Sunday, October 17th, 2010

The last frozen caramel I will ever get from Panera

Panera of Central Ohio a.k.a. Breads of the World LLC is incapable of serving frozen caramels without drips running down the side
You win, Panera of Central Ohio a.k.a. Breads of the World LLC.

It turns out that it’s not just your Brown Street employees who are incapable of making large frozen caramels without drips running down the side. This is also too difficult for your Town and Country employees as well.

The woman today, unlike the woman on Friday, knew she’d made a mess and tried to wipe things up. She should have offered to make a new one, one that wasn’t filled to overflowing and thus wasn’t dripping, and I thought briefly about asking her to do so, but then I thought, fuck it.

Fuck it, fuck it, fuck it, fuck it, fuck it. I’m done.

A MyPanera card cannot get you a drip-free frozen caramel
A MyPanera card cannot get you a drip-free frozen caramel
Unfortunately for Panera, today fits in with “How to negate a customer loyalty program” because this last frozen caramel from Panera was, courtesy of their MyPanera program, free, well almost free, since to get a large I paid 50 cents.

Whether it’s a message from God or from Panera’s employees, I get it. What I cannot get is a drip-free frozen caramel from Panera, and I hereby promise to never again try to get one.

Having managed to get me to promise to stop asking for these drinks, you’ve also taken away an incentive for me to visit your restaurants, but I imagine we all can live with that. My friends will be glad I’m not whining about you, and you’ll be glad I’m no longer posting about you.

Friday, October 15th

I’m not mentioning any names or locations but some employees of a certain location of a certain restaurant should realize that if they hand me beverages with drips running down the side, not only will I be asking them to wipe the drips off (even if I have to hand the drink back to them multiple times pointing out the drips on the other side that they missed) but I will also be calling the customer relations manager of their franchise.

Yes, I’m an asshole with privilege, but come on, is it really that much to ask that you wipe the drips off the drinks you serve your customers? That’s not privilege—that’s just basic customer service.

Friday, October 8th, 2010

How to negate a customer loyalty program

1) Offer a frequent customer a free sausage egg and cheese Ciabatta sandwich.
Yes, damn it, I’m complaining about Panera on Brown Street again.

2) Make that sandwich without egg.

3) To really fuck up your loyalty program, be sure to wait for a carry out order to forget the egg so the customer whose loyalty you don’t really seem to want gets to his office before finding out you omitted the egg on his sandwich because most customers don’t check your work because checking your work is something that really you should be doing and not your customers.

4) When said customer comes back to get a new sandwich with egg, don’t bother to offer him anything, say a free pastry, until he’s waited a while and be sure to do so only as an afterthought.

5) Be sure to pick a customer who’s blogged about your poor customer service in the past in the hopes that he’ll also blog about this incident. After all, you wouldn’t want to waste an opportunity to negate your customer loyalty program on someone who won’t tell anyone about it.

Yes, this counts as whining. Tough shit.

Update 10/13/2010: I got a nice phone call from Marianne Hach, Customer Relations Manager for Breads of the World LLC (the Ohio Panera franchisee), apologizing for the incorrect order, saying that they’re addressing service at Brown Street, and offering to send me a gift card. I thanked her for the call and declined the gift card. I already got a gift card earlier this year when I complained about a messy frozen caramel dripping on my shirt—it really has happened multiple times (the drippiness, not the dripping on my shirts) because I’ve learned to double-check—but I’m not looking for gift cards or anything free beyond what’s offered in their regular MyPanera loyalty program. I just want non-drippy frozen caramels (which, so far, knock on wood, they do seem to be doing better at) and breakfast sandwiches that include egg.

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

I know this will count as whining, especially given my overly privileged life, but there’s something that happens continually at the
I love Panera, I really do, but…
Brown Street Panera that really bothers me.

Take a look at the photo to the left and see if you can figure out what bothers me. If you guessed the drippiness of the large frozen caramel that
It is never, absolutely never, acceptable to hand a customer a beverage container that is dripping liquid down its side.
was handed to me this morning by an employee of Panera on Brown Street, then you’re doing better than she did.

What irks me is that this employee knew that the beverage container she handed me was dripping, and rather than wipe the container off before handing it to me, she instead took the easier route of wrapping a piece of wax paper around it.

What irks me even more is that I have complained about this before, both on my blog and on Panera’s online survey site*, and yet the employees at Brown Street continue to hand their customers beverages with drips running down the side.

I’ve spent $308.01 $316.19 (as of this morning) so far this year at Panera and $500.35 last year and $364.13 the year before that. As I’ve written before on my blog, I love Panera. I recognize that my spending hundreds of dollars each year at Panera means I really am overly privileged, but it also means that I should be considered one of Panera’s valued customers, someone they should rather please and keep spending hundreds of dollars rather than someone they piss off so much that he whines online about bad service.

Perhaps the ongoing inability of Brown Street Panera employees (and it is just Brown Street employees, not employees at Miller Road or Dayton Mall or Centerville or Town and Country) to understand that it is never, ever acceptable to hand a customer a beverage container with liquid dripping down its side is God trying to tell me that I shouldn’t be buying so many $4.19 large frozen caramels. Yes, if I really wanted to follow Jesus (and if I wanted to take my doctor’s advice and lose weight), every time I craved a large frozen caramel I would instead drink some water and give the money I saved to my church’s food pantry.

And perhaps Panera’s new menu boards with calorie counts next to each menu item is another way that God is telling me to stop drinking large frozen caramels from Panera. Did you know that a large frozen caramel from Panera contains 600 calories? It’s true—visit and see for yourself.

But I’ve never claimed to be perfect and I’m not quite ready to forswear the guilty pleasure of large frozen caramels. If God really wants me to do so, God will have to have the Brown Street Panera employees continue to serve me messy drinks until I can’t stand it any more.

And not being perfect myself, I realize that just as God (and my doctor) needs to remind me of my faults, I’m going to do my part to remind the imperfect Brown Street Panera employees of their faults. Hand me a drippy beverage, and I’m going to complain. Sorry about that, but I’m not perfect.

*A note about Panera’s survey site: Something I like about Panera is that they (at least some of them, if not the Brown Street employees) really do listen. I’d complained earlier about drippy beverages, and Panera of Central Ohio sent me a letter of apology and a gift card. And I complained about the poor design of their survey website (read this post to learn what about their survey site bugged me), and they fired Questar Data Systems (the folks who designed, hiring Mindshare Technologies to design the new site.

**One final note: I’m not looking to get another gift card or any monetary compensation—as evidenced above, I can well afford to eat at Panera—I just want drip-free drinks!

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

If you didn’t know that on most forms on most web pages you can press the TAB key to move from one field to the next, or if you’re the type of person who prefers to use your mouse, this post isn’t for you because this post is my latest Web design (bad) post (it also counts as Whining). Today’s culprit? Panera Bread® of Central Ohio.

If you’ve visited my blog before, you may know that I like Panera, I really do. One of the things I like about Panera is that on every receipt is a link to a “tell us how we are doing” survey, a survey whose completion enters you into a drawing to win $2,000. What a great way to build customer loyalty.

The web developer who created the survey website for Panera, however, cares less about customer loyalty and smart user interfaces and more about making sure no one types numbers into his or her numeric fields. Look at the source for one of the pages, and you’ll see that numeric fields have onKeyPress="return TextCounterNumber()" attached. If you’re not a web developer, all you need to understand is that this bit of code looks at every character you type into the associated fields to determine whether it’s valid or not. Numbers are valid. Anything else is not.

That’s not so bad. It’s making sure users can’t mess things up by typing letters into a field that should have only numbers. Kinda smart.

Here’s the bad part. On the vast majority of forms on the web, users are not forced to take their hands off their keyboards and use their mouses to click on the next field in a form. That’s something the web inherited from non-web forms. Never mind that the vast majority of computers users may not realize they can advance from field to field with the TAB key; web developers should know that.

Once you’re in the order number field on this form, you’re trapped until you use your mouse to click someplace else. However, after you click on the month field with your mouse, you can use your keyboard to select values and press TAB to go to the next field.

You may think this isn’t worth complaining about, and in the grand scheme of things, you’re right. But Panera’s survey includes a screen on which they ask people to tell them of any concerns, and I’ve mentioned the fact that their survey form doesn’t adhere to web standards. Yes, it’s a small annoyance, but it’s also something that would be incredibly easy to fix. It’s also something I’m reminded of each and every time I go to fill out a Panera survey, something I’m prompted to do by each and every receipt I get from Panera.

What finally prompted me to write about this? Something else about Panera that bothered me—a Panera staff person not bothering to wipe off a drippy drink before handing it to me. So far that’s happened only once (and it wasn’t my favorite Panera staff person who did it), so I’ll leave that whining for another day (although, as it happens, my best friend just stopped by my desk as I was writing this, and he said, about the drippy drinks, not the poorly designed web form, “Oh, yeah, I hate when they do that”).

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

Two morning errands — Post Office and Panera — and two cards

Back of a credit card, properly signed
The USPS just cares that the credit card you’re using is signed, not that the signature or card is yours.

This morning my first stop was at the Mid City Post Office in downtown Dayton, to pick up some Forever stamps. I like going to Mid City because it’s always much less busy than the Main Post Office and because the clerk who works there is much nicer (she greets people as they come in, perhaps because, unlike the clerks at the Main Post Office, she’s not overworked).

However, bless her heart, perhaps the Mid City clerk is assigned there for a reason. After I swiped my credit card for my stamp purchase, she asked, “Credit or debit?”, and when I answered, “Credit,” she said she needed to verify the signature on my card. I handed my card over to her, she looked at the back of it, she hands me my receipt, I get ready to sign, and she says, “Oh, you don’t need to sign for purchases under $25.”

Hmm. I guess when she said she needed to verify the signature on my card, she just meant that she needed to see that the card, whether stolen or not, did in fact have a signature.

A MyPanera card gets you free food
Yay for MyPanera cards and the free food they get you!

My second stop this morning was at the Brown Street Panera to get a frozen caramel and a bacon and egg ciabatta breakfast sandwich. Unlike the Mid City Post Office, Panera is always hopping, but like Mid City, the folks working at Panera are also friendly. My favorite person working at the Brown Street Panera is named Kathy. Something she and I have in common is that she has a brother named David and I have a sister named Kathie*. Kathy always greets me by name and knows that I like large frozen caramels.

Another good thing about Panera is their new MyPanera card. You let the cashier scan it when you order, and then not only do you not have to tell her your name (if she doesn’t already know it), but you also earn rewards such as free frozen drinks or free pastries or free bagels. I already liked Panera enough that I went fairly often, but this good marketing on their part makes me enjoy going even more. Thanks, Panera!

*Well, I get away with calling my sister “Kathie” because I have for decades, but you probably wouldn’t get away with doing so.

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

Two fun things, a film and something overheard at Panera:

Panera logo While at Panera, sitting and eating and trying to mind my own business, I could not help but overhear the loud conversation at a nearby table between two female UD professors, one of whom was animatedly telling the other of her search on and off over the years for an old boyfriend and how her recent discovery over spring break of Facebook enabled her to finally track him down. She was apparently quite oblivious to the fact that she was broadcasting her personal information to all and sundry in the vicinity of Panera's fireplace, and also broadcasting (as it turns out, an apt verb choice) that of her ex-boyfriend, Dave Kelso, now a radio DJ in Oklahoma City who uses his middle name as his last name professionally because his real last name, which starts with an S, is always mispronounced by people. If David Kelso ever googles himself and happens across this, he'll know exactly who it was that was broadcasting information about him in public. David, your ex-girlfriend is so new to Facebook, she doesn't realize that she can set her Facebook profile so that strangers can't read it.

I've Loved You So Long photo After having learned more than I really cared to know about a random stranger, I went to the Neon Movies to watch a film whose main character is quite the opposite of the loud UD professor at Panera in that she reveals as little as possible about her life to anyone. Kristen Scott Thomas stars in Il y a longtemps que je t'aime, a film about a woman named Juliette who, after a long absence, goes to live with her younger sister and her sister's family. Details about Juliette's situation are revealed slowly over the course of the film, and they're not predictable, at least not all of them. I find such a film much more enjoyable than one whose ending one knows practically before it's begun. I'm also in awe of Scott Thomas who is perhaps best known for her English-speaking role in The English Patient but who is quite comfortable acting en français. I've lived in a foreign country myself and become fairly fluent in German but not so much that I could act in a film auf deutsch (not that I could act in English but at least I'd have a chance in English). Aussi je parle un peu du français mais il y a beaucoup de years since I took it (in high school, to give you a clue just how many). I remember enough to help my nephew with his French lessons and to recognize words and phrases in conversation but not enough to follow an entire French film sans subtitles.

So the lessons to be learned from today are to speak quietly in Panera (and in public in general) when talking of personal matters and to go catch I've Loved You So Long at the Neon while you still can.

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