February 26, 2007

Diluting The Soup

It's 1:36pm and I've yet to have lunch. One of those days. There's a sandwich chain up ahead, they've got empty parking spots and I don't have to make a left turn. Since I'm not with a client, that place will suit me fine.

I ask for a toasted sandwich with lettuce, tomatoes, swiss cheese and mustard. The server gives me cheddar instead, which I don't notice until I'm eating. She did cut a fresh tomato, which balances out.

It's -16C and I want a hot drink. I decide on hot chocolate. I ask if they have any because it's past regular lunch times. They do. I ask for a large cup. I figure a healthy sandwich balances out the extra calories. I'm used to getting hot chocolate from a machine that fills your cup with premixed hot chocolate. Here it's different. They add a packet of Carnation hot chocolate to boiling water. I see what the server does, but it doesn't register. The pangs of hunger must have dulled my perceptions. Do you see the problem?

The hot chocolate packet is designed for small cups, probably 250 mL (or 8 ounces if you're still clinging to Imperial units). The server adds the packet and fills the large cup with hot water. So the extra 35 cents for supersizing my drink only got me
  • more water
  • a larger cup
No topping of whipped cream. No marshmallow.

Again, this didn't register until I took my first sip of the diluted concoction. It tasted horrible. What would you do? Take it back or just take it? I'm wimpy when it comes to complaining. So I drank it. My goal was something hot, after all. As I neared the bottom of the cup, the flavour got stronger. You know why? The powder had not been stirred properly. So for a few sips I got proper hot chocolate and then an over-sweet mixture. There was some chocolate paste left at one side of the cup.

A tea bag can make one cup or two. Not so with hot chocolate. Surely the server knew this. Yet did nothing. Except earn extra profit. You see, the beverage server was also the owner. There's no novice employee at fault.

For want of a nail, the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe, the horse was lost.
For want of a horse, the rider was lost.
For want of a rider, the battle was lost.
For want of a battle. the kingdom was lost.
All for the want of a nail.
--- Benjamin Franklin remixed
We can easily under-deliver and then get surprised when the customer doesn't return. On the positive side, I didn't get extra calories. And I got a blog post.

Have you experienced bad service? What did you do?

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