"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves." --Rainer Maria Rilke (©julenisse/Fotolia)

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

The Lunch Break

John R. Perry Photo

















Like microwave ovens and ATMs, drive-thrus and meal delivery services were created to make our lives easier, more convenient and stress free.

When I was a kid, the only food you could order for delivery was pizza, and you had to pay in cash. Except for one time my parents were out. I gathered every quarter, dime and nickel in the house, paying in change for the chance to see the cute delivery guy I was crushing on.

Fawaz_Sharif Photo
Today, though, you can get any food delivered. Steaks, sushi, shawarma – the possibilities are endless. The last couple of years, my husband, John, has even had a red velvet cheesecake delivered to our door on Christmas Eve, and we do still order the occasional pizza. Use PayPal, Apple Pay, or a credit card. For most of it, you couldn’t pay in cash (or coins) even if you wanted to.

Meal delivery services are not without their problems – forgotten salad dressing, cold fries, soggy bread, long wait times. And, reminiscent of Joe Pesci’s Lethal Weapon 2 rant, who hasn’t had issues at the drive-thru? Still, we continue to rely on the ease of online ordering and the luxury of door-to-door service.  

The day the movers came, I logged into Yelp around 10:15 a.m. and ordered turkey subs for lunch. (Free moving advice: Feed your crew, give them water, and tip them!) Orders are fulfilled by Grubhub, which purchased Eat24 from Yelp a couple of years ago. I chose Acme Subs (obviously a pseudonym) because our preferred sandwich shop didn’t deliver until after 11. As the 35- to 55-minute delivery window came and went, I became annoyed and called the customer service number on my confirmation email.

Not really me. 
“Acme Subs doesn’t deliver,” the anonymous, accented voice told me over the phone.

“But I ordered through Grubhub! How can they not deliver?” I was incredulous.

“Those orders are only for pick-up.”

We couldn’t pick up the sandwiches because our car was blocked into the driveway by a massive green moving van.

“Okay,” I sighed. “Then I need a refund.” They owed me $31.

“All I can do is offer you $10 off your next order.” Like there was going to be a next time.

That’s when I got to say, “Please let me speak with your supervisor.”

While I was on hold (again), I whispered to John to go ahead and order from somewhere else. I was embarrassed that the movers’ food hadn’t arrived yet.

The supervisor was far more accommodating than his minion had been, not only processing my refund, but affirming that the Yelp page was indeed confusing about pick-up versus delivery options. I was vindicated!

Why would I use GrubHub if I didn’t want my food delivered?! It wouldn’t hurt these guys to take a lesson from Nordstrom, Ritz-Carlton and others whose well-trained and friendly employees are empowered to resolve customer service issues efficiently and with smiles on their faces.

After I hung up with the Yelp/Grubhub guy, I got a call from “Mr. Acme” himself chastising me for not picking up the food that had been sitting in the sub shop for the last hour.

“I see you prepaid. How am I going to get paid?”

I had explained the situation to him and now he was going to have to eat – either literally or figuratively – the $31 lunch order.

“You’re going to have to work that out with them,” I said. “And you might want to clarify the delivery thing on your Yelp page.” (I’m told I have a corrective nature.)

We were both irritated. I felt a little sorry for him.

peperompe Photo 
A few minutes later, a tattooed millennial came through the open front door bearing subs, chips and Cokes for all.

“You didn’t order from that other place? The one we like?” It was well after 11 so surely they’d deliver now.

“No, because they only use Grubhub.” We usually drove down the hill and picked up the subs ourselves.

 “So, where’d these come from?” I asked John.

“Acme Subs.”

Huh? Was I losing it? Hadn’t Grubhub just told me Acme doesn’t deliver?

“Yeah. I used DoorDash. Wait…” John was confused, too. “Is that the same place you ordered from?”

We both shook our heads in disbelief. This thing that was supposed to make our lives easier had completely bamboozled us. I mean, we all know there’s no such thing as a free lunch. But is an aggravation-free lunch too much to ask for?