Wednesday, July 8, 2009

My venting got an apology

I spent six of my teen years working in customer service positions.  I've bussed tables, waited tables, scooped ice cream, made hoagies, interfaced with thousands of customers daily as a Wawa cashier, worked in a few retail stores, worked for the U.S. Coast Guard, and ran the front desk of an ocean front motel.   All this before age 20.  Each job was either a Summer job (some years I had 2 full-time summer jobs) or a seasonal position.  I know how to treat customers with the dignity and respect they deserve, and I know what it is like to be treated with less courtesy than you might bestow on a dog by those customers.  As a result of my many years in the customer service realm, I expect to be treated properly as a customer.  I am respectful of the people who are working often thankless jobs for a poor wage when I encounter them in my daily life.  Because I know what it is like to be in their shoes, I never treat them badly as others have done to me.  My only expectation is that you treat me respectfully and do your job well.  If you do an exceptional job, I will tell your manager or email corporate and sing your praises.  If you accord me the worst service ever or treat me poorly, expect that your manager and the corporate office will be getting a fully detailed report of my experience.

On Monday I had a pretty awful experience at a local Gymboree where the store manager for some reason or another decided to treat my daughter in a way that did not respect her dignity as a human being.  She denied my child who had an urgent potty need the use of their rest facilities.  I emailed the corporate offices of Gymboree and told them what happened.  Today I received a call from the district manager.  She apologized for the incident and explained that the associate I encountered was a new manager who according to the district manager was "not properly trained" with regards to children and bathroom emergencies.

I've had problems with Gymboree in the past that warranted intervention from the district manager.  The last time I had an issue (3 years ago) it was handled so badly that I cut back my patronage of Gymboree by 95%.  If I haven't mentioned it prior to today, I used to essentially be addicted to clothing my girls from head to toe in Gymboree.  At that time, the district manager thought that telling me about their stores that were set to open soon and hardly apologizing was a good way to smooth over a bad incident.  It wasn't, and I essentially decided they didn't deserve my money.  

The bathroom incident from this week was enough to make me seriously ponder whether or not Gymboree is deserving of the $200-300 that I now spend there annually.  While talking to the district manager today, she asked me to give them another try.  I told her I didn't know if I wanted to bother.  She continued to push, so I asked her how she was going to entice me to shop there.  Her response "With our awesome product!".  I told her that was nice, but I saw no incentive.  She didn't understand.  So I had to explain to her when I go to Olive Garden and we have a dreadful experience (and we've had more than our fair share given that we are there almost weekly) that they ask us to give them another try and they offer us a gift card to do so.  After I spelled it out for her, I told her the apology was nice, but a discount on a future shopping trip or a gift card would be the only way they'd see me walk through their door again.  I explained to her that Gymboree isn't the only children's store that sells cute clothes and I listed a few other stores that would love my business.  In the end she decided that she would mail me a coupon for a future trip.  I'm satisfied (not impressed), but I think it's sort of funny that they refused to do that three years ago.  If they had done that three years ago, they may not have lost me a regular customer.


  1. That's unbelievable! How much training is needed to know that refusing to allow a child to use the restroom is not good policy for a children's clothing store?

  2. good for you for telling the district manager about the poor customer service and for trying to get them to make it worthwhile to keep you as a customer. They should have offered something like that before you had to push for it



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