I convinced my friend Lola to guest post for me while I'm hanging out in Napa. And between us, friends, I am trying to convince her to do a monthly guest post. Join me in my pleas, won't you, Internet? Anyway, I encouraged her to write this post after she was actually FORCED to switch coffee shops due to overzealous barista syndrome. It's a thing!
Hello, kids! While Stephanie cavorts through sunny California, Lola’s here to hold down the fort – the snow fort, that is. Yes, I know it’s April. That doesn’t change the fact that still I see a snow-covered Arctic tundra when I look out my window. The white stuff (I guess crusty gray stuff at this point) is just refusing to go! I’m thinking that maybe in May, I’ll finally be able to put that parka away. That’s the dream, anyway.
So happy travels to Stephanie (no, I’m not jealous…really) and let’s get down to business. What I’d like to discuss today is customer service. Too much customer service. Particularly, the add-on. I think we’ve all been there, yawning and politely smiling our way through endless “would you like fries with that?” “the medium is only five cents more,” and “sign up for an updated version and get two months (practically) free!” I guess paying our hard-earned dollar just for the product/service/commodity we want is not doing it these days. The salesgirl who’ll be accosting you has been instructed to push the add-on.
Now, I know that most of these people mean no harm – they’re probably cringing just as hard as I am and possibly crying on the inside for having to force a product on an unsuspecting customer. Which is why I try to be polite. But some places just go too far.
Like the Caribou Coffee I usually frequent on the way to work. It’s barely 8 a.m., it’s cold out and I’m about to face a grueling day at the office – all I want is a cup of java. That’s ALL I want.
Alas, the Caribou I have the misfortune of frequenting is run by the Add-On Nazi. First of all, he’s not a high school student trying to earn enough to splurge on a new pair of jeans, a college student earning his tuition or even a grad student who’s probably regretting that philosophy degree. He’s the manager. Maybe even the franchise owner. You can tell by the way he orders his underlings around. So really, no one’s holding a gun to his head, yelling “Sell! Sell! Sell!!”
And yet, each time he waits on me, we go through the same tiring routine – he interrupts me while I’m in the middle of my order to see if he got my name right (“Lulu? Did I get that right?”). He then gets my order wrong, and he always PUSHES THE BREAKFAST SANDWICH! Oh, the breakfast sandwich! The “Start Your Mornin’ Right With Some Deepfried Mystery Meat” sandwich. Would I LIKE a breakfast sandwich? Am I SURE I wouldn’t like a breakfast sandwich? Do I know that the breakfast sandwich comes with three slices of CHEESE?
Usually, I try to grin and bear it. But the last time, he crossed a line. After my polite “no, thanks,” he actually went “and what’s stopping you from getting the breakfast sandwich today?” Um, excuse me? Is this some clever new way of conducting the Census? Am I on TV? Did you really just demand to know WHY I don’t want the sandwich? Maybe it was the lack of caffeine talking (he was still holding my medium dark roast hostage!), but I felt violated. Actually violated. And weirded out. It’s one thing to offer and another thing to demand why that offer wasn’t accepted. Is he the godfather of breakfast sandwiches now? Was this an offer that I couldn’t refuse? If they pull me out of the Mississippi River wearing cement shoes in two weeks, I guess we’ll know.
This is where I wanted to point out that the right to privacy is still protected by the Supreme Court. At least I think it is – I haven’t read the paper in a while. Maybe Caribou Coffee bought out the rights to privacy. I also wanted to say that it was none of his business why I didn’t want to get the sandwich. And that customer service shouldn’t sound like a police interview.
Instead, I got my coffee and walked out without saying a word. And I don’t think I’ll go back – really, enough is enough! What’s he going to ask me next time? What color socks I have on and whether my great-aunt was a Libra, that being crucial information for my breakfast sandwich profile? TSA scanners are less invasive.
So the next time you’re offered the newest flavor of the month – a triple-berry tuna-flavored frappuccino – just say no to the add-on! We can do it, people! We can reclaim customer service in the name of good, not evil! And as for me, I can go to that other Caribou Coffee six blocks away. God knows there’s no shortage of places that will pour you a cup.