Customer Service - the Wild Goose Chase edition

by Mark Zaugg 23. December 2011 14:00

I try really hard to not be an asshole.

Granted, I'm not perfect and it takes a lot for me to lose my cool these days.  Fortunately.  I know I've got a temper and I try really hard to keep control over it.

I try especially hard to stay calm around this time of year.  Line ups get long and nerves get frayed for the best of people.  I make no apologies for being scroogy right about now but I genuinely try not to be a dick to anyone else just for the sake of being a dick.

Today I was trying to ship a package of cheese buns from here to Kitchener.  I'd kept them in my freezer for a week trying to send them out as close to Christmas as I could manage.  Hopefully they'll get out there and be reasonably fresh and tasty.  They're for one of my really good buddies who introduced me to Glamorgan Bakery in the first place, it's just a way of saying thanks to him and his family and send them a little taste of Calgary.

Well, actually, I wanted to ship them yesterday but I missed closing time by five minutes so I was happy I gave myself an extra day to spare.

I know, I'm going to spend way more on the shipping than I did for the baking, but I'm doing it on my terms because it's a stupid idea and because I know there are a couple of girls out there who are going to hugely appreciate the gesture.  If their dad will share.

The problem I have is that I don't really know what it's going to cost or the best way to get it out there.  Usually when I've shipped anything it was a bushel of grain or research samples I needed for next spring, not overnight.  I'm doing the best that I can, but I'm going to need someone to help me out.

So I knew I was going to have to go up to the Purolator up near the airport to get my timing right, I knew I'd have to be up there before 7:30 and I knew that I had a client call this evening so I was going to have to hustle my butt to squeeze everything in this evening.  I'm going to need help on everything else.

Quirkily, there was a line in front of me and only one woman behind me.  I knew I was going to be a while and asked if she was just picking up a package.  She was, so I saw no reason to delay her at all, by all means let her step in front of me.

The guy behind the counter must have heard that it was going to take me a while and told me to go to the computer terminals and start there.  I felt a little put off that I was told to go do it on my own even though I knew I was going to need help.  No matter, I'm a SysAdmin for ghod's sake, I know how to fill in a waybill, I just need help on shipping options and the details that I don't know.  I start filling in the data.

My name, address, city, destination's name, postal code (that was kind of cool, it filled in the city information for me after I put in the postal code), but for the road she has "CRT" and I entered "Crescent" not "Court".  I hit backspace and...  If you know web browsers at all you'll just have figured out that I wiped out all the information as I effectively just pushed the back button.  Okay, that was annoying, but I start over.

Entered all the data, go to the next page and it's asking for weight and dimensions of the package.  I don't know the weight and dimensions, I didn't expect to have to know that.  I can estimate sizes by comparing it with my hands or arms, but the weight?  It's light enough I can carry it around all day if I had to.  I don't bloody well know and I shouldn't have to, all of that is behind the counter.

So why am I filling out the minutia when I'm going to have to take it to the counter where they're just going to re-weigh it anyways?  So now I'm stuck in a pickle.  I can't save the data partially filled in.  I can't just leave it and get measurements.  The only thing I can possibly do is write down junk numbers in the boxes and have it corrected when the guy weighs it or cancel everything out and start all over again.

WHY?

Annoying me further, another customer beside me is asking if I need help.  No, I'm fully capable of filling out everything in front of me.  I need a scale and a measuring tape and advice on the best way to ship my package to get this overnight.  I need to talk to the person behind the counter, not someone who does not understand my situation.

So I cancelled it and got back in line to the counter where I should have been in the first place.  Only a bunch more people had come in to be served and I ended up in the back of the line again.  And I still didn't have a waybill filled out, nor knew how I'd ship it, nor the final cost.

I got back to the front of the line and was determined that I was going to wait until I get the same agent that sent me off to the computers in the first place.  When he comes to the counter he starts talking to the guy that just walked in through the door behind me.  If I didn't feel shucked away before I definitely did by now.  I got pulled out of the line, left to flounder entering data that I couldn't provide, and now this guy is pushing me aside again for someone just getting into the building!

I planted myself in front of him at the counter and pointedly asked if there was a scale or measuring tape at the computers.  He rolled his eyes and said no, they were behind the counter.  I said, probably louder than I intended, "Then what am I doing over there?  I'll go find another solution."

On my way out the "helpful customer" said that I was being rude.  Yes, yes I was.  I was intentionally rude specifically to the person who sent me on a wild goose chase and then ignored me when I reached the front of the line.  I'm willing to bet each and every person behind me got better service the remainder of the night.

I have other options for couriers.  I waited about the same length of time at FedEx as I did for one trip through the line at Purolator.  I reached the front of the line and the agent took my package, weighed it, and told me I needed to fill out an Intra-Canada Waybill while he prepared my package for shipping.  By the time I got to the counter, I know the package weighed 1.14 kg and he apparently didn't care about the dimentions.  (The box previously held a case of microwave popcorn.)  I didn't have much for shipping options, it's going to arrive in Kitchener early in the morning, and I paid a whopping $55.27 for $10 of buns.  Still worth it because I didn't suffer the aggravation.

So I truly apologize if I appeared to be an asshole for the sake of being an asshole.  I genuinely feel bad if other customers thought I was simply being rude.  But if I'm expected to fill out information for the waybill on my own would you please provide a scale and ruler that I can access?

And never, EVER ignore the customer at the front of the line hoping he'll go to some other agent.  Especially when you've already blown him off earlier in the evening.

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