Thursday, May 08, 2008

The $0.15 donut drama

This is the story of a coffee-shop employee, a baby, a $0.15 donut, and a huge corporation -- and the tragicomedy that mingled them all.

As a bit of background for people who are not from Canada, Tim Hortons is the largest Canadian retailer of coffee and baked products, such as donuts and bagels. This restaurant chain is extremely popular among Canadian consumers, to the extent that it is very scary to pass outside one of their locations in the morning hours, as you can literally see lines of people around the block waiting to get served coffee and donuts there. One of their most widely-known products are the Timbits -- which are nothing more than donut centers (see picture below). That is, each Timbit is about the size of a golf ball at best, and they are normally sold in boxes containing 10, 20 or 40 units. However, it is possible to purchase each Timbit by piece, and the price is about $0.15 dollars each.

Well, it looks that an employee somewhere in the province of Ontario, being very committed to providing customer satisfaction and a nice shopping experience for people there, decided that it would be a nice gesture to give a baby a single Timbit for free. It is very probable that the baby got a lot of customer satisfaction from the employee's action, and the employee herself potentially got some satisfaction for making the baby happy. But the store manager, and maybe the whole Tim Hortons corporation didn't find that gesture as nice, so they decided to teach her a lesson: they fired the employee!

This is a new low I never imagined could happen. Does it make any sense that a company that reported a net income of $61.8 million dollars during the first quarter of 2008 alone fires an employee (a single mother of four children) for giving away a product worth $0.15, for the sake of customer satisfaction? Say that giving away products for free is against the policies within Tim Hortons. In that case, why wouldn't the managers instruct the employee to pay herself for the Timbit she gave away, and warn her not to do something like that in the future?

Well, just like you and I, the Tim Hortons corporation realized that firing an employee for an absolutely irrelevant incident didn't make any sense, so they decided to hire the employee again and move her to a different location. At the end of the day, it looks that the only loser of this oddity is Tim Hortons' corporate image, as incidents like these don't enhance their reputation by any means.

Maybe I should start double checking the amount of Timbits I get when I purchase a 20-piece box. Then I could have good grounds to sue Tim Hortons if I ever find out that at least one is missing from my box!

Click here to read the full story from Yahoo Canada


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