Posted in Customer Service

When good service is bad for your business

Coles Supermarkets
Image via Wikipedia

I had to buy a paper recently that I don’t always buy; but it being a bulky edition, it came in two parts. As it happened, I did not get the one half of the paper when I made the purchase at a Shell service station (owned by Coles).

When I was in the shopping centre later that day, we did a quick bit of shopping from Coles (the supermarket proper – where it is always quick because (a) there are only a few brands & products that we can’t get from our normal supermarket of choice – Aldi and (b) many other shoppers seem to agree because there are never too many shoppers there.)

When paying at the cash register, I noticed the pile of papers and realised that I had not received the second half of the paper. I asked the cashier if I could get the half that I missed.

I was honest and told her that I bought the paper from the service station, and not from the supermarket and also that I did not have a receipt.
A quick glance around revealed that there wasn’t a manager or supervisor around to pass the decision to; so the cashier thought for a split second before she responded.

If you were guessing that I was going to tell you about bad service and how they should ‘given the customer what he wants’ – and all that jazz; you are wrong.
On the contrary, she said ‘sure, why not’ and allowed me to have the missing half of the paper. Good on her, did I hear you say?

Au contraire.

As it happens, I think that I wasn’t entitled to the paper. Whilst it is a small dollar value, it was actually an unreasonable request – in principle. But, I could still be convinced that they did it for the bigger picture of retaining me as a satisfied customer.

But here is the catch: she did not yield to my request because she wanted to give great customer service; she did it because she didn’t care if Coles lost money.

So, good service with bad intentions still leaves a sour taste in my mouth. And on the flip-side, denying my request but doing it with the right intentions and in the right spirit would have probably had a more positive impact on me.

Either way; is this the kind of employee you would keep or fire if you knew?

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3 thoughts on “When good service is bad for your business

  1. When it comes down to it, I think most people just want to help each other out. If the cost of that half of newspaper was coming out of her pocket, I’m sure she would have thought differently.

    If she were my employee, I think I would cut her some slack if I knew about the incident. However, I’d be keeping a close eye out if anything like this happens again and let her know I’m watching.


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