I am a writer, which means I’ve spent a very long time in the service industry. I’ve had things thrown at me, been spit on and even once had my life threatened just for following a policy that I didn’t create but had to follow. Sometimes, workers are at the mercy of a product shipments. There’s nothing they can do if they run out. Still, for a Subway to run out bread is like a Burger King running out of burgers, or kings.
How could this happen?
When life throws a lack of warm, freshly baked bread at you, John Thornley knows that you don’t have to throw a fit in order to get your point across. All you really have to do is write a strongly-worded letter sprinkled with a little humor. Poison goes down so much easier with a bit of honey mustard, right? If I were still in retail and had this letter come across my counter, I’d do my damndest to make sure Mr. Thornley got taken care of. Not just because he’s in the right — Subway shouldn’t run out of bread (although late at night their policies probably state that they shouldn’t bake more lest they chuck it for being stale in the morning) — but because dude made me chuckle. He wasn’t a jerk. There’s no reason to be a jerk to someone when something is out of workers’ control.
As a business you operate in over 100 countries, serve approximately 2.6 billion sandwiches worldwide and have up to 37 million sandwich combinations available. You’re the Tony Montana of Sandwiches, a brave voice shouting loudly in the darkness that something so humble as the sandwich can be a tasty and delicious meal. You know your game and you play to your strengths. If anyone, in this ever changing world, knows how to put things between bread it’s you chaps, you even call your staff artists. Tracy isn’t just a single mum from Croydon anymore, she’s an artist, a Picasso of the BMT.
So imagine my horror when I visited your Burden Park store in Bolton today to learn you had no bread. That’s right no bread. At first I thought “Ok it’s the late shift, Bant and Dec here are clearly having some light japery at my expense”. I liked that. Customer service with a personal touch. I have a picture of me as a baby as my profile picture and a face that says “I like a good cracker joke”. But alas this was no japery or tomfoolery, this was happening. Then my mind wandered to whether this was a training exercise, a simulation in customer service to learn how to deal with shocked customers. I mean what’s the most ridiculous thing a Subway artist can say to a customer? I would imagine “We have no bread”. But the Artists faces told me this was no simulation, this was real world. Apologies to the artists but I did exclaim “Is this some kind of sick joke?”. Their blank, mournful faces told me it wasn’t. An olive branch of a salad bowl was offered, I didn’t have the heart to take it. I was so disappointed I just couldn’t. My heart was set on a steak and bacon cheese melt, lettuce, onions, gherkins, jalapeños to spice up Friday mornings personal break and enough southwest sauce to maime a badger. If I had accepted it would have been like just getting a cuddle from a prostitute.
You sell 2.6 billion sandwiches a year and the one thing they all have in common is bread. It may be herby, it may be Italian but no matter what you can count on it being there. You broke a fat mans heart tonight and you didn’t even do it with extra cheese. I ate a microwave chilli from asda, it wasn’t great but all its components were there. You don’t allow pictures on your wall but I took a selfie of me eating the chilli so you could see the affect my lack of bread, delicious staple of life bread, has had on me. I contemplated having the artists pass me down the counter so I could graze at the individual components of my sandwich and finish in a joyful crescendo of them squirting southwest sauce in and around my mouth. That’s the only way I could imagine a breadless Subway could work. Without the sub you’re just Way, which whilst saving 50% on all printing and advertising shows great business acumen, it doesn’t deliver on a culinary level.
I didn’t eat fresh today. I ate microwave chilli. May that forever be on your conscience
This is probably the most thoughtful complaint letter you’ll ever read. Thanks, John Thornley. Oh, but why didn’t you just go to another location? Isn’t there’s a Subway on every street corner?