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gwen
gwenix
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April 2011
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gwen [userpic]
Sigh. Bad Customer Service complaint.

I hate that lately my blog has been open letters of complaints... I've been very busy and haven't had time to blog about anything else recently. And sadly, anger is often a strong motivator. But here's my open letter to Sbarro's for an extremely unpleasant situation I suffered today:

Hello,

This is in regards to an employee of the 441 Smithfield St location; he is an older man who usually is responsible for warming and distributing the food. I do not know his name, but he is clearly older with greying hair, and a foreign accent. I will henceforth refer to him as "the employee in question."


Today I was at Sbarro for my lunch break. I ordered what I always order: a spinach stromboli. While waiting for it to warm, another lady ordered the same thing. I was idling while waiting, so did notice where hers was put relative to mine. When the employee in question retrieved my stromboli, I noticed he picked up the other customer's order, which had been in less time. I mentioned this to him, and he told me I was wrong, but that I should return it if it was cold.

I paid for my order and sat down. Sadly, my stromboli was barely lukewarm, and the cheese was still somewhat solidified. I debated taking it back, but knew I wasn't really going to be able to eat it as it was.

When I approached the employee in question, he started yelling at me immediately about how he did not take the wrong stromboli. I did immediately point out that neither of us were going to change our minds, so we shouldn't discuss this, but he continued arguing and yelling at me with all kinds of accusations and insults and putting me on the defensive. He even accused me of complaining on a prior date, which I do not recall, after ordering a broccoli pizza, which I would not have ordered. After the third time I mentioned that we were not going to change each other's minds about the events so could we drop it, he finally did while still muttering.

This was all issued at me at top volume while there was a line of customers waiting to place their orders looking very shocked at the proceedings. I was also horribly embarrassed, and very disappointed in having to put myself in a position of having to defend myself for a mistake he made. To be fair, he did heat up the stromboli, but my problem wasn't that a mistake was made, it was the verbal assault I got for asking for the mistake to be fixed -- in the manner he told me to do!

Further, when I went to the lady behind the cash register and asked if I could file a complaint, her response was, "He's heating it up for you now, right?" I pointed out that I was angry with his treatment of me, not the stromboli, and she maintained he was heating it up and refused to let me file a complaint.

And so, I bring this to your attention here. I am also posting this complaint as an open letter on my blog. Please respond so that I can let my readers know that the corporate company is much more responsive than that branch.

Thank you,

Gwendolyn R. Schmidt.


UPDATE 2:45pm:

I received a response from the company already, as follows!

Angelo,

Below is a very detailed Guest complaint concerning a Very Disappointing
SERVICE PERFORMANCE she received TODAY at your Smithfield Street
location at lunch time. It also illustrates the show that must have been
put on in front of a large lunch crowd. This could entirely been avoided
by simply a "S.I.N." (Settle IT NOW) Approach to handling a Guest
Complaint. Does your team really understand that the Guest is Always
right? Please Address this with the Team there today at Lunch Time and
take the steps to correct. I will be reaching out to the Guest - Ms.
Schmidt by phone (I am Copying Her on this e-mail as well) and will be
offering her my apology and a thank you for letting us know. I suggest
that you also reach out to her and make it right. Great Food and
Atmosphere just doesn't make it alone for a restaurant's success today.
Great Service is that 3rd Leg, and without it your business will surely
fall. I know that You as an Owner and Your Team is Better than this!
Copy me on the outcome.


Thanks,
Jeff Pingor - Sbarro NE Director

Current Mood: aggravatedaggravated
Comments

Sbarro's food is just nasty. I don't know how anyone eats it.

One note, if you're sending this to the corporate office -- you might want to include the city, i.e. "of the 441 Smithfield St location in Pittsburgh, PA". Otherwise they might not know which location you're talking about.

Unfortunately, many (most?) of their stores are franchised, so the corporate office may or may not actually be able (or willing) to do anything about it.

Woops, I did forget the city.

Sigh.

Well, they can contact me if there's confusion. And if they care.

As for the food quality, yah, it's not that good. But I go there for a quiet corner away from the world at lunch on the rare occasion I go. It's really all about me hiding out than eating good food. Plus, today I was going across the street to Macy's for the rest of my lunch hour, so needed convenient and quick. But... not going back there again anytime soon.

The worst part for me is that the food always looks good, so every other year or so I get fooled into forgetting just how awful it is and deciding to give it another try (can you tell that I went through this again recently? :) ).

To be honest, the only thing I really want from them food-wise is a craving: the garlic sauce. I really need to just learn how to make my own garlic dipping sauce to satisfy that base craving.

(Anonymous)

So has it changed, or is it a regional thing? Because when I was in high school and early college, Sbarro was the best place to get fast food.

I'm in Southern California, but I haven't eaten at Sbarro in probably ten years, mostly because I can't get a drink there, and if I'm at the mall, I need me some booze. *grin*

My experience is that the food is bland, generic, and overpriced. It sits on their heat tables for far too long, and ends up tasting like it has been sitting (I always wonder whether, if I actually caught it when it was fresh, it would be any better, but then I don't usually feel like chicken parmesan at 9:00 in the morning). I always feel like if I'd been willing to take the little bit of extra time and effort to go somewhere that makes the food to order, some local pizza joint, I'd have been much happier. But then, I'm picky about Italian cuisine like that.

I mean yeah, in the sea of mediocrity that is the mall food court, it probably is as good a choice as any, but that's not exactly setting the standards high.

That's his job, sadly. I wouldn't get mad at him for that. My guess is that the caps are not there for emphasis, but to refer to policies within the company, and those caps are how the policies are spelled, officially.

The problem probably is not this guy, who actually seems fairly reasonable (I've been emailing him since), but that policies are decided by committees...

And really, had the employee in question actually followed these policies that apparently detail how to avoid conflict, I would not have complained.

I hope never to have a job that requires me to speak in corporate. However, it was a mighty bitch-slap of a response which while being filled with silly lingo is pretty much spot on; and that I have to applaud.

I was amused that they call their conflict resolution method "S.I.N." -- which gives it a negative connotation. Do the people at these companies even think when they do these things?

It's probably so they can put it in some catchphrase like, "It's a SIN to not use S.I.N.!"

Marketting types think up stuff like that. I think drugs are a requirement for that job.

sorry to hear you had a hard time, but awesome of the company to step up and respond and try to follow up! :) Kudos to Sbarro!

(Anonymous)
claim insurance

Do not usually post on blogs, but I would like to post it really forced me to not be so! very nice post.