Friday, January 4, 2013

The greasy wheel gets the oil

Normally I'm a very happy, optimistic person. But if it's one thing I do well, it's complain. I'm known for my afternoon b**** sessions at work as typically someone has annoyed me at some point that day. (I can't stand stupidity.) Like yesterday when I phoned in my car insurance payment - the customer service rep asked me for my driver's licence number and then when I proceeded to give it to him, he asked me to stop and wait until he was ready. And then when he asked for my credit card number, the same thing happened. Why ask me for this information if you're not ready to take it?!

Anyhoo, I digress... while complaining is often just a way for me to get something off my chest, I am known for getting free stuff because I complain. But I wouldn't call it complaining... maybe just.... telling companies how I feel about their products/service. And often times I get free stuff out of it, which is always a nice bonus!

Most recently I complained to Red Lobster about crappy service we had while dining there for my mom's birthday. The waitress was great and the food was good, but everything took sooooo long. We opted to eat early to avoid the crowds and get in and out faster, but that didn't work out as planned. Our last guest to arrive sat down at the table around 5:30 p.m. and by that point everyone had their drinks, including her, as we ordered ahead for her. But it took 2.5 hours for us to order our food, get our meals and dessert and pay the bill - we weren't back in our car until 8 pm. And we didn't even have appetizers!

So I emailed the company and just said I found this to be a bit bothersome and while the waitress was great (I wasn't about to throw her under the bus as she was very sweet and friendly), something was obviously up that night. I got an email back saying thanks for the comments and they were being passed on to the general manager of that store. And, "as a gesture of goodwill and our desire to continue serving you", the company is sending me a gift card. I'm not sure how much it is, but even if it's $10, it's better than just complaining to Husband and getting nothing.

I'm not a chronic complainer and I don't do it just to get stuff. I only email stores/restaurants if something really has bothered me. But the five minutes it can take are often beneficial to me as well. Often times I find that the way a company responds to a complaint says more than anything else.

One time Husband and I went out for dinner to Tavern United and no one came by to take our order for 25 minutes. Not even a drink order. So we left and I emailed the restaurant's manager. She sent the typical response - apologized, said she would look into it and was sending me a gift card. But the gift card never came. So we will never go back there. Not only did the initial experience suck, but the manager didn't follow through on her promise. If she had just apologized and said nothing, I would have felt better. But to say you're going to do something and not do it - that's bad customer service on top of already bad service.

Another time I went to the Riverstone Spa for a pedicure. It was a really nice spa - one of the most expensive ones in the city, but when I got home, the polish was coming off already. My mom, who was an esthetician (prior to retirement) said based on how it came off and what it looked like, she figured the salon had used old/expired nail polish. So I emailed the spa and didn't hear back. At all. I emailed again and still nothing. Not even a simple apology. And now I will never go back there.

Whatever happened to "the customer is always right"? I know there are many people in this world who abuse the system, but companies are far from perfect and they should welcome constructive criticism to improve their business practices.

Have you ever complained and gotten free stuff?


  1. I can remember one time that i had a really bad restaurant experience, emailed, and got two free entrees out of it. but most of the time, i don't bother complaining. i've worked in customer service before and i know how much of a pain it can be, so i am a pretty easy customer (or at least try to be!). But I'm the same as you, if one place pisses me off, i won't go back. but if i get great service, i will keep going back even if it's out of my way.

    1. I think I need a hobby to replace "complaining". :)