QUIZNOS: Epic Customer Vs. Franchisee Fight over $6.53
March 17, 2012
UnhappyFranchisee.com [RE: QUIZNOS: Epic Customer Vs. Franchisee Fight over $6.53 editor's note: based on new information, we have edited the original story, which remains in black type. New text appears in green.]
Have you ever been involved in a dispute that you just can’t let go of, even when it makes you look like a raving maniac to those around you?
UnhappyFranchisee.com chronicles many mutually destructive disputes that could have been avoided had both parties taken a step back, looked at the situation from the viewpoint of their “opponent,” then agreed to a mutually beneficial compromise.
[Read more on the Quiznos Sub Franchise]
How to create a lose-lose situation
According to a person who claims to be a Quiznos customer who witnessed the incident, the woman “parked her $70,000 Red Corvette across the handicapped parking space AND the handicapped loading/unloading clearance.”
“When she entered the store, she was clearly in a bad mood.”
According to the woman, she was in a great mood when she entered the Quiznos.
The woman ordered a Quiznos Large Cobb Salad.
A franchise owner wanted to sell her a Quiznos Large Cobb Salad.
The woman asked the preparer to put on a fresh pair of gloves.
The franchisee refused her request, saying it was unreasonable. explained that it wasn’t necessary, as the worker had just put the gloves on. The customer said she still wanted the worker to change to new gloves.
The franchisee complied, and had the worker put on new gloves. The franchisee stated, though, that next time he would not honor such a request.
Upset that the franchisee had questioned her (even though the salad was completed as she requested, the customer demanded her money back.
The franchisee refused to give her her money back.
A verbal dispute erupted. The woman claims she refused the salad and left.
A witness claims she threw the salad across the counter at the franchisee.
Afterward, both called the police.
The woman started emailing websites and posting complaints about the Quiznos franchisee.
She vowed to “pursue this matter in civil court and will ask for punitive damages…”
What turns rational, professional people into raving lunatics?
Initially, we thought this was a mildly entertaining story that illustrated how both sides of a dispute can blow things out of proportion, and cause each other unnecessary aggravation and damage.
After learning more from both sides, it seems we were wrong.
This now appears to us to be a story about how much abuse foodservice franchise owners must take from the occasional Customer-From-Hell.
Our sympathies go out to the Lenexa, KS Quiznos franchise owner who bent over backwards to please a rude and demanding customer, only to have his best efforts (literally) thrown back in his face, to be criticized on the Internet, and to have the police called on him.
Hopefully the woman will file her civil lawsuit to try to recover $6.53 plus punitive damages, and the laughter and publicity it generates will bring him much business and sympathy in the future.
What turns rational, professional people into raving lunatics?
In situations like this, it’s often a case of feeling disrespected.
I searched the customer’s name (which I’ve withheld), and learned that she’s a highly educated woman-of-color who has a government job and also owns a small business. It seems likely that, as a woman and member of a minority group, she has worked extra hard to achieve success and feels that she has the right to be treated respectfully when she is the customer.
Isn’t her patronage worth a few pennies worth of latex?
If a white business executive with a Rolex and expensive suit had asked for a fresh pair of gloves, would the franchisee have refused and told him he unreasonable?
At the same time, we know that Quiznos owners are highly stressed, with a parent company in financial distress and thousands of fellow franchisees having lost their investments, savings and some their houses. Quiznos franchisees are stressed about their thin profit margins, which have been strained by pressure from “dollar menu” competitors and a parent company that jacks up the products it sells to them, then advertises buy-one-get-one-free deals and “Million Sub Giveaway” promotions that eat up what little remains of their profits.
Don’t consumers care that coupons, discount prices and freebies are forcing local small business owners into bankruptcy?
Isn’t it enough that his employees wear gloves and prepare food in plain sight? Must he buy new gloves for every salad or sandwich? Where does it end?
The solution is simple when you follow the Rule
The customer is so incensed that she will waste hours writing long, passionate diatribes (see below) about an obviously (to everyone but her) trivial incident. Her overdramatization of the franchisee’s bad behavior (“outrageous and nefarious misconduct,” “theft, malice and reckless behavior,” “he is a thief; he stole my money, and caused public humiliation and embarrassment”) does not further her reputation as a emotionally balanced professional.
While she has every right to have Visa reverse the charge on her card, her threat of a civil suit (with punitive damages) over a $6.53 salad is, at best, silly.
Of course, the franchisee handled the situation as poorly as possible. Not only did he lose future revenue from a valuable customer over a few pennies, he created a lot of negative buzz about his store that will surely spread in the future. He sent a negative message to his staff that not only is the customer NOT always right, but it’s fine to tell them so to their face.
Unfortunately, the customer may be correct in saying “his reckless behavior, poor attitude, and lack of respect for customers is a high indicator that he will not be in business long.”
What’s striking is how easily this Lose-Lose situation could have become Win-Win with a single statement from either party:
The customer could have said: “I understand my $6.53 doesn’t cover it, so here’s 25 cents to cover the cost of the gloves.”
The franchisee could have said: “Be assured that we always do everything we can to provide a clean prep area. However, if it will help you enjoy your Quiznos salad, we’ll be happy to put on a fresh pair of gloves.”
Remember The Golden Rule?
The customer could have shown respect for the franchisee’s business by offering extra payment for extra service.
The franchisee could have shown respect for the customer and prepared her salad the way she wanted it, and probably gained a customer for life.
Are you engaged in a heated dispute? Take a step back and look through your opponent’s eyes.
There may be a simple, mutually beneficial compromise right in front of you.
HERE IS THE QUIZNOS CUSTOMER COMPLAINT WE RECEIVED:
Date: March 16, 2012: 1:30 p.m.
Subject: Outrageous misconduct and petty theft by a Quiznos manager
Location: Quiznos, located at 11099 Lackman Road, Lenexa, Kansas 66219
Food preparer: I placed an order (to go) for a large Cobb Salad and politely asked the Hispanic food preparer if she didn’t mind putting on a new pair of gloves before making the salad. The look on her face implied that she was somewhat disturbed about the request. She made eye contact with a short, white man, who had brown hair, a light beard and who appeared to be in his early fifties. He asked the food preparer what I had said.
The short man I interacted with demonstrated outrageous and nefarious misconduct. The nature of his wrong doing involved theft, malice and reckless behavior. Below is a precise account of the event.
Short man: (very defensive) “She just put those gloves on.”
Me: “I still would like for her to put on a new pair of gloves.”
Short man: “May I ask the reason why?”
Me: “I’m ordering food for someone else who is very meticulous.”
Short man: “We practice the highest standards of cleanliness and she just put on those gloves.
Me: “I want the salad made with a new pair of gloves.”
Short man: (harsh tone of voice) “We’ll do it this time, but next time we will not do it for you.”
Me: (offended) “You really should not say that, and in my case, the customer is right.”
Short man: (angry) “You’re wrong and now are you trying to tell me how to do my job?”
Me: (irritated and intimidated) “I don’t want the salad; refund the $6.53 back to my bank card.”
Short man: (arrogant) “I am not going to do it.”
Me: (upset but calm) “Why not, I don’t want the salad.”
Short man: “Because it’s already made.”
Me: “No it’s not; she’s still working on it.”
Short man: “You’re not getting your money back and you’re upsetting customers.” (other than me – only one customer was in the restaurant)
Me: “I don’t care about your one customer, you’re upsetting me, your other customer, and if you won’t refund my bank card then I will contact my bank and put a stop payment on the transaction.”
Short man: (very self -satisfied and sarcastic) “You would do that?”
Me: “I need to speak with the manager.”
Short man: (smug and proud) “I am the manager and I’m the owner of the store.”
Me: (disdainfully) “You’re really pathetic and I will never, ever come here again.”
Short man: (gives me the salad) “Get out of my store and you are never allowed to come back.”
End result I gave the salad back to the idiot and walked out, then after a few seconds I went back into the restaurant to ask for my receipt. He said that he had given it to me so I looked in my wallet, found it, apologized and left. Ten minutes later after arriving home I called the Lenexa Police to report the incident. The contact offered to send two officers to meet me at the restaurant to see if this idiot would refund my money but that they could not make him give it back because it’s a civil matter.
While I was on the phone with Lenexa Police, the contact said that someone from Quiznos had called the police to have someone put out of their store but that she was uncertain who the person was (probably me).
Summary The aggravating circumstance clearly involved a situation in which the short man acted foolishly, intentionally malicious, and with utter disregard of me as a customer. Additionally, he is a thief; he stole my money, and caused public humiliation and embarrassment in the presence of his two female workers and one male customer.
This individual is a lose cannon and something is seriously wrong with him. It is frightening to know that he is
the owner – if this is true. Owner or not, his reckless behavior, poor attitude, and lack of respect for customers is a high indicator that he will not be in business long.
Suspiciously, since the guy refused to refund my money and keep the salad too, business must really be hurting financially.
Last, this man is subject to treat other people like this and it is not right. I plan to pursue this matter in civil court and will ask for punitive damages to prevent this guy from acting out similar behavior in the future.
What do you think? Share a comment, example or observation below.