Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Groupon Gone Wrong

I am a fan of groupon.  I have been a fan of groupon since before it was even accessible in our area.  If you aren't familiar with it, here is a quick intro:  a business in your area does a 24 hour deal for a certificate/voucher/discount and once a certain number (usually a small number) of people committ to the deal, then it is activated (tipped). 

For instance, a car wash may advertise a 60% discount on a specialized wash/interior clean on your vehicle.  Once the tipping point is reached, anyone who has already committed or committs during that 24 hour to purchasing the voucher will get the deal.  

So, a few weeks ago, our favorite car wash (great service in the past) had a groupon deal for a $25 cleaning for a $10 price.  Sweet!  We grabbed one.  Before we left town a for our vacation, we had used our groupon to get the truck cleaned.  As we rolled down the road that afternoon, I noticed that it appeared the front window had not been cleaned on the inside.  Bummer.  That was one of the main reasons I bought the deal.  My front window REALLY needed a deep clean.  I mentioned the problem to my husband and we agreed I would just handle it when we returned home in a week. 

Fast forward to this past Monday.  On my lunch, I head over to the car wash and explain the situation and why its taken me so long to report it to them. The asst manager tells me no problem and that they will not only take care of my interior windows, but re-do the entire truck (exterior wash, clean tires, clean interior, etc).  Sweet!  I don't have time that day to let them do this, so I ask if my husband can bring the truck back tomorrow.  Of course!  No problem.  Just ask for either the asst manager or the manager and explain what has already been decided.  He even gave me his name, the manager's name, and the name of the specific wash code. 

Of course, as my husband is on his way to get the truck washed, the sky lets loose a torrential downpour.  Great.  Well, lets try again tomorrow.  So, now we are at today. 

My husband takes the truck in and explains it all to the manager, who has no idea about my conversation with the asst manager.  However, he takes our word for it and puts our truck through.  As he was walking up to our truck, my husband was rummaging through the center console and money was visible.  I had laid it there the previous day.  It was in a closed compartment that he opened up.  Yes, I know.  Yes dad, I know.  YES MOM, I know.  So, anyway, my whole big whopping $7 is laying there.  I know it was there because I had used some change out of that console just an hour earlier.  I saw the $7 (a $5 and two $1) plus I also knew there was a separate $1 a little further down and if you dug just a bit below that one, you would find another $5.  My husband knew the $7 was there because it was laying on top of the paper he was seaching for in the console.  The manager sees it as well.  Neither of them knew about the other $6. 

The truck is cleaned inside and out and my husband is handed the keys.  I am not sure if he had even left the parking lot when he looked in the console and noticed the big whopping $7 was gone.  He went to the manager and said that we have a new problem.  He explained the missing $7.  He tells the manager he has 20 minutes to get it all figured out or he is calling the police.  Stealing is stealing and money doesn't grow on trees at our house, especially not right now!  The manager knows the money was there.  He saw it.  (Later on the phone, he tells me that he saw it.)  So, he hands my husband $7 and promises to figure it out.  My husband leaves and calls me. 

I was furious.  First, you don't do what you were supposed to when cleaning my truck...and then when you are trying to make good on that, you steal from us?  Nope, don't think so!  A few calls later and I am on the phone with the manager.  The first thing I did was ask to speak to the owner.  The manager can't stop apologizing.  The owner is out of town.  By the time we hung up, the manager told me that he would call me later this afternoon to let me know what he uncovered from his staff.  He had already made two employees empty their pockets.  He had also told them that if he had to, he would close the business for a few days until it all got sorted out...meaning they would not be getting paid.  I trusted that he wasn't playing around.  I also made it clear to him that we had been loyal customers BEFORE the groupon even existed, so now he had basically lost us as customers over something that started out as a way to bring in customers or get current customers to upgrade a service.  I made it clear that if he wanted our business, he was going to have to earn it back. 

He called me back a little after 5pm.  How many of you are surprised that he actually called me back.  Anymore, customer service is dead.  Not at this car wash.  He immediately said he wanted to update me on things. He said that the three staff who had touched our truck were no longer working for the car wash.  He said he wasn't able to figure out who took the money, so he let them all go.  Yep, put your eyeballs back in your head.  He moved on to ask what he needed to do to retain our business.  I was so stunned, I asked him for the chance to discuss it with my husband before letting him know.  He offered up deep detail service (the kind where you drop off your truck and come back in a few hours), oil change...whatever.  Ok, for real, pick your chin up off the floor.  I know, right?  Amazing.  What do you know, customer service is still alive. 

I am not sure who was stunned more, me or my husband.  I don't think that was the outcome either of us expected.  We are not disapointed with it, but just stunned that someone was willing to go that length in the effort to catch a $7 thief.  Most times, a manager would say they had much bigger issues to deal with and move on.  If anything, I expected that the thief would be fired and it would be such a shame that someone lost a job over $7 measly dollars.  Yet, it was much larger than that.  Three people went home jobless today because one of them failed to do the right thing and speak up to being guilty.  I am not stunned that the thief didn't speak up.  In fact, I doubt the thief realized that the boss would truly fire someone over $7, much less all three of them. 

Despite the fact that they failed of giving me what I paid for the first time and then stole from me, I still think I will be giving them the chance to retain my business.  People make mistakes.  Businesses make mistakes.  Its how those mistakes are handled and rectified that makes such a huge difference.  For once, a person and a business are choosing not to sweep a mistake under the rug...they are willing to do whatever it takes to make it right.  Yeah, I am all about those kind of second chances. 

As for the $5 and a separate $1 that was in the same console and buried just a little deeper in the paper pile...they are still there.  I even doubled checked to make sure that the original $7 hadn't just been shifted around.  Nope.  Three people who had jobs this morning are now jobless tonight.  One of them has $7 more than he was supposed to have today.  I hope that $7 was worth it.  I bet that the other two who lost thier jobs think that as well.  Well, maybe not...

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