When the front-line is kept from going with the flow

Policy miscommunication.  That’s what I chalked my most recent Bad Customer Service Experience up to.  It had been one of those days. I was late. It was raining. I didn’t have a coat or umbrella. I was tired and on the verge of a cold.

I ran into the Big Box store with my short list in hand.  I quickly found everything I needed and, on a whim, added a product I hadn’t come in for, but wanted to try.  My mistake.

At the register, the cashier says to me, “These are two for one, m’am. Do you want to run back and get another?”

Ah, no. The place was bigger than a football field and, as I say, I was late.  “No, that’s okay, I’ll just take the one,” I answered.

“You get a better price with two,” he offered, trying to be helpful.

“No, that’s okay. I only want the one.  You can charge me full price,” I said.

“I’m sorry I can’t do that.”

“I can’t give you full price for it?” I was now stopped dead in my hurried tracks.

“No, the inventory’s not set up that way,” he said, gesturing toward his register.  Then he sheepishly pointed to the “receipt checkers” at the door.  “They’ll get confused,” he said.

The people who cross-check my purchases against the receipt, at the door, to make sure I wasn’t stealing anything, couldn’t handle the fact that I would have one product in my cart, not the two listed on the receipt? I didn’t say this, but I wanted to.

“Ahem,” I paused.  “I cannot give you full price for this product? You will not sell me one?” I said, making sure he understood what I was asking.

“No, ma’am.”  Polite, yet unyielding.

Under other circumstances, I would have asked for the manager. I didn’t have time. I was late.  “I guess I won’t buy the one, either,” I said, and handed it back to him.

Okay, the store wasn’t going to go broke over the loss of my $3.99 purchase. As it stood, they weren’t even going to notice, because I wouldn’t have registered in their inventory system.  I just know that there’s no way a manager of that store would have insisted I buy two or would not have given me some break on the price and, furthermore, would not have not offered to go grab the second item for me.

I will think of that experience now not just each time I enter that store, but each time I eat the product I ultimately ended up purchasing at a different store and liking so much I have become a “fan”.

Mystery shops would have uncovered this lapse in policy and/or in personnel.

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