On a rather cold and snowy day, I decided to warm up with a latte and a Grand Marnier at a private club I belong to in midtown. A dear friend joined me and I told her about my blog, “The Tertiary Report.” She instantly exclaimed, “Oh my god, I have to tell you about the saddest and worst service experience I have had so far!” Here is her story…

I love stopping in Le Pain Quotidien on my way to work as I think they have the best croissants and lattes in midtown. Working in midtown can be challenging in terms of finding good food and drinks at reasonable prices. At LPQ, everything smells delicious and the flavors are just as incredible as founder Alain Count envisioned…right???? Well, maybe not. See more at hughesairco.com.

The Problem
On a few of my morning visits, I experienced rather un-welcome service. Staff members seemed more interested in chatting with each other than with helping the line of customers that snaked out the door. Nor were they paying any attention to the volume of guests walking in and waiting to being served. Once they “woke up” from their chat(s), the staff members seemed very annoyed and were so unfriendly that they pissed off the remaining clients, some of whom left without their orders!!!

This experience was so uncomfortable that I decided not to go back, and, in fact, I stayed away for 3 weeks. One morning, figuring it might just have been a bad day, I went back to Le Pain Quotidien 53rd Street for my favorite latte and croissant.

When I walked in, all the staff members had their back to the register and were busy chatting or texting. Hmm….I thought, this is weird. Should I wait for them to turn around? Finally, one of them did and the unpleasant attitude I got was appalling. The worst part? When I asked for my croissant to be heated, I got a really evil look. Nevertheless, the sales clerk took my croissant and said “Okay.”

I waited about 7 minutes for my “heated” croissant, which seemed excessive. After 5 minutes, I asked how much longer my croissant would take, and the sales clerk said, “It’s in the basement”! When I asked again, 3 minutes later, another sales clerk said, “I called your name twice and you never responded and the croissant has been sitting on the counter for 7 minutes!” What? I was standing next to the register the entire time. They could have easily handed it to me when it was ready. Furthermore, no one ever called my name!

I ended up not eating the awful, dry, and not-warmed up croissant, immediately vowing then and there to never go back. And I haven’t ever since!!! What a shame…

The Fake Fix:
My friend was so upset by this experience that she decided to find out who the manager of the 53rd Street Le Pain Quotidien was online and called.

Much to her surprise, he wasn’t really shocked by her complaint, repeatedly stating that they were working through a change that would take some time.

My friend is a humble person and she was very apologetic about calling. She almost felt guilty for shedding light on the LPQ staff’s poor service with regard to heating up a croissant and making a nice latte.
The manager gave my friend a $25 gift certificate and a free breakfast (with anything she wanted to order) in attempt to keep her as a client. But guess what: 3 weeks have passed and she still hasn’t gone back—and she probably never will!

The true fix is this:
Go back to the founder and creator’s mission and vision 21 years ago. This used to be about simply serving grandma’s bread and pastry recipes to the local community at a reasonable price with friendly service. Don’t let success go to your head. And make sure to get your old staff training manuals out!

What do you think?

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