Service / Disservice

Six o’clock. The construction on Mayfield had taken an additional twenty minutes of my time. I had an hour and a half left to get dinner for Jenny and I, set up her new TV/VCR, and make the final preparations for an invasion of nine thirteen year olds coming for a sleepover party. I was standing in line at the Dairy Queen waiting to pick up a cake.

The clerk brought over the cake, verified that it was properly decorated and asked me for $11.25. I reached into my pocket and realized that I only had seven dollars on me. No sweat. I’ll write a check.

Dairy Queen doesn’t take checks. Dairy Queen doesn’t accept Visa or for that matter, any other plastic. Crap. I figured that I would have to run to the bank and fight the construction again. No, the clerk told me to take the cake and drop off payment at my convenience. I was shocked. “You’d rather give me the cake and hope for payment then accept my check?”

“We have too many checks bounce” another clerk added. “People come back.”

I grabbed the box and left. Neither clerk’s name tag identified them as part of the management team, yet they were empowered to make decisions involving service and money. I was impressed.

On Saturday afternoon we dropped off the money at Dairy Queen on our way to Sun TV. One of Jenny’s friends had generously given her a radio/cassette player. The problem was that Jenny already owned one just like it and also had another one that even plays C.D.’S. We had planned to exchange the gift for a couple of C.D.’S.

I have purchased several things from Sun in the last year or so. A T.V. A boom box/CD player for Phillip. A vacuum. Some phones. You get the idea. My office partner, Bill, and I have even shopped at Sun for our new computers. I know the stores well.

Since the radio was a gift, we did not have a receipt. The box had never been opened and a portion of the price tag was clearly visible showing that this had come from Sun T.V.

The assistant manager checked the box carefully. He told us that he would have to pay for the radio if there was anything missing. The tone of his voice implied that it had happened before.

Jennifer searched for the two C.D.’S she wanted while I handled the paperwork. Only one was available. No problem. The radio was twenty-seven dollars. The C.D. thirteen. We’d take the one Sun had and run to the mall for Billy Joel’s “River of Dreams”. Well, I thought it would be no problem.

The service desk clerk informed me that I would have to accept a due bill for the fourteen dollars. A due bill for $14? I asked for the manager. Twenty minutes later the manager finally decided to come to the desk.

The manager didn’t care that the radio/cassette player had been a gift. He didn’t care that it didn’t make any sense to give a thirteen year old girl a $14 due bill to an appliance store. He told me that it wasn’t his decision. It’s not his decision? The manager of a Sun T.V. store can’t make a $14 decision.

The way I see it, if you can’t trust your manager to make a $14 decision, you should hire better people. And if he had the authority and simply screwed this up, you really should hire better people.

After an extensive search we found an acceptable alternate C.D. and left the store. Jennifer, completely aggravated, asked me why we had been hassled like that. Why didn’t he just give her her fourteen dollars?

“I guess the problem,” I told her “is that Dairy Queen doesn’t sell boom boxes.”