Sunday, September 21, 2008

Is half-decent service really too much to ask for?

Brace yourself, I am about to go on a rant about a topic that has been bugging me for quite a while: young teens working in the customer service industry.

On three separate recent occasions, I have walked out of a store (in Embrun) shaking my head at the young teen working there, because of their inability to use common sense when serving myself and a long line of others!

A few weeks ago I decided to get a coffee at Tim Horton's after getting my groceries. I drove over to Timmy's only to see that the drive-thru line up was out to the road, so I figured I would have better luck getting served inside the Timmy's.

Now, a year or so ago you may recall my royal disgust for the Timmy's in Embrun... as it was slow moving no matter what time you rolled in there, but in the last 6 months I have noticed a huge improvement in customer service/satisfaction in the morning rush hour. This observation gave me new found respect for the Embrun Timmy's... as I felt they got their act together!

However... on this particular visit, it seemed they were back to their old shenanigans of brutally slow service. And no wonder why... !

When I got inside I was the 4th customer in line... and there was one teenaged girl working the cash. She was helping a couple of guys get their orders, which were sandwich combos and ice capps. In my opinion her job should be to take the order, get their drinks, and then turn over the sandwich making to the employee on the sandwich bar. This seemed to be what she wanted to do, but it took her a good 5-7 minutes to get their drinks ready, and then another 2 to ensure the sandwiches were going to be made by someone else. Just when she could take another customer at her cash, an employee emerges from the back room.

I am thinking, this employee is coming out to help in what is clearly the 4 o'clock rush, but NO, she is actually on her way home. The original girl on cash seems surprised by her exit, and proceeds to step away from the cash... and strike up a 3 minute conversation with her about why she is leaving. This happens off to the side of the cash, in front myself and 3 other customers ahead of me. So now... while these two lovely teenagers have their discussion, no one is working the cash, which means no one is getting served - NOTHING IS HAPPENING.

Finally, the drive-thru head-honcho (who I would put in her 20s), comes around the corner for a donut and sees this all transacting. She proceeds to promptly notify the cash girl that she must get back to workimmediately. Clearly unhappy about it, she steps back to her cash to finally take the next customer. Another employee emerges from the back room and looks shocked to see how long the line up is - he's jumps on the second cash, and finally after 15 minutes of waiting, I am served.

I leave Timmy's shaking my head, thinking that at 15 or 16 I know I was not THAT stupid, and would have never left the cash to talk to a friend while the line up was out the door.

I thought this may have been a one time deal, but earlier this week while PC and I were at Subway, we had the same type of experience. We arrive at Subway... and are their only customers, a girl greets us and asks up what we want, I order and PC is about to order when a second girl from the back comes out and the first girl stops PC in mid-sentence to tell the second girl 'Oh My God, I totally dropped a sub this afternoon on the floor, it was soooooo hot, I just drop it, totally - right there, and the guy was like starring at me, but I was like I am sorry dude, it was too freakin hot'. Then she looks back up at PC, and says 'Sorry about that, totally off topic, what did you want?' - Totally off topic? - thanks tips, we couldn't figure that one out for ourselves.

By the time we get our subs, a line-up has formed out the door... PC and I sit down and eat only to observe these two girls and one guy serve these 8 customers. You would think their priority would be take an order, make a sub, obtain payment - REPEAT. But no... all I can hear is them talking about so and so's boyfriend who cheated on her and then got beat up at a party - and god knows what else. The tables are mess ... food on all of them, and a garbage overflowing to boot.

One of the employees leaves the line up to go to the bathroom, and has to step over the overflowing trash to get into the washroom. I am thinking when she emerges she will empty the trash and mop up the spilt pop besides it, but NO, she comes out the washrooms, looks at the trash and is as disgusted as we are. She shakes her head and goes into the back room never to emerge again.

HELLO? Clean it up, or at least notify someone who's job it is to clean it up that it is has to be done. Once the line-up is cleared, the other two employees take a seat and chat away, while the restaurant remains dirty. I leave in disgust - AGAIN!

Today... at the grocery store, I wanted to ring the teenaged girl's neck who was working the cash. First of all she couldn't be bothered to be at work, and as she starts ringing through my items she puts them in a plastic bag. I say to her that I have reusable bags (which were the first thing I put on the counter), and she looks at me like I have 4 heads. Then as she rings the rest of the items through, she puts 3 things in each bag as if I have 30 reusable bags with me. Then she asks me if I want the rest in plastic, to which I reply 'No, I think we can fit everything in these 4 bags'. By the look on her face you would think I had just asked her to pee in a cup and drink it. As she packs everything into the four bags, she has bread on the bottom, apple juice on top of the bread, some bananas, and then a pound of ground beef to top it off.

Last time I checked packing groceries isn't rocket science, but apparently it's a skill that some teenagers just can't grasp. Again, I leave the store shaking my head.

There is no way, NO WAY I was that incompetent when I was that age. I understand that these jobs are just that - part-time jobs, not careers. They are doing it for one purpose, the cash, and only the cash. But how hard is it to use your brain in these jobs. I am not asking for over the top service, I am just asking for a little common sense when it comes to customer service. You don't need to talk to me or compliment me or anything out of the ordinary, you just have to use a few brain cells and do the job you were hired to do.

I am not saying all teenagers are like this, as I have had perfectly decent service from some of these teenagers, but it seems to be a growing trend lately, that these Generation Y peeps just don't care, and aren't about to start to anytime soon.

Has anyone else noticed that this generation of teenagers approaches life a bit different that the last?

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