I’ve worked in customer service for most of my adult life in: retail, small business/sales, cafes, catering and library work. It’s not easy working with the public but through the years, I’ve honed my sensitivity and empathetic skills. I have my off days, but I’ve learned how to calm customers and find solutions to their problems. I think the key to good customer service is genuinely listening to people’s situations and finding fair compromises and conclusions.
There’s no perfect system and sometimes policies go against ideal customer service but I think that’s when certain rules should be bent, depending on the circumstances. For instance at the library where I work, policies that were causing difficulties for our patrons were changed in favor of the patrons. We eliminated late fees and created automatic renewals and we increased the amount of materials that could be checked out to name a few customer oriented improvements. This was done so that patrons that had late fees and couldn’t afford to pay them, could return to using the library without the burden of the financial strain. Our motto became, “people over policies” and I think the changes have been successful and well appreciated.
While libraries have become more lenient and welcoming to patron’s needs, it seems the opposite has occurred in the business sector which I think is detrimental, not only to the customers but to the employees of disreputable companies, because they are the front line for receiving customer’s anger and outrage. New business models of “self-employment” in ride share companies like Uber/Lyft and delivery services from restaurants and grocery stores is the new wave in work but it I keep hearing stories about how ripped off these employees are feeling. They don’t receive benefits because of the loophole of being “self-employed”. I’ve heard of one homeless driver who sleeps crouched in a fetal position in her car because she can’t afford the high rents in the Bay Area. I bet no one would guess that she’s homeless.
This sounds like a perfect storm situation, where the couriers are not making enough money and it can lead to internal theft. I think most company thefts are from disgruntled employees, theft is wrong but I think the ones who resort to it rationalize that they’re getting their fair share of the company’s bloated profits. I wonder if background checks are mandatory for the drivers? A recent video I saw on YouTube showed how a food delivery driver stole mail packages from the apartment lobby after the customer received their food and was out of sight. The driver lingered, made sure no one was around and then stole several boxes of deliveries. It was captured on a surveillance camera, the company, DoorDash said they fired her but did they conduct a criminal record search before they hired her?
I think every courier should pass a criminal record check before being hired, especially the Uber/Lyft drivers. Customer’s privacy is no longer protected (personal information like home/work address and cell phone information are given to the drivers) but the identity of the driver is protected. I think there’s a huge potential for stalking, rape or theft; especially when the passenger is young and drunk and it’s late at night. I’m sure most drivers are good people but the potential for a predator taking advantage of the situation is high in my opinion.
Yesterday I learned my lesson to never use the food delivery service, Grubhub again. I originally signed up for the service called Eat 24, (I had no issues with them) but they unfortunately merged with Grubhub a few years ago. Grubhub on the other hand has been nothing but trouble.
On weekends I like to relax at home with my son, we splurge on take out food and on particularly cold days I order food delivery. I don’t drive, so this convenience is worth the exuberant delivery fees which sometimes are more expensive than the actual food. I always tip the couriers and sometimes add more to my tip after the delivery, depending on how cool the courier was. Some are rude, they double park their car across the street and motion for me to come get it; while others come to the apartment gate. Some even go the extra step by taking the elevator to my floor and knocking on my door, they’re very sweet but rare. I tip couriers that use bicycles higher because of the greater effort they’re making and I don’t bother them when it’s raining, (it seems mean to ask bicyclists to endanger their lives by venturing out into bad weather).
I’ve worked in jobs where tips are crucial to making ends meet so I try to tip more than the minimum; I’m not independently wealthy, but I tip what I can to even out the minimum wage that most servers barely survive under. Yesterday was no exception, I ordered a delicious lunch for my son and I and we waited patiently for about 45 minutes for the food. I made sure my phone ringer was on and at a high volume, while I periodically checked the tracking status of the order.
Finally I could see the driver’s car a few blocks away and I left the room. Within a minute my son said, “It says our food was delivered!” He’s a tech savvy kid and usually watches out for deliveries by looking out of our balcony window. I told him, “The driver must be downstairs, I’ll be right back.” When I checked outside, there was no driver.
I went back upstairs to online chat with Grubhub customer service and they told me that the deliver called me and left when I didn’t answer my phone. No one called me, there was no ring and no record of a call but they chose to believe their driver over me. I then called Grubhub customer service thinking I would get a better response, but nope, they too believed the driver over me. They made no attempt to redeliver my food even though the driver was probably still nearby. They said they “couldn’t” refund the $35 dollars I spent, (including a generous tip to the driver) for goods that I never received. How is this fair? What other legitimate business can refuse to refund money from customers that they’ve stolen from?
I can survive being ripped off $35 bucks, but I can’t understand what has happened to customer service and basic fairness in the new business model? Grubhub offered to give me a 50% discount on my next order, ha! I told them there would Never be a next order from me. I imagined the asshole driver eating the food I ordered while enjoying my tip and income from Grubhub and I fumed. I hope he choked on our yummy potstickers! Customer service is dead in this new economy.