The Wrong Bag (Issue 870)

In which we are reminded that delivery mistakes, even when corrected quickly, cause unwanted disruption.

There’s a quiet, river-side patio close to my office, behind a bakery whose bread and sandwiches I enjoy. I invited two of a client’s team members to join me for lunch and offered (in the spirit of reducing their waiting time) to order and purchase the sandwiches in advance, on line, and meet them at the patio. They emailed me their requests – a #4 with no tomato and a #7 with no mayo.

They arrived, we found space at one of the patio tables, and I went into the bakery to grab the sandwiches.

The behind-the-counter bakery associate poked through several pre-ordered bags on the counter and handed me one of them.

I thanked her, grabbed some paper napkins on the way to the door, rejoined my friends, and handed out the sandwiches. A ham sandwich for him, a turkey sandwich for her.

As I fiddled with the paper napkins, planting them under a bottle of water so they wouldn’t blow away, they took their first bites and, with “I know I need to be polite but this isn’t what I asked for” looks on their faces, put their sandwiches on their plates. I waited a moment to see what would happen next. One opened the ham sandwich to remove tomato slices; the other used a potato chip to scrape mayo off the turkey sandwich bread.

“I’m sorry!,” I responded. “You didn’t get what you ordered. Give me your sandwiches, I’ll go inside and re-place the order.”

“No, no. We’re fine… really…. let’s keep taking….really… it’s OK….No worries… we’ll make these work.”

I pulled my sandwich from the bag and unwrapped it. Tuna salad on sour dough with provolone and tomato. One of my favorites…. and not what I ordered.

I grabbed my sandwich and the bag and headed to the bakery door. “These aren’t right. I’ll be back.”

I found the shift manager and showed her the bag, the receipt, and the tuna sandwich. She poked through the remaining bags on the counter and said, “We gave you the wrong bag. I’m so sorry. I don’t see yours here. Would you like me to make you the sandwiches you wanted?”

OK, fine, now that lunch is disrupted, we’ve wasted ten minutes, and my clients think I’m incompetent.

Any time we or our teammates deliver documents, products, or services, it’s critical for us, as the responsible sales team members, to confirm what will be delivered and to fix any delivery mistakes. It’s just better to get it right the first time. “Oh, we gave you the wrong bag” or  “Oh, they put you in the wrong account” are just lame.

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