What’s Up With Customer Service These Days?

Hey babes! Today’s post is a little different than what you usually get from me, but there’s been something weighing heavily on my mind lately and I feel like I have to use my blog as a platform to express these feelings. I know many of my friends and followers share the same frustration, so instead of playing the “safe” route, I decided I would create this post to speak what’s truly on my mind.

Let’s just say that customer service across the board these days seems to really have hit an all-time low. Whether it be retail stores, restaurants, medical services, online help, etc. I’m noticing more and more that companies are acting like they truly could care less about their customers, and that is insane to me. Every job I’ve had since I first started working in high school taught me to have the “customer is always right” mentality. Even if you know they are wrong, guess what? They are either right or they are no longer going to be your customer, so you’re making that choice based on how you respond to their needs.

I’m a pretty easygoing person as anyone close to me can tell you, but when something I spent my hard-earned money on is not up to par with what I’m paying for, I believe in speaking up. Often times, and in the majority of my past experiences, the company will always apologize if something is not up to par and offer a way to correct or make up for the problem that I’ve encountered. To be honest, the mere fact that they recognize what I am saying to be true and seem truly sorry makes me happy to give them a second chance because I know that everyone makes mistakes. However, when a company makes me feel as if I am inconveniencing them with my requests and blows me off, that really pisses me off to the fullest. Here are two instances where this happened lately:

*Disclaimer: I am not specifically writing this post to vent, but more to warn you about two companies that I found handled food safety issues terribly wrong. If they are not concerned with what they are serving customers enough to make it right, I think you ought to have a fair warning before you spend your hard-earned money with them as well.*

Panera Bread:

Here’s a shortened version of what happened to me a few weeks ago at Panera…I had to wait a total of 45 minutes to receive my 1-person lunch order at their US-1 & 136th St Miami location. After suspecting the order was somehow forgotten about and being reassured by an employee that it was just busy, I tried to be patient. After 40 minutes I asked the manager who discovered my order was “lost” and went to make it for me herself right then and there. I did appreciate her urgency, however she didn’t offer anything to make up for the fact that I’d basically been at Panera for an hour total when I was trying to pick up a quick lunch. I could have sat down at the Ale House across the street if I wanted to actually wait that long.
There were a few other disturbing things I witnessed. First of all, there were about 3 employees standing around chatting when they could’ve been helping out the busy employees actually making the orders. One of them actually dropped a bag of chips on the floor where all of their dirty sneakers were standing. She then picked up the bag, put it right on top of a freshly made sandwich, and proceeded to serve it to a customer at a nearby table. She served them food from the ground! Eww! Anyways, after all of this I was so frustrated (and late getting back to work!) that I had to leave in a hurry. I sent them an email to bring this experience to their attention, and the employee who corresponded with me could not have been more rude. Here are screenshots of our convo so you can see for yourself:
Horrible Panera Bread Customer Service
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Horrible Panera Bread Customer Service
Horrible Panera Bread Customer Service
Horrible Panera Bread Customer Service
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Horrible Panera Bread Customer Service
I simply cannot believe this woman is working in the customer service industry. She basically told me, in different words, that I should mind my own business about the unsanitary food practices and there was no way to compensate me for lost time. I know for a fact that anyone can easily send me a gift card, coupon, etc to refund me instead of being so stingy and rude about it. If it is not in her power that is fine, but I asked to be connected with someone higher up who could assist me and she couldn’t even do that.

Needless to say, I’ll never be going to a Panera Bread again. This is just absurd and I can’t believe they have someone like this responsible for “servicing” their customers.

Cheesecake Factory:

This one’s a little different. Nobody was rude to me, but that’s because it was so hard to even get in contact with someone in the first place. Here’s the gist: I ordered a curry chicken meal for lunch one day and took home the half that I didn’t eat at the restaurant. Upon going to eat it later at home, I found that one of my pieces of chicken looked like this:
Cheesecake Factory Undercooked Chicken - Salmonella Risk
This is clearly wayyyy undercooked and would probably make me very sick. I had already eaten half of the dish earlier in the day, so now I was freaking out wondering if I was going to get food poisoning. Cheesecake Factory is a pretty dimly lit restaurant, so if the chicken I ate there was pink I wouldn’t necessarily have noticed. I obviously threw out the rest of the meal and wrote them an email. They never responded, so I tried to email again a week later. After still no response, I tried to reach them via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. I even sent the photo so that they could see I had a valid reason to be reaching out. Nobody answered me anywhere.

At that point, I pretty much decided it was hopeless and I’d just never set foot in their restaurants again. A couple weeks later in the mail I received an envelope with a letter from them apologizing and it included a $15 gift card. This isn’t necessarily the worst thing they could’ve done, but it was pretty insulting to me. First of all, $15 is chump change to a nationally successful franchise. That’s what I would expect from someone like McDonald’s or Taco Bell, not from a sit-down restaurant where my meal cost more than that once you include tax and tip. It’s not like I complained about a slow server or food that wasn’t my ideal flavor. I legitimately could’ve gotten salmonella and they thought that throwing $15 at me weeks later would make up for that. I don’t think so!

To be honest, I’ve had some more bad experiences with customer service since then, and it just feels like July was “Treat Your Customers Badly” month or something! I don’t know what is going on, but I hope companies will improve soon. They have to realize that we as consumers are very brand loyal, but our loyalty can be lost with just one bad experience. There are now two restaurants I will never spend money at again, not to mention that I’ve shared these experiences with those around me and they probably will not be visiting either.

No matter what, don’t ever let anyone treat you badly without sticking up for yourself and asking them to make good on what they messed up. You deserve what you pay for, nothing less! I hope this post has inspired you guys to pay extra attention to how companies treat you and remain loyal to those that treat you well time and time again. Don’t be afraid to speak up if something is not up to par! I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic too! Leave me a comment letting me know what you think and if there’s any brands that have treated you especially well or poorly lately.
xoxo, Nicole

57 thoughts on “What’s Up With Customer Service These Days?

    1. I have never been to Panera but have been to Cheesecske Factory at the Fotsl location and was seated at a table and literally was there 30 minutes without any server greeting me so I got up and left . I think it’s important that companies take the time to listen to the customers complaints especially when that customer takes the time to send an email !!

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  1. I agree, customer service is a forgotten business tenet in most businesses, however I must commend my Publix in Miami Gardens for top notched service. The manager Rayand the entire staff know all of the regular customer’s names and I’m always greeted courteously and with a smile. No request is to small to be given attention!

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  2. Panera bread- I personally feel a call to the local food inspector is warranted. If these heinous acts are committed in public view, imagine what goes on behind closed doors. As for upper management, this was grossly mishandled. Not only were you disrespected, but completely written off due to what I perceive as “lack of clout” to cause issues for the company. Unfortunately for them, your social media presence grows each day.

    Cheesecake Factory- to be fair, had you ate in restaurant, the problem would have been solved upon request. The redemption attempt of 15 bucks however is a slap in the face. A free meal (with dessert) and acknowledgement of the cooking staffs mistake would have made more sense and smoothed things over. These national branded companies at times take the low route because they are too big to fail, so they believe. I at least hope that they made the staff aware of the undercooked chicken and put steps in place to ensure that doesn’t happen again. For most adults, salmonella mostly leads to diarrhea and vomiting. For some adults, such as individuals with sickle cell disease, it’s a death sentence.

    Keep up the good fight and spread the word until real change is made.

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    1. Good point about the “behind closed” doors @ Panera! Also I think you’re right they don’t care about a few dissatisfied customers when overall they still have millions :/
      Thanks for the medical insight & thanks for reading!

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  3. Panera hires the worst employees. Their customer service is HORRIBLE and has always been horrible. Customer service is one thing but the dirty dining issue is on another level. You need to take this to abc news or some other outlet. I believe they have a segment called dirty dining.

    A Cheesecake Factory employee dropped an entire cup of soy sauce on my moms head. Soaked her completely and didn’t offer so much as an I’m sorry.

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  4. UNBELIEVABLE. I remember going to Cheesecake and finding a GIANT hair in my guac. I’ve also had bad experiences at Panera… I will never ever go to either one. Not only because they are GROSS, but because of their subpar customer service. I really hope they reach out to you.

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  5. This unfortunately has become a tend in business. I would suggest a call to the health inspector in both cases. I am surprised that national chains would be so lax in their response to such matters. Apparently, they have forgotten the sting of bad publicity in this social age, just look at Chipotle.

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  6. Great blog. I was asked to park to wait for an order at McDonald’s after being assured we would wait only a few minutes. I lost track of time after making several phone calls, then realized nearly 30 minutes had passed. I went in to complain to the obviously frazzled manager and ask for my money back. To my disgust, I counted five flies while waiting at the counter! I later discovered this franchise had numerous health inspection violations. So not receiving our order was a blessing in disguise.

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  7. Wow I’m so sorry you experienced this. Working in customer service myself, I know that I have to walk in every day and leave the other crap in my life behind me. Although on a few occasions when I’ve been hungry because it’s going on 6 hours and still haven’t had lunch, I’ve caught myself being a little snappy. But probably within the past year I’ve learned that you have to make your customers and clients happy. The way both of the companies handled this situation is insulting to customer service. I’ve noticed lately as well like you can have the same exact conversation with 2 people and they will both handle it differently. Some people are not cut out for it. If it doesn’t affect them they don’t care.

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  8. Wow! i agree with you Nicole. When i get bad customer service, I will take a survey and tell them how poorly i was serviced or I will ask and speak with a manager on site or via phone. They are more prompt in doing things when u are face to face. Most managers will give u a free meal and apologize. Panana was out of line, but she did give her the customer service # after like 3 emails, which she should have done in the 1st email. Cheesecake factory was nice, but could of at least gave you a $20-$25 since all their meals start off at that price.

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  9. I really don’t eat out anymore for just those reasons. Some of these places are so unsanitary and disgusting. I’ve found that the higher the price tag of a restaurant the better service and the more they care.

    Take like Coopers Hawk idk if you have ever went but literally the most accommodating resteraunt I have ever been to and the food is hot every time!

    Cheesecake used to be up there but it’s just not anymore. Smh sucks you had to experience all that though but great for you for speaking up!

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  10. I would have to agree that my expectations customer service are at an all time low! Your experiences are really disappointing. As a business owner I know your representation is your bond and when customers have a reasonable issue you have to adddres it! You can’t shift the blame to the customer. If you aren’t a people person don’t work in customer service! Businesses need to be more concerned that situations like this happen and it turns customers off! Thanks for the info because I definitely consider situations like these when I make my decision of where to frequent!

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  11. I am shocked and super disgusted. Thanks for sharing this babe! I love these two places as they are near work but never again!

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  12. Thats insane with what happened with Panera. Fortunately, I dont go there often due to the fact that the one across the street from my job ALWAYS makes me late getting back to work because of wait time and Ive had an instance where they forgot my drink that had been ordered and payed for and after waiting until a few minutes before my lunch was over, I had to leave without it and wasnt able to go back later because the manager was going to be off before I was that day and wanted me to come back before she left and I don’t have a job that I can just leave like that. I also didnt get a refund for it either! Thats been over a year ago and Ive been once but after reading your experience, I WILL NOT GO BACK TO PANERA BREAD.

    As far as cheesecake factory, you should call your local news reporters and the health department and report them before someone gets sick! The food is supposed to be cooked until it is done AND the appropriate temperature to be eaten safely! At least they TRIED to recompensate you but Im more concerned with the health of the people eating there.

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  13. That is crazy! Making a brand for oneself and keeping it reputable is one of the most important things a business can do. Especially in today’s world with all of the social media. If you time to write them an email about a concern then you have the time to write a horrible review and social media post which can create an even bigger loss for them. And you being a blogger is even more influential because you have so many followers and friends who are going to read your story and lose trust in their businesses. It’s so easy for stories like this to go viral. They should have handled that situation as soon as it arose and given you an incentive to come back to gain a better experience. Their company/ management is clearly not trained in conflict management. Their loss, because not only have they lost you as a customer, but lost customers in all of your friends, family, and an excessive amount of followers.

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  14. Oh my goodness! I can’t even with the lack of respect to their customers, like really? I’m so glad you didn’t get sick because imagine the trouble they could have gotten into 🙂

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  15. I will say good customer service is in short supply today. The Red Lobster in my Pembroke Pones neighborhood could give these places a lesson in keeping customers happy and coming back.

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  16. This is a such a bummer to hear about both Panera and Cheesecake Factory as I normally love going to both! After reading this neither sound particularly appetizing. They both do not seem to care about the quality that they are serving!

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  17. The customer should be treated with more respect. Many people simply do not have good manners. It is frustrating to be treated rudely by people who are supposed to be providing a service.

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  18. I totally agree with you when you said that companies makes people feel as if they are inconveniencing them with their requests. That drives me crazy. This has happened to me.
    I wanted to place an order for 22 pizzas at little Caesars. Since I knew it was a large order I wanted to let them know a day in advance. I called several times the day before and never could get a hold of someone. One of the last times I called that day, someone picked up and hung up the phone. Since I needed the pizzas for a cheap price I emailed corporate and someone thankfully called me back later that day. I explain to them what happened and they told me he would take care of it. He didn’t bother to offer a discount or anything for the unprofessional staff at one of their store locations. But just wait it gets better…. the next day when it was time for the pizza to be picked up, the cashier said it would be just be a minute as they had to START making them. Almost 45 minutes later we got the pizzas. Customer service is truly going downhill.

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    1. Wow that’s a crazy story! You were giving them so much business and they didn’t even care to accommodate it! I think it’s because the employees at the actual store don’t care about the overall profits of the company since they are probably minimum wage, high-turnover employees. It is sad, maybe they need to be paid more so they will care about the actual company 😦

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  19. Omggg! I can’t even believe what I just read! First off you are so right Nicole the customer IS ALWAYS right. Being a loyal customer to a lot of merchants myself I would expect nothing less then excellent service. And compensation when a merchant has fallen short. Thank you for sharing your experiences. I will NOT be going to Panera or The Cheesecake Factory anymore either!

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  20. As a person who has worked in the customer service industry. I believe it has a lot to do with the employees not being trained properly because the companies don’t care as much as they used to and also who they hire.

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  21. Wow! I’m sorry you had to go through these horrible experiences!
    Obviously you aren’t a rude or beligerent person. You weren’t shouting insane or impossible demands to these people. The way you were treated was deplorable!
    It definitely seems like most people take customer service jobs because they couldn’t get one anywhere else. Their people skills are subpar and it’s very obvious that they hate their job. But hey, maybe the person that’s asking for a hot cup of coffee or a sandwich hates their job too and was looking forward to a nice meal or snack in that particular establishment. Thanks to you, you just added on yet another crappy detail to their day.
    People need to suck it up and do their job right. If someone is literally handing over their hard earned money they shouldn’t get anything less than excellent.
    I’d definitely file complaints to the higher ups. If we let things like this go, they’ll think it’s ok and continue to let it slide.

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  22. Yes quality and customer service are at an all time low. I had an issue at Dunkin Donuts and received the same kind of fluff emails you received. The first email I received seemed like a generic one that is sent out for all complaints regardless of what the issue is. Later emails just offered disingenuous apologies and nothing else. I do not go there anymore and will not frequent Panera or Cheesecake Factory anymore either after reading this post. There are way too many dining options available to give your time and money to substandard restaurants.

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  23. Yep agreed!!! Customer Service cannot be overlook. No business can succeed for long without proper customer service. Big or small.

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