Customer Service Stories – Part III


I took my wife and daughter to Panera tonight which was probably an excuse to get out after such a long winter – we’re desperate and thought 40 degrees was warm. We ordered a chicken Caesar salad, regular Caesar salad, chicken pasta and one drink and the bill was around $26. My wife used her Panera card and was told she could apply $2 towards a sandwich until early May.

Before we left, we ordered a dozen bagels with crème cheese – roughly $15 and again, the same woman mentioned the $2 could apply to a sandwich the next time we visit.

Caesar salad was OK – the romaine lettuce wasn’t completely fresh but was acceptable. I should realize that restaurants that aren’t rated by Michelin may not excel in their salads.

A few things:

1. Why an expiration date on the Panera rewards card? If you indeed earned value through meeting the restaurant guidelines set by corporate Panera, why should they impose an expiration date? I understand expiration dates on coupons and stores that create “sales events” with limited time to help create a scarcity dimension but on a Panera rewards card? No doubt the corporate office has designed this program in the attempt of getting consumers to come back ASAP to use their rewards but that’s not always feasible.

If you earn rewards at Panera and you visit every 6 or 7 weeks so your rewards have expired and no longer apply, is good will created?

2. Why can’t you apply that rewards value to anything at Panera? We purchased our meal and later a dozen bagels and the rewards earned only apply to a sandwich. Why is it restricted to just a sandwich? Why not have any Panera rewards apply to any Panera item? Is it possible to give those consumers the option to choose?

3. Corn Chowder? About 3 or 4 years ago, Panera had placed Corn Chowder on their menu for a 6 month period or so. I have not seen it since. I have mentioned often when I visit Panera and most employees just shrug their shoulders and smile. I’ve added this input to comment cards and have mentioned it store managers also.

Look, their soup selection is Ok – in my mind, needs a little more flavor and variety from time to time. Possibly have two separate soup menus, one for warm weather and another when the weather doesn’t cooperate. At the very least, add this item to the menu from time to time would definitely increase my appetite for Panera in general and their soup mention in particular.


A few comments:

  • My contractor, who I hired to install wood floors in my kitchen and hallway were located about 15 miles away and he suggested we finish the fine print work at his office. I later learn his office is located on a busy highway and it’s so confusing to find the exact location as I thought for a minute I was geographically challenged. I was relieved to find that even Google maps doesn’t place it correctly on the map.

    Wood Floors 004

    Is the plastic covering there to protect kitchen items from dust or from the polyurethane smell or both?

  • After demolition, the floor contractors who removed the kitchen tile and flooring created a huge pile of garbage on my parkway. This was done even after I had originally requested to my contractor that the flooring experts be responsible for the removal of the construction waste.
  • They start the project on Friday, break for Saturday and Sunday and finish the project on Tuesday. The flooring craftsmen placed huge sheets of plastic on all kitchen cabinets, countertops and pantry doors late on Friday only to tear it down as it’s the first thing they do on Monday morning. On Saturday and Sunday, our entire family was unsure if we could use our sink, microwave, dishes, majority of pantry because we thought additional sanding would take place on Monday before they added another coat of polyurethane. My call to the contractor rewarded me with the information that plastic was hung to prevent the poly smell from penetrating into our kitchen cabinets and pantry. Either we’re gullible or very fortunate that our floor contractor is that conscientious.
  • As these three flooring contractors appeared to originate from Eastern Europe, it goes without saying their English spoken came with a very heavy accent. In person, it’s just barely understandable including some hands and toes and pointing. Over the mobile, it’s quite challenging just to coordinate times to do preliminary work.
  • I wanted to replace the trim (and shoe) in the kitchen so I mentioned this to my contractor. He told me to simply measure and buy that much trim – no other instructions. Something that wasn’t factored in between the contractor and floor contractors was how that trim was going to be used. My flooring contractors just picked up pieces and began to saw. Needless to say, they were short about 16 feet and had to use the old trim. It’s frustrating as replacing the floor in the kitchen did include installing new trim throughout the area.
  • After they finished, I spent a few hours repainting much of the trim and several wall areas. They did a great job installing the wood floors for the kitchen although they were a little clumsy with some of the trim and detail work above the wood floors. An ‘A’ for the floor installation and a ‘B-‘ for the miscellaneous work.
  • You wonder why people cringe when they have to hire some contractors. One thing I know, I’d rather hire floor contractors who are craftsman with lousy communication skills than lousy floor contractors who communicate well.