Hey! Krystal! Are you there?! Reader Josh sent two letter complaining about his local burger franchise and hasn’t heard a peep in response. Not even “we’re taking it seriously” or “your opinion is important to us.” Nothing!
My name is Josh, and a friend of mine suggested that I might come to you guys for some help. I’ve kind of engaged in some letter writing to the Krystal corporation all thanks to the restaurant down the road, and I seem to be being ignored. It’s weird; I don’t actually want anything from Krystal – all I want is an apology, or even an acknowledgment that someone’s bothering to read the complaint letter department. Anyways, I’ve written about it on my own blog, and he suggested I might try you guys. So here goes nothing.
I live in Donelson, Tennessee (a suburb of Nashville), right down the street from a Krystal. I love Krystals – for those of you not from the South, they’re very similar to White Castle burgers. Anyways, the Krystal down the street from me is pretty incompetent. Really, really incompetent. To the point where I finally did something I’d never done in my life, and I wrote a letter. Went to their website, found the complaint form, and wrote the following:
To whom it may concern:
I genuinely feel that you may be missing out on a magnificent opportunity to get some press for your Krystal restaurant in Donelson, Tennessee. It is rare that you see a fast food franchise attempt to take on such a massive challenge as this one, and even rarer to find them succeeding.
You see, there is an old phrase, “Even a broken clock is right twice a day.” The idea is to show that every person or organization, no matter how incompetent, how wrong-headed, is not wrong 100% of the time. It’s a noble, optimistic saying.
Your Donelson Krystal restaurant has taken on the considerable challenge of proving this saying wrong, and they seem to be succeeding (so to speak) magnificently. Of my last five trips to this Krystal, all but one of them have necessitated me returning to the store to fix my order. This is an impressive accomplishment. I have worked fast food, so I know that while mistakes are made, they are not as common as people feel, and most of the time they are the results of inattention or rushes. Yet, your fine employees have managed to bungle my orders at all times of the day, in any number of variations, no matter how busy or not they may be.
Adding to their style is the ridiculously slow speed with which they manage to bungle my orders. You would think that a restaurant so dedicated to such blunders would at least do so quickly, to have the pretext of being in a rush to keep the customers happy. However, this Krystal manages to take an eternity for even the simplest orders, rendering me not only late for whatever I was doing, but doubly late because I now have to go and get my order corrected.
You are thinking to yourself, “Surely this must be because your order is so complicated. Surely no restaurant could mangle orders so constantly unless they were complicated.” But no. This Krystal manages to even make a mockery of a request for plain burgers. That’s right. To get these orders right, all they have to do is to do nothing. And they still get it wrong. What commitment to their goal!
But to focus on their inability to follow simple directions is to sell the staff of this fine establishment far short. How could we not discuss their rude natures, their incivility, their lack of sympathy? On precisely no occasions that I have had to drive back from my house to correct my orders has anyone apologized, offered me a discount, or even asked if I wanted my drinks filled. Instead, I am greeted with withering stares and disdain, as if I am imposing by requesting that the food I paid for be correct. Especially with gas prices rapidly climbing, most people would succumb to regret or contrition, knowing that they have effectively raised the price of my meal by a decent percentage by making me waste gas. And yet your sterling staff crushes these human weaknesses, ignoring me for as long as possible before begrudgingly giving me what I asked for in the first place.
There are so, so many more issues I could discuss about this store. Could I discuss the time that they only had two employees at the store, but told no one, so the drive thru backed into the street, and people who walked in were greeted by a cook who politely inquired, “What do you want?” while rolling eyes? Or when a manager yelled obscenities at employees while coming in through the front door? Or their mysterious tendency to never have receipt paper, meaning that we have no way of confirming orders or what we paid?
But here is the most simple way to illustrate the impact this store has had on me: they have made me feel as though it is my job to check my order before I leave the store. Imagine being so successful at your incompetence that you have successfully made your customers feel that they are to blame for your mistakes, and that they bear the responsibility of making sure they get what they are asking for.
In the end, I am unsure if your restaurant is a massively successful performance art installation designed to prove how truly miserable a fast food experience could be. If so, bravo, good sirs. If not, then I can only applaud your employees and staff at their incredible incompetence, inhumanity, and miraculous consistency of ineptitude. Clearly they are wasted here; they should have themselves positions in the federal government. I think would fit in perfectly with the good people at FEMA, no doubt.
In conclusion, I find myself wondering tonight why I continue to frequent this Krystal. Yes, I love the food. Yes, it is close to my house. But with such incredible incompetence on display, you would think that I would have learned to stay away. Maybe I finally am.
Now, that was on May 18th. I got nothing as a result of this letter. Not an acknowledgment, not even an automated “We thank you for writing to us” letter. I don’t really want anything back; all I would like is some sort of comment that a) they listen to compaints and b) would like to apologize for how I was treated.
Now, this past Sunday, my wife ended up stopping at Krystal to pick me up some dinner. The resulting drive-thru trip took 30 minutes, over which period of time…well, here’s the next letter I wrote.
To whom it may concern:
I have complained about the Donelson branch of Krystal twice in the past, and been ignored. I would have thought that a long, detailed letter expressing irritation at your restaurant would have been responded to, but apparently not. Perhaps it’s because my letter was long. Here’s a simple version of tonight’s events for your apparently simple minds.
1. When we tried to order dinner, we were told that the restaurant had run out of fries. Then it turned out that they hadn’t really – he just hadn’t checked.
2. AFTER ordering, AFTER paying, my wife was told that it would take 7-9 minutes to get food. She was thus stuck in her car with a fussy child for ten minutes, rather than getting the quick dinner we were hoping for. And ten minutes for Krystals? RIDICULOUS.
3. Finally, they brought the Krystals, but told my wife that their heat lamp has broken. Did I still want cold fries?
4. We asked for our money back. SO THEY TOOK THE FOOD BACK WITH THEM.
5. There was no apology, no explanation.
6. It took FIFTEEN minutes to process a refund.
7. The manager chose to YELL at my wife for being interested in what was taking so long for the refund. His exact words were, “Bear with me. I’m working on it.”
8. He STILL did not apologize.
9. We were there for THIRTY minutes. We received no apology whatsoever.
10. We gave up on getting our money back. We finally got our food again and left. But, they lost the receipt and had to find it.
To give the devil his due, there was a single employee who was kind and understanding to my wife during all of this. Although he did not apologize, he did give my wife a pack of cookies, telling her, “Give this to the little one for having to wait.”
This is inexcusable, offensive, and disrespectful. This has managed to do what no amount of health talk or bad experience has done before – I will not return to a Krystal restaurant again until I have received either an apology, an explanation, or I have been assured that your entire moronic, pathetic staff at this restaurant has been replaced by someone more intelligent and sympathetic, like a dog or a cardboard box. I have eaten Krystal since I was a young boy, and I will miss it and the considerable amount of business I have done there, but I am sick of being treated with disrespect, disdain, and contempt by your corporation.
This time, I sent it through the complaint form, the question form, the suggestion form, AND the compliment form, just in the hopes of being read.
Look – I don’t want much. All I want is an apology, someone to say “Hey, maybe we shouldn’t treat our customers this way.” But I have gotten nothing, and I would have thought that my wife being YELLED AT by the manager might have merited such. But no.
It just seems to me that it’s disingenuous to have a complaint and feedback form if you’re going to ignore it.
Do I have a valid issue? Or do I need to just let it go?
Josh is clearly passionate about his concerns, and while he invested more time pursuing his complaint than we would recommend, it’s not unreasonable for him to expect some response.
C’mon Krystal, showing up is half the battle. Take a minute and crank out a form letter.