Petty Customer Service Rant

Driving back from my conference, I had an unpleasant interaction with two employees of a certain extremely fat-phobic national sandwich chain.  These employees had apparently never heard “The customer is always right.” or even “The customer is right when the evidence is staring you in the face.”


I ordered a double chicken chopped salad, which was the featured menu item, advertised as $6.25, and added a cup of soup for $1.00.  My food was prepared and the cashier tallied it up and told me the total, which was over $10.  It bothers me when my mental tally doesn’t match up with the bill so I like to investigate what made the difference.  (The conversation was about 50% longer than this, but I can’t remember all the exact back-and-forths because they were so repetitive.)


a much more attractive salad than mine

me: Hm, why is it so much?  How much was the salad?

cashier: $7.25.

me: Oh, I think it’s supposed to be $6.25.


I indicated the menu behind her head, but she didn’t look at it.


cashier: *looks at cash register* It’s because you got double chicken.

me: I know, but the advertised price with double chicken is $6.25. *gestures to menu a second time*

cashier: *looks at cash register* It rang up as $7.25.

me: OK, but it says right there ‘double chicken chopped salad $6.25.’ *gestures to menu again*

cashier: *looks at cash register* I can’t change this – it’s $7.25.

me: Well, if the price is not $6.25 I think your advertising is quite misleading. *once more, points to menu*


Then the cashier’s colleague, who had been preparing another sandwich, walked over.


colleague: The salad is $7.25.  You got double chicken; that adds a dollar.

me: I know I got double chicken, but the double chicken salad is listed as $6.25. *points to menu*

cashier: *looks at cash register* It rang up as $7.25.

me: Would you please look at the menu?

cashier: *grudgingly turns around to look at the menu and stares at it for literally 30 seconds*  It says ‘double meat, add $1.00.’

me: Yes, to a sandwich.  But the double chicken salad is clearly listed as $6.25.  It says ‘double.’

cashier: Okay. *grumblingly messes with the cash register* $9.79.


If you can believe it, I pursued the second mistake.


me: I still think that’s too high.  Did you charge me $2.00 for the soup?

cashier: Yes, the soup is $2.00.

me: It’s $1.00 when it’s added to a salad or sandwich.

cashier: No, it’s only $1.00 if you add it to a sandwich.  You got a salad.

me: *gesturing to sign over the soup tureens* Well, I think that said that it was $1.00 to add to either a sandwich or salad.

colleague: The soup is $2.00.

me: *walks back to the sign at the beginning of the line to read it * It says “$2.00. $1.00 add to sandwich or salad. * walks back to cash register *

cashier: * walks to sign. turns it over and looks at it for 30 seconds. * OK, $1.00.

me: Thank you very much.

cashier: If you go to another <name of restaurant> I can’t guarantee that the price will be $6.25 since it’s supposed to be $7.25.

me: Don’t worry, I’m not planning on it.


I really could have ignored the price discrepancy – after all, I wasn’t even paying for the meal!  And if I had known how ridiculous the cashier was going to be I probably wouldn’t have pursued it.  But I don’t like letting gross errors go, especially when they are detrimental to me or someone I know.


What bothered me most about this was the cashier’s reluctance to look at the menu price that I referenced and then the incredibly long amount of time she took to process the four relevant words.  I felt like she was trying to find a loophole that would make me incorrect about the price out of spite and to avoid manually entering the price.  She made a really big deal about the punched-in price and acted like she was unable to change it, although she clearly could in the end.


Here’s how this interaction should have gone:


cashier: That will be $10.84.

me: Actually, I think that might be wrong.  How much was the salad?

cashier: $7.25.

me: Oh, well, the advertised price is $6.25. *points to sign*

cashier: * looks at sign for 5 seconds * Oh, no problem.  That’s weird it rang up as more.  I’ll fix that.

me: Thank you.


And repeat for the soup.  I would have been a very satisfied customer with that type of interaction.


Do you pursue errors in your bills?  Do you care about a $1.00 discrepancy or do you have a price under which you’ll let it go?  Kyle hates it when I do stuff like this – do you and your spouse have different levels of assertiveness?


photo from Free Digital Photos


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Filed under: food

18 Responses to "Petty Customer Service Rant"

  1. I probably would have said out loud that the menu had a different price instead of just pointing to it. Even at fast food restaurants, specials change all the time and those guys make minimum wage. It’s also an industry with high turnover, so you have to figure that most cashiers have barely finished their training and don’t really know what they are doing yet.

    I once had a coupon for Arby’s and it took 3 employees to figure out how to enter it into the register.
    Edward Antrobus recently posted..Places I’ve Been: Week Ending Oct 27

    1. Emily says:

      As frustrated I was at the employees, they were able to rectify the situation in the end. I’m more disappointed that the chain couldn’t synch its advertisements and cash register.

      1. That’s a very common problem that I’eve encourntered everywhere from fast food restaurants to grocery stores.
        Edward Antrobus recently posted..Is There No End to the Fees for Selling a House?

  2. I’m a stickler for good customer service since I worked in that industry for so long. I would seriously write a formal complaint to the head office, maybe you’ll get something out of it.

    1. Emily says:

      I’m considering it. It really shouldn’t be this difficult to have your advertising match your programmed prices.

  3. Michelle says:

    I almost always do stuff like what you did. My boyfriend HATES when I do it though. Oh well 🙂
    Michelle recently posted..Spending, Life, Income, Food Updates…

    1. Emily says:

      How can they just let it go?? My husband is very stubborn and loves being right in other situations so I don’t get why this sort of thing doesn’t bother him.

  4. I do this all the time, like you it’s less about the money and more about the principle of the matter. It drives me crazy when there is an advertised price that’s different from what they charge you, sometimes I think they let it go in the hopes that you will not notice or just not want to deal with it.

    Good work sticking up for yourself.
    David@SkepticFinance recently posted..A Recent Favorite (And My Wife’s Appendectomy)

    1. Emily says:

      Glad to find someone who will make the same kind of fuss! These employees seemed legitimately unaware of the prices listed on their menu because they put up such a fight.

  5. Good for you for challenge #2 to save a $1. I probably would’ve just paid and had a internal fighting dialogue in my head for the rest of the day. I do enjoy internal dialogues, I always win those fights!
    Mandy @MoneyMasterMom recently posted..Preparing for Hurricane Sandy: A Mommy’s Guide

    1. Emily says:

      I probably wouldn’t always notice a $1 discrepancy but this was a rather small bill overall. I definitely would kick myself if I had noticed and not done anything. However, I always feel that I lose internal dialogues… hmmmm.

  6. Ugh! Stuff like this has happened to be before. Sometimes I say something and sometimes I don’t. It depends on how big of a hurry I am in!
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted..What is the Fiscal Cliff and Why Should You Care?

    1. Emily says:

      I probably should have been in a bigger hurry! The whole exchange took several minutes and I had friends who had gone through ahead of me already eating. Once it got started though I didn’t want to give in.

  7. This was an interesting story. Unfortunately it happens all too often with our fancy dan new registers that ‘know’ the prices. I shop at Walmart and I always check my receipt to what I remember the price being and for other mistakes. I’ve seen double rings, prices too high and items the cashier just plain missed. Most folks won’t bother with corrections – who wants to spend 20 minutes waiting for a $2 correction. Thus the situation doesn’t improve.
    Marie at FamilyMoneyValues recently posted..Clutter, Clutter Everywhere – continued

    1. Emily says:

      In a store I probably wouldn’t notice errors unless they are really gross as I’m not as likely to keep that running tally in my head. This error was easy, though, since I had the proper price right in front of me.

  8. […] on the account and Kyle wouldn’t let me call to inquire what they were from (he’s much less assertive than I […]

  9. Good thing that you discussed about this incident, i had an almost similar experience once at a dining chain before. It seems that there’s businesses rising today that are allowing this misleading strategy of marketing. And if you’re just an “OK’ Whatever” customer, then its extra earnings for them.
    Pam@thesavingsblog recently posted..Kick away those expensive bad habits

    1. Emily says:

      I can’t imagine that this was intentional as the employees seemed so confused!

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