Little Diner, Don’t Mess with my Mama or her friend!
This week, I was hot over tamales sent from the west Texas town of El Paso.
My mom sent me one dozen Christmas tamales from The Little Diner in El Paso, Texas. I love tamales. They were good, but they were not $88.50 good. This week, my mother received her credit card bill for the gift. The tamales cost $14.50 and the shipping cost $74.00. Holy Tamale! My mother’s friend sent 16 dozen tamales to three different states, and her shipping bill was $389.00. Holy Moly Tamale!
The Little Diner employee promised my mother and her friend that he would call with the total shipping charges before sending the tamales, and because my mother and friend were long-time customers of The Little Diner, they trusted the employee to call. He didn’t.
When my mother told me about the shipping bill, I was sure it was a mistake. I told her to dispute her credit card bill and I would call the diner owner. Mistakes happen.
It took three calls to reach Lourdes, the owner of The Little Diner. It seems she does not return calls. You have to be lucky enough to catch her answering the phone. I finally got lucky. Lourdes answered the phone and I explained the situation.
“Lourdes, my mom asked your diner to ship one dozen tamales to Chicago, and it seems the shipping bill was $74.00. The employee who took the order promised to call my mom for shipping authorization and didn’t.” Lourdes’ basic responses were, “So?” and “It’s not my problem.”
It got worse. Lourdes agreed that both my mother and her friend’s phone numbers were on the order, but told me she was not responsible for her employee’s promises. Really? Lourdes explained that she did not ask my mother to ship me the tamales, so it was not her problem.
“Lourdes,” I explained, “My mom and her friend are long-time customers of your restaurant. My mom’s friend was invited to your wedding. They liked your Facebook page. They trusted your employee.”
“Not my problemo.”
“Lourdes, how would you feel if someone treated your mama this way?” I asked.
“The tamales were a gift, right? So why do you care about the shipping?” I was stunned! Lourdes was worse than the worst of the Dunkin Donut employees I had dealt with over the years, including the one who re-made a drink for me, tasted it, handed it to me, and told me it was just fine. Lourdes had the empathy of Attila the Hun, and we know he had a rough childhood.
I should have taken the John Wayne approach and shot first and offered to bury bodies later, but I tried one more time to be nice. “Lourdes, I know you don’t make any money on shipping, so why don’t we split the shipping charges?” to which she replied, “Absolutely not.”
Taking a deep breath I replied, “I am about to become your worst nightmare.” (I think John Wayne would have been proud)
My mother and her friend disputed the credit card charges as unauthorized. This was hard for both my mother and her friend since they have never, ever disputed a credit card bill.
This week, I have shared our story with most of the people that have “Liked” The Little Diner Facebook page. Friends that have eaten at the diner in the past have posted negative reviews on Facebook, Yelp, and Craigslist. I was interviewed by ABC TV and the story, “Pricey Tamales” aired. The news story could have emphasized the fact that The Little Diner did not get shipping approval as promised, but Lourdes did say for the television viewers, “I did not ask her mom to ship her tamales,” and we did have the opportunity to share our story on television.
I wrote a guest column and letter to the editor of the El Paso Times. Not just because The Little Diner in El Paso, Texas took advantage of my mom and her friend, but because they hurt the El Paso small business community.
While my mother and Norma are saddened and disappointed by their experience with The Little Diner, there is something much more at stake. In this day of Walmart, Sam’s Club and Amazon, there is a lot less room in our community for the family-owned diner, book store, or gift shop. Customers must be given a reason to pay a little more and go out of their way a little more. Family-run businesses that are friendly and honest and offer a little something special keep small and family-run businesses thriving. When these businesses betray their customers’ trust, all family-run and small businesses suffer, and the chains with established policies and hierarchies edge out them out just a little bit more.
When The Little Dinner refused to accept responsibility for the mistake of their employee, refused to right a wrong, it was bad business for all small and family-run businesses in the El Paso community.
In other words, “If Mama ain’t happy…nobody is happy,” Most especially ME. I am really not happy, Little Diner.
Now here is what I am dying to know: Both the Postal Annex who shipped the tamales and Lourdes told me, “Lots and lots of people will pay $74.00 to ship a non-essential $14.50 item overnight. Is this true? Are you one of these “Lots of people?” Because even in my most extravagant let-Neiman Marcus-gift-wrap-everything days, I never agreed to this kind of screw-you shipping. Would you? Let me know in the comment section of Odd and I will share the comments with the Postal Annex and the Little Diner.
As always, thank you for dropping by Odd!
Hot Tamale thank you’s !
♥ Thank you Stevie for all your help with the El Paso review links and contacts.
♥Thank you Sue for so quickly posting the ABC link to the “Pricey Tamale” story.
♥ Thank you Carolee for giving us additional background information on the Little Diner and telling me I was famous.
♥ Thank you Nancy for the John Wayne quote!
♥ Thank you Facebook friends for all your support and gnashing of teeth.