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A Little Rant About Truth In Advertising and Customer Service

Posted Sep 30 2008 9:20am
Okay. This is a two-pronged rant, spawned by a couple of less-than-stellar dining experiences over the past two days. Most of you that know me know I'm not inclined to bitch about the foodservice industry, not without good reason. That comes partly from experience in said industry, and partly from my general tolerance of most anything. But I can't hold my tongue any longer.

Allow me to begin by recommending against ordering any of the new, fabulous, much-touted Oven Baked Sandwiches from that national pizza chain that does pizza really well. And apparently, has a ways to go in the sandwich department.

We decided to order last night after we planned on going out and all got lazy at the last minute... I thought pizza sounded good, Scott wanted a cheesesteak sandwich, so he suggested the place that's tooting their horn about having sandwiches now. On the website, the sandwiches look awesome, so we ordered a couple and a pizza and wings and breadsticks - and they have a really schnazzy order tracker function where you can watch what stage of completion your dinner's at...

This is what we expected, based on the pics on TV and the website:

This is what we got:

And after two bites and a call to the place of origin (wherein the manager told him "yeah, the sandwiches do suck," Scott went to his favorite cheesesteak joint down the road and got a real sandwich, that looked like this:

Anyway, I think the pictures speak for themselves. Can't say I recommend the oven baked wonderment. But their deep dish pizza is the shizzle.

deep breath, everybody

So on to the other half of the rant. Sunday night, along about 10:30, Scott said a milkshake sounded good and I was game. Usually, we build 'em at home, but we hadn't been grocery shopping and so there was no milk. Kinda difficult to make a milkshake, that being the case. So in the truck we hopped, drove around trying to figure where to get the best shake at that time of night, and he suggested the house known for its pancakes, internationally.

We went to the new one just up the road from us, one we'd been to once before. And let me just digress for a minute and tell you about Roving Propaganda Lady. This is what we termed her that first time - because as people innocently tried to eat their brunches, she seemed to have no other function than to walk around and say things like, "Ooh, look at that. Doesn't that look good." "Are you enjoying those fabulous crepes?" "Isn't that coffee wonderful?" It was immensely annoying. But anyhoo. We stepped in to this particular establishment and found it surprisingly busy...they took us to our table and we waited.

And waited.

And waited. For about ten minutes or more. Soon, a gent that was evidently the manager passed our table with a chunky, pasty white, glasses-wearing dude in an apron following him. Manager Guy stops just past our table and nods his head in our direction, at which Pasty McChunkerson is clueless. A frustrated fingerpoint from Manager Guy and McChunkerson pulled a face at Scott and then mumbled "umm, sorry nobody's been out, it's just, I just got here, and um...what can I get you started with?" We ordered coffees to start, and yes we'd like cream.

Another ten minutes passed. No coffee. Here comes Pasty McChunkerson with two ice waters, plunks them on the table, and says "Sorry, there's no coffee, so we're brewing some."

**Pardon me, but what the hell is IHOP doing without a pot of coffee on, at any hour??? Ludicrous. That's like McDonald's being out of buns. Dunkin Donuts out of flour. A bar without beer.**

Anyway. The coffee arrived, and Pasty asked us what we wanted. I ordered my short stack (I'm a raving sucker for pancakes, any day, anytime) and Scott ordered a crepe and a vanilla shake. Off went Pasty, and we started in on our coffee, which incidentally tasted plasticky and gross (and I usually like their coffee).

Back he came, and said, "uh, there's no ice cream, so sorry about that, I guess I can't bring you that shake." Clarifying, Scott said "No ice cream?" As Pasty shifted his weight from foot to foot, he said "yeah, my man, there's just no ice cream. i'm sorry about that, i looked and we're all out."

Scott was annoyed, and visibly so - more so at Pasty's ineptitude and awkward familiarity than the lack of ice cream - and though he doesn't understand why, when he's annoyed or pissed, people generally try to pacify him (I think it has to do with the fact that it's obvious he could kick anyone's ass, though he's not that kinda guy). He said "So there's NO ice cream?" and looked at me with that "really?" expression, at which I laughed - that was the one thing he'd really wanted, and I asked if he wanted to go someplace else. He said no, fine, just bring the food.

Pasty stood there nervous, still, not shagging ass to the kitchen but still apologizing. "Um, yeah, I'm sorry, I'll look again to see if we're really out."

"Fine," came Scott's terse reply. Finally, Pasty went away. Some time later he came back with our plates, and MORE apologies. "Um, yeah, I'm really sorry about that milkshake, my man, I'm sorry we couldn't do that for ya, so I hope this tastes good, and I hope it's okay, and--"

"Fine," again. I said "Fine" too, gave Pasty my best "Go, go NOW" look as he was getting on my nerves - I swear, I was close to giving him that little 'shoo' hand-flicking gesture thingy - and finally, he left.

We laughed, Scott said "Did he really call me 'my man'?" Yep, twice - we shook our heads, and ate our food, which was really good. See, we're both pretty polite people - we call people Sir or Ma'am, generally, until given permission to address them otherwise (unless at work, where the rules are typically a little different). Never in a million years would we think of calling a perfect stranger 'my man' - and that was just aggravated by the fact that Pasty didn't seem to know when to shut the hell up and leave us alone...

On the way out we mentioned it to the manager, not by way of complaining, but my goodness, somebody needed to school Pasty McChunkerson about customer service and courtesy - and we got to thinking about how it's more a generational or societal trend now, that familiarity and lack of social graces. It's sad.

And that's why our kids say "Sir" and "Ma'am."
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