retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Responding to yesterday’s story about a Tim Horton’s store in Canada banning a customer from entering the unit because he was complaining about the product and being abusive to employees.

MNB user Neil G. Reay wrote:

There is a fine line between serving customers and protecting your staff. For some customers, your staff make fair game for venting their inner anger and frustration, and “firing” the customer does more for morale than placating him. If he hates the coffee, why does he still come in? Is the complaint an attempt to just get free coffee or a donut?  (I have known people of this sort, who always look for a comp or discount). Is he having a bad day, and looks for someone to yell at who is not supposed to respond in kind?

If there is a real problem with the coffee (poorly made or too old), fix the processes and improve the training. If he is unique in his complaints and is abusive to the staff, fire the customer for the sake of your staff and other customers. Customers should always be listened to for opinions and legitimate complaints, but know when you cannot solve the problem because it lies outside of your control.

In a prior job, we used to get regular complaints for a group of customers (maybe it was a club) with the comment that they had bought an entire case of our frozen food for a party; the food was bad and everyone got violently ill; and could we please send a free replacement case of product. Sometimes a complaint just doesn’t pass the smell test – if they want to get violently ill again, they are either dumb as a post or a crook.

Another MNB user wrote:

Wow!  One upset customer at one coffee shop tarnishes an entire nation! As one of your Canadian customers, I feel his pain.

Actually most Tim Horton’s are models of customer service, staffed by remarkably cheerful folks who handle incredible volumes of caffeine and sugar deprived customers night and day.

I’m not a huge fan of their coffee either, hence my choice to visit an independent shop every morning for an organic blend roasted fresh on site.  The coffee isn’t great but the customer experience is consistent.

I expect that if I encountered the same bellyacher every morning I would, as a loyal customer, feel uncomfortable and hope that the management might suggest other alternatives to the complainant.

At least in Canada there is a good chance that said complainant would not be armed....

And more about the Audi commercial about the “Green Police” than ran on the Super Bowl, and the subsequent debate here on MNB, one member of the community wrote:

One more comment on the "Green Police", which appears to have turned into a debate on government control.

Government's purpose is to provide infrastructure and protect our borders. Period.  Let's not forget that Washington is a collection of lawyers whose knowledge of economics, the environment, and health care is limited to what they receive from the lobbying groups that keep them in office. Most of the politicians are there only because they outspent the other candidates.  The economy will take care of itself (faster if left alone), the environment is fine if you look at real data that has not been manipulated, and we have the best health care in the world.

To be fair, one man’s “government control” is another man’s “intelligent leadership.”

Another MNB user wrote:

Your rebuttal was spot on. You were wrong in the light bulb issue, but as I read your comments one thing rang true on every point you hit. And that is everyone of the initiatives, or plans you responded to, as possibly useful, government should have a role in.As I read this I felt another twinge of money escaping from my hard earned wages. What is wrong with the government finding a way to let the private sector explore and develop these initiatives? I'm sure the natural response will be who? But if there is an opportunity for profit, or an opportunity to create a company to satisfy a need, you will find an American entrepreneur who will be happy invest and develop. As long as they are given the same latitude, we as Government afford ourselves. If we throw self imposed (Government directives) at them they will not succeed, and we will have to flip the bill. We should concentrate on imposing safety and health guidelines and enforcing them so we protect citizens, not build things from the ground up. Our founding fathers are rolling in their graves!

But another MNB user chimed in:

It is amazing how a car commercial’s visceral response can sum up the political divide we have in this country. You have to love the fact that Audi could work a classic Cheap Trick song into the commercial anyway.

And, from MNB user Ron Pizur:

Why can't people just accept the catchy use of the song and the funny elements of the commercial?

Some would argue that the commercial wasn’t funny. Others would say that they people who didn’t find it funny don;t have a sense of humor. You choose.

And MNB user Clayton R. Hoerauf wrote:

How absurd that we can watch a tongue in cheek commercial during a football game and post game arguments and commentary sink to a level where we are discussing Nazi’s and Hitler and people vowing to never buy an Audi. My money says they never have before and wouldn’t have in the future anyway. For the record, I will. In fact I am currently driving my fifth one and there will be a sixth because the make a great product. Is it expecting too much for people to judge a product on it’s quality rather than on and advertising campaign?

One thing is for sure. If a commercial is to be judged by whether you remember the product after you see it, then the Audi commercial seems to have been successful.

And I agree with you. Most of the people who seem outraged by the commercial likely weren’t Audi customers anyway.

Still, it is fascinating discussion.
KC's View: