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This Customer is Always Right

By Jerry Zezima

As a “valued customer,” which is better than being a “customer nobody cares about,” I can’t go to the store to buy a toothbrush without being asked to fill out a survey.

The survey is usually at the end of a receipt that is long enough to encircle my car, in which I drive home so I can go online and answer questions about the store, the service and, of course, my new toothbrush.

Sometimes I receive an email from the store, asking: “How did we do?”

Then I am expected to take the survey again.

Stores aren’t the only places that want to know how I feel about them. I also am asked to fill out surveys from the bank, the post office, the pharmacy, the supermarket and other places that want my opinion, which in my own home is regarded as worthless.

One of these days, I’ll get a survey from the lunatic asylum, which is where I will end up if I keep getting requests to fill out surveys.

It made me wonder: If all these places want to know what I think of them, what do they think of me as a “valued customer”?

So I recently conducted my own surveys.

I started at the post office, where Kenny asked how he could help me. I told him I wanted to mail an envelope containing a book.

“Are the contents potentially hazardous?” he asked.

“It’s a book I wrote,” I replied, “so the contents are potentially hazardous if you read it.”

Kenny smiled, gave me a “media rate” and handed me a receipt with a tracking number and — you guessed it — a survey.

“You’re an exemplary employee,” I told Kenny. “But how am I as a customer?”

“I really can’t complain,” he answered. “So far, so good. You did well. I’ll give you a good review.”

I thanked Kenny and went to the bank, where I was helped by Ranisha.

“I have two checks totaling $44.47,” I said. “I’d like to deposit them. I’m sorry they aren’t for a million dollars, but every little bit helps.”

Ranisha chuckled and said, “With interest, you might become a millionaire after all.”

When the transaction was completed, I said I was taking a survey.

“Am I a good customer?” I asked.

“You’re very good and very nice,” she said. “I give you high marks.”

Later, I asked Maria, my barber, to rate me as a customer.

“You’re great,” she said as she snipped my wiry locks. “You’re polite, punctual and considerate. What more could I ask for? You’re doing very well. In fact, you’re a dream.”

“Some dreams are nightmares,” I noted.

“You’re not one of them,” said Maria, whom I have known for 20 years.

“How would I rank on a survey?” I inquired.

“You’d get top marks,” Maria said.

For my last survey, I headed to the store to buy a toothbrush and spoke with Christina, whom I also have known for 20 years.

“When you started coming in, I was in the photo department. Now I’m a shift supervisor,” Christina said. “I owe it all to you.”

When I asked her to rate me as a customer, Christina said, “You’re the hostess with the mostest! I’d absolutely give you high marks.”

I got a toothbrush and brought it to the counter.

“Are you ready to check out?” Christina asked.

“Not for many more years,” I responded.

“You are too much!” said Christina, who handed me a long receipt. “You can wear it as a scarf,” she suggested.

“Thanks for taking my survey,” I said.

“I wish we had surveys to rank customers,” said Christina. “A lot of them would get bad marks.”

“How about me?” I asked.

“Believe me,” Christina said, “nobody could top you.”

 — Jerry Zezima

Jerry Zezima writes a humor column for Hearst Connecticut Media Group, which includes his hometown paper, the Stamford Advocate. His column is distributed by Tribune News Service of Chicago and has run in newspapers nationwide and abroad. He is also the author of five books, Leave It to Boomer, The Empty Nest Chronicles, Grandfather Knows BestNini and Poppie’s Excellent Adventures and Every Day Is Saturday, all of which are “crimes against literature.” He has won seven awards from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists for his humorous writing

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