This post was written by my sister, Marissa, whose adventures with terrible service make mine look like a walk in the park! 

By Marissa Sidel

I’m not looking for a freebie…I just want my salad.

My brother (who also happens to be my VP at work) and I had a meeting today with a supplier. During that meeting, my brother mentioned that we both have high expectations when it comes to customer service and that up to now, we had been disappointed with the product in question.

In an age in which customer service has died without any resurrection in sight, it got me thinking: Are our expectations unreasonable?

With the appropriate white-toothed smile, the sales rep assured us we would be thrilled with our new copier and that in addition to the new colour ink feature, rainbows and puppies would shoot out of the it each time we made a copy. Expecting nothing, we gave the required amount of enthusiasm to the deal and then went on with our business day.

In an age in which customer service has died without any resurrection in sight, it got me thinking: Are our expectations unreasonable?

Every day I find myself getting annoyed by the people in the service industry. The Starbucks I frequent installed a wonderful drive-through for convenience and it now takes me 15 minutes to get my coffee in the morning instead of the five it took when I used to go inside. I called SB to mention it and they offered to send me a $5 gift card.

Bell recently spent an accumulated 9 hours on the phone with me processing my upcoming move. Eventually after I finally told my story (for the 7th time) to a manager, she waived my move fee and comped my last bill. She did not however, give me the 9 hours of my life I’ll never get back. With their legendary craptastic customer service, Air Canada has sent me more discount codes for future flights than I can count as compensation for previous snafus.

I think you see where I’m going with this. Instead of actually doing their jobs, the service industry seems to have become this gift card-compensating mega machine where poor service equals compensation or indifference. No apology because G-d forbid a staff member gets in trouble (he may have to go out on stress leave) or an employee actually be expected to perform his job properly. No. That’s the unreasonable request by the awful customer who has the audacity to spend money and expect some form of service in return.

We must be crazy.

What’s the solution? Don’t kid yourself, no one is going to boycott Starbucks; we like our half-caf double decaffeinated half-cafs (with a twist of lemon) way too much to take a stand. We may get upset at the poor service but we’ll still shell out the $9 for coffee; most of us aren’t switching to Videotron and I can’t drive to Israel instead of flying. What does that say about us as consumers? And, when we do get excellent service, we are genuinely moved by it, even to tears and we talk about it for days afterwards.

Tonight I ordered pasta and a salad from a restaurant and the driver forgot my salad. He went back to get my salad and decided to do his other deliveries on the way back. When I called to find out his eta 25 minutes later, the owner offered to send me a free tiramisu. I sighed and thanked him and told him I just wanted my dinner.

Now I’m off to Starbucks for a macchiato… Hopefully this won’t lead to a series of mistakes and ensuing gift cards. I just want my coffee.