CHOICE membership

Customer Service Fails


There is an ancient Chinese proverb which states “Man who cannot smile should not open shop”.

This should be extrapolated to “Persons devoid of customer service skills should not work in retail”.

When I went to the Lenard’s shop at Stockland in Cairns the other day, I said to the girl behind the counter that I wanted 1 kg of chicken necks.

She picked up the only pack of chicken necks in the display cabinet. I asked how much they weighted and she replies that she did not know, so I asked her to weigh them which she begrudgingly did, and it was around 700 gm.

I asked her it there were any more and she replied no, so I asked if there was any more stock out the back and she replied she did not know. I asked her if she could check and she begrudgingly went out and asked a young male who returned with a carton full of them.

She finally managed to bag up another 300 gm of them and I completed the purchase.

She would probably be the worst customer service person I have ever come across.

Laws Regarding Australian Coinage

For me a big customer service fail is when I have to wait in a long queue at a supermarket for choosing not to use self-serve. People who don’t want to/are unable to use self serve shouldn’t be punished with a 10-15 minute queue unless there aren’t enough tills/staff available. What normally happens at my local supermarkets is there are a bunch of staff milling around but the managers have made a deliberate decision to only have one till operating out of 10.


For me a customer service fail is when I make an obscure humorous observation or ask a benign technical question, and the sales staff takes on a face that suggests they have something better to do with their day!

I may be a little inept at starting the conversation sometimes. That does not mean I don’t want to make a purchase. Typically I would not be there asking for assistance or making conversation if I was not intent on a purchase.

From an alternate view point is this a customer fail and personality defect?

If you are a Woolworths Store Manager in Brisbane who’s trolleys migrate to the bus-stop near the top of a roller coast driveway, it is definitely a customer personality failure that I don’t accept the store excuse for not recovering the trolleys on a regular basis.

Unfortunately shopping elsewhere will not change this situation, and the heroes in the Brisbane City Council who respond to such issues have a 30 day turn around.

To stay closer to topic - is customer service any better when the business you are dealing with are owner operators, and any staff are personally invested in the success of the business?


In the past when I’ve worked specialty retail I did my best to help out plenty of people who weren’t making a purchase. Being an ass to them doesn’t benefit me, them or the business so as long as I have time why not help?


My post above was intended as an update to my original post “Laws Regarding Australian Coinage” but as @BBG chose to split the topic, I will continue on under the new name.

After the totally unacceptable “customer service” experience that I received at Lenard’s a few days ago, I experienced the diametrically opposed opposite of it at our local shopping centre this afternoon.

The Coles supermarkets in our local shopping centres use their own staff to recover their shopping trolleys whilst Woollies use ITM to recover their trolleys.

When I returned to our vehicle with a small Coles shopping trolley this afternoon, I noticed that a Woollies trolley had been left near our vehicle by some inconsiderate grub who was either too lazy and/or too ungrateful to undertake the extreme effort to move it to an appropriate location.

After I had placed our reusable hessian shopping bags in our vehicle, I started to move the Coles trolley to a trolley bay when a voice from behind me say “Can I take that for you”.

The person was a young male of Asian appearance wearing an ITM Hi-Viz jacket so he was obviously paid to collect Woollies trolleys including the one near our vehicle, but he voluntarily took my Coles trolley back to the nearest trolley return bay.

This is the sort of person who should be working in retail, who is obviously prepared to go above and beyond, even when it is not a part of their job.

When I was in high school many years/decades ago, a teacher recited a story of a manager who had advertised a position for a young employee.

The manager placed a book on the floor opposite his desk as though it had fallen there, but all of the applicants totally ignored it when they entered the office for their interview, with one sole exception.

According to the story, this applicant got the job.


I have dealt with a few who were quite Basil Fawlty like.

One example was a gent who had a gardening/grounds keeping business I hired to do some hedge trimming and in spite of his assurances he could do the job, he discovered he bit off more than he could deliver because he did not have certain equipment. No worries about his effort or work ethic but when he finished, rather than a walk-around to see how satisfied I was with what he could do, his position was essentially ‘I cannot do any better so just pay me’. I paid him and deleted his contact details.


Self fulfilling outcomes?

I had a contractor who provided undergrowth clearing and mulching services. His machine was just a slasher on the front of a bobcat style machine. Nice operator and keen.

Next time we used a different contractor at three times the hourly rate with a proper log grinding head, (10 times more productive). For every thing else we now have a tractor with a slasher.

The value and cost of experience. Fortunately for more everyday things Choice helps to save on costs and includes experience.


You should have hired this guy instead.