I am at the Panera again. Today I am going to enter the Panera monthly drawing. Yesterday I railed against it with that combination of irritation, irrelevance and impotence for which I hope to be known; today I flip-flop and traduce my previous convictions, casting doubt on anything else I might express with such vehement certitude. Ready?

Okay, I’m logged into to the Panera wifi page. There’s a little video I could play, telling me what’s great about Panera, but I’m already at Panera. Heading now to Paneralistens.com.

Welcome to the Panera Bread Customer Experience Survey. We appreciate you taking the time to give us your feedback as it helps us know how we might better serve you.

So far the experience is nice, and I hope there’s a survey after this one so I can let them know how nice the experience was. At least at first.

To begin this survey, please enter the Panera bakery-cafe number located near the top of your receipt.

No problemo, dude! It’s 1307. Click next . . . hold on, I’d better check the rules. Whoa, this is some serious stuff. There’s a Stuxnet clause:

Sponsors reserve the right to . . . withdraw the online and/or telephone methods of entry if either becomes technically corrupted, (e.g., including if a computer virus or system malfunction inalterably impairs its ability to conduct the Sweepstakes), and to select winner from among all entries received including mail-in

So one guy trying to game the system could ruin it for everyone. Wait, there’s a mail-in option? I mail them a request for a survey form, they mail one to me, I fill it out and mail it back? How much do you have to hate a bagel to go through that much trouble?

Then there’s the “don’t come crying to us if you can’t get on the internet” clause:

Under no circumstances, including negligence, shall the Sponsors or The Sweepstakes Center be liable for any direct, indirect, incidental, special or consequential damages that result from the access of or inability to access the Sites, submitting an entry or otherwise participating in any aspect of this Sweepstakes

Has anyone anywhere ever sued them because the site was down for the entire month of the contest period? Who would do such a stupid thing, except to self-identify as someone who really had a lot riding on winning $2K from a chain bakery? Note the list of damages: apparently you can have indirect or special damages, but you can’t have indirectly special damages. It’s either or. You can hear the sound of a million lawyers billing as many hours as possible behind each of those words.

There’s the address of the company HQ - hey, I know that place! It’s in Scottsdale. Drove right by it once. Cool. Well, let’s move on. Clicking next . . . now!

Please enter the 6-7 digit check number found at the top left hand side of your receipt directly under the date of your visit.

And . . . done. 454840. Does that mean this is the 454,840th transaction at this location? I’ll check my receipt tomorrow and report back. If it’s 454,892 I’ll feel awfully bad for them, because this place has some serious overhead. Every time I look at those baskets of bagels, sitting unsold at 4:30 PM, I think they’re all going into the dumpster. If I owned one of these places I’d sell everything at a dime over cost the hour before closing.

Next page: time and date of visit. Hmm. You’d think entering the transaction number would bring up that information. Possible the entire chain isn’t fully networked, although I’m sure any MICROS POS array could do that. MICROS, by the way, stands for “Modular Integrated Cash Register Operating System,” I believe. When I worked at a restaurant I was keen to point out that fact to anyone. No one cared. But I hate using those terms and not knowing what they mean. It’s like SKU. People in retail say “what’s the skew?” and I’ll bet not 10% know what it means.

Okay, frequency of visits . . . did I dine, take out, or dine in AND take out? Both! Got some bread. Overall satisfaction - and here it’s a 1-5 scale. This is hard. The coffee is fine. As a late afternoon treat I put in some skim milk and some sweetener, but they don’t have any stirring implements. You have to use a straw. It’s encased in plastic. Seems horribly wasteful. A wooden stirrer would also deplete resources, but they’re renewable. Using plastic straws to stir is UNSUSTAINABLE.

So yes, 5.

Now a page with many questions.

“Greeting received upon arrival.” Was I very satisfied or very dissatisfied? I’d say I was satisfied, momentarily, that this minor example of human interaction was swift and devoid of falsehood or acrimony, but I wouldn’t say I was very satisfied; that’s the sort of emotion you prefer to reserve for the successful completion of substantial tasks. I’m not sure of the difference between “satisfied” and “very satisfied,” since the existence of the latter implies there’s a degree of dissatisfaction with the former. And if you’re satisfied, but something’s wrong, then you’re not really satisfied, you’re just telling yourself you are because it doesn’t matter much anyway.

To be scrupulously accurate, no one greeted me when I arrived; the journey from door to counter went unheralded.

Our team’s knowledge of the menu. I could be very dissatisfied with your use of the term “team,” which suggests an esprit de corps and collegiality one finds in war, or enterprises gathered for a specific purpose that does not involve soup. Anyway, menu knowledge did not arise; it was just coffee.

Accuracy of your order. When you ask for coffee you get an empty cup and directions to the urn. The way the lady held out the cup so I could take it was highly accurate and professional.

Availability of the menu item you wanted. Well, I wanted calorie-free pizza, and they don’t have it, but that’s my problem.

Speed of service. It’s 3:30 in a dead mall. Pretty damned fast.

Cleanliness of bakery-cafe. There are crumbs all over the floor, but it is a bakery. No mice as far as I can see.

If you were in the area again, how likely would you be to visit this bakery cafe?

Since it’s across the hall from my daughter’s swim class, very likely. I wish I could warn them not to extrapolate anything from that, but I can’t.

How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague?

I don’t know. These things never come up. I’m tempted to say 1, meaning “wouldn’t send Hitler there,” but that would just invalidate all the useful data I’ve provided.

Are you a member of the MyPanera Loyalty Program?

No. I don’t want the concept of Loyalty to enter these ordinary considerations. I am not loyal to Panera, and never will be. If a store opened next door that sold better stuff cheaper you’d never see me again. Baby, baby, don’t get hooked on me.

Please take a moment to tell us about how our team made a difference on your visit, including any names or descriptions of team members.

Well, the woman who gave me my empty cup made a difference, inasmuch as I didn’t have a cup before she gave me one.

Where were you immediately before coming to this bakery cafe?

Hold on, now you’re going all Joe Friday on me?

Where were you immediately after coming to this bakery cafe?

Why? Has something happened? Tell me if something happened! How - how can I be somewhere in the future in the past tense? I haven’t left yet!

Is this bakery cafe more conveniently located to where you came from before your visit or where you went after your visit?

I - I don’t know! Stop! You’re confusing me!

Then they want to know if I’m a boy or a girl, and whether I feel like I got my money’s worth. Whew! Heat’s off, for now, at least.

That concludes our Panera Listens survey experience. Somehow this chewed up half an hour, which is the precise amount of time my daughter was across the hall bobbing in the water. Perfect!

Oh: SKU is Stock Keeping Unit.


Something I forgot to mention from last week: that CBS Radio Mystery Theater music I wanted you to hear? Asked if it reminded you of something? The correct answer is “The Twilight Zone,” since the music for the Zone and the CBS Radio Mystery Theater came from the same place: the CBS library of stock music cues. I think. I’ve read different takes on this - either CBS commissioned the cues for the show, or cobbled together the theme out of two cues by Maurius Constant. Or the CBS Radio Mystery Theater uses the themes commissioned for the Twilight Zone.

Whatever it is, most of the CBSRMT shows just bite the wax tadpole.

That's it - except, of course, for the the new newspaper ultra-multi-purpose blog. Yesterday's entry is here, if you missed it. It's unlike the previous ones. How is it unlike the Bleat?

Not at all. Finally!








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