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Monday, 11 April 2016

Subway - why don't you care when your staff rip us off?

[Short link to this article if you need it - - or retweet me!]

The most important thing about what I write in this blog isn't so much the fact that companies get it wrong in the first place. It's how they deal with things when they go wrong. An example I saw recently was this from KFC, where a member of staff had been fired by a store manager seemingly in a discrimanatory fashion, but the appropriate action was taken and the manager was fired and the employee offered another job.

Doing the right thing to compensate for their staff doing the wrong thing.

Now admittedly my experience with Subway doesn't count as discrimination, but in terms of doing the right thing when a staff member does something inappropriate (in this case misleading a customer) the experience of their service was not what I'd have liked...
I went into one of their branches in Southampton and enquired about the £5 "footlong sub and a drink" offer that many branches of Subway had - in fact it's still on their website (although it worries me that the "Veggie Delite" says "We do not guarantee a vegetarian product" especially when the same disclaimer doesn't appear on their product page (Links correct at the time of posting):

The response I got from the assistant regarding the £5 offer was "No, we don't do that any more". Fair enough - it wasn't up on the boards as it often is so I accepted that. I was in a bit of a hurry without time to go elsewhere so I ordered and paid the higher "non-offer" price. As I was leaving I spotted some leaflets offering what I'd asked for at £4.99. And that was an offer that seemed specific to the franchisee. So why didn't they inform me of that? Here's the leaflet:
The offer is listed on there as available after 8pm. I arrived a few minutes past 8 (I'm certain of this as I was trying and failing, to get somewhere else by 8, but needed to eat more than getting to my destination on time) and yet the assistant didn't offer me that deal, despite me enquiring about such an offer at the start. By the time I'd seen this leaflet the only staff member had disappeared into the back store out of site and since I was short of time I didn't chase him down. I did however, complain online at their request:

SXA> I visited the Shirley store at 2005 last night. I specifically 
SXA> enquired about the £5 deal for a footlong sub and drink that 
SXA> most of your stores offer only to be told "We don't do that
SXA> any more". I ordered anyway, was charged I think it was £6.99 
SXA> and paid with cash. I wasn't given a receipt.
SXA> SXA> While filling up my drink I saw some leaflets talking about a 
SXA> £4.99 offer of a footlong sub and drink, available from
SXA> 2000-0200 each day. See
SXA> I was 
SXA> in a bit of a hurry (running late which is in fact the only 
SXA> reason I arrived after 8pm)
SXA> and the assistant had disappeared into the back of the store
SXA> so I couldn't quickly speak to him. So the assistant seemingly 
SXA> chose to rip me off instead of giving me that offer when I'd 
SXA> specifically enquired. It is extremely disappointing to feel 
SXA> lied to and I think someone needs to have a word with
SXA> the franchise owner. I can also be contacted me on twitter 
SXA> @sxa555 - it was your account that pointed me at this form.

A reasonable reply was forthcoming:

SO> Dear Mr Addison,


SO> Thank you for submitting your comments regarding the Subway® 
SO> Store in Southampton, Shirley High Street.   


SO> I would like to thank you for bringing this incident to our 
SO> attention. Comments such as yours are very valuable to us as 
SO> they enable us to monitor the stores performances closely and
SO> we thank you for taking the time to write to us.

SO> Due to the fact that the Stores belong to Franchisees we, as 
SO> the Development Office for the East & West Sussex, Hampshire
SO> and Isle of Wight region, do not operate the stores ourselves. 
SO> We do however, play a supervisory role to ensure that all
SO> stores are operated strictly according to Subway® standards. I 
SO> have therefore forwarded your comments to the owner of the
SO> store in question with the request to investigate the matter 
SO> immediately. The franchisee or a representative of the store 
SO> will contact you directly within the next 3 days.

SO> I would like to thank you once again for bringing the matter
SO> to our attention. Once the Franchisee has been in contact with 
SO> you I will be glad to receive your feedback. Please let me know 
SO> if you need any further assistance or information in the
SO> meantime.

I felt quite pleased with this response - I had a contact that seemed keen to ensure the franchisee was behaving themselves and was willing to take feeback. All good so far. Then I got the response from the franchisee ...

SF> Dear Customer,


SF> Thank you for your email.


SF> Let me begin by saying that I am deeply sorry for your 
SF> experience in this Subway store and I will do everything
SF> in my power to ensure this event does not repeat itself.

SF>  Plan of action

SF> Due to the fact customer service, hygiene and quality are 
SF> Subways key focus, I have decided to ask management to
SF> re-train this individual via Subway University as i want to 
SF> ensure Subways high standards are demonstrated in every
SF> store in the UK.


SF> I would again like to apologise for this matter and hope
SF> this experience has not provided you with a permanent
SF> negative perception of Subways products & services.

SF> If you have any other issues you would like to discuss please 
SF> phone me on my business mobile

Where do I start? There is nothing in that reply that leads me to believe it wasn't a standard "cut & pasted" reply from a franchisee who doesn't care enough to respond to the specific issue - even the "Dear customer" at the start says they couldn't even be bothered replacing it with my name. Retraining a member of staff at the centralised "subway university" would appear to serve no useful purpose when the issue was the staff member not making an offer available that was franchise-specific, so the blame lies firmly on the door of the franchise owner, or the employee. "I'm sorry that my staff member misled you. I hope this hasn't given you a permanent negative perception". Well I'm sorry, but yes it has.

But the person in the Subway Development Office for the region would be interested in this behaviour from its franchisee, right?

SXA> Hi <name withheld>
SXA> You've said you'd be glad to receive my feedback once I 
SXA> received a reply. I'm sure you've had the chance to read the 
SXA> response I got from the franchisee.  So I would be very 
SXA> interested in hearing what your opinion of it is?
SXA> From my perspective, what I've received is very obviously a 
SXA> blatant "cut & pasted" answer that has been crafted in such a 
SXA> way that it has presumably been given exactly as-is many times 
SXA> before. And If it's been needed many times before so as to 
SXA> warrant having such a generic response available than that's a 
SXA> concern in itself. It therefore gives me very little faith 
SXA> that the individual will actually be retrained at Subway 
SXA> University as a result of my complaint, and even if I did 
SXA> believe it it would serve no useful purpose because the issue 
SXA> was them misinforming me about an offer which was specific to 
SXA> their franchise, not something that central training would 
SXA> address, therefore the "everything in my power" comment is 
SXA> utter drivel. The issue is purely the franchise owners 
SXA> responsibility, but since they've given a cut & pasted answer 
SXA> they probably didn't read my complaint enough to realise that. 
SXA> It's really quite insulting.
SXA> I do appreciate that your branches are franchised but I would 
SXA> be very surprised if you considered what was said to be an 
SXA> acceptable response. If I was in your position I would be 
SXA> extremely disappointed. I would like one more piece of 
SXA> information from you if possible. Is the following a complete 
SXA> list of stores that the franchise that Sunny Khaira has any 
SXA> investment in as I wish to make sure I avoid dealing with him 
SXA> in the future, and will be actively disuadding others from 
SXA> doing so:
SXA> 136 Porswood Road, Southampton
SXA> 109 Shirley High Street, Southampton
SXA> Central Train Station, Southampton
SXA> 165 High Street, Winchester
SXA> 4 Black Swan Building, Winchester.
SXA> I presume the store in Eastleigh has nothing whatsoever to do 
SXA> with him (it seems more modern too, although that's probably 
SXA> because it is a relatively new store). I have regularly 
SXA> visited the Winchester High Street store and having acquired a 
SXA> subway loyalty card I was considering using that one a lot 
SXA> more. But I'll be heading to KFC or McDonalds instead now.

I received no response to this email. I have therefore avoided Subway since. I suggest you do the same, particularly for this franchise (addresses in the last email which I believe is complete although as I said I never got a reply confirming).

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