Do business hate customers?

Marry Brown Fast Food Restaurant

Image by Nate Robert via Flickr

Don’t you wonder sometimes when you enter a business that they hate their customers? They may not say it to your face, but their actions speak volumes.

I went to a new fast food restaurant yesterday at the suggestion of one of my friends. I am not a fan of fast-food generally and try to avoid it. However I am curious and willing to try new things. So I was hopeful.

I enter the business and immediately I notice the first bad sign. Dirty tables. When things aren’t clean it shows either a lazy employee or a bad manager, and usually both. I visit the bathroom and it is worse. I start to get the feeling that perhaps this isn’t a place that I want to eat at. However I am there, so I figure lets give it a chance.

I order a Chicken Parmigiana. Not typical fast food fare, but I had never had it from a fast food place and since they have several of that type on the menu it seems safe they have experience. I was wrong. Over a half hour later I get my tray with OJ, and it comes with white bread and a salad. I try to eat it but its dry, the cheese takes very artificial and it is entirely unappetizing. I’m not expecting gourmet food here, it is a fast food place after all. I am expecting edible. Even the OJ is wrong. You know if you order OJ from fast food they never seem to get it right. It is either way too watery, or way too strong. I wonder if anyone ever tests the OJ occasionally? Even the iceberg salad was bitter.

So this isn’t working out. I ask for the manager and explain to him the problem with the food. He asks if I want a refund. Since I tried eating part of it, and since perhaps my standards are unreasonable I offer to go half. Which is fine, I don’t mind that. I used to work at Burger King and I saw many dishonest people try to scam the system. You can abuse anything if you have the intension. Story done with right? Happy ending? I wish.

I went home and started to feel an upset stomach and sick. I ate something else and started to feel better. So I contacted customer service and they were concerned about my experience. Now the ball is in their court to see what they will do.

The purpose of sharing this however is not to place blame with fast food. Clearly there are tradeoffs when you eat out, and I accept that. It is to say rather that if customers have a bad experience why would they return to your business? The businesses that I have patronized the most are the ones that made me feel the best. The biggest business that I have invested in has been with my integrative doctor. She has helped me to feel better, and I never regretted for a moment the money that I invested in that. If after buying something we question why we did it, then we both need to question ourselves and the business.

I know why I did that experience. I believe that life is about trying things out and seeing what brings the most happiness. The business however is not the villain. I know they need to make a profit. It is very difficult to make a profit these days. I struggled with it in my own business. I think what makes customers feel abused is that when the promise is broken of a “fair trade” then we wonder if it is ever possible to “fair trade” with businesses.

As customers we feel hated/abused when companies sue and limit us in ways that mislead us. AT&T is a frequent target because their advertising gives us one thing, and then takes away. Like it recently putting caps on download size. RIAA/MPAA is another since they push limits on people which are inconsistent, and geared unfairly towards artists and the people who make their living possible. There are many examples I could give here. The point is that we have less of a choice as monopolies become even larger. It is a fact that even a duopoly harms customers.

Isn’t it strange? Business do things for the short-term and bottom line, and that alone caused the almost financial destruction we had. I think that business hate customers, but the also hate themselves.

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