I love cookies. They’re one of my favorite things to eat, and everyone who knows me knows this. I avoid fried food so I rarely eat fast food, but when I do, I tend to go to Whataburger because they have large, fresh, gooey chocolate chip cookies. The thing is, the last several times I’ve gone, regardless of location, they’ve been out. McDonald’s recently started offering similar large, gooey chocolate cookies of equal goodness, which are even cheaper, and they’re never out. Even though salads is the only actual food I’ll eat there, it’s become my new fast-food cookie stop.
But the other night I got a craving for a Whataburger grilled chicken sandwich. I considered going elsewhere, but I remembered the cookies, and my decision was made. Upon entering the drive-thru, I was told they were out of chocolate chip cookies (they had macadamia, but those don’t do much for me).
I was not thrilled. I was even less thrilled when I got home to find that my sandwich was fried chicken, not grilled chicken as I’d ordered. I was so hungry, I ate it anyway.
I sat at home eating the order I didn’t order, thinking about how annoyed I was that Whataburger never seems to have the cookies anymore, and that the woman who took my order looked exhausted and messed it up. I normally never complain to a restaurant unless anything is vastly unsatisfactory, but I decided it was time to open my mouth. I went to the Whataburger Web site and found an area where you could make a complaint or comment. I was able to pick from a list which store I visited, and I explained my discontent, though I assumed nothing would come of it.
The next day I received a call from the general manager of the Whataburger I had visited. She was extremely kind and apologetic. I told her I could forgive the wrong order since it happens everywhere from time to time, though I was annoyed that the cookies were my favorite part of Whataburger, but never seemed to be available anymore. She said she’s been trying to get her staff to always have cookies ready, but she would make a more concerted effort because all menu items should be available at all times. Being my push-over self, I apologized for complaining, but she said she was actually glad I did, and appreciates the feedback. She told me she’d be sending me coupons in the mail.
Sure enough, yesterday I checked the mail, and there it was. An envelope with a handwritten note from her, apologizing again and asking me to accept the coupons. She included two coupons for a free burger and a handwritten note on her business card for me to get two free cookies. Those made up for the price of my incorrect order and then some.
The moral of the story? If you receive unsatisfactory service somewhere and feel like your money has been wasted, do something about it. Be a bold consumer and lodge a complaint. I told my co-worker I was writing this, and she cited a similar example, when she received a box of food that was supposed to have six items in it, but only had five. She complained to the company and was sent a new, full box of six. Don’t take this the wrong way — I don’t want people to use this strategy to try to get free items when they aren’t deserved. That’s hurting businesses unfairly. But if you feel it is truly warranted, don’t be afraid to complain — you will likely be rewarded for your efforts.
If you enjoyed this article, please visit Emily Gerson’s blog for more tips and thoughts about credit, debt, and identity protection. We would appreciate your comments and reactions, so if you would like to contribute to the discussion, add your comment below.
Updated November 12, 2008 and originally published April 21, 2008.