How's this for a slice of life -- or lack thereof?

August 21, 2004
Keith Toppazini and Kelly Toppazini
Toppers Pizza
1556 Lasalle Road
Sudbury, Ontario
P3A 1Z7

Dear Sirs:

I’ve hosted friends on many occasions, and have found that playing hostess can take away from the time I spend with my guests. So a week ago today, the plan for entertaining was: pizza. I would relax and catch-up with friends while having a few beverages – and I wouldn’t have any worries about dinner.

A week later, I’m still upset about how my guests and I were treated. I’m frustrated that rather than making a bad situation better, promises from the management of the local Toppers pizza made a bad situation far worse. I’m embarrassed about how my guests waited for two hours for dinner. And I’m hoping you can offer me some concrete reasons why I should not hesitate to order from Toppers again.

I ordered 4 large pizzas online. I have ordered several times online before and have never had any problems. In fact, on those occasions, the pizzas have arrived within an hour – and many times with a bonus set of breadsticks and a courteous driver saying “We gave them to you because it’s cheaper… it’s a combo.”

I’ve included a copy of my email order confirmation for your reference. When I placed my order on Saturday August 14, I had neglected to indicate I wanted the thin crust on our last pizza, so I pressed the “Back” button, and it registered as if I ordered 3 vegetarian pizzas, not two. We received the confirmation email at 8:16 p.m.

At 8:23 p.m. we received a phone call from 1-705-674-5302 to confirm our order. At that time we indicated that we wanted only two vegetarian pizzas, not three. Problem resolved, I returned to my guests.

And waited.

Later as I spoke with one of my guests, we were discussing how long it was taking for the pizza to arrive. I returned to my computer and noticed a full hour had passed since placing my order. I half-expected a knock at my door as I called the local Toppers to find out how much longer it would be.

When I called the Toppers here in Georgetown, I was told they had no record of my order. I was flabbergasted. I explained to the staff member that I was quite surprised to hear there was no record of our order, as we had actually received a confirmation phone call. She asked me to hold on, checked the system again, and said, no they had not received the order.

I gave her my order number, and explained how we had waited for over an hour, fully expecting the pizzas were on their way. After speaking with her and the manager, I gave her my original order over the phone.

When I spoke with the manager, I said I could understand if they had not received the order, obviously they could not know to make the pizzas. However, from our perspective there was every reason to expect the pizzas were on their way, and we had now waited for over an hour.

The manager said they would make the pizza order right away. He would take 10% off the cost of the order and include two boxes of Breadsticks or Topper sticks. And he would drive the order out himself to ensure we received it as soon as possible.

After I got off the phone, I explained to my guests the situation. Many were surprised at the “compensation” we were offered – that they would expect more significant discounts when an order had gone awry.

At this point I remembered the many times we had received free breadsticks when we had ordered two large pizzas. How insulting to be offered them as a “make good” when they’d been given freely in the past on the same type of order.

About 20 minutes later one of my hungrier friends, Kim, offered to call to find out how much longer it would be. She was told that the pizzas were ready, but they were waiting for the delivery person to come back from a delivery and that it might take another 20 minutes.

I was beside myself. We had waited nearly an hour and a half by this point, and the manager had stated he would drive the order out personally. Had he not made that offer initially, I’m sure I would still have been frustrated, but not nearly as much.

Kim got off the phone, after being told there would be a further discount on the pizzas. She explained the situation, and another friend, Trent, pointed out how poorly we were being treated. He called back the Toppers and asked to speak to the manager. Their conversation ended with Trent insisting the pizzas be delivered to our place, and that there would be no charge.

Within about 10 minutes, the pizzas arrived, with breadsticks. We were not charged for the order.

So you may be wondering… we got free pizzas. Why would I have a problem?

I have a problem because I really quite enjoy your pizza, but don’t feel comfortable with the quality of service we received.

When I first called, my order number should have been enough for the Georgetown Toppers to verify our online order, and to immediately offer the pizzas for free. Surely waiting for over an hour, after having Toppers call us to confirm our order, would warrant it.

Moreover, a customer should not have to ask for the manager to make a gesture such as providing the order for free. Had the order been small, perhaps I would have asked. But it was a large order, and I was uncomfortable with requesting there be no charge. When a significant error is made, offering the meal at no cost is a reasonable gesture to make to a customer who orders on a regular basis.

I’m sure your company has standards and guidelines for good customer service. I’d really like to know what these guidelines are. I’m sure the manager from our local Toppers is just as curious why we would receive a confirmation email and phone call, but he would not receive the order. Regardless, managers should be equipped with guidelines on how to ensure the customer is treated fairly and courteously.

I’d like to know that the next time I make an order from Toppers, if there’s a mistake, I can count on Toppers to handle it gracefully, and make me feel valued as a customer.

As it stands, I’m reluctant to order from Toppers again.

At best, I’ll feel like an idiot for giving business to a company that put me in such an uncomfortable position and treated me and my friends so poorly.

At worst, part of me wonders if I should closely inspect my pizzas from Toppers, just in case someone remembers us as “troublemakers”, and chooses to adulterate the toppings.

Regards,

kat@adchick.com