Category Archives: Customer Service Confessions

Tips from the In N Out trenches: Soccer moms should not drive Escalades

Standard

Okay, so here’s the thing. I really want to blog tonight but I’m too lazy to put in the effort for one of the really good blog posts I’ve got milling around in my head (they involve pictures, some cleverly placed jokes, and a little bit of research). So instead, I’m going to retell a story some of you may have heard before. It happened a few years ago, when I was working at my favorite place ever, In N Out.

I worked a total of 6 years with the Golden Arrow and worked at 3 different stores. The most interesting store I worked at was in Costa Mesa, on 19th street. That story had some seriously crazy customers. It is located on the border of Costa Mesa and Newport Beach, which means you get the unstable transients from Costa Mesa and the psychotic rich people from Newport Beach. This story is about one of the psychotic rich people.

So, okay, this white woman pulls up in a pearl white Escalade. Seriously, soccer moms in Escalades look ridiculous. Anyways, as she is pulling up to my window there was a loud popping noise. She freaks out. ” Did you hear that? What was that? My car better not be ruined, its brand new. Is my car ruined? What was that?”

I had no idea what the popping noise was. But I knew there was nothing in the lane that could have ruined her car, so I told her it was a ketchup packet (those things are actually pretty loud when you  run over them). She didn’t believe me.

“There is no way that was just a ketchup packet, that was so loud. I think it was something big. Is there something on the front of the car?”

I leaned out the window…waaaayyy out the window…and looked at the front of her car.

“Ma’am I don’t see anything. I’m sure your car is fine. Here is your food”

Well this lady would not SHUT UP about her stupid car. So finally, I used a little tactic I like to call “overreacting to an overreaction.” Often, if a customer is over reacting, you can make a riduculous offer to do something outrageous to resolve the problem. Usually, the offer itself is enough to calm them down. They don’t want you to have to go to such extremes, they realize they are over reacting, and they walk off. My overreaction was to offer to go outside and do a full check of that woman’s car for her. She accepted without hesitation.

What. The. Heck.

So I go outside and check the front of her car, the side and under her car. Then she tells me to stand at the front of her car while she backs up, that way I could see the full rotation of the tire and make sure nothing was in the tires. There was nothing. No damage, no scratches, no ketchup packet. Her gangster Escalade was perfectly fine.

“Well that noise was so loud I don’t believe that it didn’t damage my car. I’m going to have my husband look at it when I get home and if he finds something, I’m calling customer service and demanding that In N Out pays for the damage.”

And all I could thing was “Good grief, someone married this woman? That poor poor man.” Every time I tell this story I say a prayer for that guy.

Advertisements

The End of the In N Out Era

Standard

in n out

Friday was a momentous day for me. I signed the papers to officially quit working at In N Out. Granted, I hadn’t actually worked a shift there in about 6 months, but I had been putting off making it official. Signing those papers marked the end of an era. Well, hopefully it marked the end of an era. I thought I had ended that era in 2007 but I found myself right back in the In N Out universe a year later. But this time, I really think I’m done. My reign at the golden arrow is over.

In order for you to truly understand what In N Out means to me, I’m going to have to give you a little background story. I started working at In N Out my senior year of high school. It was my first official job and I was incredibly excited…and nervous! Everything was so loud, fast paced and crazy, but I loved it. I stayed at that first store for a year and half and met some incredible people there. One of those people, one of my bosses actually, would actually become my husband some day. Scandalous, right?

 I stayed at that store through my freshman year of college. In a time when I was transitioning from high school to college, changing friends, growing up and finding out who I was, In N Out was one of the constant things in my life that I knew I could count on. Plus, working for In N Out taught me how to be a great employee. My parents taught me to work hard, show up on time, follow the rules and be a leader in the workplace. In N Out reinforced that good work ethic by rewarding me for it. Learning the importance of hard work and a positive attitude has benefited me in all my subsequent jobs. I really don’t think I would be as successful as I am today without having worked at In N Out.

When I moved on campus my sophomore year of college, I kept working for the company but transferred to a different store. This store seriously had the most insane customers ever. It was located right on the border of Costa Mesa and Newport Beach. For those of you who have never lived in the OC, you need to know that Costa Mesa is a lower socio-economic city with a rather large homeless population and quirky culture. Newport Beach is an up-tight city where the richer than rich drive around in ridiculously expensive cars and think about themselves all day.

Now imagine working in a store where you saw customers from both sides of that spectrum every day. I had to kick homeless people out of bathrooms, dodge food that crazy people threw at me, and listen to countless spoiled brats curse at me because I gave them the wrong kind of soda. But it was still a lot of fun. At that store, I learned that you just can’t let people get to you. You got it brush it all off with a laugh. Instead of viewing those interactions as offenses, I viewed them as hilarious and ridiculous stories I could later tell my friends and family. I didn’t let them get me down, instead I found a way for those crazy customers to bring me laughter.

I left that store in 2007, the same year I graduated college. I didn’t think I would go back, but a year later I found myself in need of some extra money so I started working one shift a week at the store by my parents’ house. When I got laid off from the YMCA, my In N Out store manager was incredibly supportive and gave me some more hours. Without that, Joe and I would have had to postpone our wedding. I am incredibly grateful to that manager and the ways he supported, and continues to support, Joe and me professionally.

I started working full time at my current job in September. I didn’t officially quit In N Out though because, well to be honest, I was scared. I had already quit once and had to come back. In all my other professional experience I had never worked for a company that treated me as well as In N Out did. And although my new adult career seemed to be going well, I still felt like I needed a safety net. But six months later, the safety net has come down. Things are going great at my current job, but if for some reason I lost it I have enough confidence in my professional skills that I’m sure I could find another job in the field. I’ll never again have to ask “would you like fries with that?”

I love my current job. I love that I am actually working in a field that my degree prepared me for. I am so happy to be growing up and to have an actual career instead of something that just pays the bills.  But I’m not gonna lie, I miss In N Out. I miss going to Denny’s after a closing shift, I miss all the drama and inbreeding, I miss the company picnics. I miss seeing the smile on a weary travelers face as they take a break from their 10 hour road trip to enjoy a double-double. I’m sad that I’ll never again make an out of state customer super excited by serving them their first In N Out cheeseburger. Granted, Joe still works for the company so I get to stay connected that way, but it’s not the same. No matter where I go in life or what I become, I will always remember every moment spent at the Golden Arrow and be thankful for the things it taught me.

eat your lycopene

Standard

I have major writers block today. So I decided to go to my never failing arsenal of ridiculous stories…customer service.  Six years of working in the food biz has given me some fantastic customer service stories. Here are a few of my classics.

Customer walks up to the window (not the drive thru but an actual walk up window) and THROWS her food in the stand. Throws it. I’m like, “Ma’am, that was inappropriate.” She responds, “I think it was totally appropriate. My meat was pink.” Are you kidding me? You’re burger was little bit pink and you figured the best way to deal with that was to throw your food at us? Just as I was about to say, “well how about you come in here and cook it yourself” my boss intervened and gave her her money back so she would go away. Dang his integrity and commitment to the customer!

Customer takes out his mouth retainer that costs a few hundred dollars. Customer puts it on his tray. Customer throws it away. An associate takes out the dining room trash and the customer gets upset with us. Um, what? Pretty sure you’re the one who threw it away buddy. He asks if he can dig through our big trash can during the busiest time of day (ew if he found it he was going to put it back in his mouth? Sick).  He can’t be in the back by himself and we can’t spare any associates to be there with him so we ask him to come back. So he comes back at lunch time the next day. WOOOOOOW. Of course he never finds it so he calls customer service and asks the company to pay for it.

Not all the customers are annoying. Most of them are normal and some of them are really cool. Like the customer who told me that he had just finished his prostate cancer treatment and the cancer had gone into remission. He told me that lycopene, which can be found in tomatoes and watermelon, can prevent prostate cancer so I should tell all the guys I know to eat lots of tomatoes and watermelon. I thought it was so cool that 1) he had beat cancer and 2) he was making it his personal mission to spread knowledge to reduce cancer. I looked it up and lycopene can actually be found it lots of different red fruits and vegetables. So there you guys, eat your lycopene. After all, the customer IS always right.

Give Me All Your Creamer

Standard

Hurray for crazies!  This customer got upset over something ridiculous. From what I understand, she was pissed we wouldn’t give her free food. She ordered fries only, and when she got them she was mad because there wasn’t a burger to go with it. We told her she had to pay for one and she responded “I don’t have any money!” We apologized but she just got more irate and finally we had to kick her out. On her way to the door she stopped by the drink station and emptied all the lemon wedges and creamers into her purse, then threw the inserts into the stand. Um, psycho much?

The jerk and the drama kings

Standard

I was working counter handout today when I noticed that three guys were getting into a rather heated verbal argument. It was one guy, who I will call “the jerk” versus two other guys who I will call “the drama kings.” One of the drama kings was an older gentleman and probably deaf. The other drama king was much younger, possibly the older drama king’s son. From what I could gather, the jerk did something disrespectful to the older drama king and the drama kings totally overreacted and started getting in the jerk’s face. Once they started throwing F-bombs, I called my manager over. The guys all went thier seperate ways and the conflict was temporarily resolved. The jerk got his food first and sat down in a booth with his girlfriend, who I will call “the most annoying girl EVER.” A few minutes later, the drama kings get thier food to go and as they walk by the booth where the jerk and the most annoying girl EVER are sitting, one of the drama kings punches the jerk in the face. Next thing I know, there is a full blown fist fight right in the middle of our dining room. Every employee and every cusotmer and a perfect view of these three guys going at it. Drinks and food where everywhere, the older drama king got knocked to the ground and I think a random customer got in on the action for no apparent reason. O ya, and we can’t forget the most annoying girl EVER who is screaming and calling names and only doing things to make it worse. Ironically, she was really the only person who deserved to be punched in the face and no one even touched her. Unfortunate. After what seemed like forever but was really only about 20 seconds, our male employees realize that this will just escalate if they don’t step in. So they go out there and pull the guys off each other and the drama kings jump into their car and book it. That’s right, it was a total punch and run. The jerk and the most annoying girl ever of course stayed to talk to the police and do everything they could to make sure the drama kings got arrested. It might work, my manager did take down the license plate number, but honestly, do you really want to mess with two random guys who are willing to punch you in the face just because you did something minorly disrespectful to them? Just let it go, people. All that to say, I was super stoked about the fight. Ridiculous and crazy customers are what keep me coming back to this job day after day. I’m a sucker for a great story 🙂