I've seen a few stories about the things customers should and shouldn't do when ordering from a takeaway. Well, I agree with all of those things. However, I also have a few things to point out from the opposite perspective. Sorry it's a bit long - there's a tl:dr summary at the end ;)
This past weekend, I had three friends to visit who I haven't seen in over six months. It was a big deal, and took a lot of organising to get everyone there and make sure there was room in my little flat for everyone to sleep and so on, so when Saturday night rolled around we decided to order pizza rather than having me stuck in the kitchen cooking. Oh, what a mistake.
First of all, my friend decided we should order from Pizza Chain A because he had a money-off coupon. Okay, I usually use Pizza Chain B, but what the hell? I knew there was a Pizza Chain A right across the road from my local Pizza Chain B, so I fired up the ol' internet, and we went about placing our order. Now, this was at around 6pm. We decided to order the food for 8pm because we weren't hungry yet. So we pick out the food we want, put in 8pm for the delivery time, put in the address, and then I enter my card details. As soon as I've verified the card details and hit submit, a screen pops up saying the website is having technical difficulties. So... did my order go through? I don't know. We decided to wait a few minutes, and when I didn't get an email verifying the order, I decided to call the store.
The phone rang for *ages*. When someone eventually picked up, I told him what happened, and asked if he could check if they had received that order. He took my name and address, checked their orders, and said it hadn't gone through, and asked if I wanted to order over the phone. Of course, I said yes. Went through the whole thing again, delivery for 8pm, blah blah blah. Done.
So 8pm rolls around, no food. 8:15, no food. 8:25, no food. I decide to call the shop. I get a man with a very heavy Indian/Pakistani accent (please, no one get mad - I have tried to learn the difference but for us Brits it's a very subtle distinction!). He's having problems understanding me, I'm having difficulty understanding him. But eventually I get him to understand that we'd ordered some food, it hadn't turned up, and I wanted him to check what was going on.
At this point, I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt - it was Saturday night after all, so I figured maybe they were really busy and our order had become lost in the chaos. I was perfectly polite. Until he came back and said they had no record of my order. Again.
Oh, I was pissed. But I still didn't get rude - oh, no. I simply asked if he would please read me back the details I had given, to make sure he was checking the right thing, and then check again, as I had now ordered the food twice. So he did, and he still couldn't find it. Then he apparently had a brainwave - he asked me to hold on, was gone for a good couple of minutes, and then came back on the line to tell me that my order had been put through as a collection instead of a delivery. The implication was that they had thrown it out because it had sat there for over half an hour without being picked up.
So I told him that I had asked for a delivery. I told him, truthfully, that I had given the guy who took my order my address no less than three times. And I told him that I was quite unhappy with the service I was receiving. He said he would check how long it would take to have the order made up and sent out, and told me it would be about half an hour. Great - so at this point it would only be about 1 1/4 hours late. I went with it - didn't ask for a discount or anything, because I still thought it could be a genuine mistake, and it wasn't this guy's fault - just gave my address, again, and went back to apologise to my poor hungry guests.
Not two minutes later, the phone rang. It was the same chap wanting to tell me that we were outside of their delivery area. That did it. I snapped. Hell no are we out of your delivery area - first of all, I put in my address on your website and it came up with your store as my local delivery branch, and second, Pizza Chain B is literally right across the street and they deliver here. Oh, and finally - I have now given you my address a good six or seven times - are you seriously telling me that no one checked that fact before now? No chance.
So I said something along the lines of "I'm sorry, but this is absolutely ridiculous. I have now ordered this food three separate times. Every time there has been a problem. How can you tell me you won't deliver when your website gave me your store for delivery directly based on my address? Are you telling me that if the online order went through you would have refused to deliver it? I know it isn't your fault personally, but I cannot believe how bad your shop's service has been tonight."
So the guy said, "Uh.. um.. I can't do anything about our delivery..." Well, that just made me feel bad. So I relented. Slightly. I said I would come and pick it up, but that I expected to speak to a manager when I arrived. Then - oh, wonder! - after a brief consultation with someone during which I could only hear quiet mumbling, suddenly they would deliver the food! Victory!
When it arrived it was cold. And I never got an apology. Going back to Pizza Chain B next time.
So, in summary, here are my recommendations for any and all stores who offer a food delivery service:
1) Make sure your website is accurate.
If you don't deliver to certain areas, don't have a website that says you do. If you can't offer certain deals, don't put them on the website. Please - it'll make your lives easier, too.
2) Please, oh please, put someone on the phones who can clearly communicate in the language (or languages) of the country in which you operate.
I have absolutely no issue with those who speak English as a second language. I have lived in other countries myself, and as such I have a lot of respect for how hard it is to live and work in a country other than your own, even if you already speak the language fluently (I've lived in both Italy and South Africa, where the dominant language is English). So if you've made the effort to learn English, I applaud you. However... if you still need a bit of practise, you shouldn't be communicating by phone. At least in person you can get an idea if someone has actually understood or not, and you can get an idea of what people mean by body language and so on that simply doesn't come across over the phone.
Most of my difficulty could have been avoided if the first guy I got on the phone had confirmed just before ending the call whether it was collection or delivery. He checked every other detail of my order, but not that - and that was the bit that went wrong. I would have nothing to complain about (who cares about the website, as long as I don't get charged twice?) if it weren't for that.
4) Finally - sometimes, the customer is actually right.
Throughout this ordeal, I was made to feel as though Pizza Chain A cared nothing for my custom, didn't give a toss that they had ruined our entire evening, and they seemed to think that all of the errors were my fault. I was given the distinct impression that I should have just known, having never ordered from them before, that my address wasn't in their delivery area. I should have automatically picked up on a clerical error made by someone a couple of miles away on the other end of a phone. Basically, I had no one, but myself to blame.
What do you think, RHUers? Have you ever had a similar experience? Did I over-react? I have never worked in this type of industry, so I genuinely don't know, but I think I was far more understanding of the situation than most customers would have been - hell, my guests couldn't understand why I didn't demand the food for free! And most importantly - should I write to corporate and make sure they know how little value this store gives their customers? Because I am sorely tempted.
Thank you for letting me rant. I feel much better.