Sunday, February 19, 2012

Philip Overall Has A Lot To Learn

The man who coined the phrase The customer is always right...
was wrong.
But the guy who owns his business and therefore thinks he can treat customers as he also wrong.
Harry Selfridge (1857-1947) the UK founder of London's Selfridges store, created that line. Of course, he didn't intend it to be taken literally. What he was trying to do was to make the customer feel special, by getting his staff to behave as if the customer was right, even when they weren't.
Recently I gassed up my car at BP Te Kuiti (this service station is on the corner of Carroll Street and Awakino Road: Awakino Road is the one you take to go to New Plymouth)...
I was going to pay with MTA petrol vouchers (Motor Trade Assn.vouchers are happily accepted by over 4,000 retailers across NZ). I saw the customer ahead of me also wanted to use vouchers, but had been refused. This was causing him concern as he had no cash or credit card. Eventually the assistant exchanged the vouchers for his own cash, which then allowed the customer to pay for the fuel.
When it was my turn, I asked why MTA vouchers were not accepted. The assistant said it was the manager's decision. After paying by credit card, I requested he pass on to the manager that many motorists used MTA vouchers and that declining them, certainly without any warning at the pumps, was a major inconvenience. He shrugged, told me to take it up with the manager, and pointed to the man on the other till (the manager himself)...
So I asked the manager why vouchers were not accepted, but he very quickly became agitated and verbally abusive. He said MTA vouchers were a "piece of s***, not worth the f***ing paper they're printed on", and snarled: "This is a f***ing electronic age! Use a f***ing credit card!"
Taken aback, I tried to talk with him, but he deliberately became deeply engrossed in the sale of a drink to another customer. As I wasn't getting any civility from him I informed him that, due to his foul mouth and negative attitude, I would not be buying any refreshments from his store and would not be returning either. As I exited, he shouted after me to "Get the f*** out! I don't need people like you!" I can only imagine what the other customers thought! But as if that wasn't enough, as I got into my car, he ran after me still swearing: "If you're that concerned, why don't you f***ing go elsewhere!" I told him I obviously wasn't as concerned as HE was, and left.
I have never faced such a barrage of verbal abuse from anyone in retail anywhere in the world! I merely asked for a reason why MTA vouchers were unacceptable, and that's what I got in return. I've used this station before, but will never do so again.
The manager's name is PHILIP OVERALL. In my opinion he does not understand customer service or care a damn about it. Yet his little hissy-fit could have been completely avoided... had he merely put a sign on his pumps to advise that MTA vouchers were not accepted there.
He defended himself to BP in an email. He did not deny verbally abusing me, but claimed he'd said: "For Pete's sake, this is an electronic age." As if anyone in argumentative mood would say "For Pete's sake..." Riiiiiiight. He also claimed I was intimidating. Well, I'm 6'8" in my sox: Philip Overall is possibly about 5'6". I suggest he suffers from the dreaded Small Man's Syndrome.
It's concerning that he's in a front-line capacity while under what must surely have been emotional strain. Dealing with customers is no place for someone suffering any sort of mental stress. From the rapid decline in his composure, he may benefit from some counselling of some nature. He certainly appears unwilling to accept the irrationality of his outburst.
All marketing and branding experts agree that customer service is not the last step in the close of a sale but begins the very moment a customer arrives. The three essential ingredients in a sale are: product, information and service. Philip Overall failed in two of those three key elements.
So - the outcome? BP sent a letter of censure to Overall. BP rang me to apologise for this verbal abuse (it didn't have to, but is obviously far more clued-up on PR and service than this man). BP also made a policy decision, that service stations not accepting MTA vouchers must now have signage on their pumps.
Philip Overall may never want me to darken his doorstep again, but the full tanks I used to buy there - both when driving south and again on my return north - will definitely be bought elsewhere. There are two other MTA service stations in Te Kuiti, that will be getting my business in future. For the record, they are: Te Kuiti Service Station on Rora St., and Z Te Kuiti on Te Kumi Rd. I'm sure they'll happily accept my $100 per tank without abuse!
It is of course your choice to shop wherever you like:
I strongly recommend you bypass BP Te Kuiti.
BP Te Kuiti: verbal abuse is free!


Anonymous said...

You're not alone. If it's the same dick that I encountered, yea he's a prat! Very shorttempered and grumpy.

Anonymous said...

Wonder if this dick charges his staff for "drive-away" customers too!!!
He sounds like the sort of a***hole who WOULD!!!