Hope (snowowl) wrote in bad_service,

The worst experience...

This is the worst experience I've ever had in a restaurant.  It happened in Aberdeen, North Carolina at Sonic's.  If you've never been to Sonic's, you drive up to the menu, park your car, and place your order through the com system.  A waitress usually comes out to your car with the food and you eat it while listening to 50's music.

My brother and I drive up, push the button, and order.  He gets a chicken wrap combo and I just get a rootbeer float and cheese tots.  Nothing complicated.  Twenty minutes go by, and we decide to push the button again.

"Can I take your order?" the voice on the other end says.  We're ten feet from the big windows of the restaurant itself, but it's understandable they might not have noticed us sitting here for so long.

"Uh, hey, we ordered our food about twenty minutes ago and we just wanted to make sure it's coming," my brother says.

"Well, when it's ready, we'll bring it out!" 

"Oh, okay," my brother says, a little bewildered. We weren't rude, why did she just snap at us in that tone?

Another ten minutes goes by and finally, our food comes out.  We make the mistake of paying before looking at our food.  My brother wasn't given any fries with his combo and the "chicken wrap" was a piece of chicken between two hamburger buns with nothing else.  My tots were ice cold -- so cold that the grease had congealed in huge chunks.  My rootbeer float was this syrupy thing...you know how rootbeer floats get when you let them sit for, oh, say, thirty minutes?

My brother pushes the button to speak to someone in the restaurant, but no one answers.  Finally, I get ouf of the car and go inside.

The first thing I notice is that the back door is open and that there are several flies buzzing about.  The second thing I notice is that the stainless steel countertops in the kitchen are so dirty that they look almost black.  I've spent a good chunk of my life working in restaurants, but this was a new kind of gross factor.  I also noticed that there were three children running around the kitchen screaming at each other.  Food was laying out on the counters interspersed with papers and used gloves.  All of the staff were sitting in the back of the small kitchen, laughing it up.  I stood there for a minute before calling out to them.

"Excuse me?  Our order was made wrong, could we get another?" I ask.  A tall woman stops talking, slowly gets up and walks towards me taking her good time.  She doesn't look happy.

"You're not allowed in here." she says.

"I know," I say, not wanting to argue even though I know people come in here all the time to place pick-up orders at the counter.  "But your speakers don't seem to be working, and our order was wrong. We need a chicken wrap, a medium fry and cheese tots."  I hold out my ticket.  She takes the bag of food from me, dumps it on the counter, and carefully goes through it with her un-washed and un-gloved hands.

"This chicken sandwich is fine," she says, wrapping it back up and thrusting it at me.  I stare at her, then take it numbly, because I'm so shocked at what's just happened.

"What's wrong with the tots?" she demands, looking pained.

"They're ice cold."

"Charlene!  Warm these up, would you?"  Her co-worker takes the box and goes back to put it in the microwave.

"Listen --" I couldn't address her by name because she wasn't wearing a nametag and hadn't introduced herself, "We waited twenty minutes for our food, and our order was cold and parts of it were missing.  I want you to make everything fresh.  I'm not going to eat something you just touched with your bare hands."  She gapes at me like I've just suggested kittens are evil and should be drowned.  She recovers and scrunches up her face in a scowl.

"Your food is FINE.  You shouldn't even be in here.  Get outta here!  Out!"  She looks furious, which pisses me off because I made good effort to be polite considering the circumstances.  And I know you should NEVER tell a customer the food is "fine" when it isn't, much less just tell them to go away when you don't want to fix it. She has this look about her that makes me think she's the kind of trash that would actually spit in your food for fun.

"I'm not leaving without a refund."  After a pause, thankfully I get the bright idea to take this higher up.  "And the owner's phone number."  The woman's face goes pale.

"What?" she stammers.  "I can't...I'm not allowed..."

"Just GET me the PHONE NUMBER NOW."  Oops, there goes my temper.  She scurries to the back and returns with a number scrawled on a piece of paper.

"I'll be back," I say, and I actually smile at her.  I go out to the car and dial the number on my cell.  Surprise!  It's a wrong number.  The bitch just scrawled something down hoping I'd go away.  I study the menu and find the corporate number.  I talk to a very nice customer service rep who calls the district manager for me.  I re-enter the grease pit of doom.

"Hi!" I say cheerily.  "I was just on the phone with your district manager [name].  He says you better give me a full refund NOW.  Do you need his number, since you seem to have lost it somewhere?  You know, to call him and make sure that's right?"

"No, ma'am," she says, addressing me politely for the first time.  She doesn't say anything more as she hands me back my money.

"I think he said something else important, too," I say, "Oh yeah, 'heads are going to roll' is what he said.  I wonder what that means!"  I smile and glare at the same time, hoping she says something back.  I left with a full refund and a growling stomach.

The district manager said that he had no idea the manager of that store had let things go, and he seemed genuinately concerned and upset at the state of things.  He's sending me a bunch of coupons, but like I told him over the phone -- after seeing the state of that kitchen it'll be a little while until I'll go there again, if ever.  She was so stupid.  I'd laugh except I know she's probably using my tax dollars to draw on unemployment right now.
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