Wow...never knew a cup of tea could cause such a commotion!!!
So, this morning after my zumba class, I decided to go to Chick fil A....just as I do most mornings, to get my daily dose of Unsweet Tea. I LOVE Chick fil A's tea and more so I LOVE their cups! I know that sounds funny....but I can keep it filled all day, with NO sweat and refill as needed. Did I mention my ice don't melt right away either?!?!?
So, I filled up my tea and left the house around noon to pick up Brenna from OM practice. I was going to surprise her and take her to Panera (which she loves) before heading off to work! When we got in the parking lot I said, "hmmm..I would really like to use this cup instead of theirs" - to Brenna-. "I think I will just take it in and buy a large tea and then I will have my "happy" cup instead of the sweaty one from Panera". Brenna follows up with.."good idea, they won't mind as long as you pay!"
So, we go in to the very packed Panera and order our food. Before I even order, I hold my Chick fil A cup up to the cashier and kindly say...."I have my own cup, but please feel free to charge me for a large tea or whatever you need to". Chris, our cashier very nicely said, "no problem ma'am!"
So Brenna and I sat down and enjoyed our lunch and our much needed time together!! As we were leaving, I decided to refill my drink. There was NO unsweet tea in the canister, so (because I had NOTHING to hide), I walked up to one of the ladies and nicely said, "do you have any tea made up behind the counter?"....as I held up my cup. She said, "ma'am, the tea pitcher is OUT THERE. I said, "yes, I know....but it is empty". She followed up with, "well, it will take 3 minutes to brew".
No problem on my end. 3 minutes is definitely worth waiting for another cup of tea before I leave. So, I go and visit with Brenna for a few....and get up to get my refill before we leave. Keep in mind....this was 12:15 on a Saturday and Panera was PACKED!! Very few tables available. So as I am standing pulling the knob to fill my cup with about 6 people standing right by me.....the manager walks right up to me and says, "MA'AM....DID YOU PAY FOR THAT TEA????". Shocked....I answered, "yes". She then says...."I'LL NEED TO SEE YOUR RECEIPT"!! (I am thinking....is this really happening and is she talking to me in front of all these people...how embarrasing!!) I again nicely said, "no...you don't need to see my receipt....you need to go talk to your employee". Then loudly she said, "NO I NEED TO SEE YOUR RECEIPT"!! Shaking, I said..in a not so nice voice..."I'm not showing you ANYTHING....go talk to your employee, Chris who helped me".
To be completely honest with you all.....I have no idea if Chris charged me for my tea, all I know is I was so cautious about being honest with bringing my cup in and going over the proper procedure with Brenna on what needed to happen, I couldn't believe she accused me of STEALING HER FREAKING TEA!!!!! I was dumb founded and completely felt like I was being treated like a hardened criminal!!!!! Did I mention for me and Brenna to eat, it cost us $17.50!!!!!!!!!! A paying customer who just spent $17.50 for me and my daughter to eat lunch there!! Oh, did I mention, I had been to Panera only 3 days prior to this!! A frequent returning customer at that!!!
So, I go sit down (for those of you who know me....when I get mad...I truly want to cry)....I had tears in my eyes and Brenna said, "mom, what's wrong??" I told her what the lady has said, and she said....."don't let her get away with that!" I thought for a minute and I realized Brenna was right......she chose to accuse a PAYING customer of stealing something in front of many other people. So I walked up to the counter and "cocky" Laren (the acuser) said, "what do you need", I (the accused) said I really just wanted to tell you how wrong I think you were with the way you handled this situation. She said, "well, I'm sorry but I have seen it happen before". I said, "well maybe you should have your facts straight before accusing someone of stealing in front of others".
Needless to say....we exchanged many words.....it got very ugly and when I turned around I had about 20 people behind me waiting to "break up this cat fight".
I just left in tears!!!!! Something I tried to be SO honest about just turned in to a big mess!!!
(I discussed this with Shelly, my business partner, and we are in shock by the way they treated their customer!! 1. If you are unsure of something......ask YOUR EMPLOYEES first instead of quickly accusing the customer. I mean, really, there were only 2 or 3 cashiers....and trust me, Chris remembered me flashing the Chick fil A cup in front of his face. 2. If it was someone in my store that was fixing to buy $25.00 worth of product and I had a very small feeling they might have stole a $1.00 ink pen.....TRUST ME.....I would NEVER accuse this person.....because they are giving me business AND, I have NO PROOF that they actually stole the $1.00 pen!)
I have lost ALL respect for Panera today and have NO plans of returning anytime soon!!!!
All the lady had to do was pull me aside, without causing a scene and nicely ask me about my cup. I would have been more than happy to cooperate at that time. Needless to say, she lost my cooperation the minute she decided to slander me in front of many other Panera guest!
And all for a cup of tea!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!