Chipotle
July 16, 2009

I adore Mexican food. Having grown up in Texas, this isn't too surprising. The first time I saw a Chipotle burrito joint, I thought, "Meh. Yuppy poser. Whatever." However, living in freaking Indiana has made me enjoy even Taco Bell, so when we got a Chipotle here, I went to check it out.

And fell in love.

Seriously, I'm salivating just thinking about it.

To top it off, they appear to be a socially conscious and attempt to be better than fast food (despite the fact that their burritos, at 1000 calories, are two meals). Their website - always one of my main measuring sticks - is well-done and concentrates on both informing and being fun. And, you can place your order via internet and have it ready for you to pick up.

Being a serious geek, I love that.

So, when I realized I had to be on that side of town (of course it's about as far away from both my house and my job as it could possibly be and still be in the same town), I immediately placed an order for my favourite burrito. Looked forward to it all morning.

First, it took me a solid twenty minutes to get through town and get to the restaurant. Okay, I expected that. But then I had to wait for my order. Okay, it's noon. They were swamped. I kind of expect to wait a little bit. The cashier takes my name, tells it to the girl running the "call-in" orders. She finishes the order for the man ahead of me ... and then starts another order. And another burrito. Dammit, I'm right here and I only had one burrito. After about 10-15 minutes, she tries to hand me a huge bag. Hungry, tired, frustrated, I'm sure I snapped at her a bit, "I only have one burrito." Her eyes widen, she asks my name and she apologizes a couple of times. I pay, grab mi burrito y guacamole and skedaddle. I still have to run to the art supply store to exchange something and then hit the mall to look at a book in Barnes & Noble - which was the real reason I was on this side of town to begin with. I needed to look up how to do something in a program and couldn't find the information online anywhere - so I needed to eyeball some computer books and see if any of them were worth buying.

Traffic on this side of town is always horrendous. It's the shopping strip. Block after block of strip malls, restaurants, freestanding stores and finally the only "real" mall in town. It's hell to drive over there, which is why I rarely go. People irritate me.

So I book it into Barnes & Noble, beeline for the computer books, rapidly find the information I want - it's literally about 4 sentences - and leave without buying. I'm not paying $10 a sentence for the information I needed! The rest of the book is stuff I already know. I'm practically running back out to my car, because I hate to be late. I have one hour for lunch. Sixty minutes. I knew I was going to run long and I told the "big boss" that before Ieft. And while he was fine with that, I wasn't. Mostly because I hate being late, but also some because I'm not on salary. If I was late, I was losing money despite the fact that at least some of this trip was work related.

So, of course, the parking lot is a freaking nightmare. It's poorly laid out which means cars are coming up where they should be going down instead. There's not really enough room for two cars to pass comfortably, which is why the designer tried to put up a Do Not Enter sign, which everyone then promptly ignored. So that's a little stressful. Also, some poor schmuck had a flat tire. He pulled over as far as he could, but his location is encouraging people to go the wrong way so they don't have to drive next to where he's changing a tire.

I finally get up to the turn where I can start to get out of the parking lot ... and the old people in the van ahead of me stop. STOP DEAD. GET OUT OF THE VAN.

There is a freaking line of people behind us and they decide this is a good time and place to change drivers!

I ate my chips and guacamole and tried not to scream foul things at them. Maybe I just needed some food to settle down. After all, it was 12:30 or 12:45 by this point and I hadn't eaten since my little breakfast bar at 7:00.

I finally get out of the mall parking lot and fly all the way back through town, bolt into work and clock in. Twenty minutes late. Grrrrrr If the kid at Chipotle had just been on the ball, I would hardly have been late at all. Damn.

I get upstairs and between the heat, the guacamole and chips and the general stress, I'm just not hungry any more. I decide to eat the burrito for dinner. Nummy nummy dinner. Definitely looking forward to this.

So, I finally get home after my frustrating and long day, crack open the burrito and take a huge bite.

Heaven.

After a few more bites, I'm thinking, something doesn't taste right. There's something funky here.

I hate rice. HATE RICE. Hate hate hate hate hate. Always have. I don't like the taste, the texture, nothing. Eww. So of course, when I ordered my burrito, I specifically did NOT check the rice button. No way. No rice for me.

Damn burrito is full of rice, of course.

Having come at the end of a long and stressful day, this is my breaking point. I go to the Chipotle website and look for the contact us menu button. Now, while their website is fun, if you don't happen to run your mouse over the logo in the upper left, you probably won't realize that their menus drop down from there. So it took me some time to actually find the contact us menu item. And I left a fairly polite but firm message that I was pretty darn ticked off. Chipotle is a rare treat for me since it's across town and I had really been looking forward to that burrito.

So someone from corporate emails me back on Monday, which was pretty darn fast considering that I emailed them Friday night. The woman was quite nice, very apologetic and wanted to make things right. She let me know that she'd contacted the specific store and let them know so things like this didn't happen again. She asked for my address, presumably to send a coupon or something. I was good with this.

But the next evening the store manager called and apologized. She wanted to know what she could do to make this right. I told her I thought corporate was sending me a coupon and I was good with that. And that's true. It was lunch rush and I can certainly understand the confusion at the register and making me wait. That's a really easy mistake that you're just never going to 100% eliminate. The rice, well, that was not so easily excusable. But, it's not like I'm allergic to it - it wasn't going to kill me or make me sick, it just made the meal less enjoyable. And, pulling a lot of it out of my burrito reduced the calories.

But the manager insisted and wanted to know how many people I worked with.

The long and short of it is, five lucky co-workers and I are getting free burritos tomorrow for lunch. Yes, I have to drive 20 minutes there and another 20 back to go get them, but hey, free food! Happy co-workers! Woohoo!

Now, think about this for a minute. This is less than $50 that the store is spending (retail priced, not their cost). They have made me more eager to go back to Chipotle. They've impressed my co-workers. My supervisor is ecstatic from a personal level - hey free food - and she's impressed on a marketing level. Plus, they're getting some more free advertising out of me via an unsolicited blog post just because I'm impressed with the service. This could have been a lost customer (it wouldn't have been because there's such a dearth of good Mexican food around here - but I would probably have gone there less due to the sour rice taste in my mouth). Also, any time Chipotle came up, I'd probably whine about the time they filled my burrito with rice. And I'd probably embellish the story as the years went on. (Trust me, I do not take rice burritos lightly. That's some shit I'll hang onto for years.) That word of mouth damages their brand.

Instead, they made me ecstatic. They impressed my co-workers. We will quite likely talk very positively about Chipotle now - beyond damn good burritos, they have great customer service even when they make a mistake. Chipotle doesn't advertise on TV. Instead, they are invested in word of mouth - they like to give away burritos and let their food do the advertising for them. They appear to not just do it for the crass free advertising, but also to honestly help folks out (they gave away burritos to those displaced by Rita and Katrina).

I am not saying they're the perfect company - I'm not sure there is any such thing. But this is definitely a company that gets it. They're not giving away the bank, they're not acceding to ridiculous demands (like a retail company taking back a cordless phone that the kids threw in the pool, without any receipt and admitting it was over a year old - but that's another story).

I'm impressed.

And I'm really hoping my burrito is made right tomorrow! Nom nom nom nom

Posted by Red Monkey at July 16, 2009 8:08 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble |

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