LESLIE CRISS: Eatery experience evokes frustration, leaves bad taste

By Leslie Criss / NEMS Daily Journal

“You earn your reputation by the things you do every day.”
– Dave Thomas

“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”
– Sam Walton

I drove through the Ole Miss campus with my friend Cheryl last Monday evening to drop off something for her niece, a member of the freshman class.
We picked her up outside her dorm and headed down Jackson Avenue in search of a salad for supper.
Most places were packed, so we were pleased to find one popular fast-food eatery with a nearly empty dining room. The drive-through line, however, was lengthy.
The four folks in the dining area stood by the counter, waiting for their orders.
As I placed our order I noticed two of the four walked out of the restaurant and drove away, leaving behind their dinner and the dollars paid for it.
The other two waited a bit longer before asking about their orders.
Here’s what they were told: “You’re going to have to wait. There are only three of them back there and they are busy with the window orders.”
The two waiting women looked at each other and then asked for a refund.
The young female employee showed no reaction, no remorse, but went to get a man who might have been a manager. He refunded the customers’ money and never once apologized for the trouble.
While waiting, I’d noticed several people had driven into the parking lot, walked toward the doors then turned around and left. I was curious, but figured they were just smarter than we’d been.
By this time about 15 minutes had passed. I’d ordered salads and chili, two items that are already made.
When I asked the server behind the counter about my order, she repeated the words she’d spoken earlier. I looked at my dining companions and we silently but unanimously agreed to leave.
When we tried to vacate the premises, we discovered we’d been locked in. They’d locked the dining room doors rather than welcome new customers.

Personal experience
Because I’ve owned and operated a restaurant with my sister, I’m hypersensitive about the kind of service given.
Yes, the customer’s always right, but the customer can also be kind when the server is trying hard to deliver.
Conversely, when the service is deplorable, the customer has every right to be angry.
I’ve seen two people do a fine job of running a restaurant complete with take-out window – on a busy day – and still offer stellar customer service.
And for years, I’ve eaten at many eateries in the same family as the one in Oxford and received outstanding service and quality food. So, it’s not an across-the-board failure of an entire chain.
There were lots of alternatives to the poor customer service folks received at a fast-food restaurant in Oxford last week.
Business was lost that may never be retrieved. And sadly, not one thing was said or done to ease tensions between workers and customers.
Dave would not have been pleased.
Nor would his daughter Wendy.

Contact Leslie Criss at (662) 678-1584 or leslie.criss@djournal.com.