Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Communication, Please?

On a recent trip, I found myself without dinner because of delayed flights. I wanted a snack--not much, just a snack--and something to drink. There was a small concession near my gate, so I went over and picked up an oatmeal cookie and a bottle of water. I thought that would do nicely.

I handed my credit card to the cashier as she hit the total button: $8.79!
Me: How much is the water?
Cashier: $2.29
Me: So the cookie is $6.50????
Cashier: (no response)
Me: Is the cookie six-and-a-half-dollars??
The cashier turned away and asked a question of one of the other workers, who came over to the register. Both stood looking at the machine and poking at buttons.
Me: Is the cookie $6.50?
Employees: (nothing)
Me: Excuse me, where is my credit card right now?
Cashier: What?
Me: May I have my credit card back please?
The cashier handed it to me and went back to poking buttons. (I would have walked away at this point, but I wasn't sure whether my card had been entered or not.) The second employee now went in search of the manager on duty. I still had not received an answer about the price of the cookie. The "manager" appeared and voided the incorrect entry without speaking to me or even looking at me The cookie was $3.00--outrageously priced, but not $6.50.

At no time during this transaction was I treated as if I were another human standing at the counter.

Now, I understand that working midnights at an airport concession stand is not the most desirable job in the world. And I know that because I had similar jobs along the way: Dairy store night clerk; night  gas station attendant (New Jersey still has those, and that's where I grew up)--at what was the busiest gas station in the world at the time; hotel front desk, and so on. I know the pay is absurdly low and doesn't help your kids' college fund. I know that the benefits (if there are any) are crummy. I know that finding people to do this work is not easy.

So what?

Find the right people, not just the people who show up to your application desk when you post a "Help Wanted" sign.  

Who said your work as a customer service hiring manager was going to be easy?  

I am 100% sure that this cashier displayed no more personality or communication skill at her interview than she did during our two minutes of "contact." And yet, there she was, being the face of the company.

The fact that I've determined never to buy anything ever again from this particular airport concession company will not destroy their bottom line, and I know that.  It's a personal decision. I buy from companies that show me good service, and I never return to do business when I'm treated as if I am not even in the same room.

What would you do?


  1. I have to say, I would have asked for the manager's manager and written them a note. There is never a reason for anyone who deals with customers to act like that!

  2. Thanks, Lu. I think that after seeing that attitude in action, I would not have expected much from the manager's manager, or anyone else higher up. That makes me sad and a bit angry. (The cookie, by the way, wasn't bad.)

  3. To bad so many people are so unhappy with their jobs