Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tips, Tricks & Candlesticks

SO doesn't rhyme, but I most certainly have a customer story that is worth posting.

A lady came in the shop today at 12:15. She ordered a veggie sandwich, which is microwaved, assembled, coated with olive oil and set on the panini grill for a good 5 minutes. She asked me how long it would take, and I saw that my co-worker (and employer) was getting ready to ship out a few sandwiches. So I told her 10 minutes.

"Okay, I'm going outside, but I'll be back," the customer told me.

Meanwhile, I handled a drink order or two, and wrote in more sandwich orders. A man wanted to get a BLT and a bagel with lox sandwich, for him and his son. My boss finished his projects and made the sandwiches for the man, neither of which take very long to prep. The BLT and bagel/lox do not have to be grilled, but (at most) toasted.

I delivered the sandwiches to the man and his son, and go on to take the order of the next customer in line. She would like an iced coffee.

Just then, the first customer (who ordered the veggie sandwich) came in the door and saw the man and his son with their lunch. She pushed right up next to my current customer and, while the customer is talking to me, begins to talk.

"Where is my sandwich?" she asked, in a seemingly anguished tone, like I had attempted to steal her purse. "You told me it would take 10 minutes, and it's been 15. I'm going to be late for work."

"Just one minute, please. I'm with another customer," I said.

The woman continued to make noises, so the iced coffee lady shook her head and told me to help the veggie sandwich woman.

"I want my money back," the woman was loud. "I'm now late for work."

"I'm sorry, ma'am," I replied. "It's on the grill right now--you can see it. It's done, my boss just needs to package it up for you and you'll be on your way."

"I don't want it, I want my money back!" the woman cried. "You told me it would only take 10 minutes. That man ordered after me and got his food before me!"

"Ma'am, some foods take longer to prepare than others," I explained. "You can see my boss is working hard. The veggie sandwich has to be grilled, and takes longer."

She continued to fight with me, demand her money back and tell me that she was officially "late for work." I turned to my boss and inquired his input on the situation.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

The woman explained it all in half a breath.

"Ma'am, you heard her explain everything, and we're not going to explain it again," my boss replied emphatically. "You have no right to talk to my employees that way."

"I want my money back."

"Okay, fine."

He opened up the register and took out the proper amount of change. The sandwich was packaged and ready to go, sitting on a nearby counter. For one sick minute, I thought he had given it to her with her money back, but he hadn't (for which I was excessively relieved). After he handed her the money, she made one more demanding inference:

"I gave her a one dollar tip."

My boss made an irritated noise, reached into my tip bucket and gave her a dollar bill, which he later refunded from his own stash of tips.

The woman took the money and flew out the door.

Lesson of the day: If you are going to order the most complicated item on the menu, at lunch hour--expect delays. Not a smart move when you have a 15 minute lunch break.

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