Or, Why I Will Never Buy Papa John’s Pizza Again

I’ve never quite understood why it is that some businesses take such a laid back, disconnected approach to customer service. Recently, I have been reflecting upon experiences I have had in the past where I have been extremely disappointed with the service received and those where I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly and above and beyond other companies have gone. Those companies that take the time to listen to my issue and fix the problem are going to be the ones that will continue to earn my business, and I’m sure others share my views on this.

It was last year around this time when I ran into some of the worst customer service I have experienced in a long time. We had ordered pizza from the local Papa John’s. It was a long wait for the food, which wouldn’t have been an issue if it had been the quality I’d come to expect. I had ordered from another Papa John’s location in the city previously and had a great experience. The food was hot, great quality with lots of toppings. You would think that going to another location within the same franchise, you would get at least the same quality of food. The food we got that day was poorly made, hardly any toppings and tasted like cardboard. If I had wanted cheap quality food, I would have gone and picked up Little Caesars Hot & Readys. At least with them, we wouldn’t have wasted the extra money Papa John’s charges for their “quality” good. I got home about 2 hours after the food was ordered and delivered but no one else had done anything so I called to complain. I was offered to have new pizza made and sent, which at the time wouldn’t have made sense since everyone else had already eaten and would have been a waste for them. The store manager said he would send vouchers (no value given at the time) to make up for the issue. I was irritated but accepted that he was making an attempt to fix the issue. Three weeks went by and no sign of anything from the store came in the mail as promised. I decided to escalate the problem by contacting their customer service department through their website. I explained everything that had happened up until that point in their standard feedback form and submitted it. To this day, I have never heard back from anyone.

This is a perfect example of companies dropping the ball when a customer runs into a problem with their product or service. I could understand one misstep, as we are all human and make mistakes, but contacting them twice and receiving no resolution or even any form of response really is appalling. As a consumer, I felt ignored. Even an automated response would have been better than nothing. I personally am very interested to see what that particular locations sales are like in comparison to the other location I had purchased from.

In comparison, my mother recently had an issue at Starbucks where the piece of banana bread she had purchased was stale. Since she had gone through the drive-through and was on her way to work, she was unable to have the issue corrected in the store. From experience, I know they would have replaced the food without issue. She contacted their online customer service and received a quick response. The agent gave her a credit on her Starbucks card for $5 for a piece of bread that only cost approximately $1.60. With my own experience, I had ordered a tea latte and received a regular latte. They not only remade the drink for me, but they also gave me a voucher for a free drink of any size for the next time I was in. As a result, I have been a loyal customer of Starbucks because of the way they handle their customers. They go that extra mile to make it right. They could easily just replace the error, but they always one-up it with that little bit extra, which can make all the difference in the world.

These are just two examples of customer service dos and don’ts. The important thing is to make it right, even if it is just fixing the mistake or, such as in the case of the pizza, offering an alternative if remaking something doesn’t work. Had I gotten those vouchers, that experience would have been neutral instead of a bad experience. Following through on a promise is also important. If you say you’re going to do something, then you need to do it. I currently work in a customer service role so I know how important it is from the employee side as well to make sure quality service is provided to every customer. I’ve heard so many people say they had switched to the company I work for because the last place they were with had horrible service. Sometimes it’s even just the little things that leave a lasting impression.

UPDATE:  The location that the pizza was ordered from has now closed.  Still haven’t heard from Papa John’s.


Jennifer Lewis