Hardrock Llewynyth (luchog) wrote in bad_service,
Hardrock Llewynyth


A previous comment about bad pizza reminded me of a couple of my own pizza stories. Both of these happened to me last year.

Story the first.
I was visiting my girlfriend in a small town about an hour outside the city. I used to live in this town myself. They only have (or rather, had) two pizza places, and one is really lame and cheap (and recently closed). The other used to be really good, but the guy that ran it sold the business about a year and a half ago, and the new owners are terrible. They completely remodeled it from a typical family pizza place, trying to turn it into an upscale yuppie "hang-out" with a huge big-screen TV that nearly always had some sort of sports event on it. Like a sports-bar, without the bar (though they did serve beer, mostly local microbrews and imports).

I hadn't been in there since they changed the place (about 5 or 6 months). The woman taking my order didn't really listen too carefully, and I had to repeat several times before they got it right. It's run by a middle-aged Hispanic couple, and neither one appears to speak English very well (or if they do, they don't act like it). She acted the whole time like it was a bit of an inconvenience for her to have to work, but she'd tolerate it as long as she had to. I was polite, and smiled the entire time; and paid in cash with a decent tip (I generally tip about 20%). The pizza took longer than I was told, but not by a whole lot. I got it to go, so just tossed it into the car and left for my girlfriend's place, about 15 minutes away.

When I got it home, I found that it had been cooked very dark, almost burnt. Top and bottom. The crust was really dry and hard, almost like it had been made earlier in the day, and pre-cooked, then run through again with toppings; and the whole thing was very very salty. I tend to be a little oversensitive to salt, but even my girlfriend's teenage son, who tends to oversalt things, thought it was a little salty. I didn't bother complaining, because of the problems I'd had earlier trying to communicate with them; I just simply decided not to go back, and my girlfriend didn't go back there either. Told a few friends who lived there about it, as well. In a big city, at a big chain store, this wouldn't be a noticible loss; but in a small town at a family-owned place, where people don't go out that often, it's a bit more serious (I don't think I've ever seen more than one or two other families in there at a time, and there was no one else there when I place this order, even though it was at the beginning of what would have normally been the dinner rush).

Story the second.
This was at home, in the big city. Ordered delivery from one of the local uber-trendy non-chain pizza places. Had ordered from them once before, without incident. The pizza itself was okay, not great, but good (doesn't help that I prefer Chicago style, and pretty much every other indy joint in town is New York style). The driver, however, was a different matter. First, he was a bit late, and blamed it on my apartment being too hard to find (funny, UPS, FED-EX, and other delivery drivers find it without a problem.) I didn't have enough cash to cover both cost and tip, so I paid for the pizza with a check (which I already cleared with the phone rep). As soon as I gave the guy the check, he started berating me for not tipping him. Didn't even give me time to get any cash out. Needless to say, I wasn't going to tip him after that. He just stood in the doorway, demanding a tip, and telling me what a bad person I was for not tipping. I didn't feel like arguing, so I just stood, mutely, with my hand in the door waiting for him to move so I could close it. He didn't make any threats, either verbally or physically, but did stand there and try to look intimidating. (And succeeding. Big Indian guy.). I was not in the mood to be intimidated, however, so I just glared at him until he finally gave up trying to bully me, and left.

Even had I not planned to tip, that was amazingly rude. Now, I know in some parts of the country, failure to tip is a pretty serious offense. However, I've known pizza drivers around here, and know what they get paid. My state has the highest minimum in the nation, no tip credits, and drivers typically get well over minimum, including mileage. And a lot of local places, including this one, like to make a big deal about how "socially conscious" they are, and how well they treat their employees. Chances are very good he got paid more than I did at the time (I was doing tech support for one of the top-three largest ISPs).

I posted something about it in my LJ shortly afterwards, and found out from several friends that this place has a reputation for having some of the rudest phone and delivery people. Apparently, my experiences were not unique, and others have had issues as well with screwed-up orders that the company didn't bother to fix or compensate for. That being the case, I didn't bother complaining; but just determined not to patronize them again. No great loss for me, certainly; as there are plenty of other good NY-style joints nearby. I just wish there was a good Chicago-style place within delivery distance.

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