Friday, 12 August 2016 13:21

Bad Business Practices: What You Can Learn

It's not about the money.

It was only $14.51. It is, however about the Corporate to Franchise mentality and the way Franchises view Business Practices considering that places like Little Caesar's thrives on low paid employees.

What Happened At Little Caesars

Little Caesars is known for offering "Hot and Ready" $5 pizzas ready to go as you walk in. I had stopped in around lunch and picked up two of the $5 pizzas for lunch with some co-workers. I'd done this many times before, and what was usual was that I got the two pizzas and a 2 litre for $14.51.

Pulling Out My Credit Card is when the "Fun" began.

My credit card is a smart card and like most these days, has a smart chip (EMV card). Although the technology has been around for years (first seen in the USA in cellphones by wireless providers such as Omnipoint Wireless, LLC), Many cashiers are still having issues with the card readers, and knowing how to use them properly.

The one at this Little Caesars appears to be a Verifone VX680 or similar. This credit card machine works a bit differently than most that accept the smart cards.

On most card terminals the LCD will tell you to leave the card inserted until the transaction is complete.

The LCD then reads "Thank You" or similar, and tells you to remove the card. The actual transaction to the bank happens within a half second before the "Thank You" appears. By the time you remove the card, the transaction is already complete.

The way that the Verifone at Little Caesars that I went to works is that after you put your card in, it begins the verification and transaction. Like other card terminals, it says "Thank You" as the transaction completes. 

Where this is different is that the terminal will still read "Leave card inserted" for 5 seconds following the "Thank You" message. Other terminals don't do this, and this is where the employee failed.

She was sure that the transaction didn't complete since I pulled the card out after the "Thank You" message.

She was also sure that she'd have to re-run the charge.

I told her that the terminal had confirmed the charge, but she based her thought that the charge didn't go through because she saw me pull the card out at the "Leave card inserted" message in that 5 second after the thank you showed up.

little caesars receipt

What could I do?

I promised the people at work that I'd bring back the pizza, so I had no choice than to let her re-run the charge and then leave with my pizzas.

When I checked my bank account at work, I found that both charges did indeed go through.

account proof

I called up the Little Caesars store and let them know.

They told me to just come back in and they'd refund me the cash since they couldn't void credit card transactions (WHAAAAAA???)

Now, I'm not totally without fault in this, I admit.

I assumed that like any normal business, the manager would be able to go into the transaction log and void out the previous charge since I KNEW it went through.

I asked the boss for a concession to go and get the cash, and he graciously let me.

"Um... You're Going To Have To Wait..."

Can you imagine my surprise when I got to the store, and the cashier and what I assumed was the manager told me that they couldn't give me any money back IN CASH until the credit card transaction cleared the bank! Well, I told them to reverse the charge in the terminal since I knew they hadn't batched out yet, and all would be good.

Both employees confirmed that the credit card terminal won't allow them to void a transaction.

They Messed With The Wrong IT Guy. PERIOD.

I know that the Verifone VX 680 is capable of voids. It's not the machine's fault as they would have me believe. I know the menus on this series, and know exactly where the transaction log is.

The Employees Couldn't Even Fess Up To Their Own Mistakes

“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters”Albert Einstein

The Little Caesar's employees did three things wrong today.

  1. They misplaced the blame to a credit card machine saying it couldn't do voids -- to an I.T. guy who knows better.
    Don't automatically assume that the customer won't know any better. Many times, the customer actually does know, and will see right through your employee's lies. I had a feeling that it was actually one of two things:
      a) They didn't know how to do voids - which is highly likely. Many shops leave the voids unrestricted, but just don't teach the employees how to perform a void.
      b) They didn't have access to do voids - also likely. Again, like the above, upper management might not have taught the employees on duty what to do.

    When one of your employees lies to a customer, it gives that customer a very bad taste, so to speak. That single employee has just ruined your entire business' reputation, and in this day and age where it's so easy to bad mouth a business online, it most certaintly will happen eventually.

    An employee that is willing to lie to a customer, is also willing to lie to you, the business owner.
    Let me type that again: An employee that is willing to lie to a customer is also willing to lie to coworkers, managers and the business owner.

  2. They Did Not Apologize For The Mistake
    It's obvious that the mistake was not mine. I didn't run the transaction -- they did. I also knew that the transaction went through, but they didn't know how the processor even worked well enough to know the difference, let alone check to see.

    When I presented them with the proof that what I said was right, there were no apologies. They continued making excuses and saying they couldn't do anything.

  3. They Did Not Correct The Mistake, Or EVEN Try.
    Since they didn't or couldn't figure out how to void the transaction, and they wouldn't give cash back until the funds cleared my account, they should have given me a clear solution for the problem, other than saying "you'll have to come back again and prove it."

    Business Owners and Managers: Do your employees know what to do if they can't solve an issue in the store? These Little Caesar's employees didn't. They should have done one of the following things:
      a) Make the call to upper management to figure out what to do
      b) Give me a number to call so I can speak with someone that could help me resolve the issue.

    In this instance, the girls at the counter just dismissed me as if it wasn't a big deal that they lied to a customer, and didn't even attempt to resolve the problem.

    Their narrow thinking brought them to believe that the issue was the money. I get that for a 18 year old kid, it probably is. 

    I was just looking for a resolution to a mistake, and all it would have taken would have been:
      a) A Quick apology for the mistake
      b) The employee fessing up that she couldn't help, but would try to get someone that could (either by calling corporate or providing me customer service' number)
      c) Letting me know clearly what they could and could not do to help me (eg: make me feel like they were on my side, trying to help)

I Had To Do The Legwork Myself

Most large companies have twitter, and I know from previous experience, that Little Caesar's is quick to respond. 

I sent them a tweet letting Little Caesars know that I was unhappy and what happened (as well as you can do in under 160 characters).

I found out from Little Caesar's corporate offices that the store I'd purchased from was owned by a franchise and there wasn't anything they could do but contact the franchise to ask them to contact me. This left me with nothing, and it was very clear that Little Caesar's corporate does not have good control over their franchises when it comes to customer service

I did a bit more legwork. I found the Franchise's office number and called them... but...

Not A Single Soul Answered The Phone!

Best I could do was leave a message.

At this point, It's not so much about Little Caesars as it is about your business.

How are you running your business?

Do your employees truly know and take ownership of the problems that YOUR customers have with YOUR business

Unfortunately, I've seen way to many shops where the employees don't know how to handle a complaint, and don't have a clue what to do to achieve a satisfactory resolution.

Empowering your employees with quick and effective ways to handle upset customers is very important to having a business that flourishes. When an employee that knows what to do gets an unsatisfied customer, they can deflate and solve the issue most of the time.

Issues Only Begin With Money

It's all in how the employee handles the situation.

When there's an issue with money, whether that be the customer was overcharged, double charged or just unsatisfied, it starts with wanting the money back. We all know that. When your employee doesn't know, or isn't taught how to handle this type of complaint, the money usually takes a back burner to other issues. In my case, $15 isn't that much, and I'd have been happy just knowing that a manager was going to call me and that they'd try and help me solve things.

When the employees did nothing to help, and in fact lied about the credit card terminal, and otherwise showed me their ignorance through either bad training, or no training, then my focus shifted (VERY QUICKLY) from the money, to shady and bad business practices on the employee's part.

Corporations tend to disassociate themselves with the Franchises They Provide

Not sure if I'm saying this one right because it's a thought based on what I have experienced many times over, but it's a game where corporate offices blame franchises for bad business, and wipe their hands of the situation. True, it's a franchised business that the corporation doesn't directly control, HOWEVER...

What Corporations Forget Is That It's Their Name On The Boxes. Their Name On The Signs.

...Their Reputation that they've essentially handed to franchises and then disavowed themselves from.

If a customer has a problem walking into a shop with my name on it... You'd darn well believe that I'm going to try and make things right because that's my reputation. I don't care if a franchisee owns the business, I'm going to fix it and make my franchisee pay for the cost of making THEIR customer happy.