7.10.2008

customer comeuppance

for the most part my bux has some really great customers. of course, we get our share of caffeine addicts that believe our only mission in life to serve them in a manner suited for ramses the great. no matter how accommodating we baristas try to be, these customers are dead set on being annoyed by everything we do (and do correctly, i might add).
i've been in my green apron long enough to know that these people are just outright jerks and nothing i do will make them happy. the poor newbies, however, who are blindsided by these vicious customers are usually rendered useless for a few minutes and have to compose themselves in the backroom until they are 'strong' enough to continue making drinks and ringing customers. it really is trial by fire, and unfortunately we can't always tell which customers will be the pains and which will be the angels.

in the past week we've had a couple gems to deal with. and yes, the poor newbies did take the brunt of the abuse, but at least there was some sweet justice that followed:

- on a busy friday morning one of our newbies was having a very difficult time with a picky customer. this customer wanted a "perfect pastry" from the case and made the newbie offer each pastry up for inspection.
"that one is too small!" she'd complain. "that one isn't square enough!", "that one doesn't look flavorful enough!". i swear, i thought she was auditioning for the role of friggen' goldilocks. finally when she 'settled' for a less than perfect pastry, she repeated an equally annoying process when ordering her drink. not only did she give newbie very specific instructions to write on the cup, but she micromanaged every single letter he wrote and demanded to inspect the cup after he'd marked it.
"what the hell is this?!?" she asked, upset that newbie wrote "3=" in the custom box instead of "3 equals" and made him rewrite the whole damn order on a new cup.
while waiting for her drink, she accused newbie of giving her the wrong pastry, and demanded deafeningly he change it for a better one. by the time her drink was ready, newbie was on the verge of a breakdown. after arguing with another person at the condiment bar, picky customer finally left our bux. upon exiting the store, she tripped over her own feet and dropped her perfectly marked drink as she tried to catch the pastry she'd flung through the air. the pastry landed in a puddle of water, and her drink spilled all over the sidewalk.
"FUCK IT!" she screamed and got in her car and drove away.

- my bux parking lot is very cramped and busy. now, i'm not a road rage sort of person, but i do expect other people to obey traffic rules. even though i had the right of way, a bitch in a white bmw decided the red octagon with the white letters that spelled out "STOP" was not intended for her. she gunned her motor and pulled directly in front of me, cutting me off and gesticulating wildly the whole time. i could only laugh because of how ridiculously she was behaving.
as she waited to pull into a spot directly in front of my store i managed to squeeze my car past hers, park in a vacant spot only ten feet away, and enter my store before she'd had a chance to complete her parking job.
because of her actions in the parking lot i was not surprised to see her stomp into my bux, huff about the loooong line (seriously, there were only two people ahead of her), and then demand her drink be made quickly because she was in such a hurry. now, i could have been a horrid barista and made her a disgusting drink, but i decided it would be much more poetic if i had a newbie make her drink instead - since i was sure it would take newbie twice as long. of course, the bitch with the bmw was quite vocal about having to wait, and i just smiled sweetly and explained that we had a new partner training on the bar. then bitch with the bmw got a call on her cell phone and went outside for ten minutes, while her drink sat on the hand-off counter.
when she came back into the store, she complained that the drink was too cool and wanted it made again because she comes in "all the time!" (and no - none of us baristas had ever seen her before). so of course i let newbie make her drink for the second time. surprise, surprise, bitch in the bmw wasn't happy with drink #2 either. so it was made a third time (still not by me, of course) and she still wasn't happy with it, but since we'd "wasted so much of her time" she took it anyway and angrily drove off.
awww, sweet schadenfreude!

partner rant: ok. i understand that part of my job requires me to 'talk up' new beverages and products we sell. and i know another part of my job requires me to participate in store meetings where we learn and discuss these new products. but when we baristas (rightfully) voice our concerns and doubts about our new fruit blended drinks, we should not be berated, nor blamed for the past failures of the bigwigs in seattle. telling us the reason breakfast sandwiches and chantico drinks went bust was because we baristas were not "solidly behind the product" is a bunch of bull. no matter how much we may try to convince our customers to try something new (or even lie to them and tell them how much we love it) will NOT ensure that customers will go ga-ga over a mcmuffin ripoff or a small cup of melted chocolate. in fact, give us baristas credit for the fact we all successfully predicted how terribly those new products would be received instead of using us as the scapegoat for how poorly our company is doing at present.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Glad you're back, brat! I thought chantico drinks were good... but I only bought them when someone had sent me a gc. Keep on rockin'.

Johnny Yen said...

After nearly thirty years in the service business, I see that there are a handful of people who deal with their personal issues through a group of people who are disposed by profession to deal with them, no matter how unpleasant they are. We are, then, at the mercy of a manager (or in my case owner) who may or may not realize that there are people who do this.

In the end, though, I deal with people like "BMW BItch" by saying "God, it must suck to be you!" ; )

Serin said...

I'm so glad you're back! I hope things go more smoothly at the bux for you.

Zoltar Panaflex said...

I am so very glad you're back, Brat. I've read your blog through a couple times since I found it a while ago!

I don't know if I could stop laughing if I saw the pastry-perfect-person. Imagine what it must be like living with someone like that!

As for parking lot dictators - gads, way too many run-ins with that type. I gladly steer around them to take a spot further away!

I wonder if any of people like the pastry and the BMW type have ever even *heard* of karma.

I think the Seattle types are **NUTS** for demoralizing their front lines. I never tried the Chantico or the toasted whatever it was nor will I order the fruit whatevers.

It has nothing to do with the friendly barista team. I just don't WANT one. I can make all that at home, I come out for coffee....all this extra stuff makes the coffee suffer.

Coffee, Seattle Bigwigs, that's what made Starbucks, not bizarre packaged foods! (FWIW, I pass the Seattle HQ almost every day...)

Eric said...

Huzzah!
Two posts in a month
Now Ill read it

Anonymous said...

Long time lurker and fan here... welcome back!

People with an extreme sense of entitlement should be flogged. I'm saddened that soo many people like that exist, and amazed that you have thick enough skin to stand up to these people...

calgaryserver said...

Great to see you are posting again. I have a bunch of friends who work for bux and have great stories like yours. From front lines straight into management and it makes me glad that I work in restaurants, you guys and gals have it tougher than I do I think.

Keep up the good fight.

http://calgaryserver.wordpress.com

Jzakibe said...

So I tried the new beverages the other day. They were okay. Nothing special. But if I have to keep talking up how good they are, I don't know how much more of it I can stand.

Trasherati said...

"My" barista, who knows my tastes, discouraged me from trying the sandwiches. I should have listened.

Chantico? They didn't have enough free samples in the universe to entice me to try what looked like a Hershey bar left in a hot car.

staticwarp said...

seriously. i work at arby's, and my customers are just as nuts. drive thru is the worst, because people dont feel like they are talking to a person, they think they are talking to a robot, so they can just treat the speaker like shit and no one will notice. they seem to think that if they are 15 feet away from the speaker, ordering while in the passenger's seat facing away from the microphone that i should be able to hear them just fine and get upset when i have to have them repeat things 4 or 5 times. or they'll just drive on up to the window, causing their order to be placed after the 4 or 5 cars behing and in front of them, then wonder why they need to go wait in the parking lot while everyone else gets their food. seriously, it must suck to be the kind of person who is always upset at something.

luckily, i'm the shift lead, so i dont put up with any crap from our customers whether it's directed at me or my crew. i'll shut them down if they're rude and call the cops if they're belligerent. dont take no shit, brat!

biggearhead said...

"upon exiting the store, she tripped over her own feet and..."

Ah, this truly was a beautiful moment, and I smiled as I read it over more than once. It was in high school English while we were reading Dicken's "A Tale of Two Cities" that a character who was always mean and abusive was eventually stomped to death by a horse he was abusing. Thus was I fully introduced to the concept of "poetic justice." And it is oh-so-sweet when it occurs in real life! Thanks for passing that along!

pilgrimchick said...

Nice to see you back.

If I had witnessed the customer scenario described, it would live on in my memory in perpetuity as that one time when divine providence and karma collided. Sigh.

mellowlee said...

smoothies?!! Seriously?!! This is getting ridiculous!

Sandra said...

If i had witnessed the pastry lady.. i would not have stopped laughing for the whole week. I hope you pointed it out the the newbie as karma! lol

Julie said...

Holy crap the woman micromanaging what your newbie wrote on the cup???? Wow I'm suprised there wasn't a brawl in the middle of the store cause newbie couldn't hold themselves back any longer and jumped over the counter at that woman. what a FREAK!

Anonymous said...

Oh, man, Bux was selling "small cup[s] of melted chocolate" and I missed it? That would have been one I'd have liked to try, too... I don't go to Bux very much, though, so I'm not surprised it slipped by me. Not that I would have known to order it anyway, with how complicated your menus are these days :S Sorry corporate is being lame, they should try listening to you for a change...

Snark Scribe said...

I'm surprised the perfect pastry woman didn't start threatening to sue because she tripped in front of your store.

Zoltar Panaflex said...

I just saw this today and who else could I think about but Brat!!!

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080718/ap_on_fe_st/odd_starbucks_officer

Melissa said...

Oh man, the tripping over herself and spilling food and drink is just sweet karmic justice. What a hoot!

Toni said...

Glad to see you more often, brat.

I'm glad your newbie got to see karmic justice done on Pastry Lady. We all have stories of the spectacular assholes we had to tolerate when we were newbies but we seldom got to see them get what they deserved. That story brightened up my day considerably.

Like johnny yen said, sometimes all you can do is shake your head and think, "It must suck to be you. Glad I don't have to live in your head!"

ch987 said...

BAHAHAHA I love you. I work at Sbux too.. TOTALLY UNDERSTAND what you've been saying. This blog is genius.

Allan said...

I love it when gravity and karma work in tandem. Glad to see you posting again!

Emily said...

Just a long-time lurker here who thought I'd say that I'm glad you're back.

banquet manager said...

The perfect pastry lady reminds me of the wacky brides that have planned their "perfect" wedding since they were about 5 years old and nothing can go wrong. Well in my world as a banquet manager, nothing EVER goes perfect. The brides, and the pastry lady, will have to get over it. Welcome back. Visit me at So You Want To Be a Banquet Manager

Colleen said...

so glad you're back! i confess i'm more of a dunkin donuts person, but i love reading about your "adventures" in customer service - i'm still nursing wounds from being a department store cashier in the hamptons 15 years ago. love the karmic justice doled out to your two customers here! i cannot believe the way some people feel they can treat people behind a counter. those people need to get back on their meds or go get counseling to deal with their misdirected anger. glad to see you don't take it personally. i believe you are helping me get over my cashier experiences (i was way too sensitive back in the day) and now i'm an extremely gracious customer and never tip under 20% because i know how hard that job is. we ARE out there! :0)

Janiece said...

Now this is a refreshing blog!

ramblingmom said...

Brat,

I don't know where you hail from, or whether you've seen this article, but really after reading your blog for a while I don't think anything surprises me from a bux customer.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-starbucks-cop-web-aug08,0,6874669.story

(or tiny)
http://tinyurl.com/5oqy95