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Customer disservice

February 20, 2011

This past week I’ve had a rough stretch of customer service or, rather, disservice at a local grocery outlet.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that kids today are not exactly focused on their tasks (unless they involve phoning or texting). But this skein of clerkly indifference boggled the mind and enflamed the sense of civility that I, like you, was brought up with.

Day 1
I bought $25 or so of groceries and put my bonus card on the belt before the groceries. This card entitles you to discounts on gasoline at certain local stations. It wasn’t till I got home that I realize, despite my judicious placement of the card, the clerk hadn’t awarded me any points. No doubt his mind was on higher things— like lunch, his girlfriend, the rent.

Day 2
I returned to get my points, going to the customer service counter. A young woman (18 or 20?) took my complaint and, without remark or resistance, handed me a receipt for the points. Brava. Then I shopped again, and bought about $100 of groceries. When I checked out, the young man at the till awarded me my points, no problem. But he certainly was distracted. I’d just started laying the groceries on the belt when he glowered over my shoulder at someone I couldn’t see and shouted out, “You on break?” Evidently his colleague was ignoring his duties. The older woman in line of front of me was even now finishing bagging her own groceries, and when the goods rolled down the belt I began to bag my own. Before I was finished, the clerk shut down the register and vamoosed.

In doing so, he neglected to award coupons for free milk and eggs on my next trip (one of the coupon deals I had purchased).

Day 3
I returned, once more, and once again lodged a complaint at the customer service desk. The young thing I was talking to (18? 20?) suggested the clerk had forgotten to issue the coupons or perhaps had run out of them. While I was still talking with her and before she had given me the coupons, she engaged in a dialog with another young thing (18 or 20), who shouted at her, over my shoulder, “Is Donna coming in today or not?” The clerk at the counter shouted something back, oblivious to me, the customer, the old guy, standing in front of her.


I was so mad by the time I’d made it through day three that I thought I’d hit the roof. Or hit a clerk. Or call the store manager, better yet. Or write the company president.

I suppose I still should — that is, call or write, not hit the clerk.

But wearily I sigh and think what’s the use? This incivility is endemic in our society, and although we may note it most readily in the young it’s certainly not confined to them.

It’s the way the majority talks (on cell phones). Or drives (me first! get out of the way!). Or engages in political discourse (I’m not just right I’m righteous; I know it all, now blow off!).

Has something similar happened to you? What did you do? Or what should you have done?


From → civility

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