Everyone who’s over the age of 3 and not a lifelong vegan has surely had a confrontation with a haughty fast-food manager. Danny and his family threw down with a Wendy’s honcho who tried to get all Studio 54 with them — resulting in a hastily filled-out free burger coupon and a near denial of its redemption — but it looks as though Danny gave as good as he received.
Danny’s record of his trials, in the form of a truncated e-mail he wrote to an unspecified executive, possibly Wendy herself:
My family and I have been going to Wendy’s quite often for a long time, even back when I was younger and we were living in Korea in the 1990s — there was a Wendy’s within walking distance of our house, and I actually have fond memories of stopping by there every Wednesday night after church services. After an issue at a Wendy’s today, I called the customer service line on the back of the Wendy’s receipt hoping to get a person, but was disappointed to learn that it was a machine. So I am escalating the issue in the hopes that it receives some attention. I realize you are all probably busy, so I will try to make the email as brief as possible.
My name is Danny (redacted), and the Wendy’s my family and I were at around 12:20pm (a little after noon) today, August 2nd, 2009, is located at:
8301 Leesburg Pike
Vienna, VA 22180
The manager, who seemed to be doing much himself in order to get the employees working for him trained was incredibly rude. While we ordered food, the manager seemed to be very impatient right from the start as I ordered what I wanted, ignoring a requests to make the combo I ordered a large because I wasn’t answering the question he had asked (“Drink?”). He also seemed offensively impatient especially with my parents, seemingly because they could not speak fluent English, based on his noticeably different treatment of the customers behind us who could speak fluent English – this is ridiculous considering the manager himself, who was not of American origin, had barely comprehensible English as well. Actually, it’s somewhat discriminatory.
Right from the outset, my family and I were both incredibly upset by the poor customer service. My father was in fact so upset that he called the customer survey number on the back on the receipt on the spot and proceeded to give the location poor ratings immediately.
After my father filled out the survey, we got and wrote down the code for a free burger and we decided to use it before we left, thinking, “Hey, we give him the code, he gives us the burger, we leave, how hard could it be?” We didn’t even have to buy anything more like we would have to at Burger King (BK clearly states that we must buy something else to get the free survey burger, there’s nothing on a Wendy’s receipt to even suggest such a policy)! It turns out getting that free burger a lot harder than we thought.
First off, to clarify and confirm, the only thing it says on the back of the receipt regarding the free burger is, “Guests can only redeem one free Single hamburger in 30 day period. This offer not valid with any other offer or discount. Wendy’s employees and families not eligible” right below the line for writing the coupon code.
When my father handed the coupon to the same rude manager mentioned above, the manager kept on insisting that we had to buy something before we could claim the free burger. When we told him yeah, we’d bought those four burgers earlier, he said we had to buy something again. We asked him where on the receipt it said “Purchase necessary”, and his “evidence” to back up his claim was the line that read, “This offer not valid with any other offer or discount.” Clearly he thought my parents were idiots or something because they couldn’t speak English fluently, completely not realizing that I myself spoke English like a native. My father tried to clarify, in case the manager was new or something, that the line just meant we couldn’t use it with any other coupons or anything along those lines. But the manager clearly looked annoyed and refused to back off, wasting not only our time, but the time of the customers behind us as well.
At this point, I was incredibly annoyed, so I stepped in. I told him that, based on my education growing up in the US and attending prestigious schools, I was pretty sure “This offer not valid with any other offer or discount,” did NOT mean, “You must buy something to get a free burger.” To this, the manager quipped, “Well, you may have studied at that school, but I run this business,” still refusing to back off. He kept on stating we had to buy at least a one dollar item, insisting it was, “No big deal, just one dollar.” I’d say it’s a bit of a ripoff to have to pay anything for something we should’ve gotten for free in the first place.
Only after both our time, as well as the time of the customers behind us in line – between five to ten minutes – had been wasted, did the manager reluctantly give us the burger. From what I could tell from the manager’s stuck up demeanor, he did so just to make us leave. We did not get an apology, or any sort of compensation for time wasted other than the burger that should’ve taken us less than a minute to get in the first place.
My father had a job in the food service/retail sector when he was younger, and he clearly said this was not how employees were supposed to be educated. Is this how Wendy’s trains its employees, and even worse, its managers, to treat its customers?
Neither my father and I are the types to make a big deal of things such as this, and we would have been fine if at any point in the process, the manager had simply backed off and apologized. But the manager refused to. This incident was absolutely unacceptable, and my family and we may take our fast food needs to other chains in the future. We will miss the bit of sentimental attachment from my back when we lived in Korea, but so be it.
My family would like a sincere, direct apology from Wendy’s and to be compensated for the time wasted arguing with the manager and for the money wasted for such dreadful customer service.
Danny and his family need an apology, Wendy, even if it comes as a lie through those gritted, smiling teeth of yours. There are some wounds a free burger won’t solve. Not many, mind you, but some.