Arbys story

29 07 2008

I have been meaning to post about something that happened to us on our trip to Minnesota a few weeks back.  This has to say something about customer service, employee empowerment, business common sense, etc.  But, I will just tell the story and let you draw your own conclusions.

We stopped along I35 in Mason City, Iowa where there are a handful of fast food places to choose from.  Pretty much every single one of them were packed with 4th of July travelers.  McDonald’s was out as an option because we had already eaten there twice that day.  Culver’s was our first choice, but that place was absolutely packed with people.  So, we settled on Arby’s because it sounded decent and wasn’t completely overcrowded.  It happened to be right across the street from McDonalds.

I placed my order (2 Arby’s Melts and a drink) and then proceeded to start filling up drinks while my wife finalized the order for herself and our kids.  As I was filling up drinks, I heard my wife holler over to me that they wouldn’t let her buy an extra juice box for our kids.

A little more background – our kids are small enough that we normally order them one kid’s meal to share and then simply add a second drink.  We have done this more times than I can count (mostly at McDonald’s) without an issue. 

So, I walked back over to the cashier to try to get an understanding of what was going on.  Here is a paraphrased version of the ensuing conversation:

Me: Can we order a second juice box, please?

Cashier: No, I am sorry, they only come with a kid’s meal.

Me: I don’t need a second kid’s meal, but I would like to buy a second juice box.  Can I please do that?

Cashier: No, I am sorry, they only come with a kid’s meal.

Me: Why?

Cashier: I don’t know, I only work here.

Me: Can I please talk to a manager?

Cashier: Sure…. (Cashier summons Manager to the front counter)

Manager:  What seems to be the problem?

Me: I would like to purchase a second juice box and the cashier is telling me that isn’t possible, can you please sell me a second juice box?

Manager: No, I am sorry, they only come with a kid’s meal.

Me: Why?

Manager: That’s just the only way we sell them.

Me: Why?

Manager: That’s just how it is done.

Me: Why?

Manager: That’s what corporate has instructed us to do.

Me: Why?

Manager: Frustrated sigh…Sir, that is just the way it is and if you don’t want to purchase a second kid’s meal then there is nothing I can do for you.

Me: OK, I will go across the street and buy a juice box from McDonald’s then, I guess.  My preference is to buy it from you, but if you don’t want to take my money in exchange for one of your products, I am sure McDonalds will be glad to.

Manager: Fine.

So, that’s exactly what I did.  I had to go fight the crowd at McDonalds to buy one juice box.

The story doesn’t stop there.  After waiting in line for 20 minutes at McDonalds, I got my juice box and returned to Arbys.  Satisfied with myself, I sat down to gobble down my two Arby’s Melts.  The first one tasted fine.  The second one had no cheese.  I went back to the counter, flagged down the same manager and said, “Aren’t Arby’s Melts supposed to have cheese”?  Exaperated, she grabbed the sandwich, tossed it into the trashcan, and yelled out that she needed a new one.  I waited…

After a few minutes, I received my replacement Arby’s melt, and I returned to my table.  By this time, the rest of my family was wrapping up their meal.  Quickly, I began to devour my sandwich only to discover that the replacement was again lacking something…you guessed it…cheese.  Once again, I staggered back up to the front.  This time the manager didn’t even speak.  She just grabbed the sandwich and flung it into the back (I mean literally she threw the sandwich into the back of the store).  She then walked back there and relieved the sandwich maker of his command post.  I never saw her return to the front counter again.  Someone else brought me the second replacement sandwich (with melted cheese included this time).

That’s pretty much where the story ends.  I gulped down the sandwich and we were on our way with a new and interesting fast food experience under our belts.

Let me just say for the record, that I have never had any problems with Arbys before.  In fact, I can think of a time that our local Arbys here in the Dallas area gave my boys each a toy which we didn’t purchase just to be nice.  The point of this post is not to bag on a company.  The point of it is simply to tell the story and let the reader draw their own conclusions.

To me, it’s just a funny story of a store manager that was having a bad day and had not been properly trained and/or empowered by her employer.




3 responses

30 07 2008

I can attest that this is a 100% true story, as unbelievable as it sounds!!

25 09 2008

I happen to work at Culver’s but in Missouri…. i just came accross this story and have to say “wow”. If that would have happened at our store, we’d have rang up the smallest drink, and just given out the box. No one can be so stiff on the rules, specially a regulation as silly as that, and then let the customer leave unsatisfied. Culver’s standard: every guest who chooses culver’s leaves happy… shouldn’t that be everyone else’s standard as well? I would have been very upset in your place… We do have a restriction on upgrades on some meals, but for the most part we will accomodate any reasonable request… It’s nice to see how you mentioned that Culver’s was your first choice. Just my 2 cents.

25 09 2008

Thanks for chiming in omorris. I agree that they could have come up with some creative way to make me happy. But, they made no attempt whatsoever. Oh well.

On a side note, there are only a couple of Culvers in the Dallas metro and one of them happens to be in the town we live in. We love Culvers!!! Your concrete mixers are awesome!!! We go there all the time!

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