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Friday, June 29, 2007


It's Free, But Expensive

Ever get a coupon for a "free" item? One where it turns out the price is exorbitant-and not just to the consumer, but the business owner as well?

This week a local coffee house had one for a small size cup of plain old joe. Not that you didn't have choices, there were. Four to be exact: Strong, mild, decaf and the flavor of the day.

The reason: For the fourth time in five years, new owners were trying to drum up business in what was once a very popular gathering place for the community.

My husband and I loved this place when it first opened. We'd take the dog, the kids and walk the mile and a half several times a week. We'd have coffee and a cookie, the kids would join us with a frozen yogurt from the place next door and our pooch was always offered up a bowl of ice water. We talked, laughed and thought of these exercise jaunts as our family's special times. This went on for almost a decade.

Even as the kids became older and joined us less, my husband and I would still grab the dog and enjoy the patio. Sometimes we'd go for breakfast. We were considered "regulars". Many of us in the neighborhood did the "coffee walk/talk".

Then the first owners retired and sold to a nice couple, unfortunately they didn't last long. The third set turned the place into a dive. Dirty floors, cheap doodads for sale in every nook and cranny. The food wasn't even passable, let alone edible. So we went around to the other side and started going to either the Corner Bakery chain or down the street to the ubiquitous Starbucks.

So when we saw, again that there were new owners and I had a free coupon in hand, I thought I'd give them a chance. After all, they were new people-they deserved a clean slate to begin their new venture.

The place was clean and less cluttered. Good sign, UNTIL-I got in line. A man in front of me also had a coupon. The java girl at the counter was just down right surly! (Maybe from all the free cups and no sales?) She handed him the cup, grabbed the coupon and pointed toward the self-serve pots.

My turn. I had my wallet in hand. I wanted to pay the difference and get a large cup. Before the question could exit my mouth, she shoved the cup at me and pointed as well. My cup fell over and rolled to me. I decided to ask anyway. She said yes I could, it was a dollar. I said "but the difference on the menu says 25 cents".
She said those were her instructions-did I want to pay or not?

I went with the free cup.

In all honesty, had she been the least bit pleasant I not only would have paid the dollar, I would have also left her a tip. I'm funny that way.

Being in customer service at my day job and having grown up in a family business, I know how to treat people. This wasn't it. Her attitude left me with two thoughts:

She's rude. I will not be going back.

If the coupon was a way to bring in new business and get the "regulars" back, it failed.

This little place once held lovely memories for my family. Sadly this is over.

What a price to pay for a free cup of coffee.

Carine, dont't you hate the attitude on a lot of people?! I would have walked out personally. I find service isn't what it used to be, not to white wash the good people who are nice, friendly and helpful in the service industry. Maybe give it a try as myabe the owners are really nice and it's just the girl. smile.
It was probably all the drama our house had already been going through this week-but I just took my coffee and went.
If I had been "myself", I may have asked if the manager was free....
I would definitely drop a note to the owner., and remind him that pleasant people are a must in the service industry., and if he wanted you to patronize his store..he would hire pleasant smiling personnel.
I always tip the friendly waiter/waitress....and if I don't get good service..I always have a word with the manager/owner. Always. After all, I'm helping their business by giving them input.
Hi Carine,

Interesting blog you have here! Bumped with your site thru BlogHer. I hope you could also visit and join the other women here in this forum:

Hope to see you there;)
You're right. I have to go back and do an errand up there for my son today, I think I'll mosey on through the parking lot and talk to someone in charge.
Drama will always abound, but it's truly a shame what's happened to such a nice spot.
Welcome and I'm glad you liked it here! I just signed up yesterday, after only hearing about blogher Friday evening.
It looks like a very nice supportive site. I plan on dropping by as much as possible.
Hope you come back and I find yours as well! I'm a confessed technodweeb-if you've read just a few of my columns
Carine, i am like you, i would never go back again to a place if the customer service is not up to standards...a simple smile would bring me back but a bad attitude would for sure drive me away, for good!
I now know what I felt when I left the other day was so right summer! Went back and asked to speak to the manager-it was the surly girl from the other day!!!LOL
We have a local coffee shop too that recently changed ownership. We used to love going there, but the former owner lost interest and it showed. The new owners keep the place up better BUT the old owners had WONDERFUL desserts in the display case. Not so the new owners. (Sigh)

No offense, but we would have to be fairly desperate for jove to hit a Starbucks. Never been a favorite of our's.
Carine--- It's simple --- just print out this post and drop it off with the owner. I would want to know that the cheeky twit I had serving coffee was ruining my business.
Dave, I know how you feel! I'm not a fan of the 'buck either, but around here, they're a glut of them. not many private vendors left. although an It's a Grind opened up, but not walking distance.
matty, good suggestion! although, how I'd get pass Miss Personality, I'm not sure. Hopefully, she's not also the owner. she's doomed!
Oi, achei teu blog pelo google tá bem interessante gostei desse post. Quando der dá uma passada pelo meu blog, é sobre camisetas personalizadas, mostra passo a passo como criar uma camiseta personalizada bem maneira. Até mais.
I'm very unfortunately not bi-lingual, could you translate? thank you for stopping by.
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