So I went into Quizno’s this afternoon, just like I have every day of the first week in this office, to buy a refill for my big soda cup. Each time I go in I ask for a refill and the guy behind the counter charges me for a small soda. $1.29 for a refill is more than double what a refill goes for around here but I’m lazy so I was happy to pay it (e.g. China Panda charges .52 for a refill and the Chevron charges .82).
This quiet Sunday afternoon when I went in there I was greeted by an middle aged woman who was unfamiliar with the cash register and not wearing a Quizno’s uniform. It’s easy to spot the owners at a place like this. It’s the haughty expression and the disdain for the uniform as a well as the total incompetence…they work hard to communicate the “I would never be an employee here, just an owner” through their every action.
When I asked for a refill, and a chocolate chip cookie that I didn’t need, she declined. She said, “we don’t do refills.” I said, “how about charging me for a small soda then?” “But that’s a large soda cup. No, we don’t do refills.” I explained to her that I had been buying refills from her store all week long. She informed that that deal ended now and she was going to train her employees better. I said, okay, I’ll take a large soda. And she told me, “not if it it’s not going in a Quizno’s cup.” For those who think, “maybe she was doing it for health reasons. Maybe she’s not allowed to fill customer cups. The quick answer is that it’s a serve yourself soda location
It’s moments like this that a massive dark rage wells up within me. The fact that she didn’t understand that her biggest expense is the cup, that the margin on soda is the highest margin in the place, that I’m saving her money and increasing her margin, that I was buying the damn cookie just so it wouldn’t be a piddling $1.29 purchase, that I am, after all, THE CUSTOMER, all of these simple business concepts completely eluded her. She stood her ground like Patton. “There’s no key on this register for a refill and we certainly aren’t going to make one for you” she announced with the authority that ownership brings.
But this is the new me. Where in the past I would have let me rage show, I would have told her exactly how pathetically dumb she is, ahhh, not anymore. This is the Dale Carnegie me. I quietly assessed her and realized that you cannot oppose superior power with power. She is the master of her domain and unless I was willing to resort to violence I would surely lose by going head to head. So I changed tactics and said, “I would really like to buy a refill and I’m happy to pay for it but part of the reason that I use a refillable cup is that I don’t like wasting things when I can avoid it. It’s better for the environment if we all go with refillable containers instead.”
She was ready for it with a quick, “I do plenty for this planet.” For some reason I sort of doubt her on that one, but whatever.
“The cup is the expensive part of this transaction, if you just don’t give me the cup, you’ll make more money, I said.
“WE DON’T DO REFILLS” she thundered at me.
Still outwardly calm, like the terminator, I didn’t say all the things I thought like:
1. For this stupid $1.29 transaction you’re willing to burn a customer for life?
2. How much revenue can I drive away from this location in the next 10 years?
3. How much revenue can I drive away from the parent company in the next 10 years?
Instead I went with the plain vanilla, “I think you are making an unwise business decision.” She was clearly done with me and she announced, “I am completely comfortable with my business decision. I think I know my business better than you.”
I calmly went on my way and gave The Panda my hard earned jing.
She won the battle, no doubt, but we’ll see who wins the war. It has just begun.