all the time. She quit using them at Wal-Mart because she has had the same problem you did. Unfortunate for FLS.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      This IS interesting. Perhaps someone needs to check into this problem with gift cards if it is a gift card, rather than a computer, issue.

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