Kicked Out of a Bar Because I Didn’t Want My Burger Split. Really?

in Customer Service

(NOTE: I had originally sent this out to my email sales tips newsletter subscribers earlier today. The response has been overwhelming. I’m posting it here so those of you that want to comment and even share your own stories can do so. Enjoy!)

I wouldn’t fault you if you don’t believe what you’re about to read. It is such an outrageous and bizarre example of customer treatment–I can’t even call it "service"–that I might not have believed it myself. Except I experienced it last Saturday.

First, some background.

Zipps is a local, popular chain of sports bars in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area. I have visited several of their locations regularly over the past few years, including their original place, Goldie’s. Their food is a notch above typical sports bar fare, they have lots of TV’s, and a fun atmosphere. My friends and I watch plenty of sports, we enjoy the beverages sports fan typically consume, and have spent a nice amount with them on food and drinks over the years.

Not anymore.

Last Saturday afternoon a friend and I stopped at the Zipps on Via de Ventura road in Scottsdale. We ordered a couple of drinks and chicken wings. We played some shuffleboard, then decided to get a burger. Just one, since neither of us wanted a whole one. I told the bartender/waitress that we were just going to split a burger. She said,

"OK, there will be a split charge, and you get another side. "

I told her that we didn’t want another side. In fact we didn’t even care for a single side, and that they didn’t need to split the burger.

Now, call me crazy, but it seems that a reasonable service person would have said, "No problem." Done deal. End of story. Thanks for the order.

I’ve eaten at some of the nicest, most expensive restaurants in the country. Some have split charges, some don’t. When they do charge, typically they nicely divide and plate one dinner into two, often giving larger portions than if you had just ordered one dinner. I don’t have a problem with that. That’s a value-add, and if they want to charge for it, and the customer is agreeable to buying it, so be it. And if Zipps wants to charge for cutting a burger in half, and adding fries or slaw, that’s fair. But if a customer doesn’t want to buy that option, they shouldn’t have to, right?

I just wanted the single burger, no sides. She insisted that she had to assess the split charge. It was "policy," and she had to follow the rules. I replied again that I just wanted one burger, one plate, not cut, no sides. She was adamant: she had to charge me since we were splitting it.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Trying to reason with her, I again said, "OK then, no other person will touch my burger. I,personally will just order one hamburger. I will not share it."

She told me she couldn’t do that.

Again, flabbergasted, but in control and not acting rude or raising my voice in any way, I said, almost in a begging tone, "You won’t sell me a single hamburger?"

"You already said you are splitting it."

Are you following the absurdity of all this so far? I am trying TO ORDER A HAMBURGER FROM A PLACE THAT SELLS HAMBURGERS and not be charged extra for something I do not want!

I then attempted to put things in perspective for her: I asked what happens when someone orders a takeout burger… does she demand to know how many people will be eating it when they get home, and then assess an extra charge? I wondered aloud if she was going to charge extra because TWO of us ate the chicken wings. What if an entire table gets one order of onion rings? Apparently that logic was a bit too much for her to process. She reluctantly put the order in for the burger.

Laughing off the entire experience, we then passed more time at the shuffleboard table. Minutes later, a guy who identified himself as the manager came up to us and said, "Excuse me, I understand you have an issue with our split charge policy."

A bit shocked that it actually escalated to this level, I smiled and said, "Well, fundamentally I do have a problem with a split charge if I do not want the burger split regardless of what I decide to do with it after I get it, and don’t want the extra sides."

"That’s policy. That’s what she’s instructed to do."

"I think it’s stupid, and the fact that the bartender would take it so far is horrible customer service, and that you now are even talking to me about it raises it to an entirely new level of outrageousness."

He proceeded to defend their policy, mentioned something about their food costs (like that is something I really care about?), and was essentially treating me like I was a difficult, unreasonable customer. Please understand, in my business I deal with more bad service than the typical consumer because of the number of flights I take, and hotels, car rental companies, and restaurants I have done business with over the past 28 years. My "policy" is to always give the service provider the benefit of the doubt, and let most things slide. However, in this case, I was now pushed to a place that I rarely enter: "Look, this is ridiculous. I’m going to talk to your CEO and discuss your policy and the treatment we’re getting."

He handed me his card and said the corporate address was on there.

No, I told him I needed the name of the CEO.

He refused.

I persisted. "What? You don’t know it, or you won’t give it to me?"

"I won’t do that."

This was getting more bizarre.

"You’re telling me that you won’t give me the name of your CEO? I can find it in a few minutes on my iPhone if I need to. How will he or she react when I say you would not give a customer his or her name?""

He finally relented, gave me the name, and walked away.

As you might imagine, my friend and I are now having one of those "That really didn’t just happen?" discussions. A guy sitting at the bar within earshot of the interaction with the manager said, "Wow, that was weird. What was that about?" I explained what happened with the burger. He couldn’t believe it either. Again, I was calm and quiet, actually laughing at the inanity of the entire situation.

The manager reappeared and interrupted. "Sir, if you talk badly about us to other customers I am going to have to ask you to leave."

Now I REALLY couldn’t comprehend what was happening.

It was becoming a bit more difficult to maintain composure, but thankfully I did. "What?! You are now threatening to kick me out of here, FOR TALKING TO A GUY AT THE BAR?"

"I can’t have you badmouthing us to customers."

I replied, "He asked me a question, I answered, we talked. Can you please tell me what I said to badmouth you?"

He had nothing.

"Is repeating your own ‘policy’ badmouthing you?"

He walked away.

At this point, the hamburger–that’s hamburGER. One. Singular. Not halved–arrived at our spot at the bar. We sat down. I began eating it. Alone. A knife was conspicuously absent.

Given the surreal situation up to this point, I am now thinking that I had some great material for an article and blog post. I wanted more background. I was curious about the bartender’s thought process and what really motivated her to make this an issue to begin with.

"Excuse me, just wondering, I have to ask you… why did you go to the manager with this little split charge thing?"

She responded, "It’s policy. I could lose my job."

"Seriously? You’re trained to agitate customers with something as small as this?"

Brace yourself for this one. You might even want to grab a chair. She said, a bit indignantly,

"Yeah, we’re on to the little games customers play. We know how they try to get around things."

For one of the few times in my life, I was actually speechless. That couldn’t possibly be part of their culture, could it? This chain won Sports Bar of the Year in 2011 from the local paper. I mean, really, what would training look like for that?

"Ok, class, now for the lesson on how you need to keep an eye on those diabolical, sneaky customers. They will try to rip you off at every opportunity."

A woman sitting just to the right of me at the bar witnessed this brief interaction. She leaned over and whispered, "You know, that’s pretty typical here. They are so cheap. I refused to come here for two years. I sent my salad back one time and they made me feel like a fool."

I asked why she was there now. "I really like the food." She spoke in a low voice, as if she was afraid SHE would be kicked out. Reminded me of the Soup Nazi episode from Seinfeld. She obviously had experience with the way they treat customers who talk amongst themselves.

Did I mention you might not believe what I’m writing? But wait. There’s more.

The manager interrupted my brief conversation with my barstool neighbor.

"I’m sorry sir…" Ahh, finally he had come to his senses and wanted to apologize.

"… I am going to ask you to pay your bill and leave."

I kid you not. "You’re not serious, right?"

"I am asking you to pay your tab and leave."

"Really? Why?"

"I already told you I can’t have you talking badly about us to our customers."

Apparently it is OK for THEM to abuse and insult a customer. But the thought or perception that said customer could actually tell another customer/victim about it before THEY get to them, themselves, well, that crosses the line.

I knew he could not have possibly heard my conversation with this woman. Plus, I was LISTENING to her. I said, "Can you please tell me exactly what I said that you interpreted as talking badly about you?"

He was now visibly shaken by the entire interaction. "I am not going to go there with you. I am asking you to leave."

Please note that I am still reasonably calm, and definitely not speaking more loudly than I normally would to someone on the other side of a bar. (Not that I didn’t feel like screaming out what an idiot I thought he was.) "Let me be sure I’m correct here. This all started with me wanting a single hamburger, and not being forced to pay extra for something I do not want. Then you confronted me about it, unnecessarily in my opinion. In front of another customer, I might add. Then you threatened to, and now actually are kicking me out for talking to two customers who initiated conversation with me. But, you can’t tell me anything I said that violates your rules. Do I have that right?"

He said, "We reserve the right to refuse service for whatever reason we choose."

Got it. Now THERE’s a customer-oriented policy. I should remind you, this is a bar. It is usually common for people to talk there. In most places, to each other. You should be able to do so without the fear of being asked to leave, right?

Still trying to give this guy a shot to redeem himself, I said, "Seriously, you are kicking me out?"

"I am asking you to pay your bill and leave."

He obviously was skilled at memorizing phrases and repeating them. As for thinking for himself, well, that’s another story. (An Enterprise Rental Car commercial running right now focuses on how ANY of their employees can make a decision to make something right for a customer. Hey Zipps corporate folks: give it a look. Good stuff.)

"But you still can’t tell me why I’m being kicked out, right?"

Manager: "You’re making a scene."

Unbelievable. I take a cleansing breath, and speak at a slow pace, since anything faster he might not be able to comprehend: "I’m calmly asking you questions that you won’t answer about why you are actually expelling a good customer. That’s a scene?"

Silly me, I should have known the answer. "I am asking you to pay your bill and leave."

Since I was already being banished from the premises, being the horrible nuisance that I apparently was, I asked, "If I refused to leave, would you call the police."

"If that’s what I needed to do"

The thought actually crossed my mind for a fleeting moment: how much fun I could have with that juicy one. Getting arrested over not wanting my hamburger cut in half. We could video it. That’s viral YouTube stuff. Then I thought better. I didn’t have the energy or the inclination to be on the news for something so stupid. Worse, it could backfire. I could just see the legendary Sheriff Joe himself showing up and dragging me off, in shackles, to Tent City. I’d be thrown in with the other lowlifes… maybe people who got caught using too many sugar packets. You never know.

Finally, I gave up and let him run my credit card. Common sense, good judgment, and reasonableness would get me nowhere with someone who wasn’t also using those principles.

And it’s notable that during this entire time I did not use the "Do you know who I am?"-card. Not that he would actually care that an accounting of this story might have the potential to be read by hundreds of thousands of people–actually more as it gets passed on and reprinted. And that many of those could be customers. Or former customers. Or that his actions would be used as an example of what not to do in customer service training programs all over the world. Nope, I didn’t want to overload him with that information. He was already shaking, and way in over his head. Instead, I simply said to him, "My name and company name are on that credit card if you care to check me out."

While signing the bill (which to their credit, surprisingly, did not include a split charge), with him staring very uncomfortably at me, as if I might try something dangerously crazy like, oh, darting over to a table and taking a bite of someone else’s burger, I said, "I’m not penalizing your bartender for this, by the way." I left a 20% tip, as I typically do.

If you saw the movie, "Pretty Woman," perhaps you remember the scene where Julia Roberts’ character, Vivian, who was initially treated badly by the snobby boutique saleswoman, then returned after she spent thousands of dollars elsewhere. I said something similar as I handed him the signed receipt: "Big mistake. Big. Huge!!"

Observations

-Someone at Neighborhood Restaurants LLC, the owners of Zipps, HAS to be smart enough to grasp the concept of the "Lifetime Value of a Customer." Meaning that if a customer spends, oh, let’s say $50 on a visit, and maybe pops in once a month (probably more often for good customers), that customer is worth at least $600 yearly. Multiply that by three, five, ten or more years to get the Lifetime Value. When you lose a customer, because of something stupid…ouch! I don’t know about you, but as a business owner I’d rather have that money than not.

-You’ve heard the saying about when a customer receives bad service, they tell something like 10-20 other people, right? I’ve already told a couple of my good friends who also go to Zipps. Correction–used to go. There are lots of other places that will be happy to have our money.

-Oh, another small repercussion that usually doesn’t happen when a customer is wronged, but, it’s always a possibility, since you never know who you’re dealing with: I’m also telling at least 70,000 on my email newsletter subscriber list, Tweeting it, Facebooking it, and putting it on my blog. Probably putting it on Yelp and Google reviews too. And I hope you share it with lots of people. Please pass it along. It’s an entertaining story. It’s better than anything I could create on my own.

-I thought about sending this to Zipps’ corporate and the CEO first to get their reaction. Naahh. Anyone that has such an asinine policy in place, and actually drills it into their workers’ minds to the point that they enforce it so zealously deserves to have it publicized. It’ll get to them eventually. I’ll be surprised if they actually care.

– at the Goldie’s website, the sister bar to Zipps, under the "Philosophy" tab, the last line says, "In the end, our philosophy is a simple one- Give the people what they want!" Add your own punchline here.

-I’m not looking for any compensation from Zipps for my bad experience, nor will I accept any. (Well, food and beer for five years would be nice…NO, I can’t be bought!) If they want to make things right, I’d like to see them do what any reasonable establishment does: apply the split charge ONLY WHEN THE CUSTOMER WANTS THE SPLIT! Train everyone on it. And add a policy allowing employees to make an independent decision.

-I added this point after I had written the bulk of this article, and shared the story with a few people right before you saw it: One friend said that he and his buddies experienced exactly the same thing at another Zipps location. A restaurant owner/friend said one of his customers, a CEO of a multi-million dollar company, was also kicked out of a Zipps for a similar reason. At least they seem to be consistent in the enforcement of their policies.

By the way, are you wondering about the split charge causing this entire circus?

$1.50.

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{ 122 comments… read them below or add one }

Janet Sohler December 13, 2011 at 5:23 pm

Some employees have not been trained That the customer is always right ( in most cases) if you want them to come back Anyone with any brains would not behave that way if they care about the future of their company … I would clean house quickly. By the way I am talking from experience of running several businesses with my husband. We never did or ever will treat customers that way.
I apauld you for making this public. It will go around quickly on the social media.

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Jim Hains December 14, 2011 at 1:55 pm

Art, You should have “split” the payment. Make them perform multiple transactions? I thought it was one of the worst examples of customer service & just plain common sense. Have a great 2012 !!!

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Kim Cunningham December 13, 2011 at 5:57 pm

I was forwarded this unbelievable story from an executive in a leading global company. There were 8 on the address bar; I was copied. Each of the addressees have 50-200 people in their customer sales or service teams. Who knows who else was also blind copied. You never know what impact, positive or negative, one customer experience will have on your business. Will be interesting to see how/if Zipp’s addresses.

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Melissa Hastings December 13, 2011 at 11:19 pm

This is the most shocking thing you have ever published on your blog, Art (I admit I read it a lot as you give good advice). When I think of how powerful word of mouth is, and how much hubris is being shown in that sports bar story of the interactions of the employees of that place, I am gobsmacked. My last 3 personal transactions were all word of mouth…my last haircut (recommended by a friend), my acupuncturist and my brake job, my dentist (who has over 13 people alone through my brother’s testimony). The most powerful advertising in the word of friends/family. They seem to look down on their customers like they are superior to them “we all know how you are”. It sort of reminds me of the recent paypal fiasco with regretsy (which ended up with a VP from Paypal apologizing in a public forum and making a donation, which in itself is another amazing story of hubris Customer Service but with a happy ending as paypal ended up trying to make amends for the actions of certain employees of theirs).

I spent years in Customer Service both retail and over the phone. I can’t imagine belittle a customer like that…even to the point of censoring them in the place, not allowing customers to share stories with them. I am amazed he didn’t pick you up and throw you through the glass window like they all do in those old cowboy movies.

I hope the CEO at the top cares.

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Marjan de Boer December 14, 2011 at 12:37 am

Yes, shocking story. Although not so rare as you would like it, unfortunately. After complaining to the manager of our golf club about their services and me not feeling welcome as a customer, she said: “well, if you don’t like it here, why are you still a member”? Good advice, we have now taken our business to a golf club who received us with welcoming open arms.

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Tony Wright December 14, 2011 at 6:49 am

An interesting newsletter outlining your experience at Zipps. I’m from the UK and have run many customer care courses over the last 20 years. I have to tell you that your experience would really not be that unusual in the UK. Employees tend to follow company policy to the letter and are afraid to place a different interpretation on it. I’m all for empowering employees to take sensible decisions but many companies simply do not allow their employees this freedom. I can understand the point that Zipps make about customers taking unfair advantage but whilst they might be told this during training (and, unfortunately, it is true for some customers) I don’t imagine for one moment that the company would expect its employees to pass on this information to customers!

Another example of this that I experienced was the time that I made a claim on my car insurance – the only claim in the last ten years. About two weeks later I received my annual renewal quotation. It was about 75% higher than the previous twelve months. I rang the company and pointed out that for many years I had been paying an additional sum to protect my no-claims bonus (no-claims bonus – a discount built up if you have a number of years without making a claim) so that I would not lose my current level of no-claims bonus If I made a claim. The man from the insurance company told me that, in quoting for the next year, they had not reduced my no-claims bonus; instead they had increased my premium by a huge amount so that even after applying the no-claims bonus I still ended up paying much more. I don’t imagine that he was supposed to tell me this but it clearly makes a complete mockery of the no-claims bonus system that is operated in the UK.

Back to your burger. If you had created even the slightest level of fuss in an English restaurant or burger chain, your food would have been spat upon or urinated on in the kitchen before it was served to you. I hope this doesn’t happen in the USA!

Love your newsletter Your tips are very valuable indeed.

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Karen Wood December 14, 2011 at 11:16 am

I’m from the UK too, and I have to say that customer service was not too good. However, I was just there in November and noticed a huge turnaround, in most of the stores and restaurants I visited. It might be something to do with the high unemployment but they do seem to be hiring good people now.

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Jeff McClurg December 14, 2011 at 10:22 am

Hey Art-

Funny story. Where has common sense gone? Nice to see you doing your part to bring it back. I’ll bet by now they wish they had
handled things differently. I dropped them a little note on their website expressing my thoughts on the situation.
I have not experienced customer service as bad as that, but a few times in my life I wish I had the tools/resources to make a difference by voicing my concerns/frustrations with unreasonable customer service issues.
As this story gets around, hopefully it will have a bearing on customer service business overall.

Cheers-
Jeff

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Greg G December 14, 2011 at 10:45 am

Art, you mention the fact that Enterprise is currently running an ad about how any employee can make a decision to help a customer; I can attest that I worked at ERAC for almost a decade back in the 90’s and that was the prevailing culture then, and good to see it still carries on. ANY employee (generally all college graduates in a mgmt-training program) could make a decision to satisfy a customer and keep them happy, and hopefully ensure their future business. And boy, we gave away A LOT back in the day… and the customers in most cases kept coming back. Well, it’s just common sense good business, and expected from day one.

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Michael Pedone December 14, 2011 at 11:02 am

I couldn’t read the whole thing… My blood was boiling over the stupidity and the realization that the waitress was soooo clueless as to her path in life from thinking that customers were out to get them was just maddening.

I’ve met people who thought the way these employees think and they usually blame everyone else for their place in life. Sigh.

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John December 14, 2011 at 11:06 am

Art,

Are you sure that maybe you hadn’t had just a little too much to drink? The fact that you had a “tab” tells me maybe you were in there for quite awhile. If you were there long enough to drink, eat a meal, drink some more then order even more food…well maybe some excessive drinking wen’t on. Just sayin’

Also, I’m sure waiters and waitresses love being evaluated and instructed on the customer service they give. Did you reveal to them that you are an expert at some point. You are shooting fish in a barrell my friend. I would have just left and gone somewhere else. Those are tactics they will use to get rid of somebody they fear has had too much to drink.

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Art Sobczak December 14, 2011 at 11:26 am

John, thanks for the speculation, but I was nursing my first beer when this all transpired.

Besides, I’m 6′ 1″, 210, and a bit of a professional in the metabolism area. Had I been impaired–which wouldn’t have been for a few more hours– I probably would have handled this much differently.

Not sure what places you frequent, but I would enjoy finding those servers who “love to be evaluated.”

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Jason December 14, 2011 at 1:50 pm

That was a little bit over an over speculation to claim you may have been drunk. However I do think the comment about “waitresses love to be evaluated” was said in jest.

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Togo Hum December 14, 2011 at 4:57 pm

John your comments were pretty dumb.

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David M December 14, 2011 at 11:12 am

For quite some time I’ve noticed that any type of customer care is getting more and more difficult to find in virtually any business. I’ve found myself standing in stores with cash in hand wanting to buy any number of items, only to be ignored or told to “just wait”. I’ve seen sales and service people become exasperated simply because they were called upon to do their job. Stories like this have become so common that they have lost impact.

It may be my theory alone, but I have a belief that part of the reason the economy is in such dreadful shape is because the level of service is such that it’s virtually impossible to make a purchase in a store. People need not wonder why Cybersales is so strong, I would rather buy online than deal with rude and inconsiderate sales and service people. To be clear about that, if I’m mistreated in your brick and mortar store, I’m not going to your website.

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Ted Pawlikowski December 14, 2011 at 11:15 am

Art – I have gone to the Zipps at Ray Rd & McClintock in Chandler on numerous occasions. I’ve always thought both the food and the service were very mediocre and the only times I go there is when a friend wants to. Not anymore. I will also be forwarding this article to everyone I know who as ever gone to Zipps.

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N December 14, 2011 at 11:18 am

wow…weird indeed

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Elizabeth Nowell December 14, 2011 at 11:23 am

I had a telemarketer call from an unknown number, that was the first bad idea, a couple of days ago and when I asked him if this was a sales call he said “No” and he asked for one of the owners. I told him that we don’t accept solicitation calls and he screamed, “We didn’t want to sell him anything anyway…Go To Hell”… and he slammed the phone down. I have been in sales a long time and it never ceases to amaze me what poorly trained sales reps will say. Our Customers are ALWAYS right.

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Karen Wood December 14, 2011 at 11:23 am

I was chuckling (or not) as I read your burger splitting article, but I have to tell you my “customer service” story!

I was at a business dinner in Florida, a few years ago, with probably 30 people. The menu listed Dover Sole, which is my absolutely favorite fish (I’m British). Anyway, I asked the waiter how it was prepared, and it sounded perfect. But then he told me it would be
deboned in the kitchen. I asked for it to be served to me on the bone instead. In really fancy restaurants the waiter will remove the fish from the bone for you at the table, but I prefer to do it myself. He told me they couldn’t do that because of the liability risk. I explained I’d been eating fish that way my entire life and knew how to remove the flesh from the bones.

At which time he told me he’d be happy to give me the name of his lawyer! I dropped the issue and ate my deboned fish, as I was too
embarrassed to go any further among such a large group of colleagues.

Had I been alone, or with a very small group, I certainly would have asked to talk to the manager.

Everyone at the table was astounded at the waiter’s manner. I’m a very mild-mannered, polite person, so it was not a confrontational
exchange. The next day, I did call the restaurant manager and explain the situation, as I thought he should know how awful this waiter had been, and he was very apologetic.

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Sasha Gabriel December 14, 2011 at 11:37 am

Hi Art

I just finished reading about your less-than-grand experience with Zipps.

Let’s put them under the header of Winner: “The Stupidest Thing a Customer-Oriented Business Can Do” and “How to Lose Customers Fast and Generate Ill Will in the Blink of an Eye!”

I had an experience with an Olive Garden recently… just as idiotic.

I was there with my husband (thank goodness not a client or prospective client!) and we ordered one of their salad bowls with dinner. The salad bowl is typically for 2-4 people. We
ordered one for the two of us, which we have done for years. No problem… before. Now, apparently, there is.

The waitress asked if both of us were going to eat the salad. Considering the salad bowl is the size for a horse to graze in, I
blinked at her hard a couple of times and said, “Yes.” Duh!

So she then said that if she had to bring two salad plates, she would need to charge us for an extra salad bowl. What??!!

My husband and I looked at each other and thought we both misheard her.

So I asked her a question: What if we ordered just one salad and my husband picked an olive out of the salad bowl… what would that mean?
She actually said to us that if we ordered one salad bowl and anyone else picked an olive out of the bowl, they would have to charge us for a second salad bowl.

So… I had to ask this… is someone going to be standing over our table and watching that no one eats anything from anyone else’s plate, or salad bowl? In other words… how will you know
if my husband picks an olive or (unbelievably … maybe even a tomato!!) from my salad bowl?And she said that, yes, they will be watching.

She told me this was policy and the same rules apply to everyone. As though that statement
would, somehow, make me feel better. Really??!!

Big Brother has finally invaded the last bastion of individual freedom – the salad bowl!!

I don’t have the patience you have, Art. I looked at my husband, tilted my head so he knew I was serious. We got up and left.

We have loved going to the Olive Garden for many years. I will never go there again with stupid rules taking over what should be
an enjoyable evening – and their Big Brother mentality.

I will, also, never go again to Zipps or any of their other locations.

By the way, I am a huge fan of yours, Art, and have been for many years. I consider myself a World-Class Customer Service Relationship Builder, and have been so for over 20 years.

We are all customers – whether it be to a company, organization, client, potential client, co-worker, colleague, friend or
acquaintance.

By our actions, we author the work we do and the words we use.

Shame on them… shame on their management for trying to force this horrible “policy” on customers.

Thank you for your newsletter and your honesty. Love it.

Kind Regards,
Sasha Gabriel

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Ken K December 14, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Sasha, Darden (who owns Olive Garden) reported their earnings a week or so ago and OG is tanking them… dropping sales and no end in sight. Gee, I wonder why?

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Frank Napier December 14, 2011 at 11:39 am

Usually a company’s culture drips down from above. I doubt asking for the CEO would change anything. I agree, a good word goes far but bad publicity goes even farther.

Art, to you and your family(and followers)have a safe and happy Christmas holiday.

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Violeta Toteva December 14, 2011 at 11:39 am

I recently went back to my country of origin Bulgaria and had a similar encounter as a customer with the “policy”. I thought that this could happen mostly in Bulgaria as most of the establishments there have terrible customer service; to my surprise things are improving in that area except for that one place I visited: We were frequient visitors of a pool where customers had to pay an entrance fee. It is a complex with a restaurant with seating outside but to get to the pool area you need to pay a fee. So I was in the pool area with my little niece and nephew and my sister had to come and get them out and take them to the restaurant area for lunch. She had to pay the entrance fee just to get in to take the kids out eventhough she did not want to stay by the pool or use it(she has to keep herself away from sun exposure). I asked the manager could we get a refund since she had to pay that fee just for 2-3 minutes and get out right away … he said “that is their policy and they can not refund it … once you cross the line into the pool area you have to pay the fee regardless of whether you will stay to use it or not. I said “you know in that case we are not staying for lunch in your restaurant; as a matter of fact we are not comming back any more, have been are regular visitors both to the restaurant and the pool. You will loose business from us today for 6 people potentially eating and for many more visits ahead”. Just like your bar stool neighbor was afraid when she was talking quietly so they did not hear about her complaints before, my sister and brother-in-law did not like the fact that I was apposing this policy … they felt afraid of what would the owner think about them … and not be be kicked out as being picky and making a scene. I just tried to use logic: why do you have to pay an entrance fee if you will be in and out for 2 minutes. The anwser was the familiar phrase: “This is our policy and we are not changing it!” Unfortunately we as customers have to suffer from these policies in stead of being served.

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Michael Lindsay December 14, 2011 at 11:43 am

Wow I am speechless Art. I am really curious if/when the corporate management at Zips hears this story, how they will respond to it. I hope you will post a follow-up to this.

I had a poor customer service experience at a major (and I mean MAJOR) toy retailer recently that, while not on the level of your experience, still left me questioning whether or not I will ever shop at that chain again. A few weeks ago I went in to purchase some Christmas gifts for my kids. One specific item I needed was not on the shelf where it normally would be, but I saw several cases of said item up above in the “overstock” section. I flagged down an associate who was happy to pull down one of the boxes from the overstock and hand me the item I needed. I gathered up other things from my list and proceeded to the checkout. When the cashier rung up the item I had gotten from overstock, she told me that the item can’t be sold until December 15th. When I asked why, she couldn’t give me a specific answer other than “the computer says it’s not available”. Apparently it being held back for some sort of future sale. I didn’t care about the sale. I was willing to pay full price. When I asked if she could make an exception because I had already spent 45 minutes of my valuable time shopping and standing in line, and because the other associate didn’t question it when I asked him to get the item down, she flatly and coldly said “no”. Now mind you, this was not some new-release video game, or even the “hot item” that has a specific manufacturers release date. It was a box of crayons that I could have walked into any other store and purchased on the spot. Under normal circumstances I would have asked for a manager, but being Christmas shopping season, there were long lines of impatient and angry shoppers behind me. I didn’t want to be “that guy”… you know, the one who always seems to be applying for a mortgage at the cashier and taking forever to check out… so I simply shrugged my shoulders and walked out, without purchasing the other items I had gathered (that totaled about $250.00).

So because of their unwillingness to accept my money that I was trying to hand to them for the price of a $7.00 box of crayons, they lost a $250.00 sale. You’d think that given the state of the economy and resulting ultra-competitive nature of retailers clawing and scratching for every last penny they can ring through their cash registers, that this person would have made an exception.

Needless to say, I went to their competitor down the street and purchased all of the same items (including the crayons) from them instead. When I returned home I called their 800 customer service number and asked for the name of the CEO so I could write a letter. The agent was kind and apologetic, and logged my story in their complaints department. I explained to her I have two young children, ages 2 and 4, and over the next several years, a lot… and I mean a LOT of toys will be purchased for them. I also suggested that there are plenty of places that sell toys. I told her I wasn’t looking for anything in return but for the company to change their policy, and maybe an explanation from someone in management for why this happened. We’ll see what happens next…

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Judi December 14, 2011 at 5:22 pm

Great story, Michael! That one left me laughing almost as much as Art’s did. When things like this happen to me, I feel like a fish…you know, your mouth is sort of opening and closing while nothing comes out. Because there’s nothing to say! Having to explain the situation excludes their understanding it – because if they got it, then you (generically) wouldn’t have to explain it.

Ah, poor staff workers. If they could move past the mindset, they’d be in management. Oops! No they wouldn’t – or maybe…YES! They’d be working at Zipps!

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Jane Coach December 14, 2011 at 5:41 pm

Wow Judi, how completely condescending. I hope you feel good about the amount of people you just insulted.

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jane December 16, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Jane:
Thanks for pointing that out. I totally didn’t mean to do that so universally. What I did mean is that I wish some people would think more and step up the initiative.

For instance, in a store when I ask “Do you have this in blue?” And the sales person says “I don’t know.” And I finally ask “Would you please check for me?”

I wonder why they didn’t say that to begin with. Or “I’m sorry, we’re all out.” or “Yes, they’re over there on that rack.” or something – anything but “I don’t know” in a way that conveys they don’t care or believe it’s their problem to know or to find out.

In Michael’s toy store story, the cashier says only “I don’t know. The computer says it’s not available.” They didn’t call over a manager; they didn’t say, “Sir, if you’d please step over to the side, I’ll see if I can help you find out why the computer says that” or anything. They just simply relayed information and left it there. Like “That’s what the computer says so it’s not my problem”

That’s what I’m talking about. There are staff people in stores etc all over the world who are super fantastic and go the extra mile to help a customer out. Those people are usually recognized in some way, shape or form.

So when I made the joke about going into management at Zipps, my impression from Art’s story was that the type of person in management at Zipps is not much different than the staff person who doesn’t take initiative to solve a problem or doesn’t care enough to, or more than that – doesn’t question what they’re being told and just simply – and blindly – accepts it as truth.

That was apparently a quantum leap in my head that didn’t come across in the post. I do want to recognize, and I appreciate, people who genuinely want to help customers and look for ways to solve problems and who think things through – regardless of their position, salary, etc.

Above all, I wish customer service wasn’t a dying art.

Thanks, Jane, for waking me up on that so I could clarify.

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TR May 17, 2013 at 7:01 pm

Every time I hear the phrase “The computer says” I want to turn into George Carlin or my mother and ask “If the computer told you to jump off a bridge would you?”

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Jeff B December 21, 2011 at 9:40 am

Sounds line something “We-Be-Toys” (name altered) would do. Their return policy is horrible and I no longer shop there.

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Jim Bevilacqua December 14, 2011 at 11:43 am

I am tired of bad business practices and I do not take these things lightly anymore. If there is no way of getting anywhere with the wait staff or bartender or manager, I simply pay for my things and take the receipt and go home and email/call HQ and let them know what happened at their establishment.
I believe they should know how badly any of their food or their people can be with the customers of theirs while visiting their establishment. We do not deserve to be treated badly since we came into there place to spend our hard earned money. They after all, should be the ones bending over backwards to us to keep us coming back time and time again.
I have a few stories, no where near yours Art, that I could share as well.
Only difference is that I want my money back or treated to a free meal to see how they react at this time and point.
It is only fair for them as well as us that we keep the lines of communication open and, Good news does not always travel well from person to person but ALL BAD NEWS travels at sonic speed, as everyone wants to get that off their chests and tell the world how badly they were treated or how bad the food or service was. Do not now how you kept your cool Art.

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Tony December 14, 2011 at 11:49 am

Zipps should take a lesson from Zappos. When “portion control” and “customer tricks” trump good customer service, Zipps’ management should think long and hard about what it means to be in a service business.

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Justin Koehler December 14, 2011 at 11:50 am

You have to give the community an update if anything ever does come your way via a letter etc. With the way word travels even though you didn’t write the company headquarters I’m sure they will catch wind of it.

It was a GREAT article. Where has customer services gone???? It is hard to even remember getting treated well anywhere anymore!!

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James Lakes December 14, 2011 at 11:55 am

Sometimes the distance from the Boardroom to the Selling Floor is very far. The CBS show “Undercover Boss” ALWAYS ended with the boss admitting to his senior staff that they had no idea what was going on – down there.

Do not fault the messengers. The manager and the waitress probably go home hating that they have to act that way.

By now this story is in the hands of Zipps PR people and they will spin a story of the rogue manager and make a public display of mea culpa and promise to institute new training…blah blah blah…

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Brad Moore December 14, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Sorry to hear about your experience Art but I love the positive spin you have made out of this situation and what we can all learn from this example of “policies and procedures”.

My feeling is regardless of what industry you are in everyone should be required to watch and study the example of Bob Ferrell’s “Give Em The Pickle”. This will go down as the most costly burger Zipps will ever serve!

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Jon Edmondo December 14, 2011 at 12:24 pm

I travel to the Phoenix Scottsdale area about 3 times a year. I ate at Zipps once. After reading your article, I won’t be visiting again. I usually get together with some old friends for dinner and some beers. It’s to bad they’ll be losing out on that revenue. I’ll also be forwarding your article to those friends, who live in Phoenix!

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David Keith December 14, 2011 at 12:36 pm

The one thing you need to worry about when you start any altercation with a waiter or waitress is that they’ll go back to the cook, and what the cook might do to your food before sending it back is anyone’s guess. I don’t ever push their buttons.
Clearly these people at Zipps are idiots,and all the more reason to be careful in pushing them out of their memorized routine. Places develop cultures….there is one airline that “wins” worst customer service year after year……it’s United Airlines. It’s a culture they’ve got. Don’t go to Zipps anymore.

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Dave Hutchison December 14, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Art:

I’m glad you didn’t ask to have the tomatos left off your salad; that would have been a felony in AZ.

Dave

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Ken K December 14, 2011 at 12:54 pm

I read this yesterday and was quite amused. Sad, really. How a policy at one time made sense for a specific situation but absolutely NO sense in this case. I was always taught that the customer isn’t always right, but they are always the customer, and boy, this place missed it on both fronts. Art, I’d absolutely send a link to your blog to the CEO.

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Patrick Martin December 14, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Terrible story, but … maybe we should all look at our company’s way of doing business and see if we haven’t got a “burger-splitting” policy somewhere. No names, no packdrill, but I have worked for industrial companies where I have lost customers when applying rules which couldn’t be dodged because of automated systems. The rules were often put in place for good reasons years before but stayed on as part of the company “policy”/culture long after they ceased to be reasonable. Usually I could get them changed or updated or made reasonable and we didn’t lose more customers. But let’s not be complacent.

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Tom Forrest December 14, 2011 at 1:02 pm

Hello Art,

I enjoyed reading this story and as a CEO I hope I never do anything to force my employees to be so stupid.

I think you should sent this article to the Zipps CEO, and I also think they should give you free food for at least a year. I agree they will not and guess what, next time I am in Scottsdale, I will Not be visiting Zipps. They have lost many potential clients by how poorly they have treated you and others.

Art, anyone that has ever met you knows you are a very honest person and would never lie about this, so I estimate this will cost Zipps many hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost business. This is why I love the Internet.

Art, I look forward to seeing you again soon, you did on outstanding job of training our sales force. I sincerely appreciate all you have done to help http://www.HTPcompany.com grow our business and help train our staff to offer excellent client service.

Best regards,

Tom Forrest
CEO
HTP Company LLC

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Shelly Gordon December 14, 2011 at 1:08 pm

I’m sorry to hear of such terrible service. It’s always a shame when a managers’ common sense can not prevail. I recommend Gallaghers. Very accomadating. They got mine and my friend’s order mixed up and were happy to correct the situation. The manager came to us and apologized and asked if everything was corrected and followed up with ‘we hope to see you back soon’ That was the only time I’ve had anything close to an issue with them.

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Yvonne Ramos December 14, 2011 at 1:12 pm

It is sad that so many of us have similar stories. I have to wonder if the younger generation is suffering from being educated to pass tests and not educated in critical thinking.

Although I am in advertising now, I was in hospitality for 27 years, starting at Denny’s & ending up at the 5 star/5 Diamond level. In all my years I have never seen someone treat a guest as rudely as you were treated, (and I have had to deal with the drunk & disorderly)!

The treatment you received would indicate a very low level of corporate training for both the server and the manager alike. Neither member of their staff was capable of understanding the logic behind the split plate fee (the expense of the service; for kitchen time, washing the extra dish & supplying the extra side & garnish), nor the fact that it is a service not a penalty. A split plate is a courtesy service offered to guests so they do not have to dirty their hands, or possibly feel embarrassed.

Although paid, people in hospitality are servants to their guests. It is a privilege to be the establishment someone chooses to spend their time and money in. People can go home & cook or order in if they are hungry… they go to full service restaurants for pampering & socializing. There is a loss of graciousness in the service industries of late, and it is a sad thing.

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Jesse James December 14, 2011 at 1:12 pm

Service is the reason I order over 100 items a year from Amazon. In 11 years I’ve had one problem, two years ago. After an unusual wait, I cancelled an order but they sent it anyway.
When I called I was told, “Mr. James, I can see you’ve been a good customer of ours for nine years now. I apologize for our error. Please keep the items for your enjoyment and there will be no charge.” In hundreds of orders over the years that small problem was address in a satisfactory way. I continue to shop Amazon because they have what I want, at a decent price, with no problems. I got tired of going to a store and being told – we’re out of that, etc.

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Tom Forrest December 14, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Hi,

I agree about Amazon, they are outstanding.

I order for the exact same reasons you do and Amazon does have low prices. I just bought a watch and saved $48 over the price Macy’s charges.

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Terry Cooper December 14, 2011 at 1:16 pm

That is simply UNBELIEVABLE and they all sound like idiots to treat the person that signs their paycheck that way….the repercussions will be so damaging.

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Mike LeBolt December 14, 2011 at 1:18 pm

I have spent a lifetime striving to provide the most exemplary customer service to the most demanding clientele, first in my Dad’s store then with Neiman Marcus and Tiffany & Co. in my previous luxury retail career and still in my current role as an Account Executive for an industry-leading production music company, FirstCom. I am always mindfull of the good, the bad and expecially the ugly experiences I’ve had as a consumer and over time have stockpiled my own anecdotes relating to all three genres. Your experience though, was the most unbelievable one I have ever heard. I have shared it with several friends. I love sports bars and try to experience them in every city I visit…not Zipps though. Thanks for the heads up!

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"MAX" December 14, 2011 at 1:19 pm

This article is yet another example of the sad state of affairs in our society of bad customer service. The disease is everywhere and Zipps just another example & one that I am sure will be felt by their company after this article. I will curtail my business at Zipps and so will many others. In the food industry in AZ there is SO MUCH competition that this will certainly be felt at the bottom line eventually. My fear is that “custome service” is never going to be what it used to be (Nordstrom’s type) as society has become too techy and people rarely talk any more rather “text” or email, all of which causes less and less people contact. Therefore people don’t know how to act towards others or how to carry out the “rules” personally.

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Steve Berkwits December 14, 2011 at 1:22 pm

This kind of stuff never stops! In 1969, when I was a young computer consultant, I stopped at a “Red Barn” burger stand in Chambersburg PA. I ordered a burger, and asked them please not to put any pickles on it. When they were wrapping my burger to give it to me, I noticed that they put pickles on it, and reminded them, politely, that I had asked for it without pickles, and then asked them, politely, to please remove the pickles before they gave it to me. So as I’m standing there, politely waiting for my burger, the manager comes right up to me in the line and says, “Get out!” I said, politely but incredulously, “What?” Then he said, threateningly, “I said to get out. We don’t want people like you in our restaurant! Don’t come back.” I said “No problem,” and started to walk out. He grabbed my arm and said, “You’ve got to pay for that burger!” Well as I hadn’t been given any burger I told him “When pigs fly, and if you don’t take your hands off me I’m not going to pay for your dental work either!” Haven’t been to a “Red Barn” since. Are they even still in business?

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Giuseppe December 14, 2011 at 1:45 pm

Never heard such a story!!!!

Giuseppe

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Sheryle Thompson December 14, 2011 at 1:45 pm

I went to the Zipps website and emailed them about your situation, in detail, and told them to forward it to their CEO.
We shall see what happens. Thankfully, I don’t have any of these around my neck of the woods (NH), but I’m sure there are plenty of customer service nightmares to go around!

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Michelle December 14, 2011 at 2:00 pm

I wonder if they are this strict about not allowing negative word-of-mouth on their social channels. There are no negative posts on their Facebook wall > http://www.facebook.com/ZippsSportsGrills maybe because they tightly control what stays up there? …

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Michelle December 14, 2011 at 2:04 pm

I take it back, your post has been shared on their wall!

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Jim December 14, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Timing is everything…my daughter just moved to Scottsdale and a Zipps bar is walking distance from her apartment. We decided that would work out well as a place to go, but after this story perhaps we should look elsewhere. Zipps certainly isn’t the only sports bar in Scottsdale.

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Christine December 14, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Great story and a terrible experience. Any business that runs with the thought the the customer is out to trick them or only get something for free is bound to fail. This policy is a reflection of the owner and I would tend to think that he looks for ways of cheating customers. I will tell everyone I know of this experience. Thank you for sharing.

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Maj December 14, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Yes you would think that old the saying “the customer is always right” would always apply when it comes to trivial things like cutting a burger in half. In today’s high tech world word can spread fast and the old line of a happy customer will tell three people where an unhappy customer will tell ten is so true. The Soup Nazi is a good comparison but in that case the soup was so good the customer was at the mercy of the owner. Most cases are not like that and will not last long as there is always competition taking customers away. We just had a story here in Cleveland, Ohio which gave Target a black eye just before Xmas, see story below..
http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2011/12/mayfield_heights_teacher_says.html

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Brian Young December 14, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Art,

Thanks for sharing. As I was reading this I was wondering where the restaurant business has gone if they stoop to this type of service. As being in the family restuaurant business at one time myself, I would NEVER EVER treat people like this. EVER!!! As a being a son of a restaurant owner if my Dad ( God rest his soul) ever did any of these things that you described in your experience he would have never had succeeded in business. When we had customers come in we would treat them with respect and let them order whatever they wanted and serve it with a smile. Tjhank you for sharing and I am sure this will go around the web many times.

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Chey December 14, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Having visited this location several times I find it impossible to believe this man’s story. It is typically in good customer service for a manager to become involved in an effort to mediate any discrepancies; usually this is when a normal customer voices their concerns instead of becoming further offended. Thats strange. I would be interested to hear another side of the story…I’m sure a disgruntled customer/ writer has relayed the conversations exactly how they happened.

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Art Sobczak December 14, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Chey,

Thanks for the note. I’m assuming you are not familiar with me, my writing, and the reputation I have built over 28 years of business. During that time I have written a hard copy monthly paper newsletter for 27 years, an email weekly newsletter for 12 years, a best-selling book and several others that have done quite well, have had my work circulated and reprinted in tens of thousands of places on the Internet, and I can’t guess how many people I have personally presented to in over 1,200 training programs. I would challenge anyone to find something that was not true. Do a Google search.

Further, given the effect I knew it would have, I am not stupid enough to go public with a story this outrageous had not every single detail of it happened precisely the way I described it. I’ve heard that the truth is the best defense.

As for hearing another side of the story, I had a friend with me who witnessed it… Ok, one might say she could be biased, but that would be calling her a liar too, which isn’t true. Oh, I did get the card of the woman at the bar—who was telling me her own horror story—just in case I needed to contact her, for whatever reason. She saw and heard every part of the conversation where I was actually kicked out. And finally, the best witnesses would be the bartender and the manager themselves.

Just a few observations about your note:

-I’m curious how someone could visit a location just “several” times, and form the very conclusive stance that it is “impossible” to believe a story from someone you don’t know?

Also, you seem to have a very fine texbook grasp of what would be a good customer service policy in “normal” situations. Almost right out of a training manual. Here’s a direct question for you: Are you affiliated with Zipps or Goldies in ANY way?

I was tempted to not approve this message for posting, since, here goes the truth thing again, it appears to be an attempt at damage control. But again, using your words, I “relayed the conversations exactly how they happened,” so I thought it was important to not censor this posting–or ask you to leave for badmouthing me.

And I invite you to communicate with me directly if you have any questions. My office number is 800-326-7721.

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Mark Secko December 14, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Art,

You are much more patient than I would be over a stupid $1.50 charge. I would never be going back to that place. If it was me, I would write a nice letter to the CEO. Kudos to you for keeping from snapping at a very stupid policy. What are people thinking that make policies like these?? I just have to scratch my head and hope Zipps upper management (CEO) reads this letter and changes their policy. Have a Merry Christmas Art (at a competitor’s restaurant!!)

Mark Secko

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Paul Simon December 14, 2011 at 3:23 pm

I’ll take a chicken salad sandwich. Hold the mayo, butter and lettuce. Oh, and hold the chicken. Just bring me the toast!

Thanks for a great tale, Art. Love these lack-of-customer-service stories. And thanks for sharing this post on The Customer Collective. I invite your readers to comment there as well.

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Brian December 14, 2011 at 4:21 pm

Art,

I’m in sales and customer service is my #1 priority. I live in Prescott, AZ and have forwarded your e-mail to all of my friends in Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe. Keep up the good work!

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Jane Coach December 14, 2011 at 4:31 pm

I think you have made much to do about nothing sir. I think that your closing argument to this entire post was the most significant piece. This was all over a $1.50 split charge. I am willing to bet a lot, that it would not have broken your bank account to pay it, so that must be besides the point. You suggested that this charge should only be applied if the customer WANTS IT TO BE SPLIT. Sounded to me like you made it clear in the beginning, that you would split the burger with your friend. If you did not want to incur the split charge, you should not have implied this. Whether or not you want to admit this (which I would assume you don’t, since you warned us all to brace ourselves for this simple fact the bartender informed you of), people do take advantage of systems. Many people want a better deal than the one being offered to them, and will try bend the system to get what they want. Thanks to the genius that came up with the “customer is always right” saying, these people believe that their behavior is warranted. Zipps has some of the lowest priced drinks and food in the area. And for the record, the local newspaper, is not the one who voted Zipps as 2011’s Sports Bar of the Year, the local people did. Clearly this restaurant is doing something right. I will admit, it sounds like this situation could have been handled differently by all involved. Though, I can’t imagine that the condescending tone that your entire post is drenched in, did not seep out during your conversation with these employees. So let me “put things into perspective” for you like you so arrogantly did for her. She was doing her job as instructed, and you were asking her not to, putting her lively hood in jeopardy. I guarantee you are not the first person to ask this of her, which is why she responded as she did. If you did not want a split charge you should have ordered one burger for yourself and you would have avoided the whole situation. One final piece of advice, watch the movie ‘Waiting’ and you will get a very exaggerated taste of the demanding and degrading way that customers treat their servers.

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JosephB December 14, 2011 at 4:48 pm

So how long you worked there Jane?

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Judi December 14, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Jane: I think you kinda missed the point. On several counts.

(JosephB: LOL!)

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Heykel Aourir December 14, 2011 at 5:53 pm

Let’s not attack the messenger. Jane raises a valid point about certain customers believing any behavior is warranted because of the “customer is always right” mantra.

I was born in a third world country where they have the opposite approach – “We are doing you a favor by being in business. It is a privilege for you to be serviced by us” is literally the attitude taken by most all business. Obviously that way of thinking is ridiculous and is part of the reason their economy remains in a third world state but I find that customers of today, my generation especially (Gen-Y/Millenials), feel far too entitled as they do in other areas of life.

That being I said I myself was greatly disturbed by how Art was treated and I applaud him for his calm approach in handling the situation. I find it amusing how people react when you stay calm and don’t raise your voice in situations where the opposite approach would make it easier to justify their action of removing you from the premises. While I always try to pick my battles sometimes you take a stand out of principle.

Just because the man can afford it does’t make it right nor does it justify the asinine policy that left that poor bartender in that position. If trying to reason with someone in a calm manner is condescending then I wish more people would act condescending towards me.

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Dana December 15, 2011 at 6:31 pm

I believe Jane is allowed to voice her opinion.

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Michelle December 14, 2011 at 6:00 pm

@Jane,

YOU: “If you did not want a split charge you should have ordered one burger for yourself and you would have avoided the whole situation.”

ART: “Trying to reason with her, I again said, “OK then, no other person will touch my burger. I, personally will just order one hamburger. I will not share it. She told me she couldn’t do that.”

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Jane Coach December 14, 2011 at 6:57 pm

I did say that I recognized that the money was besides the point.

The conversation did begin by him explaining that he wanted to split a burger. Then he told the bartender that he was not going to, but only after the split policy was explained to him. This put the bartender in a terrible position. Perhaps she was taking a stance on principle as well. She had explained the policy, and she had someone basically lying to her face to get her to break the rules.

I am not making a judgment about the policy itself but I will argue that the bartender was just doing her job.

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Paul Simon December 14, 2011 at 4:45 pm

My previous was Jack Nicholson in “Five Easy Pieces” in case it was a little cryptic.

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JosephB December 14, 2011 at 4:47 pm

As a former Chef Art I would have split your burger, tossed in some fries and later popped over to ask how ya like it. Amazing story! Some people create their own ‘economic downturn’.

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Chey December 14, 2011 at 4:59 pm

Not really worried about resume or reputation. Its just so easy to make one opinion available to thousands without rebute. Its what you do, apparently. A restaurant sees hundreds of people 1000s over the course of the week, one interaction can go wrong, just so happens this dollar 50 mistake was made with someone who is getting paid to share it. It sounds more like a misunderstanding being blown out of proportion to me; someone unfamiliar with your backround sharing an objective point of view.

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Chey December 14, 2011 at 5:09 pm

sorry to reply without answering your question. No and not affiliated with that are goldies in anyway. Just a local visitor who is very familiar with the customer service industry. I also don’t agree with paying for something you did not request, however it seems there was some confusion leading up to an after the initial request.

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Gil Effron December 14, 2011 at 5:55 pm

There’s an outstanding food chain in our neck of the woods called Stew Leonard’s. They’re continually receiving awards for how well they run their business and treat their employees. Outside of the Stew Leonard’s store we frequent is a humongous sign. It says, (and I’m paraphrasing), “Rule Number 1: The customer is always right. Rule Number 2: In the event the customer could appear to be wrong, re-read rule number 1.”

I believe businesses such as the one you’re describing ultimately hang themselves. We live in a time of absolute transparency thanks to technology. Businesses that do things properly are praised and rewarded from their loyal client base. Businesses that just don’t get it fade away into oblivion… never knowing what hit them.

P.S. I agree completely. It’s not the $1.50. It’s the principle of the thing. And I agree there’s nothing more important for businesses to think when they create policies than the potential lifetime value of each and ever customer.

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Brian December 14, 2011 at 6:36 pm

Let me first premise this by saying I do not work at Zipps or Goldies, nor am I affiliated in any way. I read Art’s article, and although I agree that the situation wasn’t handled properly, I also believe this article is extremely biased and exaggerated. Funny how someone who claims to have “remained calm” the entire time and was “so cool” about the situation, decided to then spend all this time writing a huge blog about it and send it out to all of his followers. Doesn’t sound like someone who is calm and collected at all. Sounds a bit like a disgruntled customer. Also, I wonder how many of you are actually from the Phoenix area and have even visited a Zipps yourself, or even heard of it before this article for that matter. From what I’ve read, it doesn’t appear that too many of you actually are. You’re calling Zipps a “corporation” and saying that the “CEO” should be ashamed of himself and whatever. Did any of you know that Zipps is actually a family owned company? Way to attack the small guys. I know a ton of people who go there all the time and have great service. And yes, there may be bad reviews out there, but what restaurant doesn’t have bad reviews?! Out of all the people that go to Zipps, I’d say 90% of them have a great time! Every spring, we put together a softball league, and guess who always sponsors us, no questions asked. If any of you had actually been into a Zipps, you’d see all the pictures of community teams they sponsor (including ours), or schools they get involved with. Doesn’t sound like an evil, money hungry company to me. Again, I’m not saying the situation was handled correctly, because it wasn’t. But to go on this huge rant about how AWFUL the overall company is because you had ONE bad experience, with one of the managers and one bartender, is ridiculous. Even Art himself says he’s been there several times over the years. He’s very quick to throw all that out the window simply because he had one bad experience. It just makes me question the validity of this article. And the fact that he didn’t even talk to the managers boss and give them a chance to correct the situation also shows that he’s just out to make them lose business because HE had one bad experience. All I know is that my family and friends have always enjoyed ourselves at Zipps. They have great prices, good food, and from what we’ve experienced, good service. And as someone who ACTUALLY lives in this area, I will continue to frequent my local Zipps to show my support.

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Jane Coach December 14, 2011 at 7:07 pm

Completely agree with everything that you have just said. Nice to see someone making sense and having the experience to back it up. Glad you pointed out that this is a small family business that plays a positive role in the community.

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Heykel Aouriri December 14, 2011 at 7:38 pm

@Brian

How is writing a blog post and sharing an experience with your followers being misconstrued as someone not being calm? And would you not react in the same way if you where treated in that manner despite having been a customer many times in the past?

The internet and social media have changed the way the game is played as Gil pointed out above. Adapt to the new rules or be left behind.

The simple fact is the culture put forth by the “small guys” operation created this situation. They are not evil or awful but they have done an incredibly poor job of empowering their people to do what they think is best for the customer. I doubt the bartender would’ve reacted in the same way had she not been fearful of the repercussions of going against the policy.

People matter more than policy is the lesson to be gleaned here.

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Brian December 14, 2011 at 10:06 pm

Well if you read the response below, you would know that the policy wasn’t portrayed correctly by staff. As Zipps says in their statement, they made an error. The charge should have never been implemented since they ordered more food. So if this article is even slightly true, and not biased towards Art, which I doubt it is, then the error was made by the staff, and not “the culture put forth by the “small guys” operation” as you say. Again, it wasn’t handled correctly, which they are admitting. It has nothing to do with their policies or their culture, because otherwise it would have happened EVERY time he had gone there, not just once. And talking to your friends and family about a poor experience is one thing. Sending out an e-blast to thousands of people, most of who aren’t even in the Phoenix area, and most of whom probably haven’t even met this guy personally, is not something a calm person would have done. Ask yourself, what were Art’s intentions? Why would he post this here? Why would he e-blast it out? Obviously, he’s trying to make a point and get revenge for his mistreatment. And I actually I WOULDN’T behave the same way had this happened to me. If I go some place 50 times, and 1 time I have a bad experience, I wouldn’t try to bring down them down in this pompous way. Mistakes happen, move on. With everything going on in this world, and “all the important things Art preaches about”, this is what he decides to write about? I highly doubt that Art has NEVER made a mistake in his 28 years of service.

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Paul December 16, 2011 at 11:50 pm

You say “ask yourself, what were Art’s intentions? Why would he post this here?” Did you even bother to find out what kind of blog Art runs? He coaches people on how to provide good customer service, among other things! THAT is why it is posted here, and the intention is clearly to illustrate how NOT to treat a customer, and how bad customer service doesn’t just affect that one customer but all the people that customer will influence, the lifetime value of a customer that you stand to lose, etc. The people who read Art’s blog on a regular basis are all people who deal with customers every day, and are interested in this kind of information, so there is teaching value in this.

And what does the size of their organization have to do with anything? Is it less important to provide good customer service because you are a “family owned company”? You imply that we should support family owned companies just because they are family owned, and they should get a pass on critical judgement over the “big corporate companies” because they are small. Sorry, doesn’t work that way.

By the way, my family owns and operates a restaurant. Not a chain, just a single restaurant. And do people abuse certain things? You mean the people who think paying $2.99 for a “side” salad entitles them to unlimited trips to the salad bar with plates heaped 4″ high? Yes, of course. But we would never treat anyone the way Art was treated.

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Todd Goldman December 14, 2011 at 7:07 pm

Dear Customers and Inquisitors,

Recently Art Sobczak had an unpleasant experience at one of our Zipps locations in Scottsdale and he felt obligated to share this with his large data base. Mr. Sobczak has a right to do so and we certainly respect that. We are regretful however, that Mr. Sobczak felt it unnecessary to share his experience with the next level of management, giving us an attempt to answer to his initial beliefs regarding the legitimacy of the policy and the alleged corporate “climate” prior to doing so.

Had he done so, we would handle this complaint like we handle every single complaint that comes to our attention; diligently. We would have confided to Mr. Sobczak that our management made a mistake in implementing our split charge and further complicated things by attempting to defend the error that was made. Subsequently, our manager was put into a defensive position and I think we all are aware of what typically results from this – nothing positive and a case of “he said, she said”.

We take full responsibility for the entire situation, because it was our initial error that put our management into a conflict with Mr. Sobczak; we failed to execute properly and it snowballed to an inexcusable result, albeit with some apparent inconsistencies and a flair for the dramatic in Mr. Sobczak account of the exchanges which is understandable, as he does have an audience to entertain.

This said, we are fallible and we have never pretended not to be, we try very hard to be as good as we can be; and knowing that we will never be perfect, we make every attempt to utilize our mistakes to help us improve, learn and properly train our staff in order to better our operations. This philosophy is in place for every customer whether they have 80,000 followers on an internet blog, or 3 friends on Facebook; it’s immaterial to us.

Yes we do implement a $1.50 split charge on shared entrées which provides each person an additional full side item. This is absolutely standard in the industry, and I don’t think anyone would fault us for this. In other words, if two people come into our restaurant to split one hamburger, we will implement a split charge. However in Mr. Sobczak’s case, during a shift change, we failed to identify the fact that he and his companion had already ordered an order of wings earlier in his visit. Our policy is, as long as there is an item ordered for each individual, then there will be no split charge whether they intend to split it or not- with the exception of customers that each want their own side. This was our error. Something we should have identified prior to addressing the issue with Mr. Sobczak. If we had done so, this entire incident would have been avoided. We take full responsibility for the way this was handled by our store level management, as it is our responsibility to train our staff accordingly.

In summation, please rest assured that we have re-enforced with our staff how this situation was grossly mishandled. I would love to tell you that it will never happen again; unfortunately that would likely be inaccurate as we are all only human. What I can tell you is that we are going to try our hardest despite the challenges we face in this industry to prevent it from happening again. We do run a business, and in order to do so we have many policies that are directed towards giving the majority of our guests the best possible experience at the best possible value. This was an unfortunate event and we are regretful that it occurred, however you can decide if this one incident is worthy of negating the over 19 years of Philanthropic acts and positive impact we have had in our local community.

Respectfully,

Todd Goldman

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Dan December 15, 2011 at 11:13 am

Todd:

May I please have a Kleenex, no, an entire box of Kleenex to accompany your sad reply??? So, your response is, “…you can decide if this one incident is worthy of negating the over 19 years of Philanthropic acts and positive impact we have had in our local community.” GIVE ME A BREAK. Big flipping deal what you’ve done for the “community”. So, we are supposed to overlook, or ignore all that was shared by Art because of your generosity to the community? I’m sorry, but that was inappropriate, irrelevant, unwarranted, unnecessary, and really puts matters into perspective of were your heart is. I hope this thing goes completely viral as I will never step one foot into your poorly-run organization, nor will I give you any positive, or favorable remarks to my huge network having been a senior-level, national search firm owner for over 12 years. Good luck sir and watch how you respond in the future.

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Dan December 15, 2011 at 11:14 am

“where” (sp) (sorry)

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Caroline December 15, 2011 at 1:47 pm

I think the real issue here is that it shouldn’t be anyone’s business who eats what. If a hamburger is ordered, it belongs to the consumer who pays for it.

However, what the server, and perhaps the company, missed is an incredible opportunity to present this as an upsell possibility instead of a “charge”. No one likes the word “charge”. If a customer suggests that the item they are ordering will be split, the server should say, “That’s not a problem at all! And if you would each like a side dish of your own, we can accommodate that for just $1.50 additional.” Now the customer feels like you’re doing something FOR them and it will only be an additional $1.50. Who wouldn’t like a little extra service and food for just a $1.50? It’s all in how it’s presented.

So train your employees to OFFER an additional side for “only $1.50 more” instead of “charging $1.50 to split”. Sound better?

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Jason December 16, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Nail on the head Caroline! that’s exactly what I was thinking

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Dana December 15, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Very well stated Todd and thank you for what you do in the Phoenix area.

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Paul December 17, 2011 at 12:05 am

Mr. Goldman:

I give you credit for answering this publicly. Just one point I would like to make to you:

Saying that your manager was put in a defensive position means absolutely nothing, in my opinion. All your managers should be trained for that. A good manager knows that in that situation, they have to respond calmly, without ego, and diffuse the situation without allowing it to escalate to the point that it did. Art was not being abusive, threatening, or unreasonable, in which case your manager would be completely justified in asking him to leave. Sounds like he had his ego bruised and decided to go on a little power trip.

And I hope you read Caroline’s reply above. Could not agree more!

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Melissa December 22, 2011 at 11:59 am

What about Andrew’s idea that was posted on Dec 14? Yes, your staff can learn from mistakes and allow this to be a lesson that everyone can benefit from. I live in KY and had never heard of your company. However, you could gain great publicity by partnering with Art and turning this into a case study that could be used by other companies to revolutionize their customer service approaches. Sometimes the two most powerful words in customer service are “I’m sorry”. The next most powerful words are “What can I do to make this better for you?”

I’ve managed staff in 3 different customer service organizations, and I told my staff that their number one priority was to try to make EVERY customer happy. There are some difficult (if not downright impossible) customers that you can never please, but if you really try, you can win over most customers.

Oh, and a smile and pleasant demeanor can make almost any situation better.

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Caroline December 22, 2011 at 12:39 pm

I have read all the responses and each side has a point but I have never been to Zips and actually only been to the States once and it was a very pleasent visit. I am from Northern Ontario, Canada and we don’t have split charges at least where I live, we can share a meal and order an extra entre if we want but no split charges. I think the way Art explained everything was humorous and entertaining yes, condescending NO! I wish I could say I know Art but I don’t I read his articles and discover sales tips but from what I’ve read he seems like a pretty nice and down to earth guy! Art if your ever in Northern Ontario let me know I’d love to meet you and I have the highest respect for what you do and what you say. Thanks for the great story I loved it and I myself probably would of done the exact same thing as you. Zips I’m sure you’re a great place to visit but yes you have no control over your employees split second decisions but I hope you did contact the store and let them know not a great way to handle any customer!

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David Brimley December 14, 2011 at 8:04 pm

Art,
Amazing Story!! As someone who knows you and has been to your training and spent a little time with you I know how generous and patient you are. I can’t belelive what a poor job of simple customer service happend here.

I have been to Zipps many times. I live less then a mile from their Indian School location. I have had a mixed bag of service – but I can tell you I will not be back – ever. I have no desire to spend money at a place of business that would treat a friend like that. And I have already passed this to over 10 local friends that eat there from time to time. What a great lesson is to everyone that is in sales how important doing the right thing is. I love your closing line – $1.50. How much revenue, income, net profit, tips and other benefits has this chain lost becuase of the behavior of a few staff memebers. It will take thousands of marketing dollars to get back what they are going to lose by your mistreatment.

Owners, CEO’s and managers need to come in and act like a customer in their place of business. They need to look at everything from the eye of the customer. They are responsible for your paycheck. Thanks for sharing this great story.

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Andrew December 14, 2011 at 9:18 pm

Todd,

As the owner of Zipps, I give you props on two fronts: responding promptly and promising to use this as a training episode.

Yes, Art does have an audience who he at times entertains, but on another note, he is a legend. He literally wrote the book on how to be an ethical and professional telesales person in an industry that sorely needed it.

I learned so many valuable lessons from him that I was able to advance my career partially by not forgetting his rules.

When he was confronted by the seemingly illogical stance of your manager, he felt this was another lesson we can learn from.

I’d suggest instead of getting too fired up about this, that instead you turn it into a positive.

Perhaps you have a Sobczack night where splits are free and have Art give a quick lesson on something of value. You could then donate a portion of the night’s revenue to a local charity of Art’s choosing. I would bet if you did something like that, many of Art’s followers – who are out of the area – may even donate to the charity as well.

You could become a case study (like the Red Cross getting slizzerd with Dogfish Head Beer episode) on how to turn a negative into a huge positive.

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John Van Epps December 14, 2011 at 10:32 pm

Having known Art for many years – directly, and through a mutual friend – I have no doubt that he’s telling the truth. I also doubt his story has been “embellished” to any great extent, judging from his previous posts over the years.

It does appear this may have been an isolated incident, but the fact remains that there’s rarely an excuse to treat a customer in this manner.

True enough – there ARE customers one needs to ‘fire’, and sever ties – but I doubt Art’s one of those. I’ve always found him to be straightforward and level-headed, and the examples of poor service and sales technique to be ‘right on’.

While I applaud Todd Goldman’s philanthropy over the years, incidents such as this won’t garner any friends, and likely WILL result in decreased patronage/revenue.

My best friend related an incident at a local Cracker Barrel restaurant sometime ago – very similar to Art’s experience @ Zipps. At checkout, he complained, and indicated that if this had been his first experience – it would have been his last. However, he also knew this wasn’t the ‘norm’, but he was extremely disappointed. And he passed that along – to a long list of friends and acquaintences…

He also passed along that the manger called him; got his address, and delivered a fairly substantial gift basket – as well as certificates for free meals.

My friends’ experience wasn’t nearly as bad as Art’s (being asked to leave), but the manager
at Cracker Barrel clearly understands how important superior customer service truly is – and acted accordingly.

It will be interesting to hear if Mr. Goldman is similarly inclined…
JVE

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Patrick Hennessy December 14, 2011 at 11:05 pm

Hi Art,

I live in Australia and rest assured we have our share of unhelpful and officious idiots masquerading as customer service people but your story takes some beating!
Although i wont be going to Zipps even if get to the area i took the time to look at the website. It says in part ……”and will provide you with friendly staff that wants to know your name”
They certainly know yours now!

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Maj December 15, 2011 at 7:43 am

Here is a follow up of the Cleveland, Ohio story I posted of the Target store lack of customer service…

http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2011/12/mayfield_middle_school_student.html

After Walmart said they would welcome the shopping at their store and would add a $250 donation Target came back and offered $400.

Here is a quote from the story…Crisis communications consultant Ed Stevens, president of Stevens Strategic Communications, Inc. in Westlake, said that although nobody knows what really took place between Sandra Bean and Shelly, “I do like the fact that Target came forward and apologized, and my advice to Target would be to ‘Exceed expectations and find a way to make things right.'”

The Sports bar certainly did not Exceed Expectations, or make anything right.

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Charles D December 15, 2011 at 9:08 am

There are two things about Zipps’ response posted above that further reinforce the fact that their culture of poor customer service bleeds down from the top:

1. They had to take one last shot at Art even in their response stating that they were wrong! Not only that, but they took that shot on Art’s “property” (his blog) where the people that respect him gather to read his expert insights! What jerks!

2. They could have apologized right here, but didn’t! No “I’m very sorry, Art.” No “We apologize, Art.” No “Art, we hope that you can forgive us.” Dumb, dumb, dumb!

This whole episode and response got me personally fired up at Zipps even though I only know Art through his writing. All over a buck-fifty. Sheesh! Just split the guy’s burger for free, smile, and move on. Even if the customer got something “extra” that he shouldn’t have, the customer may have his sense of loyalty to the establishment raised significantly and will keep coming back and spending more money. If a customer asked me to waive a policy that would “cheat” me out of $1.50, I’d do it in the name of customer service.

But that policy was so important that, apparently, it was worth having hundreds of thousands of people hear (and, by virtue of reading their bone-headed response above, experience) how Zipps is clueless when it comes to customer service. If they think they have a customer-centric culture, they really don’t know what a customer-centric culture is and deserve to lose business.

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Paul December 17, 2011 at 12:10 am

Would also like to point out that if the restaurant charges a customer $1.50, their actual cost on that is probably about .45 or less

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Paul December 17, 2011 at 12:16 am

Wow, Charles, you’re right, not once did he actually just come out and say, “we’re sorry”. Amazing.

The closest he came was: “We are regretful however, that Mr. Sobczak felt it unnecessary to share his experience with the next level of management, giving us an attempt to answer to his initial beliefs regarding the legitimacy of the policy and the alleged corporate “climate” prior to doing so.” In other words, he regretted that Art didn’t come to him first, not that the incident happened in the first place.

Rule number one when you did something wrong: own up to it, and SAY YOU’RE SORRY! It goes a long way.

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Jim Volk December 15, 2011 at 10:08 am

Art,
For the past 37 years I have been a retail district and store manager. I have managed sales and management staffs that were as large as 500+ employees. I have always stressed and empowered each staff member to ALWAYS apply common sense and logic when dealing with a situation that may contradict a company policy. I know of NO well run organization that would censure an employee for making a customer happy. Again… common sense and logic… a win win combination!

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Doug Horne December 15, 2011 at 10:23 am

Todd Goldman’s response was just as professionally written as the complaint. His business has supported many charitable organizations in the Phoenix area in the past and I will continue to support his establishment in the future. You caught the perfect storm on Saturday. Perhaps a movie will be made of this horrible incident some day.

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Lisa December 15, 2011 at 6:12 pm

Perhaps Michael Moore will be available for the lead.

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Alvin December 15, 2011 at 10:56 am

@Brian – you make a poor assumption when you state that Art is not calm because he wrote a blog post. When you say he is “disgruntled,” you are correct – he is disgruntled, which means dissatisfied. Your assessment of what he wrote is poor when you correlate being dissatisfied with being unruly. He said he remained calm during the incident, and that’s exactly what his story portrays. His actions (writing a blog post) show his dissatisfaction. It does not mean that he wasn’t calm during the situation. And what is more calm that putting together coherent statements describing a previous event. Or do you think he was beating his keyboard as he frantically typed?!

And while I frequent Mom-n-Pops restaurants regularly, that doesn’t mean that their small size affords them or any other establishment the right to have HORRIBLE customer service.

Brian, don’t assume and reply based upon the situation and its events rather than your emotional tie to the restaurant.

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Heykel Aouriri December 15, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Well said Alvin.

@Brian – I don’t find your reaction unreasonable but your reasoning is flawed. Name a single organization where the policy and culture are evident in EVERY customer interaction? As someone pointed out US Airways is notorious for being less than stellar with their culture of customer service but you will find some of their customers are quite happy.

Your are correct sir mistakes happen but most customers will forgive mistakes. It is the response that is so appalling in this situation and how an organization responds to mistakes has everything to do with the culture.

And let’s not kid ourselves – Art WROTE the article. You imply he is fabricating the facts. Should we discount everything he has to say because of some perceived cynical agenda? He is free to share is his experience just like you are free to ignore it and move on. He just happens to have a larger platform to communicate then most of us. So it goes.

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Dan December 15, 2011 at 10:59 am

Art:

Wow — what a fiasco. I know it was all over a lousy $1.50 split charge, but, I’m like you Art — it’s a matter of principle, or should I say stupidity.

I didn’t read all the comments posted above, but your story reminds me (from a big picture) about an even larger corporation with a severe lack of customer service — WALMART. Look, they import 90% of their goods from China, they rarely keep items in stock (nice job on supply-chain management) and trying to chase an employee down for service is, well, like trying to find a water source in the Sahara. Not to mention, once you actually are successful in that feat, they typically do not have knowledge of their products, their pricing, their availability, OR even their LOCATION in the store. Usually I feel like I’m in the middle of NYC with no GPS trying to locate my product. Then, and only then, IF I’m successful, can I stand in a line of 10-15 customers (on average) in one of three checkout lanes that are open while the other 22 checkout lanes are dark and unattended. Great job WALMART – frustrate the customer with improperly stocked shelves, or no-stocked shelves, provide them with incompetent, under-paid employee wanna-be’s and then make them stand in line for extended periods of time to add to your gross annual revenue, while 50% of the customers in line pay with food stamps or WIC, then make a conveniently-located 24HR. bank available for those individuals to wire their under-the-table earnings back to loved ones in Mexico — while the rest of us wait, watch, and mumble obscenities under our breath. Way to go America!!! I know what you’re thinking at this point, no one is holding a gun to my head and forcing all these wonderful choices on me. Okay, you’re right, my fault… I’ll shop elsewhere from now on and quit being negative. Life is too short anyway right???

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Alvin December 15, 2011 at 11:00 am

One thing that everyone seems to be overlooking. Don’t we live in America. Regardless of what was being said, if it violated no laws, what right did the manager have to censor ANYTHING that he said to ANY customer. If it was not racially offensive, sexually harrassing, or demeaning to any of the customers, the manager telling Art that he was not allowed to speak to another customer was like me telling you that you can’t say anything negative about The President or you’re not allowed to post on blogs anymore. What?? C’mon!! It’s America!! Freedom of Speech!!

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An December 15, 2011 at 2:42 pm

On Yelp it seems there are a LOT of reviewers who are unhappy with the level of service at this restaurant! They should be trying to make customers HAPPY in the current environment where we can easily just go to another restaurant!

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Sol Edwards December 15, 2011 at 7:24 pm

Many of these comments are by non-customers. I visited this location and no one there was even aware of this incident. I do not think they will miss Art as a customer.

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Keith Petersen December 16, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Sol – I’ve been there and won’t be again thanks to the owner reply. I’ll say it for you… I doubt they will miss Keith as a customer.

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Madea Rogers December 15, 2011 at 4:15 pm

When I was in college I worked at a popular bakery/cafe and the motto was “Rule #1 is there is no rule when it comes to satisfying a customer”. Me and the other workers would split food, accept expired coupons, and do anything else to help the customers screw the system so long as they were satisfied. The place was always packed and customers were regulars. I think the important thing is that the workers were not made to resent the customers by management. Management treated us well and it was a fun place to work. Something for management to remember “if employees are unhappy, customers will be unhappy”

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Josiane Feigon December 15, 2011 at 7:41 pm

Art is at it again!
What a nightmare story. Glad to hear all the lively comments you have received. Perhaps you have carved out a new niche- you certainly have my attention. Plus I’m now craving a burger and haven’t one of those in ages:-)

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BALDEV December 16, 2011 at 7:50 am

They rather lose a customer for $1.50 then swallow this baseless charge.
That’s what happens after being famous. They feel people will come to them no matter what.
Just look that lady came back even with that bad experience, and the bar guy

They will never see me there again. Just because I can.

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judi December 16, 2011 at 1:28 pm

I just went to order a few movies on Movie Mars website. It’s Dec 16th. Do you know they only have one shipping option with one time frame?

Wonder how many people will want to order DVDs between now and Christmas and won’t because the only delivery option is 7 – 10 days. Wonder how many people during the year want to send a gift, but because they’re ordering late, order it somewhere else.

I asked to speak with a manager to see if there were any creative options available, but they’re not supposed to handle phone calls (????) so my only option was to email the manager person.

Or to go to Amazon, which is what I did, and then paid $20 more for the product but only $3.97 for standard s/h 3 – 5 day arrival time which will be there on the 21st.

Um, yeah – I could have ordered earlier, but I didn’t, and that’s irrelevant anyway. Movie Mars must be losing thousands of dollars or more each year not providing an expedited shipping option!

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Becky December 16, 2011 at 4:32 pm

The people at Zipps are successful (right now) despite themselves! Look what they are doing to Z-Tejah’s….Must not be able to make money through customer service so instead they will oppose competition and demand thier split charges! …just amazing…

http://ktar.com/6/1478953/ZTejas-wants-to-expand-but-sports-grill-is-opposed

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Kim December 17, 2011 at 1:41 am

Zipps just doesn’t get it. I saw on the news tonight that Zipps is fighting another restaurant – Z’Tejas – from locating in the same shopping center. Ridiculous. Video below.

http://www.azcentral.com/video/#/News/Phoenix%20restaurants%20locked%20in%20battle/40280768001/35150280001/1332376772001

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Todd Goldman December 20, 2011 at 1:19 pm

This story is implying that Zipps is opposed to Z’Tejas opening a new establishment in the plaza at 16th Street & Bethany Home. We would like to correct some of this misinformation. We have absolutely no issue with Z’Tejas. We admire and enjoy their operation and would have zero issue sharing a location with them despite how the media has spun it. We have been put in the spotlight because the media knows it’s more interesting this way. We are pro-business and we understand the benefits of drawing more people to the area. However, this is not a case of Z’Tejas going into vacant space in an existing center- it’s about a very large building being constructed in the middle of the parking lot. This will greatly disrupt all existing retailers visibility, ingress and egress of parking lot traffic and overall ability to park. We don’t mind telling you that we negotiated our lease at this location over two years and were very careful to secure the existing parking and making sure that the site plan would remain the same with our landlord. In addition to our lease being overlooked, the center is currently under parked without including the additional proposed building, according to statistics done by a Parking and Traffic Engineer. We believe that our customers, along with all the other existing retailer customers deserve an opportunity to park their cars. We also believe that the City of Phoenix has an obligation to protect the independent operators that have already invested their money into their business which requires that people are able to park enabling the business owners to profitably conduct their business. Overall, this is not a battle with Z’Tejas, but rather a battle with the landlord. Hope this clears up some of the confusion! Thanks for listening 🙂

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Sandy Rhodes December 21, 2011 at 8:39 am

Thanks for the heads up. I’ll be sure to avoid Zipps in the future.
I value courteous and personal service as much as good food. I will accept less than top notch fare before mediocre service.
Your advises on restaurant service are spot on and people shouldn’t accept anything less. The customer is paying not only for food but service as well.
My commendations for keeping your cool under fire. I would have given that manager more than ample reason to be shaking… more like wetting his pants.
After two episodes of employee ignorance with Dominos Pizza I took my weekly business to one of their competition. I haven’t regretted that decision at all. Better service and …

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Jeff B December 21, 2011 at 9:23 am

I posted the following on the corporate web site. May be the worst case of customer service I have seen.

Your CEO needs to read http://www.telesalesblog.com/2011/12/13/kicked-out-of-a-bar-because-i-didnt-want-my-burger-split-really.html and reply. If this was my policy at my stores I would be out of business.

You really need to re-educate your managers and staff.

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Tom McKay December 22, 2011 at 11:20 am

I’d love to see Art have a live chat or phone conversation with a cable TV company called Charter! Every interaction makes me fume; unfortunately in the area where we live, there is not a feasible better option.

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Merl December 22, 2011 at 11:52 am

I have two comments. First, Caroline got it exactly right. That was a tremendous opportunity for an upsell. How about — Sure, I’ll split it for you. Would you guys like another beer? A sports bar makes it money selling beer not split-charges! Second, there is a lot of bad customer service out there. I had an arguement with DirecTV over $70 and they wound up trying to charge me $800 (eight hundred, in case you think that is a typo)! I am still fighting them.

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Terry December 22, 2011 at 12:01 pm

I’ve been following this since your newsletter mentioned it, always fascinating–some of the comments almost as much as the event. I’ve never eaten at Zipps, good chance I never will. There is a major difference between the Zipps position and a well-run company like Red Robin (We eat at RR more than all other restaurants put together).

Red Robin has split meals many times, taken an expired coupon–manager came over and apologized that we had tried to use a $10 expired coupon, gave us 4 new $10 coupons and used one for our meal, we’re asked if we want refills to take home with us of their specialty drinks (non-alcoholic), usually very fast/good service. Great food/service is why we go back so often. (‘Disclaimer’–I’m not employed and don’t personally know any employees/owners of RR, just very satisfied customer.)

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Elizabeth December 22, 2011 at 12:07 pm

I ordered a Christmas present from an online site on Saturday, December 17th and the site clearly stated that if the order was placed by that day, end of day, it would be delivered by Saturday, December 24th. I tracked the package on Wednesday, December 21st and it had been shipped ground on Tuesday, December 20th and was due to arrive on Wednesday,December 28th. This was to be the only present from Santa for a 5 1/2 year old and a 4 year old. I called the company and was on hold for well over 30 minutes before speaking to someone and when I explained the situation he told me that he couldn’t let me speak to a manager and that he’d have to check with the websites advertising team to make sure that was what the site said. He wouldn’t give me his last name or the name of a manager. I left him my call back info and told him I expected a call back immediately. I was nice but firm. It is now Thursday at 12:00 est and I still haven’t received a call back. I did call Fed Ex and cancel the shipment so that it won’t take a week to get from the west coast to the east coast and then I have to turn around and pay to have it returned to them. Can anyone give me some suggestions as to how to handle this? I have never had to hold a website accountable and I’m not sure how to proceed. Thanks!

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Brian Young December 22, 2011 at 12:21 pm

This is where Mr Goldman is wrong. In the restaurant business a split charge is NOT the NORM. It is not the industry standard.

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Drew Lyons December 22, 2011 at 5:31 pm

Although we’re not “close buddies”, I have known Art for many years and can absolutely vouch for his character. I can assure you his motivations are more about sharing for training than any other purpose. But enough of the Art Fan Club!

I just wanted to mention a somewhat reverse side of the coin, regarding when one receives excellent customer service. As evidenced by this whole episode, a customer who receives bad service can spread that experience far and wide, and the repercussions can be severe. Further, it tends to snowball in many ways, not the least of which can be a very negative “reverberation” within the offending company, where all sorts of people get in trouble and perpetuate a defensive and negative attitude.

But the opposite can happen when the service is outstanding, with the same rippling effect throughout the company. Having been the CS agent/provider many different times, I know how much it can mean to ge a compliment, and while I do not hesitate to complain as a customer, I also make it a point to ask to speak to a supervisor to praise and recognize the agent/waitress/etc. when I get great service. Most managers – dreading the coming conversation when they hear “this guy wants to talk to a manager” – are effusively thankful when they get a compliment and will make sure it becomes a permanent part of the employee’s file. Again this has a snowball effect within the organization, encouraging the positive behavior.

So just a reminder to all: by all means gripe when you get bad service, but also please remember to positively reinforce great service.

And Caroline, your “upsell opportunity” comments are very perceptive and “outside the box” thinking – bravo!

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Aimee February 3, 2012 at 8:38 pm

That is terrible customer service! Almost as bad as what happened to me. I was a regular for over 5 years at Carolina Ale House in Raleigh, NC. Never had any real issues with anyone there other than a bartender that had been transferred there about a year ago. I tolerated him because I have many friends that regular there and other than him the majority of the staff are nice and friendly. However, recently a new group of managers came in after the others found new jobs. Now I didn’t have any complaints about the new management but I did notice they never really spoke to me. Most of the time the managers usually greet the regulars with pleasantries and respect but not these new guys. Last night I was sitting at a table with some friends(also employees but they were off at this point)and minding my own business when the new GM walks over and tells me it’s time for me to leave. Yep, just me not anyone else. Now…considering I’m not drunk, making a scene, am minding my own business, having a good time with friends, and have been going there regularly for more than 5 years, you might understand why I was shocked to see the GM walk over and tell me it’s time for me to leave. Since I had just requested my tab from the server I didn’t even bother asking why. I paid and left. Oh it gets better! A few minutes after I arrive home the police show up at my door saying someone at the bar was concerned about me driving. Yep they told me to leave then called the police because I left. Hmmm something sounds fishy about that. Now hows that for customer service?

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Jamie March 5, 2012 at 4:24 pm

Only thing worse that the experience was the sorry reply from Todd Goldman. What’s the saying? “It’s the second mistake that gets them.” This place got what it deserved by being placed on this blog. And let’s be honest – we’ve ALL been there – They inadvertently screwed with the wrong person this time. DAVE this blog entry and COPY and PASTE it where appropriate. I can’t wait until the next time I’m in Phoenix just so I can go to this place and tell them that they’ve just lost another sale and leave.

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