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Curmudgeon report: Customer service is hard to find

Ever wonder what happened to customer service?

It seems the era when customers were treated with dignity and wait staff attempted to satisfy their needs is long gone.

A couple incidents brought that home with a bang recently.

We were one of four couples who went to a restaurant on a Saturday evening for dinner. The food orders were given to the waitress at the same time beverages were requested so that the meals could be served within a reasonable time frame.

While other tables, occupied by folks who came in after us, got served their meals promptly, we were simply plied with bread. Members of my party started grumbling. After more than an hour went by with no meals in sight, one of the group checked with the kitchen staff as to the status of our dinners.

He was abruptly told to return to his table and keep calm because the cooks were doing the best they could and basically, "Have some more bread."

Needless to say, the expected finally happened: Three meals arrived sans the accompanying side dishes. Three more were served a few minutes later though they weren't what was ordered. And the last two diners got their food after their partners had finished.

Though the establishment offered free dessert for the inconvenience, not one of the group felt that solved the problem.

The second incident involved yours truly while visiting the Outer Banks. I was tasked to go to the local supermarket and buy heavy duty Reynolds Wrap. That is not a very challenging assignment, and I figured I'd run in, run out, and get home before the football game ended.

No such luck!

The shelf with all the wraps was easy to find but the item I needed wasn't.

Fortunately, I figured I was in luck because right there in the aisle, unloading foils and wraps, was a store clerk who ought to know the status of the heavy duty parchment I sought.

"We don't carry that" was his reply to my query as to where the elusive covering might be hiding.

After telling him his response made as much sense as one suggesting a grocery store doesn't sell groceries, he insisted that if the facility sold heavy duty wrap he would know it.

Not willing to let go of the subject, I got on my knees and looked in the back of a bottom shelf and found the object of my search — Reynolds heavy duty foil.

"I learned something today just like you did," the stock clerk said. "We do carry heavy duty wrap."

I relate these tales not because I want to belittle the job retail personnel do. They do an important job, and they fill a need in the work environment that has to be met.

Regardless of the assignment they have, they should devote as much effort and sweat to their work place as others do.

At one time, they did.

In fact, there was a period when the retailer's credo was "the customer is always right."

Not so today.

More appropriately, in this day and age, too many store and restaurant personnel are just as happy if "the customer always left."

In fact, while on the Outer Banks we drove by a restaurant that apparently has taken up the mantra of the day. A sign in front said: "Come, eat your dinner and get the hell out."

On our blood boiling scale, let's rate this one a 9.


Winslow recently moved to Williamsburg, but has written his Curmudgeon Report for more than a dozen years. He wonders how rapidly your blood is boiling on this issue? Let him know at

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