The customer is always right — especially when they’re wrong.

I read that quote from Dunc’s latest blog post, and immediately laughed out loud.

Let’s talk about some of the more righteous customers we’ve had lately, shall we?

(Dunc is cringing right now, mumbling out loud something about ‘never complain about a customer, Kina!’)

Let’s start with T.T.

T.T. called our restaurant five-minutes after closing, asking for a to-go order. I told her that I had already sent the kitchen staff home but that she was in luck; I can handle it myself, I said. I’ll make you whatever you’d like. I told her that the lights would be off at the restaurant, but that I would unlock the door and have her food ready to go.

She ordered a large pizza, and a Family Meal Deal combo (XL pizza, breadsticks, 2-liter).

I quoted 12-minutes and got to work. I pulled all of the pizza makings from below the make line, dusted a paddle, and went as fast as I could to get her order done.

I took the order, made the order, baked the order, plated the order, and even brought the order out to the counter as she walked in…. with three other people.

You know how you just get a bad vibe from someone? T.T. was that person.

The next day, I found a message on my desk that a customer had called and said that her pizza was burnt the night before. She said that she tried to call to complain, but that we didn’t answer the phone. I called the customer right back.

I apologized that she was unhappy with her pizza, and asked the magic words: What Can I Do To Make It Better?

She said she’d like another pizza.

No problem. I’ll make it myself, I said, and then got her order.

I asked one of our cooks to start it as I tried to pull up that same pizza from the night before (to figure out who/what/when), and the phone rang. I answered it, and it was the same lady. She said she wanted her second pizza to be a pepperoni instead of a sausage.

“Second pizza?” I asked. “I only knew about the one.”

“Yes,” she replied. “We had ordered two pizzas. Both were burnt. We want the other one to be a pepperoni.”

Knowing full well at this point who the customer was (and that she was full of crud), I explained that I was the one who took the order the night before, and who had made the pizzas as well as cooked them.

“One pizza I might be able to understand,” I said. “But now you’re saying two? You only mentioned one earlier, so I’m only going to replace one.”

Sure enough, she sent a teenage girl to pick up the pizza, who wouldn’t look anyone in the eye.

And sure enough, the original payment, a check, bounced.

Of course.

When I handed it to the police officer a week later, he laughed and said he wasn’t going to waste his time; that he had already been to her house three times that week and we might as well just press charges.

I couldn’t help but notice T.T.’s name in the newspaper shortly after that. She was arrested on three outstanding warrants for Negotiating a Bad Check, and subsequently released.

Yet, the customer is always right.

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A few weeks ago, we had someone call in a to-go order. I quoted the front gal who asked for a time “22 minutes”, and put the ticket on the line behind a few others that were quoted a shorter time span.

As you work a line, sometimes you run out of ingredients and make a trip to the walk-in, or you walk to the wall magnet to find a proper cutting knife. Memorizing every ticket is not possible, but a talent if you can.

About ten minutes later, a front gal asked how much longer it would be on said ticket.

We went into panic mode, searching everywhere for the ticket, and found it on the floor behind the make line.

I immediately pushed it to the front of the line, tossing dough and making the menu items as fast as possible. I didn’t even notice that the customer was over 10-minutes early to pick it up.

We were able to get the order out and into the customers hands only 4 four FOUR minutes after our quoted time. But having sat there for 14 minutes because he was early, and having already been apologized to for losing the ticket, his mindset was that we were in the wrong. He snapped at me when I brought the food out FOUR minutes after our quoted time, and stormed out the front door.

What he didn’t know is that *I didn’t know* that he was too early to pick up his order, had felt terrible about it, and had enclosed a VIP gift certificate for a free pizza in the future.

He hasn’t used it yet. It will be interesting if he does…

because the customer is always right.

———————————————————————

We had another customer who ordered delivery, and we quoted “It will be there as soon as possible, within 45-minutes or less” as we usually do.

We made the order of a pizza, breadsticks, chicken wings and a salad and the driver took off.

He came back about ten minutes later, bags still full of food.

“What the #*?” I asked him.

He shrugged his shoulders and said that the lady who answered the door said that we were too soon on our delivery; that her husband had gone to the Dollar Store and had all of their money. “Can you come back?” she had asked.

So our driver is standing there looking uneasy, and I just had to laugh.

We gave him another delivery to run and then he was to stop by the former house to see if hubby was home with the money yet.

The customer ended up getting their delivery 30 minutes after the original time that he had tried to drop it off.

So fast forward a few weeks later, and the same house is ordering delivery. I notice this incident in the NOTES section and ask if they are paying by cash or check. Cash, she answers. I then ask that they have the payment ready so that we don’t have to come back later for it as we previously have had to do, and she agrees.

When our driver showed back up after the delivery, he’s visibly upset. The couple had tried to pay with a $100 bill, and our driver explained that he carries $20 or less (as do all delivery drivers). He asked for a smaller bill and the husband said that was all he had. The driver said he couldn’t leave the food and not get paid, and would drive back to the restaurant to get more money for change, which he did. He delivered the food ten minutes later.

The husband then called me to complain that the pizza was cold by the time the driver returned with the food and the change.

I explained that it would be unusual for a driver to carry change for $100. He continued to complain, so I mentioned that it didn’t seem to be a problem when they sent my driver away a week ago when he was at the Dollar Tree, and that this food was delivered the same way, if not sooner.

He began to cuss at me, so I said, “It seems to me that we’re unable to satisfy you on delivery orders. I will make a note of that and ask that if you choose to patronize us in the future, that you dine-in or get to-go orders.”

I hung up on him in midst of some choice profanity…

but the customer is always right.

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2 Responses to The customer is always right — especially when they’re wrong.

  1. Jen says:

    Wait, you still take checks? 1990 called and wants it’s payment method back.

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