I Took The Survey! (aka My Noble Quest)

Good Morning, everybody! I have an announcement for you: 2013 IS DEAD! I know we’re all still nursing New Year’s Eve hangovers but I think we can all go for another round to celebrate its demise. On second thought, maybe 2013 just got a bad rap for not being 2012. 2012 was kind of an overachiever and it was going to be naturally tough to live in the shadow of what a spectacular year that was. But screw it, I’m having champagne again: any reason is a good reason.


Finally back in my life after two days

So what’s your new year’s resolution? Wait, I don’t care. Well, I’m going to share mine so I guess share yours. Throw it in the comments section and the coolest one wins an as of yet undetermined prize. (Prize will not be good.)

My New Years Resolutions tend to spring up unexpectedly. I don’t plan ahead. I just act a certain way on January 1st every year and make a snap decision, and that’s it. That’s my resolution. There is a spectacular failure rate but my resolutions are more about achieving what nobody could ever care about than they are about self improvement, which is more entertaining for all of us.

Anyway, this year I made a top quality resolution, one that benefits not only me because I’m going to enjoy doing this particular activity all the time, but also benefits you because I’m going to forcibly share it with you for your enjoyment, like slides of my own personal vacations only way less exciting and interesting.

“What is this resolution?” you are asking yourself. “What could it be?” you exclaim. “HOW CAN I CONTAIN MY EXCITEMENT?” you yell out loud even though you are reading this article on the bus or the subway or somewhere crowded and now you look like an idiot for reacting this way. Okay, I will tell you. But you’re not going to like it.



I am going to take the survey on the bottom of the receipt.

That’s right. You know how when you make a purchase of goods or services basically anywhere these days there is a code and a URL on your receipt asking you to provide complaints about the already criminally underpaid person who helped you? Well, I’m going to do just that. Then, I’m going to share what I put in the comments section with the world.

My name is Amy and I live a life of unending despair.

My name is Amy and I live a life of unending despair.

Why would I do this? For a number of reasons. First, I have worked in countless customer facing positions and I know that not only are the people who work these jobs some of the hardest working and stressed out people in the world, but also that they are viciously ranked against the comments they get on their receipts. Some well deserved high scores will actually help these people out. Second, a “comments” section is a wonderful short term outlet for the dangerous levels of creativity that live inside my brain. Lastly, when I know there is paperwork involved afterward, I will probably reconsider a lot of minor purchases.

I took a couple of test runs in the past couple of days– a purchase at Dunkin Donuts where I praised my cashier, Nicole while talking about how during my whole 500 yard commute to work that I should have a better option than two different Dunkin Donuts locations, and a receipt from a TGI Fridays, where our server Kirsten would have earned excellent marks had my code not expired between the time I left the restaurant and the time I got home. What the hell is that all about, Fridays? Also, your remodel, while showing some dignity does not hide the fact you are Fridays and your food is still bad. I suppose that’s why you dropped the “Thank Goodness It’s” from your name.

I miss the garbage nailed to the walls already.

I miss the garbage nailed to the walls already.

Please, Fred. Come back from the dead and haunt the miscreants who are ruining New England's reputation.

Please, Fred. Come back from the dead and haunt the miscreants who are ruining New England’s reputation.

What have I learned in these test runs? Not much, except that I need to do a bit of research before I drop the goods in the comments section. You never know how many comments sections you’ll get, or where they are placed within the survey, or even what questions the survey will throw you at you. Dunkin Donuts, for example, always has a question where they tell you that you have to pick a certain score, or they will disavow your feedback. What? Michael Vale must be rolling in his grave. Not because of that, but because of what Dunkin Donuts has become.

Anyway, I can feel free to share with you the first part of this adventure, or what I am calling my noble quest. I took a lunch time trip to Panera Bread today. After shelling out nine dollars for the soup and pasta version of Taco Bell, I was handed a pager and sent to the back of the unlit cavern that they call a restaurant. Just before my pager started vibrating with such a force as to throw me to the ground, someone who was oblivious to the fact that I was the only person there screamed my name to indicate they had finished scooping my meal into its proper vehicle. When I finally caught my breath and regained proper footing, I took my meal and quickly devoured it with the precious remaining seconds of my lunch break.

Anyway, I began my quest in earnest once I arrived home, and logged on to PANERALISTENS.COM where the good people at Panera Bread were eagerly awaiting my feedback.

Even a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Even a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

I had figured the code on my receipt would be good enough to identify when and where I made my purchase, but it became clear that with Panera Bread, that simple thing was not to be the case. I’m not a survey engineer, I don’t know these things. There was no time to dwell on it– my quest, and this post needed to be revealed to the world. Onward I clicked, telling Panera of my feelings about my experience today on a scale of Very Dissatisfied to Very Satisfied. I was mostly satisfied, I’d been to Panera Bread before and knew pretty much what to expect.

Designs Panera Bread surveys for a living

Designs Panera Bread surveys for a living

Panera Bread, it would seem, prefers mainly to stick to this straightforward system. As a lousy-job veteran, I was pretty sure that the actual rating for the hard working employee comes from the closed-ended scoring questions. I leaned heavily on the Very Satisfieds, even though in reality it is probably completely impossible for a restaurant with more than one location to actually deliver a perfect experience. I had hoped for one or two comments sections. In my ideal survey taking situation there are comments sections for praise of the victim who works there and for trashing the business that is ruining their life. That is probably going to be a rare occasion in my endeavor here, as these corporations most definitely think they’re doing everything right. (They aren’t, FYI.)

Finally, I arrived at the comments section. In my post-work, pre-champagne moments I thought I was doing something amusing. Here was the only open ended question:


Should not be optional. Is actually the only thing that matters because it’s the reason I return to your terrible restaurants.

This was my answer:

My cashier, Melanie was an exceptional individual who went above and beyond. I asked a question of her which she did not know the answer immediately, and rather than lie to me as has happened in the past when I’ve had uncertainty as to your menu, she looked it up in some kind of secret tome buried in the bowels beneath the register. After she and a cohort performed some kind of incantation over the ancient bound scripture, I was informed that yes: the mushroom soup is in fact vegetarian.

Melanie, you are a diamond in the rough. Panera should pay you more. I’m already paying too much for their food.

Get ready for an exciting year, kids.

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