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RIP: "The Customer is Always Right." Wrong!

Updated on February 12, 2015

What is wrong with us?

The other day, I was watching a show on TRUtv called, "The World's Dumbest (fill in the blank)." So happens that this episode was about the world's dumbest people. The fact that this particular topic was only an hour long tickled me; such a topic, one would think, would take eons to cover.

Anyway, the clip shows a woman at a drive-up, McDonald's, and she orders one of their chicken wraps; a McD's chicken wrap is basically a cold salad with grilled or fried chicken wrapped up in a tortilla. Some of you already knew this, but maybe I should emphasize that it is served cold; wraps are now a food fashion trend, and any wrap I've ever had has always been cold. The woman pays her money, receives her McWrap...

And goes bat-crap crazy. Why does this seemingly normal citizen, who is probably a member of her church choir (or is at least a PTA soccer mom), lose her ever-loving mind? Because her wrap...is...cold. And, as she will go on to drive her point home, she is the customer, and the customer is always right!

Said customer careens her car into a parking spot, rolls her lumbering 300-pound body out of her Taurus, storms across the parking lot (stopping auto and foot traffic alike with her steely glare and righteous indignation), blows into the franchaise, whirls her bulk up to the counter, and declares in a voice loud enough for God to hear, "Why my sh!t cold? Why my mofo sh!t cold?" Erudition, grace, and sophistication, thy name is this Customer. To further her point, she beats on her chest with one man-hand, and declares, "I the customer, y'all! I the customer! I'm supposed to be right, y'all!" Thump chest for emphasis, "I...am...the mofo customer, y'all! I'm right, and my sh!t suppose to be hot!" Something to that effect; I was laughing too hard at her calm, cool demeanor becoming of no one.

Not only has this woman garnered the attention of all who simply want to enjoy their McMeals, she has instilled fear in the staff working behind the counter; these poor souls came to work thinking that today would just be a normal, McHappy day! They had been brainwashed into thinking the Customer is Always Right, and so thinking, jumped into action to see what must be done to rectify the situation: why is this person so unhappy? Why has she stormed the restaurant in such a state of agitation? Further, what does the Employee Book of Brown Nosing suggest to calm the fury of McCustomer, to whom we have apparently wronged? The employees created a Customer Satisfaction line of scrimmage, all eager to make the world jake in its orbit.

This probably isn't the case, I'm sure; just like me, and anybody else with a sense of curiosity, we may be in the line of fire, but we still want to see the action.

Well, before anything can be considered (such as donating a kidney, or first born child in lieu of a refund), Unhappy Customer tunes in to the first uniformed (and unfortunate) employee that dared to move (because she failed to realize that this beast's vision is based on movement), locks on target like a heat seeking missile, and then launches the wrap into the face of this employee before the poor girl can even make the attempt to pacify what appears to be a large, parka'd whale in full heat. Lettuce, tomatoes, special sauce, and chicken explode in their unfortunate demise, soon followed by a flurry of condiments, straws, and napkins as this unsatisfied, rebuked Nebuchadnezzar extolls upon one and all, in her oh-so-educated manner that a wrap, "Ain't suppose to be col'! A Mofo wrap suppose to be HOT! Why my sh!t col'!" And with that, a cash register is sent to its death.

This is followed by more apocalyptic destruction, and questioning of the chasteness of the counter girl's mother. All the while, during this most enlightening diatribe, the angry...mad...crazy? customer demands a free, hot wrap, but not before conjuring the supervisor, because she is, after all, the customer! And the customer is always right!

Yes, dear Reader, during all this, as she pointedly discussed the proper temperature of a McWrap and to where they can shove a cold McWrap, she continued to drive home the fact that she was the customer, and the customer is always right.

This Customer was so right that the cops were called to take her away so that she can explain why the customer is always right to a judge. True story.

Now, where I come from, a hot anything wrapped in a tortilla is called a 'burrito', and you take your happy butt to the local Taco Bell to get it. Also, where I come from if you show your ass, we have no problem handing it back to you, with interest. Ever see a New Mexican acting a dang fool on the World's Dumbest show? If you did, I guaran-damn-tee it was an out-of-towner.

On this same note, speaking of McDonald's, family members are not immune to playing "The Customer is Always Right" card, as I have a sister, who lives for this motto (would have it tattooed on some body part if she cared to), and is not afraid of using it...even if she's pure-d wrong. At a local Mcdonald's, she ordered a Whopper...that's right, a Burger King Whopper. When the drive up dude said they didn't have Whoppers, she went on to argue that they did indeed have Whoppers, for she came to this particular restaurant all the time, and never had a problem getting a Whopper. She was a good customer, always gave this establishment her business...and you know what's coming, I needn't write more.

I calmly told her that she was at the McDonald's. The gentleman asked her if she would like a Big Mac, as he would be more than happy to make her a fresh one. My sister drove off, all the while trying to justify her argument: they relocated the Burger King building and established a McDonald's in its place overnight. Someone rearranged the street signs (apparently a new thing to do in Stockton, CA), as the Burger King has always been on Pershing Avenue, but somehow she was on Rough and Ready. She was able to get a Whopper at a McDonald's before...some other craziness.


It's Because I am a Customer

There is a point to all my blathering, and it's this: The customer is no longer right. How did I come to this cupcake of an epiphany? I'm a customer.

This is my example of how stupid I was to play my card, and how easily it was trumped. I went to the local grocers in search of great steals and deals, as it was Wednesday and everything--from toilet paper to rib-eye steaks--go on sale on Wednesdays. I was trucking down the aisles with my buggy, not seeing anything that really needed to be bought, even if it was on sale, when lo! In the dairy section! What's this? ABC yogurt, on sale...ten for a dollar!

That's ten cents a piece! Sure, I've never heard of this yogurt, and sure, they have obscure flavors like Lemon-Tilapia Cherry Berry, and Goat's Milk Cheese Whip, but you can't beat that price! What I'll do is buy five dollars' worth; with this yogurt, I can lose those fifty pounds my doctor is always harping about, for I'll have a yogurt for breakfast, another for lunch, and then a sensible dinner...with a yogurt for dessert! I'll be able to get into my fat shorts again, and I'll shave my legs above the knees! I loaded my cart.

In rapture, I made my way to the check-out, and unloaded my swag, thinking to myself, "What a find! I'm surprised no one else took advantage of this great offer...even if it is from some obfuscate yogurt company with questionable flavors!" However (comma), as the cashier is ringing up my newfound yogurt, I notice the price on the monitor is not coming up as ten cents a piece...more like the regular retail price of a dollar and some change--a piece, and I've got more than a few of those bastards in my cart.

I questioned the cashier as to why I wasn't being charged the sale price; is it because I'm black? Am I making a donation to cure E-bola? Even more logical, will the price change after everything has been totaled up? Nope. She patiently explained that to get the deal, I had to have the Super Duper Frequent Shopper's Loyalty Discount card.

I blew up without the benefit of intelligence. I come to this particular store all the time, I'm a good customer, this store wouldn't be here without my few dollars supporting it, I paid her wages, blah blah blah...the typical banter of a Customer who wants to get their way. And yes, I said I was always right. I said I would take my business elsewhere, left my unpaid for groceries right there and stormed out, knowing full well that I was in the right, for nothing NOWHERE said I had to have a loyalty card to get the yogurt that would propel me into a new, slimmer life!

Once I got home, however, and once I read the circular that had been left in my mailbox, as advertised: ABC yogurt, on sale, ten for a dollar...and right below that: With Card. As a matter of fact, the circular advertised the discount card more than it advertised the sales. Open mouth, insert foot.

The Customer is Always First.

And that's what's wrong with us, the Customer. We're so used to being entitled, empowered, that we launch blindly into situations lacking the intelligence, the education, or the patience to read the fine print. We want to take advantage of the "Customer is always Right" mantra and twist it to our benefit simply to get our way, to watch the employee squirm! Threaten their job! Wait with bated breath to see the downfall of the establishment!

Even using the, "I'll take my business elsewhere" is a losing hand, for there are thirty-forty other people standing in line behind you who will continue to shop at the business who has wronged you. It's an ineffective threat that scars, nor scares, no one; someone will always continue to shop, purchase, and buy, and the business will continue to prosper. Besides, you'll be back; I worked as a reservation sales agent for a prospering airline, and if I had a nickel for every time a passenger said they would never fly my airline again, and then jumped on the Internet the moment my airline offered a $79 dollar fare to Pig Knuckle, Georgia, I could start my own airline.

Let's focus on the customer being first. Here's an example of what I mean...and, once again, it happened at a fast food joint. I was a flight attendant for many years, and we don't get lunch breaks like a normal 9-to-5 job; if one finds themselves with thirty minutes on the ground in between flights, that's the time to grab something to eat, hork it down, and then start boarding the plane. On this particular day, my plane went into maintenance for something trivial, but I had a few scant minutes to grab something to eat and get back on board.

I went to the McDonald's in the airport, glanced over the menu, decided on a combo meal, and stepped into line, eagerly awaiting the girl behind the counter to take my order; I was prepared, too. I wanted the number one, with a (diet) coke, large, no pickles. Easy enough. I even had my debit card out so that the gentleman behind me wouldn't have to wait for me to count out bills and change. Better yet, I got an airline discount, so wonders all around, right?

I waited for the welcoming acknowledgement. And I waited. I waited some more; the teeny-bop behind the counter was too busy tapping away on her cell phone, reading the response, and typing some more. So, I cleared my throat--I'm a smoker, so it sounded like a diesel truck shifting into high gear whilst trying to climb a hill. No response.

"Excuse me?" I asked; I have a clear, loud, and distinct voice. It comes from years of speaking on airplane PA systems. I didn't even register on this girl's radar; as far as she was concerned, I was just a piss-stain on the underwear of fast food customer service. "Hell-o!" I snapped. Ah! Recognition at last! With a roll of her eyes and a sigh of discontent, this chippy reluctantly set aside her phone, dismissing her scintillating conversation with a smack of her teeth, and not making eye contact, snarled, "Can I help you?"

Nope. I promptly turned around and went to Popeye's, and they were happy to take my money and give me the airline discount.

Now, there are some people in the Customer Service industry who are the rudest, most inconsiderate diphthongs that make you wonder how in the hell they got, and kept, their jobs! I worked with one lady, a fellow flight attendant, that I called the Fraulein; she was not only rude, but demanding, overbearing, and would tell you like it is! Oh, yes she would, and it didn't matter who it was, customer or supervisor! She would argue with passengers, yell at them, and discreetly call them names; for example, a passenger told her that his luggage had been lost, and questioned what he should do about it. She told him that it sounded like an ID10T problem. If you'll notice, ID10T spells idiot. She is still gainfully employed as a flight attendant--those bubbly, quirky sirens of the skies. If you feel the need to be the Always Right customer, feel free to aim it in her direction!

So, let's put to rest The Customer is Always Right, and let's say that The Customer is Always First. It's a two-way road, because that cashier, or bank teller, or whoever, is also a customer, and they want to be treated the same way you want to be treated. They want to do their jobs without drama...they want you to put the product on the counter, pay for it, and be on your way so that they can help the person behind you, and the person behind that person. Granted, some are nice and will chat pleasantly with you as they ring your purchases up, but they're still doing their job, and they still want you to go away so they can help the next person. That's the new age of business, and it's not going anywhere, anytime soon. The Customer is Always First.

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