I ordered a small margherita pizza from a local shop last week via Postmates. Since I was already outside and close by (and knowing that delivered foods with bread tend to get soggy quickly) I marked my order for “pickup.”
As soon as I’d placed my order at 5:59 PM, Postmates sent me a text informing me that my food would be ready at 6:04 PM.
I walked into the pizza shop at 6:05 PM.
The way the delivery apps (Uber Eats, Postmates, DoorDash, etc) set things up with merchants, they give the restaurant a tablet to install near their registers that notifies the merchants of new orders.
And, if a restaurant is having a slow day, or doesn’t get many delivery orders from these apps, they don’t pay the tablets much attention.
I figured all of this once I saw that the pizza shop hadn’t even noticed my Postmates order when I got there and told them where I’d ordered from.
No big deal. It takes 7-8 minutes to make a 10-inch pizza. I’ll wait.
Ten minutes passed as I observed the workers in the shop — there weren’t many customers at that moment — talk amongst themselves. I assumed that my pizza was in the oven, baking.
You know what they say about assuming…
At 6:15, I asked the woman who’d greeted me how much longer the wait would be for my pizza. I added that the Postmates app had quoted me a 6:05 pickup time, and that it was now 6:15.
The workers in the pizza shop then had what appeared to be a “lightbulb moment.”
The woman yelled out to some guy who emerged from the back, cut some dough and began urgently preparing a pizza — my pizza. They hadn’t even started making the pizza. Even though I was standing right there, waiting for it.
Noticing this, I informed the workers that I no longer wanted the pizza and walked out. As I walked away from the shop, I tweeted Postmates about the situation to get my $10.17 refunded — I had paid my money to Postmates after all, not to the pizza shop.
Postmates customer service called me within five minutes, just as I was boarding the elevator back at my building. They had the pizza shop folks on the other line, and were requesting my permission to be contacted by the merchant.
No. Just give me my money back.
The Postmates rep informed me that she was from merchant services, working for the shop owners, and I’d have to call or send an email to Postmates from my customer account to get the refund. Merchant services had no power to address customer needs.
I sent a couple of annoyed tweets to Postmates, and sent an email to them that became four emails replies. Two customer service reps told me that they couldn’t process the refund, and that I should expect that “food prep times vary on occasion” when that wasn’t even the issue.
The other two replies apologized for the inconvenience and promised that a refund would be/had been issued.
In the end, the $10.17 is back in my account after a mere inconvenience that cost me a total of ~12 minutes. There are some things you should know about this whole thing.
1) While walking home after leaving the pizza shop, I realized exactly why the shop people were dragging their feet about my order.
They thought I was a Postmates delivery driver.
Think about it: a delivery driver can’t just walk out on an order. They have to wait, because the actual buyer is waiting at home for their food. Delivery drivers can’t get pissed off at restaurants; the drivers’ pay is based on successfully delivering the food.
The pizza shop had their “lightbulb moment” and realized I wasn’t a delivery driver when I complained about my wait time. Then, when it was too late, they started acting right.
2) Postmates’ customer service has multiple departments which aren’t streamlined, which creates a headache for a customer.
The merchant services person was incapable of transferring me to customer service. Four different customer service email replies led to four different answers. Their Twitter account failed to follow up on my initial messages.
The worst thing you, as a business owner, can do with a concerned customer, especially when the concern is the customer’s money, is make them jump through hoops to get to a resolution. As easy as it is for you to receive their money, it should be just as easy for them to get it back when necessary.
An interesting find: when you make the problem-solving part easy, a give-me-a-refund customer can turn into a fan.
3) I’m not mad at Postmates. I’ve used them before without a problem and I’ll probably use them again. It was the pizza shop — not Postmates — that fucked up, after all. But their service system could use serious work. I told them that, and they claimed they’re working on it.
4) I won’t be patronizing that pizza shop again.
Not because they were slow with my pizza — this oversight could happen at any business — but because they profiled me as a driver, and decided that they could take their time because of it.
I mean, what if I WAS a delivery driver — is that pizza less important? It’s the same amount of money for them.
It’s a fact of human nature that we take things more or less seriously depending on whom we’re dealing with. In business, though, every dollar is the same color green and has the same face of George Washington on it. Many businesses get this wrong and end up going viral on some social platform for the wrong reasons due to such carelessness.
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