Thursday, November 10, 2011

Never Going Back Again

Two days ago I had the most bizarre customer service experience on my way to work. Even more strangely, I was the customer. I had pulled into the local small gas station on Northgate Blvd. on my way to the store, around 7:00 a.m. I usually will patron this small, teal colored station, which will remain nameless, because it is closest to my house and is less crowded than the Chevron closer to the freeway. I swiped my card in the machine as always, pushed the octane button of my choice, and squeezed the trigger in anticipation of sweet gas. But no gas came. I looked at the meter and saw seven cents was charged. I continued to squeeze the handle, press the octane button a few times, and then figured that the machine had never cleared when I swiped my card. I put the handle back on the hook, re-swiped the card, waited for authorization, and returned the nozzle to my gas tank. As I began to pump the gas a short lady of Asian origin in  her fifties or so, came running out of the station, flailing her arms and telling me sternly that is was  not necessary to run my Visa twice.
"You don't slide card twice!" she exclaimed. "They charge me money! You cost me money when you slide card twice!"
I was laughing in shear disbelief. I told her in my most polite, I'll respect you but you're fucking crazy tone that the machine had not cleared and it would not dispense the gas.
"No, it was pumping!" she began to yell at me. "You didn't wait! I saw it pumping from the computer!" I was completely blown away. "Visa charges me money for each time you swipe card!"
"Well, next time I will drive up the street to the Chevron where the machines work properly," I offered. She was actually very keen to that.
"Nothing wrong with the machine. You don't pump right!"
I flashed for a moment into an alternate reality. (I have many, and I find myself hiding in them more frequently these days.) Here I saw myself in my own situation where I serve many customers daily, but this time I was hollering at them for not putting the brushes back on the hook with the labels facing outward, and scolding them for leaving sugar sprinkles by the coffee machine. Wouldn't that be fun for a day? But certainly it would be bad for business.
I assured her that this would be the last time she would see me at her gas station, and she nodded in agreement, more than happy to see a regular customer go somewhere else because he put a few cents on her Visa bill. I think about how often we let customers cost our business money by changing their minds about sheen, or not picking up orders they call in for. But we always give a smile and a helping hand to them regardless, even the ones who owe thousands in bad debt. All because we understand the value of future business, and leaving bridges unburned.
I kindly informed her that she was the rudest lady I had met in a long time, and that never had I been treated so poorly by an establishment. I actually had, years ago been reamed by a manager at a Subway shop for crumbing dried texture on his floor, but that is another story. Lastly I said, "Goodbye. I have customers of my own that I need to take care of." She waved me off, saying, "Yes. Go." So we kindly agreed to part ways, and now I know where not to go the next time I need a fill. I only wish I could have caught it on video. It was pure comedy, and I laughed to myself all the way to work.

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