The Invisible Customer

One of my pet peeves is poor customer service.  And I wasn’t disappointed during my last trip.

modern apartment buildingRecently, while I was apartment hunting in the town of Dunwoody (Atlanta), GA, the leasing consultants made a big mistake.  They lost about $12,000 for this mistake.

All because they ignored me.

Here’s the background: This past February, I emailed this particular apartment complex to get information, and they responded quickly with a personal message, which I took as a good sign, as well as a coupon to waive the application fee as an internet customer. I let them know that I would be coming in from out of state in April to look at a specific apartment of interest. Then a few days before my trip, I reminded them, since it had been so long since our last contact.

When I first arrived at the leasing office, there were about 8 of 10 parking spaces available, so it wasn’t busy.  I opened the door and there were two desks facing me with leasing consultants. There was also an office to the left with a door. The woman in that office saw me standing there, (I’ll call her Jackie) pleasantly asked what I needed, and told me that someone would be right with me.

The woman I had been conversing with—I’ll call her Lisa—was on the phone. I could overhear her making an appointment for a massage. It wasn’t long before I got to see why she needed one.

When Lisa got off the phone, she asked me how she could help, and I re-introduced myself to her. She had no real reaction and told me to have a seat. I told her which apartment style I wanted, then remembered that I left my driver’s license in the car. Since you’re not allowed to tour apartments without giving your ID to the leasing consultant, I told Lisa I’d be right back.

I was not parked far—I was close to the door. But when I came back, the person (a resident) who was waiting by the door when I walked out was now seated at Lisa’s desk, talking with her.  Lisa then got up, went into Jackie’s office for a few moments, and came out with a bunch of paperwork. Lisa did not look at me or acknowledge me, even though a moment ago, we were going to tour an apartment.

ticket dispenserWas I missing something? Are we playing “move your feet, lose your seat” here?

Other residents were going back and forth through the door too—and the other leasing consultant whose desk was next to Lisa’s—I’ll call her Sydney—was handling her business, too. But most of the people asked for Lisa.

So finally, when Sydney got free,  she asked me if I wanted to see an apartment. I said yes. She grabbed her keys and said, “Do you have a car?” And then she told me to follow her car. Everyone else at apartments I visited used a golf cart to take me around, but I just went ahead and followed her.

Sydney showed me two apartments that were way-deep-down-a-hill-far-away-I-was-like-where-are-we-going?!-far, but she never asked for my ID, even though I had it now. I lost “my place” to get the mandatory ID, remember?

When we returned from the tour about 10 minutes later, there was one parking space available. And you know what? Sydney took the spot.

I parked on the side in a strategic way so as not to be in anyone’s way when they left.

I don’t know what was going on that morning, but apparently, Lisa and Jackie were swamped. And what did Sydney do? She started talking to another resident on the sidewalk as soon as she got out of her car and they quickly walked inside together.

Woo-hoo!! Over here! Remember me—the person you just showed two apartments to? The one who flew in from Virginia to find a place to live? Do you want to close this sale?

I guess not.

So I left—and took their $12,000 of potential rent money with me.

Epilogue: I found my new apartment during the trip, and I’m moving in next month.

Amy Alkon, author of I See Rude People, has handled inconsiderate people in hilarious ways. How do you deal with rude people? Would you have handled my situation differently?


Why I Miss Arsenio

Comedians of color seem to do well in late night–OK, sometimes. I’m enjoying Mo’Nique’s and George Lopez’s shows. (Side note: I was enjoying Brian McKnight’s show, and I guess since he’s not a comedian, someone recently decided to add the annoying co-host, comedienne Kym Whitley and now I refuse to watch.) Then a few weeks ago, I woke up thinking about Arsenio—who knows why. But today I came across an article about Wanda Sykes’ cancelled late night talk show, so I thought I’d go ahead and pay the homage now.

The 90’s gave us a plethora of late night talk show alternatives to Carson & Letterman. People I had never heard of were getting talk shows, like radio host Rick Dees and others.

And then there was Arsenio Hall.

I only knew of him as Eddie Murphy’s BFF in Coming to America and in real life. Arsenio Hall and Eddie Murphy in "Coming to America" But this dude was funny, and his show didn’t disappoint me.

I was in high school so I couldn’t stay up every night to watch, but I was nice with a VCR (I never met a VCR I couldn’t program!), so I didn’t miss anything.

There had never been a talk show like The Arsenio Hall Show, which ran from January 2, 1989 to May 27, 1994. It was so different, fun, edgy, and ‘in your face’ (for that time). And so many memorable moments were captured on his show—everything from President Clinton playing the saxophone, Magic Johnson revealing his HIV President Bill Clinton playing the saxophone on The Arsenio Hall  Showstatus, and confronting Madonna on why she wanted to be Black, you saw the good, the bad, and the ugly. And who can forget that “Woo Woo Woo” barking-type applause every night with circling pumped fists?

Sometimes it was just those unique Arsenio things that had us dying laughing. Like when he’d laugh at his guest so much that he’d curl up or roll over his own chair. When he pointed his elongated finger or wore those outrageous booty pants. Arsenio made us laugh in ways that other talk shows never did, or have since.

Arsenio was a host of Star Search in the mid 2000’s, but it wasn’t the same vibe, of course. I still miss him on late night TV.