Hi, everyone! I’m still trying to juggle way too many projects this week – and I might have to keep some posts short to save time – but you knew I couldn’t stay away for long...
I’d like to begin today’s post, though, by saying thanks to my hubby, Dan, for helping me out yesterday – and thanks to all of you for being so gracious to him!
Last month, I told you that Dan and I would be leaving Michigan by the end of September. Well, that hasn’t happened yet. For a number of reasons, we decided to extend our “summer” stay to the middle of October. Anyway, in that same post, I shared my dismay regarding a formerly frequent stop along the highways and byways of America: Cracker Barrel, a nostalgic, country-style restaurant and gift shop that was once a staple of my road trips with Mom but has since become a haven of lukewarm food and slow service. According to the comments that day, it seems that I wasn’t the only one that Cracker Barrel had disappointed. Stephanie Faris, whose had several bad experiences there, even suggested that I visit their website, comment on my poor experiences, and link CB to my site.
In response, I wrote:
I’m totally with you, Steph. I don’t think this is simply a case of romanticizing a place of my youth – I think the food and service at Cracker Barrel HAVE declined in recent years. And you’re right – I should let CB know about my disappointment – instead of simply venting my frustrations on a blog (although, as a side note, a blog is a terrific place to vent one’s frustrations). And I think it’s great that you’re planning to follow through with the CB survey. How else will they know that they could be losing long-time customers? The servers I’ve met recently certainly wouldn't care. Maybe the corporate office would?
Then, I took Steph’s advice. I left a heartfelt comment on the CB website, linking it to my post, to which I received this reply:
Thanks for visiting our website. We’re glad you wrote, giving this Old Country Computer a chance to say “hi” back. Please know that a “real” guest relations representative – a person! – will take a look at your message, sharing your thoughts with the right people, and will e-mail you back if that’s what’s needed.
As expected, I never heard from the “Old Country Computer” again. Then, just the other day, I received a long-awaited packet of mail from my New Orleans postal address – and lo and behold, I discovered a letter from Cracker Barrel (dated August 20, 2009 – the day after I received the automated email reply):
Thank you for bringing to our attention your recent concerns regarding visits to various Cracker Barrel Old Country Store locations. Please accept our sincere apologies for any disappointment you have experienced.
Please be assured that steps have been taken to address the experiences you had and to make certain the necessary corrections are made. I have contacted our Operations Department and they will be addressing your issues to ensure that proper procedures are being followed.
Please accept the enclosed complimentary meal card as a token of our appreciation for your patronage. The gold card may be used at the Cracker Barrel location of your choice. We hope that your next visit to Cracker Barrel will be much more pleasant.
Now, while I’m tickled that someone actually paid attention to my complaint, the cynical side of me knows that it’s just a ploy to lure me back to the Cracker Barrel fold. So, here’s the question: Do I swallow my pride and use the “gold card” the next time I spy a Cracker Barrel on the road, or do I follow my instinct and forget the card exists? Dan, naturally, says we should stay away and avoid further disappointment. But I'm curious – what do you say?
8 hours ago