Dairy Queen Sends You A Friendly Email, Wonders How You Feel About Barry Bonds

Reader Andrew and his friend Chris went to Dairy Queen and had a crappy experience. Chris decided to send Dairy Queen the entire story of his life, but before he ran out of characters on the web form, he did manage to mention that a certain DQ was understaffed.

We get the impression that Chris didn’t really think anyone was going to read his letter. Well, it seems that Dairy Queen does, in fact, read their email.

Who knew?

Chris writes to Dairy Queen:

Hello there,
First of all, my name is Chris and I have been a long time consumer of Dairy Queen. It is the oldest dining experience memory that I have, this should prove that to you; the first DQ that I went to was in Pleasant Hill, Oregon, and I remember dipping the saltine crackers into my water glass at the age of 5 (yes, a glass cup, this proves how long ago this was…crackers on the table and glass cups). Since we are in the trust tree and I’m being honest and putting everything out there, I still dip crackers into water when I have the chance, it reminds me of the old days.

Anyway, I LOVE Dairy Queen, so do my best friends. For example, this evening I took a picture on my camera phone of my two friends eating their blizzards and sent it to four of my friends back at home. I don’t like going to McDonald’s, Burger King, or Carl’s Junior. I live in SD and there are times, like tonight, where my friends and I say something along the lines of, “it’s been way too long since we have had some DQ, but I need some hot eats too…” This then requires us to drive 40 minutes north of Pacific Beach San Diego to Encinitas to find the gold pot a the end of the rainbow. I hope whoever is reading this is realizing what DQ has meant to my friends and I growing up. Speaking of that, I grew up in Eugene, Oregon where my best friends and I would frequent the DQ on the corner of Coburg Rd. and Willakenzie. I have probably delivered $5,000 gross profit (sales- $10,000) for DQ in my lifetime thus far. The restaurant is spectacular, service is amazing for how many customers are constantly flowing through the doors, overall experience grade= A. (FYI, I’m chatting on line with my friend who lives in San Francisco, I told him about what I’m writing you guys right now, here is his part of our convo: Steve: i do miss our DQ back home man, I only ate there once last time i was home…me: ya seriously,so legit, we took it for granted. that’s for sure…Steve: for some reason, it’s just better)

Back to the point. We travel up to this DQ in Encinitas every now and then because we WANT DQ that bad. It takes us back to our hometown days, post sporting event parties, high school lunches (hundreds of them), family dinners, etc. This DQ that we go to is horrible for a couple reasons EVERY time, and before I go any further I want to say that all of these reasons fall onto the shoulders of whoever “owns” this particular restaurant, NOT the employees. So, here it is; 6:00 pm dine-in time and there are TWO high school kids working the entire place. TWO KIDS. There is a line of 15 people waiting to be served. God forbid you order real grill food (like us) because they have to actually cook and take orders at the same time. This leads to burnt onion rings and fries. It took us 45 minutes to get our food, then we had to go ask them to make our blizzards because they were so swamped. There was no manager. I’VE REACHED MY MAXIMUM AMOUNT OF CHARACTERS NOW! I have more to say…..

Beth, from Dairy Queen, replies:

Dear Chris,

Really, Glass cups? How old are you, 100? I made sure to make the font of me e-mail extra big so you would be able to read it.

Thank you for contacting International Dairy Queen, Inc. (IDQ) and bringing your experience to our attention. IDQ works with each of its independent franchise operators to ensure that we are offering our customers the best products and service possible during every visit, and we are very sorry to learn that you have been disappointed in the Encinitas store! I always find it amazing how large SD is and there are probably 3 stores and they are all in Fashion Valley…

Your web comments were too great, I enjoyed the personal touch, so thank you for the smile. I was just curious, being a Minnesotan, I couldn’t care less, but, being from CA, how does it feel to have someone from New York, a mets fan nonetheless, catch #756?

Your comments have been documented and forwarded to all appropriate IDQ personnel for their review. Additionally, we have forwarded your concerns to the independent franchise owner of this restaurant for their information and investigation. I have also sent along several gift certificates in the mail for you to use toward a future purchase on me.

Thank you again for taking the time to share your experience with us and please have a fantastic weekend!

Best Regards,

Beth

Beth Carlson
Consumer Relations Specialist
International Dairy Queen, Inc

Well, Beth. Being from Chicago ourselves, we don’t care about Barry Bonds either, but whatever takes the focus off the Cubs getting swept by Houston is fine with us.

Er, what a nice letter.

(Photo:Brian Wallace)

Comments

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  1. jmschn says:

    hmm interesting read…i thought the response that jokingly asked if the OP was 100 was kind of strange…but i guess it is aligned to how the letter was informally written.

  2. yg17 says:

    Well, I guess it’s better than a canned reply…

  3. demonradio says:

    Haha, that’s cute. When I replied to customer emails at my old job, I’d always try to make it known that a real live person read them. Whether it was throwing in a smiley face or a joke or anything of the sort, and I found that customers really appreciated it. It’s nice that this woman from DQ took the time do to that, because I know at *my* old job they really laid into us to answer a certain amount of emails per hour and sometimes it was really hard to do. Kudos to her.

    And now I feel like a banana cheesequake. Who’s with me?

  4. BelBivDevolkswagen says:

    Go Astros?

  5. scoobers says:

    The letter is great, it is always nice to have a personal touch in a response instead of the stoic form response letter. That being said, in my opinion anyone who runs a hospitality business should be routinely checking to see that the guests/customers will have a great experience every time they visit. In the case of Chain Restaurants, I think they could have some “mystery shoppers” to check out the different locations and report back to the Corporate Office. If you are relying solely on your customers to report problems then you have already failed as far as customer service goes. At the same time customer feedback is valuable and important, but there are certain things that the customer should never have to experience let alone point out the glaring and obvious shortcomings.

  6. MadMolecule says:

    That’s a GREAT letter. I hate it when I send a complaint and get a response that’s obviously pasted in from some corporate CYA template; if I’m complaining, I want to feel like an actual person has read and thought about my letter.

  7. Buran says:

    Hey, that’s silly that she went off topic, but I think it’s always nice to see that an amusing letter amused someone somewhere, and get a personal response. I’ve started to make it a point to reply and thank the writer, where possible.

    Valve Software personally responded to me when I wrote in thanking them for closed-captioning Half-Life 2 and making a suggestion that would have helped me out quite a bit (and would help other hard of hearing users), for example. They got a thank you for the thank you.

    Don’t know if it helps, but if people show appreciation, maybe it’ll happen more.

  8. Buran says:

    @MadMolecule: What’s worse is when they paste the WRONG FORM REPLY!

  9. ikes says:

    The thing i found odd about this is that there is a Dairy Queen in Pacific Beach. It’s an A-frame building and it has a drive through which goes RIGHT THROUGH the center of the building. (unless they closed in the last 6 months. that was the last time i drove past it).

  10. timmus says:

    I bet she doesn’t last more than a few weeks. She’ll either get promoted (she’s good, and hasn’t risen to her level of incompetence yet) or fired for not toeing the party line of proper business correspondence. Of course I’ve always been a bit of a cynic.

  11. bilge says:

    Better than when I sent Northwest Airlines a complimentary letter and got back a form letter thanking me for pointing out how their service fell short.

  12. lasertagsp says:

    Awesome: a reason to talk about Dairy Queen AND the Cubs! Perfect!

    If you’re in Chicago, do what I used to do on a hot summer night:

    There’s a (relatively) new DQ in Lakeview on Southport that’s right by a school and down the block from the Music Box Theater. Go and grab some ice cream and watch the cubs play on one of the couple tvs they have in there, then either join in on the bar scene or go check out an old movie at the Music Box after they win.

    This is going to be the year, btw, I don’t care about the Astros: the cubbies just needed a little break!

  13. Meg Marco says:

    @lasertagsp: I’ve done this exact thing.

  14. Cowboys_fan says:

    @lasertagsp: Only after they win!? Thats kind of a boring existance :p
    As for this year, I’m sure some fan or billy goat will spoil it yet again! You really help making a maple leafs fan feel better.
    I like to see the personal e-mail touch. It sure beats a generic response, or no response at all, which only infuriates me more when that happens.

  15. Miss Anthropy says:

    This is the kind of customer service that I like to see. It kind of makes me want to go get a sundae from DQ right this minute, even though it always makes me think of Parker Posey in Waiting for Guffman.

    Also, @ikes: I don’t think that DQ has a grill; according to the store locator, only Lakeside and Encinitas do.

  16. Craig says:

    I know the DQ he’s talking about…it’s the one I go to as well and it seems like they have a hard time with retention. Not only is it understaffed but the kids working there are usually undertrained. (If you’re going to work at DQ the least thing you can do is know how to swirl the top of the ice cream properly!)

  17. Beth’s MySpace?

    [profile.myspace.com]

    My Blog: [www.pdsys.org]

  18. jacques says:

    I gotta wonder what sort of controlled substance the OP was on. Probably made for the day’s levity at the DQ office, hence the informal letter back.

  19. scoobydoo says:

    She’s good. Very good. I hope she reads this and sees just how far a little customer service with a sense of humor can go. Way to go DQ!

  20. mobbo says:

    I love DQ. It’s a family tradition to go after every fishing trip to Lake Livingston in Trinity, TX since I was a kiddo. But since each restaurant is a different franchise, the experience varies greatly.

  21. mobbo says:

    Oh, and GO ASTROS!!! (Y’all better post this)

  22. LilKoko says:

    I had quite the chuckle reading the OP’s email and the CSR response! I almost didn’t bother when Meghan said the email was “the story of his life” — I had flashbacks to that raspberry Starbucks post — but this was short (enough) and pretty funny.

    Glad to know there are some humans with a sense of humor who read the DQ email. Good job, Beth! Hopefully DQ HQ will solve the problem.

  23. icestormmusic says:

    I knew a lot of people on the IDQ Corporate team from my last job, and they don’t mess around when it comes to public image. Besides, being in Minnesota, it’s not like we can talk about the Twins!

  24. Balance_In_Life says:

    @MARCO: GO CARDINALS!!!!!

  25. NickRB says:

    Anybody else have a burning desire for a chili dog and a malt?

    Oh and Barry Bonds will never be the home run king in my mind.

  26. randomizer9 says:

    Maybe its the “grew up in a small town in Texas” thing, but every so often a just GOTTA have a dipped cone.

    Kudos to the DQ rep on the e-mail, its the little things that help keep customers.

  27. StevieD says:

    Well done customer service. A real live body. And an even better complaint letter.

    I love complaint letters that tell you how well you are doing, in this case the level of service in another DQ store. It demonstrates the standard that the customer expects and has been receiving.

    My local DQ has staffing problems (due to Hurricane Katrina) so the store is closed on Sundays to avoid poor service issues.

    Unfortunately for me, Sundays was my DQ visit day. Hopefully I will be a frequent DQ customer sometime in the near future.

  28. queen_elvis says:

    As a Californian, I gotta scratch my head at her idea that someone from San Diego would have a special allegiance to the team from San Francisco. If this dude follows baseball, he’s probably psyched that the Giants are worthless without Bonds and kinda worthless even with him.

    PS Go Red Sox!

    Going back on topic, I wrote an email to my cable company’s customer service recently in order to praise a particular installation guy by name. The reply I got was addressed TO the installation guy (as in, I wrote a letter saying “John Smith was great” and the response was “Dear John Smith…”), leading me to suspect that they have computers answering these messages. This letter is the opposite, and that is why it is great.

  29. LAGirl says:

    mmmm…Dairy Queen! i don’t even know if we have them in LA. but growing in PA, used go there all the time as a kid. my personal favorite? the Dilly Bar. wonder if they still make that?

    i liked the reply letter. a little goofy, but the personal touch was nice.

  30. CaptainSemantics says:

    Wait, Houston swept the Cubs?

    Oh, thank you Jeebus! We may end up pulling off a comeback yet again this year!

  31. theblackdog says:

    @scoobers: The problem with mystery shoppers is that many of the restaurants that hire them also give them incentives to give bad reports.

    At the chain restaurant I worked at, if the location got at least a 90% rating, the store was entered into a drawing for the store owner to win a free vacation. If the store got a 100% rating, they got ten entries. There seemed to be major incentive not to give 100%’s because a few times we actually had to call corporate and dispute their report, using our security camera footage to back it up.

    Hell, I remember when I had first started working there, their cleanliness rating was only “Clean” or “Not Clean” and finally after a year they added a rating for “Appropriate for conditions” because corporate got tired of complaints that the stores were gettting “Not clean” for their floor, and it was because the shopper came in on a day it was raining or snowing, and right by the door it was wet and a bit dirty.

  32. gticlutchburn says:

    hahaha no way… i used to go to that dairy queen all the time and I know exactly how this guy feels. they never had ANYONE working the damn place.

  33. mermaidshoes says:

    DQ is totally going downhill, or at least the one nearest to my house is. in my last 3 visits i’ve gotten grossly undercooked burgers and seriously undermixed/undercandied blizzards (i don’t care if you serve me my blizzard upside down, but i DO care if it only has 3 pieces of kitkat in it, and they’re all right on top!). i’d been planning to just give up on them, but maybe i’ll send corporate an email instead…

    i worked at DQ back in the day, and it was totally my favorite job ever. you get to learn top-secret (ha) DQ recipes, receive a free ice cream cake on your birthday, decorate ice cream cakes (like being a pastry chef, but without the training!), eat free ice cream and french fries all day (free sodas too!), and invent your own amazingly unhealthy foods–doesn’t get much better than that. we made a lot of bacon dogs (sometimes even chili cheese bacon dogs!) and garbage blizzards (blizzards with as much stuff as you can fit in ‘em). ah, to be young again…

  34. dtn says:

    I’m totally mad that DQ discontinued butterscotch milkshakes. I’ve been drinking those since I was 4 or 5. I wrote DQ an email, but I never got a response… figures.

  35. WNW says:

    Eugene Represent!

    Lots of Oregon readers of the Consumerist :)

    Also, PB&J Blizzards were the best

  36. synergy says:

    Good grief, no wonder he ran out of characters. I thought he was never going to get to the damn point!

    I can’t say her response was the most professional I’ve ever read, but the coupons and whatnot as good I suppose.

  37. synergy says:

    OK, after reading over the comments I’m getting an overwhelming urge to buy a Blizzard. I’ve been fighting the desire for a week or two and you all aren’t helping! :D

  38. akumukun says:

    I used to work as a supervisor at a local DQ here in NB, Canada. I gotta say that a personal reply like that really doesn’t surprise me. IDQ works VERY closely with all of their franchise owners. They always demand a certain level of commitment and quality. Around here, there was a store which had been going downhill, in the ways Chris described…so IDQ revoked their franchise and sold it to the owner of a few other DQ stores in the area (there are 5 within a 20 minute drive from my apartment in an area with less than 200,000 people).

    So, good on you, IDQ. Glad to see that they still care.