September 6, 2012
We don't often think about who pioneered the old adage that "The customer is always right." I imagine that far from making a simple request, this individual (probably Jewish) approached a manager about a situation that could have easily been resolved. The famous words, “Excuse me! You charged me for pickles” opened the doors for the rest of us to complain at will and no matter what, always be right.
“Elliot, can you make the chicken a little rare?” he once asked me.
“Sorry, Dr. Davis. I think chicken is supposed to cooked?”
“Yea, well I like my chicken a little pink.”
If he wants to be called Dr. Davis who was I to argue? If he tips me, he can eat all the raw chicken he wants. I didn't want him to complain. Besides, the customer is always right. The larger and more pressing question--how does any business so reliant on customer satisfaction meet the egregious needs of their customers?
My favorite movie theatre, Los Feliz 3 was recently faced with this dilemma. A customer, who shall not be named, took his girlfriend to see a Saturday night 9:40pm showing of the feature film “Cosmopolis” starring Robert Pattinson. The film was not what they expected as you can read in the email below written to the theatre owner:
Thank you for your understanding, and look forward to hearing from you.
A day later, the patron received the following email from the theatre's owner:
Good Day Shmelliot,
I am sorry to hear that you did not enjoy "Cosmopolis" at the Los Feliz Cinemas on Saturday. Our film buyers strive to book films for a broad range of tastes and regrettably we cannot always be sure that everyone will enjoy the choices we make available. . For your information, our policy in cooperation with the studios is to allow refunds up to the first 20 minutes of any given feature. As tickets are good and negotiable the date of sale only we are unable to discuss a refund in this case. You indicated that you departed the venue at 10:30 PM which is of course beyond the 20 minute window. Personal taste for all of us is just that, personal, and we normally cannot afford to provide refunds to customers due to a bad film review. However I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to write regarding your experience with us and hope you will accept a Courtesy Pass good for two admissions for a date in the future as a token of my appreciation. Please let me know if you would like me to set up a mailing of the Courtesy Pass to you and I will post immediately upon reciept of your mailing address. If you prefer to pick up in person please let me know. Thank you again for contacting me.
In the above exchange the customer explained that he did not like the film. The owner explained that the movie theatre is not responsible for who likes the film. Because the patron spoke with the manager in person and followed up with a cordial email, the owner willingly made an exception in accommodating the customer with complimentary passes. Indeed it was a good day for Shmelliot.