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Behold the power of one ham sandwich


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Of Course it is one of the busiest weekends of the year where I work: Mothers Day, Graduation, various festivals all about town...let me set the stage. We are a small cafe, we sell our own artisan breads, lovely french pastries, homemade soups, espresso, ect. Our sandwiches are not made to order. Due to a high number of the lunch crowd and our limited seating, all of them are made in the morning

.....the phone rings around 9AM. It is a woman complaining that her ham sandwich yesterday was "soggy" and (I am NOT making this up!) it "ruined her day". Of course I appologize, offer a refund or replacement. She says that she wants a refund for said soggy sandwich ($5.95), her beverage ($2.25), 2 cookies (@ $1.50 ea) and a fruit tart she bough ($4.50).

Not only this (and yes, I know it isn't worth nit picking over such as small amout), she wants a check MAILED to her and our accountant to call her when she mails the check.

BTW, I have no receipt from this woman--this is all predicated on her word on the PHONE. I told her that accounting would contact her (and sucked it up once again and appologized the THIRD time). She let's me know again how her day was ruined.....BECAUSE OF A STINKING< FRE#%^KING HAM SANDWICH.

I am sorry but I have lost all my worldly belongings in a hurricane, totaled my car and almost myself, seen someone killed half a block away from me....these things "ruined" my day....JEEZ! But never the dreaded soggy ham sandwich....I don't think I would have the mental fortitude to handle that!

Is it just me burning out after a long weekend or is this woman out of line? :huh:

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She's crazy. I would tell the lady to come to the store, and if she could produce a reciept, I would give her a refund for the sandwich only. If she has a problem with that, I would just tell her it might not be a great idea for her to continue to be a patron of my business. This business is tough enough, you should tell her about this annoying customer who keeps ruining your day!

Tonyy13

Owner, Big Wheel Provisions

tony_adams@mac.com

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She's completely whacked, way out of line. Sounds like she's totally pulling a scam on you. :wacko:

Agree with Tonyy13 about the receipt -- she should absolutely show a receipt, especially for a check from the accountant. Gosh forbid if your cafe gets audited and you are missing this paper trail for an unaccounted check. Bet crazy customer won't bother to show up.

Assuming that she's for real, I'd offer store credit only, not cash. Still pissed? "We thank you for your past business, we're sorry we are unable to meet your needs. However, I'd be happy to recommend a few other bakeries/cafes/whatever in the area, why don't I write them down for you." Every customer is important, but at some point a business really has to draw the line. Does your business really care to keep a customer like that around?

Sorry to hear YOUR day got ruined by this nut!

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She's nuts. Don't give her a cent.

I wouldn't even reply to her. Situations like this can get very stupid very quickly. Nothing that you say will please her and she'll ruin your day even more.

BTW giving the refund can be taken as an admission that you did wrong and that you actually served her. If she's crooked she'll use that to sue you for something.

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No way do you give her a cent! If she comes in, it wouldn't be terrible to give her a store credit for the sandwich only, but if she gets what she asked from you that will only reinforce that ridiculous behavior and encourage her to do it elsewhere. She should have returned the sandwich either uneaten or partially eaten. Now if she got sick from it and that could be traced back to your establishment it would be a different story. That could indeed have "ruined her day."

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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If she actually calls back, keep saying this line

""....due to the fact that we are a small business we contract our accounting services out in another state, I will do my best to get in touch with them about your check.....""

evetually she will go away

tracey

The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

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I find it interesting that she was able to eat the soggy sandwich and didn't realize until the next day to complain. Had it happened on the spot, that's one thing. But the next day?

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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She's a nutjob. Did she drive over to pick up her food?? What about reimbursing her gas money. Did she take a hot shower to be presentable to the world before she got in her car and picked up her sandwich. Hot water ain't cheap either. She's probably related to the lady that cried when she looked at her Barney cake she had ordered. I mean Barney's pretty ugly but that ain't our fault. Hey she might be the Barney lady herself. We're both in Tennessee. Ask when she comes in if she likes Barney and see if she tears up. No no no don't be that obvious just hum a little Barney under your breath and watch if big ole tears don't well up. It's gotta be her!!

:laugh:

But that was a dang powerful bad ham sandwich to be able to shitcan the fruit tart and the cookies in one soggy hammy blow. But her drink was soggy too??? :rolleyes: Nyah I don't think so. You gotta draw the line somehwere :raz:

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Then again, maybe it's a lonely old lady with limited resources and too much time on her hands, and the sandwich really did ruin her day, at least in her own imagination? :sad:

Were that to be the case, I suppose I'd reimburse her and write it off as a charitable donation.

SB (we'll all be old some day)(if we're lucky) :wink:

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Then again, maybe it's a lonely old lady with limited resources and too much time on her hands, and the sandwich really did ruin her day, at least in her own imagination? :sad:

Were that to be the case, I suppose I'd reimburse her and write it off as a charitable donation.

SB (we'll all be old some day)(if we're lucky) :wink:

Dude, no way. I'm 56. If I'm not an old lady now, I will be shortly. I've been up to my ears in work and gotten a sh*tty take out and it was not cool. I could not go get anything else. I was not only not happy and overworked I was hungry and overworked and really really unhappy. I would never ask for a refund on cookies and a tart and a drink. wtf. If she was of limited means she would not be getting a meal like that with cookies and a tart. People on limited means don't spend more on treats than they do on the meal.

Just because you might be old and lonely doesn't mean a merchant needs to kya.

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I'd take her name, tell her on her next visit she can have a free sandwich (and maybe a beverage), and leave it at that. It's not like she complained about the quality of her beverage, cookies, or tart, so she has no case for reimbursement of those items. I can't think of any other business where you can buy several items, have one be defective, and expect a refund for all the items, without even having to provide proof of purchase for those items.

And really, she sounds like such a nutjob that no one would take her complaints seriously, anyway.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“A favorite dish in Kansas is creamed corn on a stick.”

-Jeff Harms, actor, comedian.

>Enjoying every bite, because I don't know any better...

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I don't know maybe the soggy sandwich did ruin her day or maybe she's a nutjob, who knows. Since you promised her a refund, you should send it to her. I don't think you have to get the accountant involved (unless you don't have the authority to sign checks). I would call her, tell the accountant only comes in once a month and to expedite the matter you will be mailing her the check, sending it registered mail (so she can't complain that she did not receive it). In the future you should have a policy if this ever happens again, maybe a store credit or a replacement.

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I'm not in the restaurant business but I have a number of friends who are and, from what they tell me, scams like this are not that uncommon. The incidents that I've heard about however, are demands for substantialy larger amounts of money.

Anyway, if it were me, I would do the following in a courteous and businesslike manner...

- Do not call her back - Sounds like your busy enough as it is.

- If she calls back, tell her you will not be sending a check. If she can produce a receipt, tell her to come to your cafe and you will give her a ham sandwich or something else of like value. Nothing doing on the other items.

- If she can't produce a receipt, tell her there is nothing that you can do. Case closed.

- If she does something goofy like threaten to sue you, give her your hours of operation so the sheriff will know when someone will be there to accept the summons.

- If she threatens to never patronize your cafe again, thank her profusely.

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Then again, maybe it's a lonely old lady with limited resources and too much time on her hands, and the sandwich really did ruin her day, at least in her own imagination? :sad:

Were that to be the case, I suppose I'd reimburse her and write it off as a charitable donation.

SB (we'll all be old some day)(if we're lucky) :wink:

Dude, no way. I'm 56. If I'm not an old lady now, I will be shortly. I've been up to my ears in work and gotten a sh*tty take out and it was not cool. I could not go get anything else. I was not only not happy and overworked I was hungry and overworked and really really unhappy. I would never ask for a refund on cookies and a tart and a drink. wtf. If she was of limited means she would not be getting a meal like that with cookies and a tart. People on limited means don't spend more on treats than they do on the meal.

Just because you might be old and lonely doesn't mean a merchant needs to kya.

I'm about as old as you, and I've been in small business all my life, including the restaurant business. I quite agree with your analysis, but please remember my post contained the qualifying words, "... in her own imagination."

I try and give people the benefit of the doubt. I've been scammed a few times, but I've also made a lot of sad, lonely and/or confused people feel a little better about unpleasant situations; real or imaginary.

And, lest you think I'm lobbying for beatification, I like to think I've come out ahead financially in the long run. :wink:

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Then again, maybe it's a lonely old lady with limited resources and too much time on her hands, and the sandwich really did ruin her day, at least in her own imagination? :sad:

Were that to be the case, I suppose I'd reimburse her and write it off as a charitable donation.

SB (we'll all be old some day)(if we're lucky) :wink:

Dude, no way. I'm 56. If I'm not an old lady now, I will be shortly. I've been up to my ears in work and gotten a sh*tty take out and it was not cool. I could not go get anything else. I was not only not happy and overworked I was hungry and overworked and really really unhappy. I would never ask for a refund on cookies and a tart and a drink. wtf. If she was of limited means she would not be getting a meal like that with cookies and a tart. People on limited means don't spend more on treats than they do on the meal.

Just because you might be old and lonely doesn't mean a merchant needs to kya.

I'm about as old as you, and I've been in small business all my life, including the restaurant business. I quite agree with your analysis, but please remember my post contained the qualifying words, "... in her own imagination."

I try and give people the benefit of the doubt. I've been scammed a few times, but I've also made a lot of sad, lonely and/or confused people feel a little better about unpleasant situations; real or imaginary.

And, lest you think I'm lobbying for beatification, I like to think I've come out ahead financially in the long run. :wink:

I get yah. Myself, I totally err on the side of I'd rather be taken advantage of somewhat than be a jerk. And I taught the kids that too. Help other people oh yes. It's easier to recover from being taken advantage of. Being a jerk can become a lifelong commitment.

Yes, 'in her imagination', but still, the lonely little old lady is dumping. She is dumping all her troubles into her lunch bag onto Molly and still it just ain't fair. Get a free replacement sandwich maybe, but not the rest. If she was pathetic, a sandwich and a drink. Since she's a bitch, hell no. And the reason being, I've done that and it has the potential to hugely backfire. I have to be fair to me and my business too. I pick which charity case I take on. Nobody gets to direct my charitable givings.

Here's what I mean, on a business level, I can't and won't do more for one person than I'm willing to do for each person that trades with me. She'll tell someone else and I'm not gonna give free food.

We're kinda saying the same thing-ish. Maybe I've been burnt more.

Grace and I were ordering at a bookstore cafe, nice place. The ladies at the table next to us had finished their meal and were chewing the manager a new one about how awful each item that had already been consumed was. How they had driven alll the way there from out of state just to eat there (yeah right) and oh it fell far below their expectations bladeebladeeblah. They sky is falling the sky is falling. They already ate it all. He comped the whole tab. I was creeped out. To me that was wrong.

Then there's the story of that Santa Claus man that gave away money. Earlier in his life he had been down on his luck and was so hungry he ordered a meal in a Mississippi diner despite the fact he could not pay. The owner of the diner foresaw the dilema and discreetly dropped a ten or a twenty near the man so he could pay for his meal and save face. The man's 'luck' eventually changed and he became the Kansas City Secret Santa, who every year handed out cash to people in December.

Soggy sandwich lady might become one of Santa's elves but...she's got some 'splaining to do.

Edited by K8memphis (log)
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I wish I led a life so charmed that an allegedly soggy ham sandwich could ruin my day. Not only that, but that it could affect me so deeply that only a total reimbursement for the whole meal would even come close to making it right.

People pull this shit with regularity. Whenever they'd call us I would apologize profusely and politely inform them that I'd be more than happy to refund the item or give them a new one (same for same) the next time they came in. They never did. Not once.

We were once featured on TV and the very next day someone called in claiming they 'got sick off the brownies.' I had been making brownies in the story. My wife asked the person what type of illness they had. Nonspecific reply. Were they allergic to nuts? She didn't know. Were there nuts in the brownie she ate? Yes! Yes there were! At that point my wife informed her that the brownies that were for sale on the day in question didn't have any nuts in them (truly) because we had run out of walnuts. The lady hung up abruptly and we never heard from her again.

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- If she threatens to never patronize your cafe again, thank her profusely.

Best advice so far!

Honestly, there is such a thing as BAD customers.

The place where you work sounds very much like my work. We have really loyal regular customers who will come in 3 or 4 times a day for coffee, sandwiches and treats. I can't even fathom spending $8 or $9 dollars a day on coffee alone.

These customers never complain, or if they do it's reluctantly. And we are strive to keep all our customers happy, not just the ones that are in daily. The customers that do complain are ALWAYS people who buy one cake a year, or come in once every 4 months for croissants etc. The one thing the complainers all have in common is that they give off the attitude that our shop would go out of business if it weren't for THEIR patronage. Behold the power of one delusional customer! :biggrin:

If only I'd worn looser pants....

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I can see it now:

A lawsuit for recovery of damages plus pain and suffering.

Fifty million dollars!

Jackie Childs representing the plaintiff!

Maybe even a class action on behalf of all your patrons that fateful

and soggy day.

Headlines from court documents and trial transcripts proclaiming your establishment's shoddy practice of preparing

sandwiches in advance--what they are laying around getting soggy

all morning. Even worse patrons are not properly notified that all sandwiches are

NOT prepared to order and may be pre made.

Also no warning or clearly stated policy that any consumer complaints must be registered on the day of purchase of their food thus opening you up to everyone who may have been served a soggy sammy since your establishment has opened.

You people have some nerve ruining the lives of hundreds of innocent and unsuspecting diners all because you greedy capitalists want to save time and money preparing food ahead of time!

seriously, I really sympathize with anyone who has to deal with and serve the general public these days. I don't see any way this incident is being misread by you.

I probably would have told the woman after sincere apologies that "we" will gladly refund her the price of the sandwich but note that the fact she has no receipt and is notifying you a day late. I also like the advice from an earlier poster to simply offer a free sandwich and beverage. The woman is clearly a disgruntled nut.

You seem to be more than accommodating. I hope this kind of incident doesn't get to you too much. The service industry needs thoughtful and caring people like you!

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(Politely and sweetly) turn it back on her: if she ever gets in touch to chase up her cheque, explain to her that you contacted your accountant as she requested. However, your accountant advised you that she couldn't possibly send out a cheque without the original receipt to match it against in the accounts. Sadly, your hands are therefore tied unless this customer could let you have the original receipt.

As well as avoiding the wholly undeserved refund, it may teach her to be more moderate in her demands to future victims: after all, she can only have made the 'accountant' stipulation to be awkward!

Caroline

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