Customers have voices too!

Back in the dark ages prior to the advent of social media, if you went to an eatery or business and the service or experience was lacking, you had few options to express your discontent. Sure you could ask for a manager or write a letter but by and large you the consumer (aside from telling folks in your personal circle to avoid the place like the plague) really had few options.

However social media has changed the game. Suddenly we the consumers have a voice and that voice can be quite loud. Many folks remember the story of blogger Dooce and her Maytag experience, now I admit I was on the fence with how she handled her dissatisfaction with their service but in the end by using her voice she was able to get the situation resolved. In the past few months I have had a few instances of service gone awry and thanks to social media (namely Twitter), the situations were resolved above and beyond what I expected.

In the first instance an e-coupon via Foursquare at the local Goodwill was not honored, in fact the clerks seemed clueless about the coupon and flat out refused to honor the five dollar off deal. (It was five dollars off any purchase of twenty five dollars or more) Now it wasn’t a huge deal to me but I did tweet about it and in the end Goodwill contacted me, compensated me more than the original coupon was worth and I was happy and will continue to patronize Goodwill of Northern New England. While the store clerk may have been clueless it was clear that they have social media savvy folks on staff who understands the value of social media in business.

In the second instance it’s an ongoing issue so I won’t get into all the details, but I will say a month or so back our car needed some work and we took it into our local shop which is a fairly large New England chain. Up until earlier this year we had a great relationship with the shop but the manager left and was replaced by a fellow who clearly is not as focused on keeping customers happy. Considering that the repair was just done a month ago, it took longer than we were told and it cost more, so you can imagine that I wasn’t feeling too happy when it became clear recently that the issue was obviously not resolved. So I took it to Twitter and it turns out this chain does indeed have a presence there and let’s just say they are working to make this a happy ending.

Now one might get the idea that maybe I like to be a rabble rouser, while that is true in some areas of my life I generally recognize that store clerks and restaurant servers are front line workers who basically deal with a lot of shit and make little money. So for all the times I am rubbed the wrong way and sadly I must say sometimes just my presence seems to be a factor, I generally let things roll off my back. Life is too damn short to get bent about every slight…in the end it’s just not that serious.

However I had an experience today while hanging out in Portland that well….pissed me the fuck off. Let me set the scene, the family and I went to a cool little arts festival, the type of thing I adore, and of course we didn’t eat lunch figuring we’d grab something there. But the choices were limited and the six year old is a picky eater which means by extension we are picky eaters, no allergies or sensitivities, she is just incredibly picky and will starve rather than eat what she does not want. I didn’t want to argue about food today, so I said screw it let’s find something she will eat. So off we go.

We walk over to the Old Port which is a cutesy touristy part of Portland with the types of shops that when I first moved here I went gaga over but now that my income is in line with the average Mainer and not the income we used to have, I generally avoid such cute shops. Y’all know the type…they scream “SPEND MONEY!” So we came upon a new eatery The Thirsty Pig, let me say I am married to a man that though he was raised in California he was born in Minnesota and I am convinced his Midwestern roots comes through in his eating. He is meh about sushi but loves a good sausage and beer. So when we spied The Thirsty Pig and saw it was basically sausages he was happy and hey they had hot dogs for the little one. Now I will be honest and say neither of these choices made me want to break into a song and dance but the kid was loudly letting us know she was hungry so I said cool let’s eat here.

From the moment I walked in the vibe felt off but as a mother with a hungry picky eater, I brushed it aside. Though the servers seemed frazzled and frankly the lackluster service pissed me off from the get go…hello! Of course I want to order, I have been sitting here ten minutes with a hungry kid! So we place our order, I decided on the lobster roll since it was the one item that spoke to me and I like a good roll and I figured with a price tag of $15.50, it would probably be a fantastic lobster roll!

That lobster roll was the nastiest things I have ever tasted, the rolls seemed a tad heavy, the lobster meat was very cold and had a very fishy taste and the mayo or whatever was at the bottom of the roll was just meh. To be honest the sandwich was so unpleasant and the fishy flavor so overpowering which concerned me that I left most of it on the plate. Instead eating my salt and vinegar chips and pickles….by the way I like salt and vinegar chips but many don’t including my picky eater, why not offer a plain chip too?

I know I am getting long here but hang with me kids, so the server came and asked was everything fine. I had that split second mental debate where I think do I say something or not, while my brain was debating my mouth said “No, it really wasn’t good”. Oops it seems my mouth got ahead of my brain. The server responds “Well let me get your check.” No offer of can I get you something else, I am so sorry just let me get your check. Look I didn’t expect her to take lobster roll off the bill thought it would have been nice but damn, what about asking if I would like something else? Shit at that point I would have taken a lettuce leaf or something but nope she brings me my check and that’s that.

I admit I was stunned and if it had not been for the presence of the wee one I might have asked for a manager but the kidlet is her explain everything to me stage and I just was not in the mood. So I say to The Thirsty Pig: a less than pleasant meal I can live with but a questionable meal combined with lackluster servers who clearly did not give a damn is just too much.

(Oh, and my husband’s BBQ banger sandwich wasn’t all that and a box of cracker jacks, either. It tasted OK but really, for $6.50 it could have been a little bigger and maybe had a casing on the sausage that wasn’t somehow both tough and slippery)