On February 8, 2012 my work partners and I pushing hard on a deadline at our office at 215 Spadina Ave in Toronto, so we placed an order to Fresh on Spadina using their telephone system so we could stay working and keep our energy up.
Fresh has a single telephone number for all their locations. The system offers an option to place a takeout order, and in having used it the past, I know it then should offer options to select which Fresh Restaurant I wanted to order from. This time, it just started ringing without offering a location option. The order taker picked up.
Knowing that there are 3 locations and that I usually have to choose a location in the phone system menu I asked, "Is this Fresh on Spadina?". The order taker replied "yes". With this confirmation, I then placed my order as usual.
15 minutes later, I walked 2 blocks to the Spadina location near my office. They didn't have my order. After looking for my order, they checked with the Bloor street location. Bloor had my order. This happened often enough that they had a policy for it. Because my order was "large" ($78) they said that their policy was that they could not redo my order at the Spadina location and I'd have to go to Bloor to pick it up.
Speaking to the Spadina Manager was fruitless and she refused to help, because of this policy. The only thing I could do was to get on a streetcar, go up to Bloor and pick up my order there. I was furious. This was taking precious work time with my colleagues out of a very busy day with a hard deadline on a critical client project.
On the streetcar ride, I tested Fresh's telephone order system again to make sure that my finger didn't slip and hit the "1" button twice or something like that. Again choosing the takeout order option on the system, my call was redirected and the phone was ringing at a location without a prompt to select my location. Again the person answering the phone failed to identify which location I had reached. I asked, "Can you please tell me which location I've reached?". "Bloor" the person said. I told the person who I was, that I was coming to pick up my order and to report that the telephone system wasn't working properly.
Arriving at the Bloor location, I asked to speak to a manager, looking for at least some kind of compensation or discount for the trouble.
The Manager basically told me that she didn't believe that their system was broken. I informed that Manager of this, and she seemed unconcerned and basically acted as though I was lying. She told me that she had tested the system herself in the morning at the start of her shift, and it had been working properly. She didn't explain why they had to test the system every day, which seemed unusual and appeared to me that they had had problems with it in the past, otherwise why would they be testing it regularly?
I asked the Manager for compensation for my trouble (this trip turned into well over an hour to pick up food that should have taken 10 minutes) and she did not offer anything. I again expressed my dissatisfaction, and then she finally relented and gave me a coupon for a free juice. This tiny compensation on a large order and an hour of my time just seemed ridiculous to me. It barely covered my streetcar fare. I couldn't believe the lack of care for customer satisfaction and the inability of the Manager to make it right.
Seeing that I was getting nowhere, I took the coupon, paid the bill and made my way back to my office where my team was waiting patiently for their lunch. Of course, by this time, lunch had become cold, soggy and limp. Not Fresh at all. Everything tasted lifeless and I couldn't enjoy it anyway, because I was so angered by the terrible service experience I had just had. My mood continued to be terrible for the rest of the afternoon, and distracted me from the important task at hand.
I've been a fan of Fresh for some time. My business partners are both vegetarian, so it's always been a good option for us for lunch together. This experience has soured me on ever going back to Fresh again.
The only reason I'm submitting this gripe is to give this business I used to love a final opportunity to make things right. Here are four things I'd like to see:
1. Fresh management looks into the possibility that their phone system breaks under heavy loads during the lunchtime rush and fixes their process to prevent this from happening to me and other busy takeout customers again.
2. A personal apology from management for the inconvenience and the lack of care that both location Managers showed to making things right.
3. The arbitrary policy around large orders not getting fixed or compensated for errors is changed
4. That I receive a significant cash or credit compensation for my time, as a sign of taking responsibility for the error and as a sign of Fresh's concern for my future business.