Zaxby’s Must be Boycotted

30 Oct

Those who know me well will be shocked by this blog post. I have long been a fan of Zaxby’s. I’ve been known to skip a meal (I know, shocking) just so I can be ready for a full meal and a half of their tasty awesomeness. Their Chicken Fingers are still exceedingly tasty, which is really the only time a boycott matters or makes sense. I mean, I’ve been “boycotting” creamed spinach since before I had teeth. See, not really a boycott, but rather just discerning taste buds.

Now, in order to tell this story fully, a back-story is demanded. I live at least a half hour from the nearest Zaxby’s, so I need to go out of my way to go there with any regularity. I go every time I can fit a meal around going to Sea World. I go every time I visit my sister in Tallahassee. I even try to go every time I visit my father-in-law in Deltona. I have long been infatuated with their delicious chicken. My friend, David Poston, and I try to go at least once every year when we are at Bible Quiz tournaments.

Therefore, almost every experience I have had with them has been with a new store. So, I will guess that it is possible that there is a local store in your area that is the exception to this rule, but unfortunately, the 17 different stores I have been to in the last year (according to my saved receipts that is the number) all suffer from the same condition—their service is terrible.

Now terrible service is acceptable. As recently as ten years ago, I was running a McDonald’s and while we prided ourselves on 90-second Drive-Thru experience on average, I know there must have been a customer or two that received statistical outlier service of over 3-4 minutes. And there were even days where, for whatever reason, we were understaffed and gave poor service to many on that day. I can accept that. But one thing, in my opinion, that a manager must understand is that when you are giving poor service, you need to own it. My pattern was to Admit it, apologize, and do my best to correct what I could.

Now, a manager who does not do that could just be having a bad day. He may just not want to admit, for whatever reason, that he didn’t accomplish top level service. I get that. What I don’t understand is why every Zaxby’s manager I’ve ever spoken to has been rude. Not just defensive of their job, but downright unconcerned about keeping the customer happy. While I am not a “regular” at any of these stores, I do (er, did) consider myself a “regular” of the franchise in general, as I ate there over an average of once a week so far this year.

Now, my frustration began shortly after I wrote a blog post about Chick-Fil-A. Someone joked with me about meeting a rude employee of the chain. As I thought back, I realized that I had never experienced that. I’m sure it happens, but that is certainly not the norm. I would guess that if I told you that there was a bad customer service experience at Chick-Fil-A, you would be surprised. It’s part of their culture to give good customer service. Whether you have connections or not, if you give them the impression in the interview that screams poor customer service, they just won’t hire you. My McDonald’s was like that, though chain-wide they aren’t, I do find that in general, McDonald’s is pretty good also.

As I thought about it, I realized the only quick service restaurant I have been to that is defined by their bad service was Zaxby’s. Nevertheless, I have been several times since then, and my experiences have just gotten worse. The last two were similar, yet in different states. When I went with my kids on the way to Sea World, I asked for a large water, as I was thirsty, and I drink water. The guy told me that I had to pay full price for a large water. I told him that I did not feel like paying for water, as I was going to be headed into Sea World in five minutes and [unlike CFA] their cups don’t insulate the ice well at all. So I said to just give me a couple free waters. Now I ordered over $20 worth of food and paid for a drink for each of my kids. Yet I noticed later that they charged me for BOTH of the small waters (which was more than the total for the large water).

So, I called the manager and said they should at least tell me they are going to charge me, especially since I mentioned that I did not want to pay. The manager said that was policy. I said that while I think the Florida Restaurant department may require free water, I wasn’t even upset at the policy at this time, just the fact that I was not warned. He said, “There’s nothing I can do for you now” and hung up on me. I was so furious that I spent the first ten minutes in Sea World explaining my beef to their 1-800 complaint line. I was assured that this was an isolated instance.

About a week later I went to a Zaxby’s in Georgia. The scenario played out similarly, except I was alone. I ordered $15 worth of chicken fingers (yeah, I like them and I’m phat—deal with it). I ordered a large water. They informed me that they would have to charge me, so I asked if I could have two free waters. She said yes and put them on the order. I very quickly realized that I was charged a quarter for each water. This time I didn’t harp on the not telling me, but rather on the policy itself. The manager told me, “Here’s your food; Kiss off.” I was so irritated that I spent the next hours of my trip in the car, on my cell phone, reporting to the Georgia authorities, whom I found from the 1-800-GEORGIA line, where I was transferred at least a dozen times. Needless to say that restaurant will begin offering free water or close its doors.

All that to say that what troubles me is not the charging for water. I’m a big boy, and I can pay for it. It isn’t really that they don’t say anything when they charge you, which, by the way, I’ve never had done at McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, Subway, Chick-Fil-A, Arby’s, or any other quick service restaurant I’ve been to (and I go often and almost always order water). What bothers me is that Zaxby’s has a propensity for hiring clowns who care so little about pleasing the customer that they are willing to be rude over relatively paltry sums.

For that reason, I will not be eating at Zaxby’s for the next several months. There’s only one problem—I’m jonesing for their Chicken Fingers.

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8 Responses to “Zaxby’s Must be Boycotted”

  1. Anonymous October 30, 2012 at 7:37 pm #

    Zaxby's is a poor man's version of Raisin Cane's. If you want excellent chicken fingers you need to try this place out. The only downside is that I have only seen them in Louisiana (where they originated) and in Jackson, Mississippi.Also, the service is generally fantastic. If you liked Zaxby's, you will LOVE Raisin Cane's!!Chris Blooomdahl

  2. David Poston October 30, 2012 at 7:57 pm #

    Zaxby's > Raisin Cane's. Here's why. Chicken Fingers roughly the same. Sauce roughly the same. Fries: Zaxby's hand down.

  3. David Poston October 30, 2012 at 8:00 pm #

    West,I totally agree with your issues about the water. I've faced this before several times. Each time, I just accepted that I could only have a small water cup and didn't push the envelope (so I never got charged.) To your point: Could you imagine going to Chick-fil-a and requesting a "large water" and getting this response– "Yes, but we're going to charge you $1.79 for that." NO, no way you could imagine that happening at a Chick-Fil-A because it wouldn't. Having said that-I plan to print this out and take it to a guy who I know is 3rd in line at Zaxby's.

  4. Kirbysdance October 30, 2012 at 8:33 pm #

    This was quite entertaining to read. I will not share in your boycott, due to the fact that I'm quite content with smaller waters and have not experienced this problem. But it does seem quite absurd that two different managers treated you like crap just because you wanted a large water. The big question is, how long can you last going without?

  5. AskThePhatMan October 30, 2012 at 8:34 pm #

    Chris, bring me some Raisin Cane's next time you visit Orlando. I'll pay you back!

  6. AskThePhatMan October 30, 2012 at 9:31 pm #

    Perhaps I was unclear. I was charged even for smaller waters.

  7. Anonymous October 31, 2012 at 8:17 pm #

    It may be a while. I don't get to Florida much these days.

  8. Anonymous June 12, 2014 at 2:44 pm #

    I had the same experience just a few weeks ago, and their customer service has left a VERY bad taste in my mouth. Honestly, their food isn't good enough to treat their customers this bad and stay in business. Eventually they will fall. You can't have bad customer service and maintain your business. And it's unethical to not advertise the price for the water and charge the customer for it. Honestly, if you buy food from them, I don't even think they should charge you for water to go along with it, but of course I know a lot of places do that. They are so concerned about getting paid the minuscule cost of a cup that they are willing to lose customers over it. But my main beef with them is the same as yours: the fact that they charge you without telling you. And $1.00 is what I was charged for my tap water, by the way. I can assure you the cup did not cost them $1.00.

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