The Way I See It – A Blog

How to lose a customer in one easy visit.

From all I’ve heard about WaWa, I expect just about everyone in the US knows of them. If you don’t, you know a business like theirs: they fill a large lot with about a dozen gas pumps, stick a convenience store in the back of the lot, and fill about half of that with a simple self-branded fast food joint. They sell the gas really cheap, and everything else, well, not so much.

When a new WaWa store opens in the neighborhood, it’s a big deal. They offer the gas so cheap, it’s probably at a loss (and woe to the neighboring gas stations and convenience stores that must keep pace). They mail out notices of the grand opening, with a fist full of specials that are commonly related to the prepared food offerings.

It works. The gas prices and coupons bring the customers in. They end up buying far more food than the coupons would cost them. Because the coupons don’t suit everyone, they’ll end up selling a lot at regular prices. The grand opening makes them a lot of money, and is supposed to make them a lot of friends.

WaWa couponThis is a story of how management failed in a local grand opening.

The coupon pictured to the left was mailed, with a few others, to my home. I happen to like bagel sandwiches with ham, egg, and cheese, and while I couldn’t be sure of the ingredients pictured, they had to be close. Those are certainly bagels in there with the croissants.

This morning I visited the new WaWa store. Having never been to a WaWa before, I didn’t know the specifics, but I knew the type of business. Racetrac’s the same way. I figured this store out right away.

I went to the fast food counter. Like newer Racetrac stores, they use customer-operated Point of Sale (POS) systems to take the customer’s order. I searched the entire computerized menu; nothing matched the coupon. I was annoyed, but not too much so. Maybe confused. I did the same thing when Racetrac remodeled a year ago, and it was a piece of cake to get my burrito back then.

Then I noticed one (1) cash register, the one next to the surprisingly small cigarette selection (no objections to this; just surprise). They had this fairly small warming rack of pre-packaged breakfast sandwiches. Ah-ha! I looked in the rack at the collection of $3 croissant sandwiches in tiny boxes. I saw a solitary foil-wrapped bagel sandwich with a $4 something price tag. I picked up the bagel and handed it and my coupon to the cashier.

“The coupon is only good for the boxed sandwiches,” she told me.

“The boxes are all croissants,” I replied. “This is the only bagel.”

“I’ll try it,” she said, then scanned the barcode on the bagel’s wrapper, followed by scanning the barcode on the coupon. She handed the coupon back, “Nope, won’t work.”

“I guess I’ll put this back, then.” I picked up the bagel and put it back on the rack.

“Will there be anything else?” She didn’t get it, but she probably didn’t get many customers who didn’t cave to the scheme. I wasn’t hungry enough. I shook my head and left.

Racetrac knew how to do this. Racetrack let me order my burrito from their fast food counter. Racetrac has me coming back time and time again, even if it’s just for gas.

WaWa had one shot to get me. Gas is gas, but customer service is gold. Give me my free bagel from the fast food counter, where it’s fresh. Don’t offer me a stale croissant as a substitute for an equally state bagel and expect to buy my loyalty. WaWa has just demonstrated they don’t care about the customer. If not WaWa, then local management, which could have trained their new hires better than to simply say “the coupon’s only good on boxed sandwiches.” Tell me you’re sorry the bagels are sold out (and somehow explain why a foil-wrapped bagel is not a good substitute for the boxed ones).

WaWa, don’t expect me to come back. Racetrac knows how to treat me.



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