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PFB Investigates - Papa John's Poor Customer Service - Case Closed

Posted Fri February 20, 2009 12:00 pm, by

Thanks to everyone for their thoughts on the Papa John's voicemail I posted yesterday.

About two hours after Luis left that voicemail on Wednesday, I received a call from Papa John's corporate communications department. It wasn't Daryl he delegated the call to one of his staff. Neither he or she knew any of the particulars of my case; just that I had left a message and they were returning my call. Daryl apparently had been out the previous two days with a sick child. Therefore I am convinced my case was escalated by Sean despite my request that it not be.

The woman was very apologetic as I gave her a quick rundown of what had transpired over the previous two days. She said she was embarrassed by the breakdowns and we talked about the numerous customer service issues that had been raised. She told me these would be addressed in one form or another. She offered me a Papa's card (their version of a stored value card). I don't know how much it would have been for because I declined it before she could get that far. I told her about the business development guy's email and the voice mail from Luis. I asked if Luis's voicemail (as I described it) was an example of what she would consider "world class service" and she said no, of course not. She talked about the cost of "winning" me back and I pointed out it really wasn't that cost which mattered. Instead, they should be concerned about the cost of replacing me in their revenue stream and she agreed. We ended the conversation on a good note. I doubt I will hear from anyone else at Papa John's again which is fine with me. I don't expect or want anything else from their organization.

As for Luis's phone call, I made it clear to both Sean and the business development guy that I didn't want any contact with the franchisee. Yet they both made that happen; likely because that's just what they do in these situations. They really shouldn't have. In my opinion, the call from Luis was as bad as the original failure to follow up. Luis validated my initial decision not to talk to the store manager. Luis couldn't have sounded more forced if he had tried. The only reason he made the call was the business development guy gave the franchisee a ton of grief and that grief rolled downhill to the store level. The lady from corp communications confirmed that Luis was not the franchisee so he was likely the store manager or even an assistant. He was probably pleased as punch he didn't actually have to talk to me. As you heard, there was no acknowledgement of the issues at hand, nothing in the way of an apology and no concern at all for me as a customer. As I told the business development guy in a followup email, Luis called and did what he had to do which was offer me free food. He could now close the books on Greg, a former customer. I also attached a copy of the voicemail and asked the business development guy if that was his idea of "world class service". Of course he hasn't responded and I don't expect him to.

Here is what Luis should have said (or something similar): "Hi, this is Luis from Papa John's. I apologize for the delay in getting back to you. I've reviewed the details of your feedback and I would like very much to talk to you about them. Please call me at your convenience. In the meantime, I will share these issues with my team and we will use them to make our operation stronger as we move forward. Thank you for taking the time to contact us. I look forward to hearing from you."

Thus, the case of poor Papa John's service comes to a close. Their offer of two free calzones is sitting in my file at that store. They will never be used because I won't patronize them again. And this has now become PFB exhibit #1 on the huge difference between what a company says it does and what actually happens. Because, as I pointed out in one of my answers in the comments to my initial report, this went way, way beyond the initial crummy service. This went right up the customer service path; all the way to the customer service department and through the customer service channels. And, every step of the way, a great big fail was stamped on nearly every participant's forehead.

PFB Investigates is going to be a regular feature on the site. In fact, we have two more in the works right now that will likely appear next week. A question was raised in the comment section of one of my posts about what PFB stands for. I've stated it numerous times in other areas of the site however I'll be happy to state it again here.

We are happy to work with businesses in giving them access to their customers who happen to use our site to provide feedback. We've gone to some fairly extraordinary lengths in the past to make sure the two connect. I've talked to numerous consumer affair folks about customer service and I even gave a speech in Chicago two years ago to marketing execs on how to provide good customer service based on the insights we've gleaned from PFB letters and how to reach female consumers in particular. We are ready to help any business who wishes to wishes to work with us to further the cause of good customer service. We will help build the bridge between between businesses and their customers.

Still we are a consumer-centric web site. We exist to empower consumers and we will leverage the power of the internet toward that end. One of the planks in our mission statement states: "We will require companies to respect consumers' choice, privacy and time, and we will expose those that do not". Features such as PFB Investigates are a natural extension of that philosophy.

Consumers come in all shapes, sizes and temperaments. We allow consumers to use their own voice when providing feedback. We respect their choice of feedback delivery, whether it be in person,over the phone or through the internet. We believe businesses must earn customer loyalty. The onus is on the business, not the customer, to provide a good experience. We will help consumers reward businesses that do so. We will give those same consumers a voice in the event a business doesn't. Without customers, businesses would cease to exist and we expect those businesses to value their customer's feedback no matter what form it may take. In the course of our daily operation, we hope consumers will find good and useful information on our site that will help them navigate the sometimes stormy waters of daily commerce. In the end, PlanetFeedback is the voice of one and the power of many.

None of this should be a surprise to anyone. We encourage all users to review our mission statement whenever our purpose seems to be unclear.

-Greg (PlanetFeedback's Mr. Helpful)

You can read the previous chapters in this case here

Chapter One
Chapter Two


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by Deirdre D. Posted Mon February 23, 2009 @ 1:23 PM

This is all a matter of principle...the principles of customer service
and the value of the customers.

This type of situation isn't unqiue to Papa Johns instead it is
becomming more and more apparent in industries.

Personally speaking I know if after I complain (like my issue with
Weis) if I receive a response...a response that is not just apologetic
as I don't want to be patronized but more so to know they acknowledge
the situation and that measures will be taken to improve upon the
training...improve on the service. That is really all I want to
see...that it is duly noted and action steps will begin.

I do believe many companies need to invest more time in employee
training in role playing scenarios on customer service...the training
period for this is worth huge sums in the long run...take the short
term hit to provide overall solid training including customer service
and how to handle conflict...conflict resolution etc. and the short
term hit will lead to the long term gain - customer retention.

All too often we hear it is now what ws said but how it is
said....another component of customer service not just using the
"right words" but as we heard in Luis's voice mail how to use the
words and be effective.


by Nate. Posted Fri February 20, 2009 @ 9:36 AM

I agree with Kelshir.
For something as simple as minimum wage employee getting the price
wrong by $1, simply asking for the manager may have solved the

While I understand that no one should have to talk to the manager, and
they can use whatever communication channel they would like as an
initial contact method, one should choose a logical and rational
method, such as speaking with the MOD. Odds are that they do care, and
can take care of the problem. They get nervous, don't know what to do,
and leave shaky voicemails when a customer goes all the way up to the
top over $1 and a poorly trained employee.


by LadyMac Posted Fri February 20, 2009 @ 10:28 AM

""No, it's 2 for $9.99," the gal said. "But I just saw a tv ad which
said it was 2 for $8.99", I replied. Pause. "But it's 2 for $9.99",
the gal said. Clearly she was not going to give me the advertised
price. "OK...I don't want it then" I said. Awkward pause. "Well", she
said and then she hung up. Click."

She hung up on him ~ and in the process effectively communicated that
he ws not important as a customer. Didn't offer the manager or shift
leader when there was something she couldn't handle. Didn't say hang
on a second, sir, let me check this out with someone. She
disconnected the phone.

I don't blame him for not wanting to have anything more to do with
such a poorly run outfit.


Yes, I read chapter one by Nate. Fri February 20, 2009 @ 11:00 AM

So are you saying by LadyMac Fri February 20, 2009 @ 11:56 AM

Here is the problem... by Kelshir Fri February 20, 2009 @ 8:37 PM
by PlanetFeedback's Mr. Helpful Posted Fri February 20, 2009 @ 1:19 PM

There was absolutely nothing illogical or irrational about my decision
to use Papa John's online contact form in this case. You may not like
it and you clearly don't agree with it but it was the most normal
thing in the world. No one I spoke to at Papa John's questioned or
even chastised me for having used it instead of contacting the store
manager. Nor would I have expected them to.


I love online comment forms :) by Kelshir Fri February 20, 2009 @ 8:41 PM
by Nicole F. Posted Fri February 20, 2009 @ 6:40 PM

should have been the one to get a manager on the phone. ANY time that
a customer tells me something different then what I know or what I
think I know, I go after the correct information. I've been wrong
before and when I am, I apologize, get in the correct
price/information, and go on. There are a lot of things I can confirm
and do for the customer, but sometimes it is best to escalate it right
up to a manager.

And I don't like the implication that a minimum wage employee is
stupid or anything. She was wrong and frankly, a bit rude. It doesn't
make her stupid. I make barely above minimum wage, work hard at my
job, and don't like it when people think they are better or smarter
than me, my co-workers, or fellow retail employees because we are paid

by Kelshir Posted Fri February 20, 2009 @ 9:29 AM

Here is an experience that I want to share. It kind of relates to
your whole experience.

We had a customer that was unhappy (I do not know why, been a long
time). She called up and got me and wanted to know the store location
and number that our district manager operated out of. I asked if
there was anything I could do or if she wanted to talk to our store
manager and she declined saying she had talked to him, so I gave her
the information requested and she hung up.

I then called the store manager and informed him of what was going on.
She had never tried to contact him (what was going on was recent
enough he would remember, and he always remembers customers) and he
called her right back within 2-3 minutes and took care of her
complaint and she never had to go to our district manager.

My store manager is all about customer service. No one in the store
can give a final "no" on anything except him (and sometimes he is
overturned by district). When he talks to a customer that has a
problem he truly cares.

Now, should I have turned it over to my store manager when the
customer specifically said she did not want to talk to him? Maybe,
maybe not, but he was able to take care of the situation and the
customer was happy in the end and I think the difference is that he
wanted to make the customer happy.


That could have easily blown up and gone the wrong way by PlanetFeedback's Mr. Helpful Fri February 20, 2009 @ 2:41 PM

True enough by Kelshir Fri February 20, 2009 @ 8:34 PM

I agree by Nicole F. Fri February 20, 2009 @ 6:51 PM

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