Wednesday, May 09, 2012
Sanjay's Birthday and a "Jamaican Moment"
Let's start with the fun part. Today was Sanjay Reid's 17th birthday, and his special request was to get pizza at the local "Sam's Club" aka PriceSmart with a few of his friends. Tashi, Katie and I headed up to the Salvation Army School for the Blind and picked up Cheyenne, Vanique, Jade and the birthday boy, Sanjay. Everything was going well and we decided on Hawaiian pizza (my favorite).
Tashi, Vanique, Cheyenne, Sanjay, Jade and Kates enjoying the pizza. (note that each person has paper plates...)
Sanjay had a special request for a Caramel Frappucino, which brought a sweet smile of delight to his face!
Ok, so now for the Jamaican moment. I've blogged about a few of these in the past, notably a frustrating experience at the bank. It's not common to have these kinds of experiences at the grocery store, let alone PriceSmart which is a members only store. I picked out an assortment of flavors for the kids, and found out that we needed to exchange one fruit punch for an orange. I went back to the counter and asked to switch it, but they said I would have to do a refund. I decided it wasn't worth the hassle and kinda laughed to myself about how ridiculous it was that they wouldn't just open the fridge and switch them out without going through the rigga-mo-roll of an exchange process. Anyways, our pizza was ready shortly thereafter but as I carried the pizza to our table I realized we only had napkins, not plates. I returned to the counter and asked for 7 plates. They lady said they don't give plates for pizza, just napkins. I replied, "well, that's odd because the people right here who just bought a single slice got a plate for their pizza." She said, "well that's for single slices, not for a whole pizza." I said, "That still doesn't make sense, I bought more than them but you're giving me less." She turned to the kitchen manager who said I could have four plates. After getting the plates I counted them and said, "can I please have three more." She kinda looked at me funny and then returned to her manager in the back, who informed me that they only gave four plates for a whole pizza. I (in my mind calmly, still) responded, "but ma'am, the pizza has 12 slices and I have seven people, so I need three more plates." She firmly said, "sorry, we limit it to four plates per pizza." Well, American Consumer Blake can't accept this ridiculous business tactic. The plates gotta cost less than a penny each and I just bought a meal for seven, not to mention the shopping that I knew my wife would end up doing once we were inside the store. So I quickly turned and walked a few feet to the customer service desk and requested a manager. A nice lady came to talk to me and I explained that I bought a pizza and needed 7 plates, but had been refused 3 of them. I calmly (I think) stated that it probably wasn't worth the store's best interest to turn away a paying customer for 3 cents worth of paper plates. The lady said, "well ask the kitchen for the plates" and I explained that I already had made the request multiple times. She walked over with me and the confronted the kitchen manager, who stood her ground and said "we only give up to four plates with the pizza (which is odd because at first they said they didn't give plates at all, until I pointed out that the single slices got plates...)." The common sense manager could tell I was not happy and so she asked to speak to the kitchen manager privately and told me that she was coming. Well, I waited a bit but as they talked in the corner I got fed up and walked away, deciding to give the four plates I had to the students from the blind school and return for plates for Kates, Tashi and I. I fought the common sense manager who was now dealing with a cashier override. I asked her if they had decided on "better business or save three plates" and she said she was going to come. She called over another manager, someone who I assume was at a slightly higher level of authority, briefly explained my situation and then the third manager came over to me and asked how I was doing. "Honestly," I vented, "I'm a bit frustrated. I come here frequently and have always had good service, but now as I get pizza for a birthday party I am told I can only get 4 plates, but I have seven people. The plates are given with each individual slice but I buy a pizza with 12 slices and I can't get 7 plates." She quickly turned to the kitchen and walked to the counter and said, "give the gentlemen three plates, now." She spoke in the direction of the kitchen manager and said "I want to speak to you later." While waiting for a response from the kitchen, I made a brief business 101 speech to her about the importance of customer facing employees to realize that they are the face of the franchise in any moment they are dealing directly with a customer. Just as the president of the company would not refuse to give me three more plates for my pizza, neither should the kitchen staff. The pennies worth of a plate are not worth keeping if you are going to lose or frustrate a customer in the process. The kitchen ladies got the three plates and handed them to her, and she handed them to me, apologizing for the incident. I thanked her and she wished me a good day. That was that. I returned to our birthday party, still a little on edge, but glad it was over. Now we had plates and could eat a proper meal! Oh Jamaica, some days you just make me shake my head!
Needless to say, we had a great time and Sanjay and friends enjoyed their pizza and time away from campus!