Customer Service Hell Blog

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Publix #1 Like Stepping Into A Seinfeld Episode

Dear Publix

Aug 2005

Why is it that your staff at the Publix on Maricamp Road in Ocala Florida are seemingly completely incapable of making sandwiches properly? Let me explain... your grocery store is one that we frequented both in Palm Beach, as well as here in Ocala. We spend perhaps $6-7000 a year on groceries at your store since we live just a few blocks away. For the most part, your staff and management at the store are just excellent and we enjoy the experience of shopping at Publix. But, when it comes to the Deli-Department, Bakery and Sandwich crew... I have to tell you, that we have basically given up trying to wait for things to improve in customer service.

In the past 18 months when we have tried to get a sandwhich from the Publix here, the experience is a little bit like stepping into a Seinfeld episode.

Let me explain all the adventures we have had with your staff on this

1) Staff that don't know what a "Cuban Sandwich" is, or how it's supposed to be made with Cuban Bread.

2)Staff that have both over-charged us for the Cuban Sandwiches we have ordered, or under-charged us.

3) Staff that burnt the Cuban Sandwich while toasting it, or forgotten to toast it

4) Running out of Cuban Bread in order to make the Cuban Sandwhich, and so making the Cuban Sandwhich without the Cuban Bread without telling us.

5) Refusing to let us fill in the little order-card ourselves, when we were ordering a number of sandwhiches, so as to avoid having to answer the same questions over and over again on each different sandwhich we were ordering... (the staff were trying to save time I suppose)

6) Having called ahead to ascertain that the staff at the store did in fact know how to make a cuban sandwich, and did in fact have the Cuban bread with which to make the Sandwich, arriving at the store on at least two occasions, and finding that both responses to those questions were not true.

7)Staff urging us to buy one of the pre-made sandwhiches, (which are not fresh) so as to avoid them having to strain themselves in working by making a fresh sandwhich to order.

Now, it would be one thing if only one or two incidents like this had occured during the past 2 years. However, it is now a long-running joke in our household that any attempt to get a sandwich that is properly made, and being charged the advertised price at your store, is never ending comedy of errors.

The managers of the store here were helpful the first few times that these sandwhich mishaps occured... however, it would seem that they are not that keen on fixing any of these problems either in the long run. We eventually just gave up on the whole process, and lately when we have decided to go shopping and we want sandwhiches, we go to the Win-Dixie up the highway, since they are located right beside a Subway. Every couple of months my husband tries his luck at getting a cuban sandwich again... and it's always a crapshoot as to whether it comes off without a hitch.

We thought that perhaps the owners of Publix might be interested in trying to solve this problem, since it occurs to us, that for every customer like us who have given up and have bothered to write to you about it, there are perhaps 10-20 or even more, over the past few years that just went away unhappy.

As I wrote before, for the most part your store is staffed by excellent people, and the service, (with the exception of the Sandwhich department/Deli and Bakery) are just wonderful. Special kudos to the Meat Department, where the staff are always very friendly, and personable. Ditto most of your older employees who work at Cash, or Customer Service. Likewise the baggers, especially the very young employees, and the senior citizens.

We would love to keep shopping at Publix all the time, as your prices are generally better than Win-Dixie, and you have more selection. However... we are just tired of the hassels associated with dealing with your staff in the Sandwhich/Deli section and bakery.

I also noted that when we worked/lived in Palm Beach, the staff at the Publix there also seemed to have problems with making sandwhiches and not screwing up the order, or in providing snarling rude customer service for loyal customers wanting sandwiches. We worked in an office that ordered in lunch every single day for 7 staff. The staff at this company finally also gave up on trying to order Sandwiches from Publix, because your Deli-Department there seemed to object strongly to taking orders over the phone for 7 sandwiches at a time. The staff ended up deciding to opt for purchsing their lunches from "Sandwiches by the Sea" establishment instead.

Thank you for your kind attention to this

A Mostly Satisfied Customer

*Update* Sept 8, 2005: It had been a couple of months since my last attempt to buy a sandwich at Publix. I figured, having gotten this off my chest, that I would try one more time just to see if perhaps this little rant was over-the-top. I was not disapointed. I approached to ask for a Cuban Sandwich. The clerk takes the order. I start to wander off, to wait for her to start the process. I then see out of the corner of my eye that she is reaching over the counter for something. Goodness... she was grabbing one of the pre-made packaged cuban sandwhich halves (which sells at a lower price than the fresh ones) and when I said "Can you make it fresh please?" She snarled at me "They are fresh". I responded by saying "No. by fresh, I mean... made right now... while I am waiting". She responded "These are the same. They were made this morning" I respond with "never mind. I really am not interested in getting into a long discussion. "
I start to walk away. She calls out "I can make it fresh for you... if you really want it". I tell her "never mind" And that's the end of that.

*further Update* Sept 10th: I figured I would try again. Ok. I'm a glutton for punishment. We went to Publix last night to pick up some desert. I tried once again to order a cuban sandwich. In front of us was a couple who actually, after spending 5 minutes in line, gave up on their order and walked out. I ordered my sandwhich. I noticed the sandwhich lady grabbing a loaf of regular bread out of the corner of my eye. I said "You're going to make it with cuban bread right"? And she says "If we have any". I say "Maybe you should find out eh?" So... the sandwhich girl wanders over the bakery department, to ask if they have cuban bread. She comes back and sayd "We are out of cuban bread". So I say "Well... thanks... but I don't want the cuban sandwhich without the cuban bread". She seems peeved with me. I don't bother to take her to task for being willing to have made a non-cuban sandwhich without cuban bread without telling me, or bothering to check first to see if they had the right ingredients. And so.. the Cuban Sandwhich Saga continues...


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