Let's just eliminate all the bullshit, shall we?

Friday, June 22, 2012

It's the End of the World as I Know It....

I had a very frightening and unsettling experience on Wednesday,
the week prior, and I am only now finding myself capable of discussing
the particulars.

I finished my appointments and chores over in Alabama on said
Wednesday afternoon, and was looking to chill a bit with some
window-shopping and people-watching in one of my longtime
favorite places on earth.

And then, in the midst of my beloved chain, it happened;
I had my first ever piss-poor customer service experience at
a Publix Super-Market!

I sort of feel violated. I'm still harried and recuperating from
the shock. I surely didn't feel it would have occurred in my lifetime.

Here's the rub; it wasn't just a single person. It was nearly every
person I encountered! (Which of course lets you know right there
that there's a rotten apple in the barrel and it has tainted the entire
staff, from training to daily atmosphere.)

(But I digress; dissecting isn't nearly as fun as dishing!)
When I entered, a big, burly, bellowing manager was hanging out
at the customer service desk. Neither he nor the much, much younger
female employee he seemed to be trying (too) hard to impress ever
acknowledged me, greeted me, or stopped their very strange

(He was one of those middle-aged goofs who tries so desperately
to act 25 years younger than he is in order to impress and associate
with teenagers. Gads.)

Oh, my beloved Publix...what is there left to
believe in now!?!
So I'm perched at the counter going over sales papers, reading,
checking out coupons, etc. for at least 7 or 8 minutes, and, again--
no one ever checks to see if I need anything, ask how I am, etc.

Then another teenager comes in and Goombayah starts talking
in some of the most embarrassing slang and hackneyed, cornball
dialogue I've ever witnessed, shamelessly attempting to connect
with his 'home slice,' presumably another barely prepubescent worker.

I decide to move along.
One thing Publix never runs out of;
hot, young Bag Boy talent!
Now that's good eatin'!
In the bakery, a worker has me wait while she finishes her "Girl, pleeze!"
conversation with a coworker. When she comes around and asks
what I would like, I tell her, and she inquires "Just one?" She
goes about preparing it and then when she hands it to me asks
again the most dreaded, awful, ban-worthy phrase in retail; "IS

I cringe and my gut tightens every time I hear that.

Yes, as a matter of fact, it is 'all I want.'
Of all the places I could be, I came here to spend my very hard-earned
dough, so act like you appreciate that. I don't have to be spending ten cents,
let alone ten dollars.

It may be just a matter of laziness or poor training, but words do
matter, and the phrasing of such a missive is bad, bad business.

Alternatives include:
"Would you care for anything else today?"
"Can I get you a (fill-in-the-blank-suggestive sale) to go with that, sir?"
or, just plain
"Thank you, I hope you enjoy!"

(I'm quite accustomed to getting a boatload of ornery, gum-smacking,
barely bathed home-grown rough-around-the-edges peaches when I
deign to grace the local Piggly Wiggly, and even-- of late-- Harvey's. But
good old reliable Publix? Tsk, tsk.)

Over at the deli, again after waiting, I asked the worker a simple
query about whether a sauce could be added to my chicken
purchase. She looked at me like I had whizzed on her granny.
Her face went white...she stalled.....looked around for direction...
hemmed and hawed....asked me to hold on...kind of rolled her
eyes, and finally gave a really weird, defeated response of "Uh,
yeah...I guess I can do that."

Publix's main black eye in the past;
Mistreatment of farm workers
Here's the thing; "Yes" or "No."  Not a pound full of drama and
bullshit and Turrets responses and weirdness. But a properly
trained employee in handling customer needs (like all Publix stores
are known to provide) would have eliminated all of this.

After giving in and prepping my order--which seemed to perplex
and confound the poor dear from head to toe--she gave it to me, too:
"Is that all for you?"
Fingernails on the chalkboard. (Just go ahead and say "That was barely
worth my fucking time, asshole!"

The checkout girl was very pleasant, and greeted me and asked if
I'd found everything all right. She didn't push after I declined to give
a donation to whomever they were collecting for (another practice
I truly despise.) So that was all good.

And another manager was at the next register, bagging...I had spotted
his sexy picture on the wall of manager photos at the customer service
desk, so I could have even called him over by name.

But I was over it, and he was super-fine and wearing the shit out  of
those polyester pants, so I figured I was past the point of maintaining
eye contact, which is always a good point of professionalism when
registering a complaint, so....I just said "screw it" and took my shit
and left.

Honest and true; I was really flabbergasted though.

I have been shopping at Publix Super-Markets since 1975, dammit!
We lived in Seffner, right outside of Tampa and Lakeland (where the
business is centered,) and I have known their philosophy (commitment
to customer service as the highest goal) to be true for all those years.
(Until moving to the Boondocks, it was the only grocery store I used.)

That's why I love it so; you can depend on a Publix store to be spotless,
stocked, friendly, well-run, professional, and highly attentive. It's
all synonymous with the brand.

Hell, Publix has consistently been on multiple major lists on the
annual Forbes listings of best, highest ranking, largest, and so on.

The company is one of the largest and fastest-growing entities,
even though they still only exist in 5 southern states. Right there, I tell ya,
the whole conundrum of being southern and high quality would have
thrown me if I weren't already acquainted with them.

You just can't give Southerners too many choices, dammit!
And Dothan sure as hell had endless rumors, excitement, and
anticipation for its multiple stores coming in for the chain. But I guess
somebody dropped the ball. Just a bad day? Maybe. But that's all
it takes to ruin a reputation. And, as mentioned, across-the-board
problems are typically a sign of starting-at-the-top problems.

The manager I saw at the end was polite, professional, and relaxed;
the employees in his area were as well. Super-Freak at the front desk
seemed oddly off his game, and all employees in his general area
followed suit. Hmmnnnn...ya think there's a connection??


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