Report from Louisiana: Our Service Industry is Anemic

Posted: June 13, 2022 by Pat Austin in Uncategorized
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By: Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – I think I’m going to give up eating out for a while.

Working under the same theory I used when I stepped back from social media to avoid general aggravation and blood pressure spikes, avoiding the restaurants and fast-food joints in my area for a while will serve two benefits: 1) I’ll save a few bucks, and 2) I’ll be less aggravated when my order is screwed up, if I ever get to place an order at all, that is.

My husband is blaming the low level of quality service on the stimulus and extended unemployment checks that were doled out during the pandemic. He’s probably not wrong, but may not 100% right, either.

It just seems that lately, service sucks. Period. There’s no pride in a job well done and so many people won’t do one iota more than what is in their job description.

Example: we went to Sonic for a quick hamburger for lunch on the way home from church. The place is busy, but not overwhelmed. We pull into the parking slot, push the button to order, and wait. And wait, And wait. “Reb button is activated! We’ll be with you soon!”  Waiting. Eventually we see a carhop stroll out to drop off drinks to the car next to us. My husband gets her attention, with some effort, as she walks back by us and asks if the call button is working properly and explains we’ve been waiting ten minutes to place our order. She shrugs and says “We shorthanded. They’ll get to you.” And she strolls away.

We left and went to Whataburger, a regional hamburger franchise we like. Again, business is steady but not overwhelming. But we waited literally 35 minutes after placing our order to get our hamburgers and fries. Husband walked up to the counter to inquire, and our food was sitting in the back; nobody had thought to bring it out. It was cold, but we took it and left.

This happens in restaurants too; it’s not just fast-food places. I took my son out for a steak dinner the other night and the steak was not cooked to order (not even close). Inedible.

The cake in my picture above? “Holy Eucharisp” was written on a cake my church ordered to celebrate Baptism and First Communion on Pentecost. WHAT is a Eucharisp?  The bakery thought this was acceptable. And sent this product out to us. #fail.

I’m not a picky customer. Not by a long shot. But quality of service is declining. Am I the only one seeing this? Labor shortages are bringing us the lowest levels of productivity. Are we really to the point where any warm body behind the counter will do? It’s one thing when we are talking about hamburgers but what about when it’s happening in your pharmacy or your auto mechanics or your other service areas? For the record, my pharmacy used to be open seven days a week but now it closes on weekends.

These are scary times. Our society and our levels of acceptance for poor performance have changed. We’re so grateful to finally get that cold hamburger we just take it and move on. Obviously it’s not just hamburgers we’re talking about here. Think of all the things that metaphor could apply to.

We’re in trouble.

  1. Pod Hamp says:

    I always thought that Eucharisps were those little wafers that you get sometimes when someone forgets to bring the Communion bread ;o). Seriously, I got a chuckle from your litany of customer service woes, because we have all had to endure those sorts of things. My wife and I are on our second month of waiting to get our basement fixed after a flood. Not waiting for them to get it done, but waiting for them to even show up. Luckily for us, we can get along without using those rooms.

    We live in a large metropolitan area in one of those square shaped states out west, and have the luxury of having literally hundreds of restaurants within an easy drive. My wife and I go out to lunch pretty much every day, as it is our main source of entertainment and enjoyment. Out of those hundreds of restaurants, we rotate through a dozen or so favorites. They are mostly (but not all) mom and pop places as opposed to chain restaurants. Mexican, Italian, Indian, BBQ, Greek, burgers, steak, sushi, and so on. One reason we go to them is because they give us consistent good service in addition to consistent good food at a reasonable price. At some of them we know the servers by name and even the owners. Since it is lunch time and the meals cost less, we tend to overtip the servers, which means they remember us next time and seat us in their section.

    I’m not sure what point I am trying to make with all that, other than that we have found a system that works for us, and so we usually enjoy good customer service experiences.