Angie's Leap

My dive into blogging: music, technology, saving money

scattered pennies

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Chipotle’s penny antics and customer (diss)service

The hubbub this week about Chipotle “rounding up” customer bills, in effect cheating customers by pennies at a time, reminded me of a savings fundamental as well as my own similar experience. One lesson is clear: count your change. Yet I can understand how easily this basic savings no-brainer can be ignored in our hustle-and-bustle society.

The whole incident also made me think about the level of poor customer service I’m willing to accept and where I draw the line. (Yeah, downright ripping me off will get me off your customer list for sure.)

During the time I was taking classes downtown I had two choices for my morning java jolt if I was unable to grab a cup at home: Mickey D’s and a doughnut/coffee chain which shall remain unnamed. Mickey D’s offered the better deal: $1 for a  cup of Joe, any size. I usually kept a bottle of my favorite coffee flavoring in the fridge at school to spice it up, and I’d be good. But I liked the doughnut chain’s coffee better, and they had more flavor additions as well. My point is that I was willing to spend a little more for something I like more — even though this doughnut chain’s line sometimes stretched outside the door.

Then I noticed my receipts and changed weren’t jibing at the doughnut shop. At first I thought it was accidental. After it happened more than once, I knew it was no accident. So one morning I called the cashier on it, showing her the receipt and the change in my hand. I didn’t care how many people were standing outside in line; as a person in the story said, it was the principle of the thing.

The cashier told me they didn’t have any pennies. Right. I shook my head and told her I needed her to get my money right. This chick, who claimed to have no pennies, then proceeded to give me about 32 cents worth of Abe Lincolns. And I proceeded to count them out on the counter, one by one.

I won’t be back to that shop again. I thought about all those people they probably were getting away with ripping off daily, all because folks are too busy to pay attention. Haste makes waste, indeed. It can also  make a nice profit for an unscrupulous business/cashier. A friend back in high school told me he worked at a store where cashiers worked a similar scam.

I had contemplated crossing this doughnut shop off my list before because a shop at another location wasn’t getting the coffee flavors right. Maybe it was skimping, just putting a drop in when a large cup needed more; I just knew I wasn’t tasting any flavor. The second time this happened I stopped going there.

I could go on with more poor customer service stories, but I really wonder if businesses are losing out as a result of such practices. Do they care about how many good customers are lost, or are these casualties just factored into the cost of doing business? More important, where do you, as a consumer, draw the line and stop patronizing an establishment with poor customer service?