Archive for September 14, 2004

No business being in business…

I went to a local Subway today, as I do every once in a while. The guy that runs this local shop though has no business being in business. Let’s start at the beginning. Just shy of two and a half years ago, I ordered a couple subs, and I also bought three chocolate chip cookies. Subway’s cookies are usually great. These, however, were stale beyond reason. They were not crispy, not crunchy, they were like ceramic disks. So, I went back later, with the cookies, and mentioned how stale they were, and if I could get three fresher ones. The owner was there, and stared at me, looking stunned. Then he proceeded to argue with me about the cookies without looking at them. I took one out, held it several feet above the counter, and dropped it. It thudded into the counter, with a loud noise, and skidded to the side. It did not break, it did not bend, or dent, or deform in anyway. There were barely any crumbs. He angrily snatched the bag from my hand, and informed me the fresh ones would be done baking in a moment. So, I said thanks and had a seat. A couple minutes later three fresh cookies in a bag landed in front of me on the table. He didn’t set them, or hand them to me, he just tossed them on the table. “There are your damn cookies.” I was stunned, and just thanked him and left.

Six months later, I was in the store, and he was as well, as opposed to other employees. I ordered a few more cookies. This didn’t sit well with him. “Oh, are you sure they’re fresh enough for you?” Six months later, and he’s still griping about three cookies. I said, “Wow. Look, that was six months ago. You served three crapy cookies, it happens, act like an adult and get over it. If you can’t hack a little criticism once in a while, you shouldn’t be in business.”

So, I’m in today, and his son is there instead of him. As I’m ordering the sandwiches, one of them was to have the mozarella cheese on the side, as opposed to being on the sandwich, so it stayed fresher. I was informed this was extra.

I asked, “Wait, the cheese is extra?”
He replied to me, “No, having it on the side is extra.”
I blinked. “Ok, so, if I have you put the cheese on the sandwich, it’s included, but if I have you put it in a little baggie on the side, then it’s extra?”
“Yes.”
“Bizarre. Fine, whatever.” I didn’t feel like arguing about it.

Several minutes later, after finishing the other sandwich, long after that part of the conversation had died a natural death, he then says to me, “It’s extra because he [the owner, this kid’s father] is losing money. It costs him to put stuff on the side.”
This pushed me a little too far. The experiences in this place were just too surreal to ignore. I took the bait. “Ok, it costs him more money to put the topping on the side than it does to put on the sandwich?”
“Yes.”
“So, it’s free if you put it on the sandwich before you give it to me, but if I have you give it to me separately, that costs more.”
“Yes.”
I’m reeling here. This is twilight zone. “No, I’m sorry, this is insane. It doesn’t cost him more. I buy a sandwich, and I can select from this assortment of toppings. There is no magical savings by putting it on the sandwich. That slice of cheese costs two cents whether it’s on the sandwich, on the side, or on my head. It doesn’t cost more because it’s to the left of the sandwich.”
“Well, he says it does and he says he’s losing money.”
I replied, “Maybe it’s because he’s nickle and diming his customers to death, and they’re tired of his lousy service and disposition.”
He steps out from the back of the restaurant office, apparently listening all the time.
“Yes, sir, that’s right. You have lousy service and a lousy attitude. I’d already accepted the extra twenty cents for the cheese and let it go when your sone ressurected the topic to argue. That’s horrible. If you manage to sucker a customer into an extra fee, the last thing you should do is then argue with them trying to justify it.”

People like that have no business being in business.

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