Dick Clark’s Not In The Top 40 For Customer Experience

I was traveling back from a family Jersey Shore vacation today. It was just me, as the rest of my family stayed behind for a couple of more days. We had to juggle blackout dates and availability in exchange for redeeming our American Advantage miles. I needed to get something to eat so I stopped at the closest vendor to gate 33 in terminal A of Newark International; Dick Clark’s American Bandstand restaurant. The neon sign promised me food, spirits and fun.

I purchased my to go sandwich and a drink and started to make my way to the gate waiting area. As I walked I noticed their full service seating area was nearly deserted, so I decided to sit in the tall chairs. Before I could even approach the seat the woman who sold me the sandwich, Christin (that’s her at left in the photo), immediately shooed me away. She said that area was separate and for full service patrons only. I reminded her that I bought food from her, but that didn’t matter. It was the RULE.

Now if they were crowded or had a waiting line, I would never have considered trying to wrangle a seat. But there was plenty of seating and it was only me. Why was I meant to feel like an inferior customer? What would they be losing if I had sat in an empty chair for 10 minutes? Nothing of course. But they certainly lost something in exchange for following the rules; me as a customer. A man sitting at a table looked up in disbelief that I was being removed from the premises.

I expressed my displeasure and point of view in a calm way to Christin, but apparently a rule is a rule. Never mind allowing employees the leeway to exercise good judgment to keep customers happy. In between serving customers and enforcing the laws, Christin was chatting up some airport employee who was sitting in one of those tall chairs but had nothing on the table in front of him. The sandwich was pretty good, but there are plenty of places to get food and have a pleasant customer experience.

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