Customer Service: Mike’s Camera vs. Bonefish Grill

Two critical reservations. Two failures to deliver. Two vastly different experiences.

In the blue corner Mike’s Camera.

This past week my son Nathan’s rugby team played in, and won, the Colorado state championship. I am more or less the official photographer for the team and because this was a night game I needed to rent a faster lens.

Mike’s Camera has typically served me well in that regard and although I am looking at trying another service for an event later this month I turned to Mike’s to help me out for the finals.

I reserved my typical Canon 70-200 f/2.8 via phone several days ahead of the event knowing that if Mike’s didn’t have it I could turn to the other service. They DID have it available so we arranged for it to be ready for pick up at their south store on Wednesday.

Wednesday morning I got a call from the rental dept at Mike’s telling me that didn’t have my lens!?!?  I immediately panicked, I needed it THAT NIGHT, too late to explore other options. Once my heart started again I discovered that they still had the lens available but that it hadn’t made it to the south store. I could get it, but I’d have to go to the north store which would mean about 2 extra hours of drive time.

So how did Mike’s handle their failure?

They apologized and took full responsibility admitting their mistake.
They provided a solution, the lens, even thought it came with a hassle.
They cut the rental price in half.
They allowed me to return it to the south store, an hour closer to my home.

In the brown corner Bonefish Grill

Let me start by saying we love Bonefish. We’ve celebrated a number of family milestones there and have always like the food and the service. That being said…

We were looking for a place for Mother’s Day dinner. Both my mom and Libby’s parents will be with us Sunday so we’ll need reservations for eight.

We went online this past Monday to get the phone number for the south Denver Bonefish and discovered that they now take reservations online. Our party size was accepted and out chosen time, 6:45, was available. Awesome.

Yesterday I got a call from Bonefish. Apparently they had taken too many reservations over the phone and that didn’t connect to their website which, by the way, shouldn’t take parties of eight but rest assured “we’re fixing that”, and the only time that had available was 2:00.

How did Bonefish handle their failure?

They provided and apology with a but, which we all know is no apology at all.
They took no responsibility.
They offered no solution or recompense. (Ok, you could argue 2:00 is a solution but no one eats dinner at 2:00 unless they’re over 98)
In short they had nothing.

So what’s the lesson?

When you fail, and we all probably will sometime, there are a couple MINIMUM requirements for salvaging the situation:

Take responsibility
Your “I’m sorry sir but the web site doesn’t work right” means less than nothing. That isn’t my responsibility, it’s yours.

Come up with a solution
You need for find a way to provide for the customer that you have just failed. Even if the best you can do is help them think through viable options. Bonefish is owned by a management company that has multiple chains. How about trying to locate one with availability?

Offer something in return
You’ve failed at a promise. You need to make it right. It doesn’t always have to be monetary but that does help.

Truth be told if I were the person at Mike’s the lens rental would have been free. They didn’t go as far as I would have but I appreciated that they took responsibility, came up with a solution, and offered something in return.

Bonefish not so much. I’m mad enough now, and get more angry with each restaurant I call trying to find last minute reservations, that I probably won’t go back there for quite some time. In fact I’m rather hoping that several of my social media savvy will re-tweet this post both to give Mike’s props and, even more importantly to me, help Bonefish feel the sting of what I can only call an abject failure of customer service.

Got any examples of either excellent saves or miserable failures in the world of customer service you’d like to share?


11 responses to “Customer Service: Mike’s Camera vs. Bonefish Grill

  1. …just sent this to one of the guns @ Mike’s Camera up here @ Park Meadows. And Happy Mother’s Day to Libby and your Moms…!!!

  2. Curtis,

    A GREAT reminder! We have an off-site staff meeting on Thursday and this is one I’ll share with the entire staff. Don’t make excuses, just fix the problem.

    BTW – I just ordered the Canon 70-200 f/2.8. Can’t wait until it arrives.

  3. My pleasure. I’m actually using enough of your content in our mini-staff retreat that I should just have you come do it. I just can’t do the accent with the tucked in kilt. ;-0

  4. I’m surprised how many companies forget how hard it is to get new customers as opposed to retaining existing ones. I had a major fail with Comcast today over $5. $5!

  5. Curtis,
    Thank you for putting Mike’s Camera in the Blue Corner, I am Mike the Sale Manager for the company and I was forwarded your review from one of my ‘guns’ at the Park Meadows store, I greatly appreciate your feedback and am happy to hear that my rental department was able to find a solution for you even if it was not entirely what you had hoped for. I will certainly bring this up at one of my staff training’s and pass your feedback onto my rental department and store managers so that they can learn and improve from your input. If you would ever like to rent from us in the future please contact me directly as I would like to do what I can to offset the inconvenience of having to drive to Boulder to pick up your lens. I can easily be reached at or by phone at 303-443-1715 x129.
    Thank you again for your comments, have a great weekend

    • Thanks for the response Mike!
      To be clear, your people did the right thing.
      I’m a fan of going over the top and my definition may not be the same as theirs was but…they did the right thing.
      Thanks for providing your email address, I’ll be writing shortly.
      …and for those following along at home, yes, I will rent from Mike’s Camera again!

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