Sunday, September 30, 2007

Panda Express: "You're Lying, but, um, like, whatever."

So, probably wife's single-most favorite restaurant in the world is Panda Express. When we decided to move to the area, that was the biggest drawback -- their website didn't list any in the immediate vicinity. Turns out their website was outdated, there's one about 15 minutes from here. And then they built another one not too far from that, but we don't like that one because everyone who eats there gets sick. But we've never heard of anyone getting sick at the one we go to. (We tried the other one, didn't get sick, but the food wasn't as good. Since it was brand new, we even tried more than once.) Anyhow, this is a story about the "good" Panda Express on 320th. and Pacific Highway in Federal Way.

Tonight we ordered two Panda Parties or whatever they're called. $25 each. Five items -- three entrees and two sides. When I got there, they had everything ready and warming. They've got a bag all ready with chopsticks, soy sauce and fortune cookies for ten. They've got a second bag waiting with a cut down cardboard container in the bottom to stack the cartons on -- a nice touch, I thought. They were in such a hurry to get me out the door, that they weren't even going to charge me. So I figured my wife had paid by credit card when she made the order but someone stopped me and had me pay.

So I get home and unload 10 cartons. So my wife's looking throught order and there's an extra steamed rice and one orange chicken missing. So I call the store (conveniently, the receipt says 9999999999 instead of the phone number) and they offer me that I can come in and pick it up. I don't want to make the drive, I've got a bunch of family arriving and wonder what another option would be. I didn't have one in mind but wondered what they might propose. They ask if it's ok for the manager to call me back, reciting the phone number from the order. Again, a nice touch.

The manager calls me back, starts telling me that she threw in an extra steamed rice. And that she counted them all and all 10 containers were there. I clarified... the steamed rice was extra? Yes. So shouldn't that be 11 containers? Yes, she said, she counted them all. I watched two people pack the bag, no one counted the containers. Not believing her, I did recall that the container tipped over in the car and so I'd go check the car. I prayed with everyone, and then went out to the car. Nope, no 11th. container. Mysterious!

After dinner, my wife calls back. Finally the manager decides it's ok for my wife to stop by the store tomorrow for an orange chicken entry, but the manager is still sure she packed the order correctly.

So now, instead of it just looking like a mistake somewhere, the manager, attempting to save face, is basically telling us that we're liars. What could have been an apology and offer to rectify without any accusations now suggests the customer is in the wrong.

So we'll get our free entree tomorrow, and then we'll immediately fill out the survey and detail the situation directly to corporate headquarters. (Not to mention the three people who might think a little more negatively about Panda Express after reading this post.)

The manager is empowered to make things right. They failed. Maybe they don't care, maybe they know that it won't hurt them personally (though we hope they get called on it). Maybe they know it we don't have any other choice for American fast food in the theme of Chinese and so we'll continue to shop there.
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