Plan A Little Leeway

Like most people, I expect that when I toss my business card into a bowl to win something, what I get is one less business card to carry around.

My luck changed at my local Jimmy John’s sandwich shop last week.  It turned out the distinctive Element-R business card was either randomly picked, or someone said, “Oooo.  Cool card.  Let’s pick that one!” to reward me with their “Enter to Win” giveaway bowl.

The e-mail telling me I won stated “With this, you have been chosen to receive one Jimmy John’s 15 piece party platter!  This platter will contain your choice of 5 sub sandwiches (#1 thru #6) to share with your friends, family, or coworkers!”

Cool.  I had planned to use this free lunch giveaway for a family dinner party of Austrian and German dishes we’re hosting this weekend where I know the stuff I’m prepping will be greeted with some kids scrunching up their faces and turning up their noses.  “What, you don’t want steak tar tare and goulash?  Here, go gnaw a sub.”

But, after a very hectic week, I cashed in my e-mail last night for a quick dinner.  I called the store, placed the order, and asked that the sandwiches not be cut into thirds, producing this exchange:

JJW (Jimmy John’s Worker): “We have to cut them to make them fit on the platter.”

Me: “I don’t want the platter, I just want whole sandwiches.”

JJW: “You won the platter, so they have to be cut.”

Me: “Why?  Can’t you just make the sandwiches without cutting them?”

JJW: “No…  Uh, well… Let me ask my manager.”

After about a minute, the sandwich maker returned to the phone.

JJW: “The contest is about winning the platter, sir.  It’s what it says.”

Me:  “OK, you’re going to make the sandwiches and wrap them in paper, right?”

JJW: “Yes”

Me: “Here’s what you do… Make the sandwiches, wrap them in paper, but just don’t pick up the knife.”

JJW: “Uh, let me go call the district manager.”

After about 30 seconds, he returns to the phone.

JJW: “Uh, OK.  We’ll do it this one time, but if you enter and win again, you have to take the platter.”

Me: “You bet.”

The sandwiches that my family consumed last night were typical, tasty Jimmy John’s fare.  But the rules and procedures in which sometimes corporations and their franchises tightly wrap themselves can create unnecessary problems.

Jimmy John’s could have planned a little empowerment and given the person I spoke with some leeway to fulfill my simple request, making my winning the contest a short and satisfying encounter, not one where I had to coach the sandwich maker to think and run up a simple request up the chain of command.