The Complaint Department is Now Open


Did you see the picture of the sandwich in this post? That’s the sad excuse for a sub that I received from a local restaurant in my area. For my son’s second birthday my husband and I decided to take the easy approach to party planning by ordering subs from a local sandwich shop. I think this may be the first time we didn’t spend the day cooking and preparing, but we wanted to enjoy the time with our friends and family and opted to let someone else prepare the food.

During the party I noticed one of the subs was missing quite a bit of meat, but to be honest I was rushing around entertaining and didn’t pay close attention to the quality of food. A few hours later as we were wrapping up the remaining subs I was dismayed by the quality of sandwiches we purchased. A sub that should have contained healthy portions of turkey, cheese and veggies contained almost two thin strips of lettuce, no cheese, barely any meat and the saddest excuse for a tomato that I’d ever seen.

I paid over $100 for a platter of sandwiches that were all similarly composed. Of course, no one at the party complained. Even my parents refrained from comment until I asked them about it.

That night I took pictures of the food we received and emailed the restaurant with my complaint. In essence I kindly stated that I’ve ordered from this particular establishment many times and that I’ve never had a problem with the quality of food before. I explained the state of the sandwiches and the fact that they lacked ingredients of every type and reasonable portion.

The very next day the owner of the store called to apologize. He asked me to email him the pictures and quickly offered to make amends of the situation. A few days later I picked up a $100 gift card, which was slightly less than the amount we paid for two platters of subs.

Over the years I’ve experienced hit and miss luck reaching out to stores with negative feedback. Sometimes I receive a ‘thanks for letting us know’ response and other times, like in this case, I received full compensation for whatever I purchased. For the record I did not expect to be fully compensated. Despite the bad food the party goers did eat a healthy portion of subs that afternoon.

The fact is that some stores appreciate your business more than others. I had a completely different reaction when I bought two stale cupcakes from an upscale grocery store. In that case I was told I needed to speak with a store manager in person about the problem.  Although I paid nearly $15, (yes I realize that’s a crazy amount for cupcakes, especially two unappetizing cupcakes), it certainly wouldn’t make sense to drive to the store to speak with someone about it. The store is a forty-five minute drive away from my house and I only travel there once or twice a year. I explained the situation to a customer service representative but they said that was standard store policy. Perhaps they decided I didn’t frequent the store often enough to be considered a valued customer or that $15 wasn’t worth the hassle of trying to compensate me for my troubles.

This post might make me sound like Debby Downer and I assure you that is not the case. While I do send out complaint letters I am equally prone to contacting businesses with words of praise. Of course, it’s more enjoyable to write about positive experiences, but it can also help the employees. Waiters and waitresses have been encouraged by pats on the back from their bosses and on occasion we’ve been told that our kind words resulted in unexpected bonuses.

Do you notify businesses when you are displeased with their goods or services? Is there a minimum amount you have to spend in order to justify the time and effort spent complaining? Have you ever reached out to a store or restaurant where you had an exceptional experience?

6 thoughts on “The Complaint Department is Now Open”

  1. Wow, I don’t blame you for complaining; that was one sorry looking sub! Earlier this year, I bought a pair of shorts at a Gymboree outlet that had the wrong size on the attached tag. I didn’t discover this until I got home (about a 45 minute drive away). When I called and spoke to the store manager about mailing back the shorts for a refund or exchange (because I certainly wasn’t going to make a long drive just to return some shorts that cost a few bucks), she said she had to get permission from Corporate. Really? After several phone exchanges, the company finally sent me a postage paid sticker to mail the item back to them. Several months went by with no refund. Since it was such a piddly amount, I was just going to let it go, but then thought about the back and forth phone calls with the store manager and was peeved that after all that, I wasn’t getting recompensated. So I mailed Gymboree a complaint letter. About a few weeks later, I saw a refund on my credit card statement. No letter or apology. That’s okay, at least they finally acknowledged me and took care of business.

  2. Oh don’t get me started on Gymboree. I’ve had a number of bad experiences with that store. I actually wrote about them a couple of times.

  3. I feel like most people complain do so to get all or some of their money back. I hate people like that. I am sorry if it comes off as rude, but if I was throwing a party, I wouldn’t wait to check on the sandwiches until after the guests leave (I wouldn’t serve subs at my party, but that’s a different story). Also I would only buy from a place where I’ve tried that exact same sandwich before. And I would be mortified that my guests had eaten sub par food that was put out by me. When I feel that getting $100 back or even $200 back wouldn’t appease me. Something similar happened with Grubhub recently. I ordered food, but it never came even after 2 hours. I called them to complain and they promptly refunded my money (for food that never arrived, not food I ate and then complained about) I mentioned that I was unhappy about this, since it was 9pm and I still hadn’t eaten dinner. And the rep just added more money to my grubhub account. That annoyed me because what I was expecting was a reason why this happened. Was there a glitch in the system? Did the restaurant forget my order? The more I tried to dig, the more money he tried to give me (I refused it) I feel that good customer service is trying to fix the problem asap. Like if you had complained before the party began and they had brought in more food in a short time. But I can’t blame them because you didn’t complain after the party was over and the food was eaten and he must have known all you wanted was money. It’s because of people like you that we don’t get good customer service. Throwing money at a complaint is not good customer service. And if I were you I wouldn’t have accepted that gift card and the bad karma that comes with it.

    • Thanks for your comment Jan. I completely agree with you on some points. 1 – I normally wouldn’t serve subs for a birthday party either. As I mentioned we typically cook food for our guests but we wanted to enjoy our time and didn’t want to bother with keeping hot food hot or worry about tiny fingers touching hot plates for this particular event. 2 – As I mentioned in my post we have eaten at this sub shop before and the food has never been subpar. 3 – We should have checked the subs prior to serving, but things got hectic and I just didn’t think about it. We’ve ordered before and the subs have always been tasty so honestly I didn’t think about verifying their quality. Also I picked up the subs just before the guests arrived (so the food would be fresh) and probably wouldn’t have had time to recreate the order in time. 4 – I actually don’t complain to get the money back, though it is nice when that happens, I complain in the hopes that others won’t have the same experience that I did. I think that complaining helps get better customer service for the next guy or gal, not the opposite. And on that fact we simply disagree.


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