I don't drink alcohol.
I don't smoke.
I don't use other drugs.
But I am very partial to Vanilla Diet Coke.
I buy it in bulk when it's on special. I've been known to drive around to half a dozen shops and service stations looking for it, quite prepared to stay thirsty until I find some. (A fruitless search in Dunsborough by the way!)
So it's no great surprise that I drove 5km out of Bunbury to the Shell roadhouse yesterday afternoon in search of a VDC. (I was already in Bunbury for a doctor's appointment in case you're wondering.)
They didn't have any. There was row upon row of straight Coke, and even plenty of Diet Coke, but no Vanilla Coke, let alone Vanilla Diet Coke.
I wasn't happy.
I asked to speak to the manager. I figure I'm a customer, if I don't let him know what I'm looking for how can he provide for me?
After a couple of minutes he appears.
One of my kids has called me on the mobile so I can't speak to him straight away.
He walks away, wiping his hands on a paper towel, showing very little interest in me or anything I may have to say.
I get off the phone, follow him and introduce myself as a customer, offering a handshake and saying my name is Marcus. He didn't tell me his name.
"I'm a customer who comes through here reasonably often. I'm disappointed that you don't stock Vanilla Diet Coke, not even Vanilla Coke."
I don't know exactly what response I expected, but it certainly wasn't the one I got.
"No, and I won't be getting it in either, not just to satisfy one person".
He was wiping his hands of me in exactly the same manner as if I was the dirt he washed off before coming out at my request.
Am I naive or are people in business supposed to have a vested interest in gaining, keeping and satisfying customers?
"So you're not interested in my business?"
(Sure, I know a bottle of Coke isn't worth much, but if, as often happens, I want a drink and need petrol then he's got a potential customer of worth. I've bought fuel there plenty of times.)
"No I'm not".
I'm amazed at his bluntness and lack of courtesy.
"Well if you're not interested in my business I guess there's nothing else to say".
and I head for the door.
Not content with losing me he throws a taunt after me.
"I'm not losing a customer, I'm gaining business."
This totally flaws me because he's said directly to me that by not stocking a product I'm interested in he is improving his business!
Due to his lack of interest, rude response, dismissiveness and arrogance I can promise you that I will never buy petrol, Coke or anything else from his establishment again. How that can be good for his business is beyond me.
I want to stress that throughout this exchange I was polite and friendly, certainly up to the point when he treated me with such disdain.
Make up your own mind but I certainly won't be recommending the Shell Roadhouse just before you get to Bunbury to anyone!
PS. I couldn't find a picture of the Australian version of VDC on Google, but I did find disturbing news that both Vanilla Coke and Vanilla Diet Coke have been phased out in America and the UK!
That's not good!!