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Customer Service is Alive and Well at Qdoba?!?

Good customer service

I sometimes feel like customer service is dead. With airlines herding passengers through like cattle, bowling alleys not being nice on a kid’s birthday, and having to press fifteen options to get to speak to a customer service representative, it’s easy to assume you are going to be treated with a frown and pushed out the door as quickly as possible. However, a recent experience at the fast food restaurant, Qdoba, has reassured me that customer service is alive and well.

Our favorite new place to eat when we go to Farmington, NM is Qdoba. If  you haven’t been, it’s like Subway for Mexican food. Your order is perpared on demand, and you then you go through the line and pick which toppings you want.

On a recent trip to Qdoba, I had a $25 gift card that had been used once. I believe it might have had somewhere in the $7-$9 range left. Our total bill was just over $18. I pulled out the gift card to use first, but it wouldn’t scan.

You know the feeling when the line is backing up and whatever you are trying to do at the register doesn’t work. The cashier called the manager who tried in vain to scan our gift card, but it still wouldn’t work. She smiled at me, told me to go ahead and enjoy my food, and she would find out why the card wasn’t working. I told her there wasn’t enough money on it to pay for the entire bill. She said that was OK, and we’d figure it out later.

We went about eating our meal. I was waiting for the manager to come tell me the card didn’t work, and I’d have to pay the bill in full. Instead, she came over to tell me that the card still did not work, but she was going to give me $10 off our meal. Again with a smile, she told me I could come up and pay whenever it was convenient!

I have no way of knowing if it was my card or their machine that was malfunctioning. I do know that the card had some money on it, but the manager did not. She took my word for it. When everyone is watching their bottom line, I was totally expecting to lose out on my gift card, and I would have been disappointed. Maybe not disappointed enough to never come back, but it would have not been the best experience.

Likewise, if they had held up the line trying to fiddle some more with this card while making all the people in line wait, that would not have been a good experience for the other customers. Nothing ruins a purchase like standing forever behind someone in line while the cashier has to phone Pluto to see if they can give you a 2 cent discount.

This manager did many things right. She kept the line moving, and she took care of the problem. She didn’t make me feel bad for trying to use a gift card or check my criminal record to make sure I wasn’t lying to save a few dollars. She did it all with a smile, not the fake one that says “I’m completely annoyed with you, but I’ll lose my job if I don’t play nice”  but an actual smile. She made me feel like a valued customer, not just a number.

Maybe Qdoba lost $10 that day, but I will probably go back there every time I am in town, and I will tell everyone I know how great they are. What is that worth in the whole scheme of things?

Customer service is not dead. It just gets harder and harder to find. With ever increasing competition, it might be wise if we could all take a lesson from the manager at Qdoba. Make the customer feel appreciated, and you’ll have a customer for life.

Have any good examples of customer service to share?

If you want to have money to eat a Qdoba, enter to win your chance for $100 or a share of $900!

Image: Freedigitalphotos.net/Bandrat

About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.


  1. I am in love with good customer service and the actions of that manager would have me coming back for more over and over again. It sounds like a great place to eat.

  2. There was a girl at Men’s Wearhouse who basically helped me pick out two shirts even though they were about to close. Got it tailored and everything. She was great and compared to the rest of the staff her work was top-notch.

    • Someone will see that and steal her away. My receptionist is awesome. I stole her from the rec center that paid minimum wage.

  3. That is really awesome, Kim! It sounds like they really care about treating their customers well. I bet you will be eating a lot of Qdoba in the future =)
    I actually had a good experience with AT&T over the phone the other day and it was shocking.

  4. As someone who worked at Qdoba in high school, I’m glad you had a great experience! I still love Qdoba 10 years later and miss it (they just closed the two locations in Manhattan).

    I think it’s important for managers at any restaurant to not be penny wise and pound foolish. I understand there are chances that a customer like you could have been a scammer, but that chance is small and the manager’s good sense left such a good impact on your experience that you’re sure to return.

  5. Nice. I love good customer service experiences like that. Similarly, I’ve had a couple instances where something arrives broken from shipping or breaks quickly and the company just sends a new one without requiring you to send proof of the breakage. So nice to not be assumed to be a cheater. =)

    • It’s sad that our society has come to thinking the worst of people in most cases. It’s refreshing when someone gives you the benefit of the doubt.

  6. It takes so little for a business to create good vs. bad service. Employers should take notice too.

  7. Glad to hear you got some good customer service. That is a rarity these days. That manager did it correctly. I can’t say that I have had any good service experiences because I haven’t had any issues anywhere as of late. I guess that is a good thing.

  8. Your story warms my heart. It does seem awfully hard these days to find good customer service. That’s a fantastic manager and I hope they know it. Have a great weekend!

    • It certainly made my heart happy. She is the kind of employee someone will steal. I’ve gotten several good ones over the years from finding people going above and beyond in pretty unrewarding jobs. I hope someone appreciates her.

  9. That is very good customer service. I wish I could say that I have had a great customer service experience lately, but I honestly can’t think of a single time recently that I’ve been wowed. Kinda sad.

  10. My spouse is a HUGE Qdoba fan and was bummed that there wasn’t one in Texarkana when we moved here. If you’d like to franchise one here, Kim, we’d be your first customer, I’m sure.

  11. That’s awesome. I had a similar experience at WalMart, and after trying for a few minutes the cashier just handed me the card and said it wasn’t working, and told me what I owed. I hate WalMart so much.

    • Walmart would rather lose ten customers than possibly lose 3 cents. I wish I never had to go there again, but it’s a necessary evil.

  12. In Guatemala a few nice restaurants apply an automatic 10% tip, which is a lot of money compared to minimum wage, so the waiters are usually super nice. On the other hand they lack initiative so if your waiter asks how your meal is and you say bad they will give you the blank stare and walk away.

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