Category Archives: Customer Service

Only Child asks: Are Toronto buses missing their schedules?

TTC bus today

 

When I was a child, my mom and I would play a mild form of roulette to catch the bus. Our street was halfway between two stops so we would walk the very short half block to the main drag, look both ways, and decide which bus stop to go to. Sometimes we could actually see the bus coming and sometimes we couldn’t. But there was always the chance the bus would show up as we walked (or ran) to either stop.

Fast forward to today. Bus schedules for each route are shown on the TTC website. Any “alerts” as the TTC calls schedule interruptions or changes are posted and continually updated. Those with smart phones can get an app so they can get up-to-date bus arrival times. A few bus stops have digital information with arrival times for the next two buses. Subway station bus levels have electronic times posted that change to match the actual bus schedules.

So all should be working well – even when buses are delayed for some reason. AND WE BUS RIDERS SHOULD KNOW ALL THIS BECAUSE THE INFORMATION IS ACCURATE.

Hah!

Here’s my experience… or some of it.

From where I now live I can take four different bus lines – two stop at the stop near my home and all four stop a long block away. Usually I check online before I leave to see what’s what with the schedules and any alerts including construction nonsense.

Might as well save my time and eyesight, though because…

The Woodbine bus does run to schedule – its own schedule which seems to be timed about halfway between the actual schedule posted online..

The O’Connor bus – well it will take you for a ride (or not). Even on Sundays when there is no construction in the way, the drivers (and in some cases their supervisors) can’t get it right. Last Sunday I was coming home from some grocery shopping – no problem with the subway, but when I landed at the subway station to switch to the bus, it was “fun and games”. The electronic schedule said that one O’Connor bus was now due. I can take either one to get home. So, that was good. A bus did come in right away and stop on the O’Connor side of the bus platforms. But its sign said “Coxwell 22” bus, which means it was going the other way on Coxwell Avenue. So after unloading the passengers, it drove around to the other side of the station where the Coxwell bus picks up passengers (and unloads them too). Furious, I returned to the electronic schedule on the wall. Now the O’Connor C was scheduled to arrive in 14 minutes and the O’Connor A in 18 minutes.

Guess what probably happened. The a****** supervisor probably gave the O’Connor bus driver instructions to switch to the Coxwell south route because of the bridge work there and a festival being held by the Lakeshore. Meantime the Coxwell buses were arriving okay and people got those buses. So what was the problem?

The O’Connor buses? The C was late and arrived a couple of minutes before the A. I boarded the A. Both buses took off right away from the station like a herd of elephants was after them. (Maybe that should have happened earlier). As the A bus beetled out of the station, another A bus was entering. My A bus was right behind the C bus, until the C turned down one street.

This is a regular occurrence. So is the change of drivers’ nonsense. I don’t know if the drivers themselves are arranging to switch at stops partway along the route instead of the subway stations (or wherever the end of the line is) like they should – just for their convenience, or some you-know-what supervisor in his or her “wisdom” is telling them to do so. But it is annoying to have the driver suddenly grab his bag and leave the bus – often with not telling us why – because his shift is over. Sometimes his replacement driver doesn’t arrive for some time.

Customer service?

I have sent in complaints to the TTC before on these shenanigans, but is anybody doing anything about it?

It would appear not.

I have a courtesy rule. When I get off a bus, I say “thank you” to the driver. But not when they are late or do the driver switcheroo mid-route – especially if it is after dark.

Too bad I can’t afford a cab or Uber.

Will I be forced to hitch-hike?

As for my late Mom – she is probably rolling around in her grave. Or her spirit is frowning. She definitely is not laughing.

Anybody have similar experiences with public transit where you live.

Let’s share stories.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Customer Service, Mother, Only child, Public Transit, Toronto, Toronto public transit, TTC buses

Only Child’s Mother’s Day was mixed bag

Martin and I outside Allen’s  on Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day in Toronto was grim, gray, cold, windy and later rainy. So I was looking forward to a bright light in the day – brunch with my son, Martin. At my request he had booked a table for brunch at Christina’s a different restaurant than usual. But when I arrived a few minutes after him and walked over to the table where he sat, I got a shock.

Martin told  me that when he came to the table he was told that they weren’t doing brunches today, only regular lunch and dinners. I spoke to the waiter and then the manager. They also told me they weren’t doing any breafasts and the owner said that this was just for today, not other Sundays. I looked around at the almost empty restaurant.

On Mother’s Day? What was the owner thinking? Does he live in another universe? And this obviously stupid move was NOT on their website. I had checked the website before Martin reserved..

Martin and I didn’t have to talk about this much. We agreed to leave and go elsewhere. So we walked out. He called our usual Mother’s Day brunch spot – Allen’s on the Danforth and managed to book a table starting in fifteen minutes. He started to call for an Uber but I said we could walk it and I had to stop in a green grocers on the way there to get some lettuce. Which we did.

Allen’s was like old home – food and service. And they had brunch including his favourite salmon and my two scrambled eggs with hash fried sweet potato. We told the waiter about our experience at Christina’s and said we should have come here first. So, Martin and I had our bright spot with Mother’s Day. And outside on the small patio, he took a shot of us – well fed and happy. I’m glad this worked out because I relish the time I spend with my son. We are both busy – him with work and the band he plays guitar in (Beams), so we don’t get together too often and  so connect on Facebook. I missed Martin’s partner, Juni, who usually comes with him, but she was just getting over food poisoning. I’ve had that before and it is not nice.

Both Martin and I discussed what to do about Christina’s. I said I was going to do a bad review on Yelp and he was going to complain via the company he reserved the table through online as they would email him a request for feedback. So, I joined the Yelp crowd and posted my review of both restaurants. For Christina’s and for Allen’s. And I just looked and it appears to not be there on  Christina’s. But I was straightforward, not rude. No reviews are posted there after May 10, so maybe. I’ll wait befoe reposting. Christina’s bad service does get a mention on my Yelp Review of Allen’s here. Scroll down. It’s under “Sharon C.”

So, I learned a couple of valuable lessons.

It is important to spend time with your family.

It is also important not to let businesses screw around with your well, business, and/or engage in false advertising (remember this change was not on their website).

It is also important to take nothing in life for granted or you will be screwed. Something I have to keep reminding myself.

A belated happy Mother’s Day to all mothers.

And the weather? It is supposed to be warmer and sunnier this week with just a bit of rain. But I’m not taking that forecast for granted.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Consumer action, Customer Service, Family, Martin Crawford, Resaurants

Is Retail Customer Service a Myth?

Only Child contemplating bad customer service

I’m beginning to wonder if some retail outlets are now operating under a hidden slogan. Something along the lines of  “The customer is never right; but we are” or “We do as we wish and the hell with customer service.”

My recent experiences in two big retail chain stores are making me wonde.

 

Is this the new wave of customer service?

First off – Shoppers Drug Mart. Double Whammy here.

Shoppers has the penchant for suddenly stopping carrying certain products, which is their prerogative.  But when it isn’t across the board with all stores and when it gets even pickier, i.e., one selection of a particular product at one Shoppers’ store, you begin to wonder what’s the idea behind it.

I was in my local Shoppers last week to buy a specific product on sale that week – PC tinned pink salmon. I had bought it last month and before that at this particular Shoppers, but it wasn’t there last week. PC tinned sockeye salmon and one other PC tinned salmon were available, but not on sale. There was no space and no price sign (sale or otherwise) for the pink salmon. So I talked to the manager – he checked and that branch is no longer carrying the pink salmon but he gave me a rain cheque and clarified that I could buy the salmon at another Shoppers Drug Mart. I said it was too hot to walk to Woodbine (the next nearest Shoppers) and I wasn’t friendly about it.

The second whammy. Another customer and I were looking for help with products and there were no clerks around in the store (except in makeup and checkout). So, the other customer boldly opened the “Employees only” door and called out – twice she had to do it. And I stuck my head in and said “me too.” The other customer claimed she had been waiting an hour  for someone to bring her some Sprite pops cans. I think she was exaggerating – but I do remember someone asking for some pop earlier as I went about collecting what I wanted to buy. The store manager finally came out and told her they were out of Sprite. You can imagine her reply…and I don’t blame her.

Over the weekend in  my local No Frills grocery store, they were not only down to about a dozen bananas of dubious quality, when I took my four purchases to the express checkout I ran into grief. Two of  the purchases – two containers of I Can’t Believe it’s not butter were on sale at another grocery store, so I had that store’s flyer to do a price match – something No Frills does. Imagine my dismay when the young clerk said they don’t do price matching anymore at the express checkout. I said, “I didn’t see any sign for that.” He pointed to a tiny sign posted  up on the side of the debit machine.

Huh? By then you are way in the checkout counter with one person behind you, putting her groceries down. I pointed this out to the clerk and that I had only four items. And I finished with “It might help if you put the sign up right at the front so people can see it before they put down their groceries.”

He didn’t make me go to another cashier and honoured my price match. But he got his just desserts, thanks to the lady right after me in the checkout. Never have I seen what goes around comes around happen so fast;  because if this price match is now a no-no at Express to save time, well the lady after me just foiled any quick move through the cash with a price check – a dispute in the price of strawberries.

Mentally  I was cheering her on.

And you may know, both No frills and Shoppers Drug Mart are part of the big Loblaw chain owned by Galen Weston Jr  since 2006, and who in 2017 t00k over as CEO of the  big parent company  George Weston Ltd. from his father. Galen Weston Sr. Junior is worth 9.3 billion according to a Wikipedia article on him.

Is this the new way he is doing business? Make it difficult for the customer?

I’ll have him know that the competitions, the Rexall drug store chains are making waves in Ontario. And there is another grocery chain, Metro,  that owns Food Basics as well.

Better watch out Mr.  Big Business. Your competition has some better customer service tactics. No Frills doesn’t offer rain cheques, but Food Basics does.

What are some of the “no” or “bad cust0mer service issues you’ve run into lately?

Let’s start  posting comments here.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Customer Service, George Weston Limited, Loblaw chain, Shoppers Drug Mart and No Frills