LIFE LESSON: How NOT to handle a customer

This is a very long post. It is full of pictures. It is also full of awesome. Thank you for stopping by.

On July 23rd, Robyn and I went to see Star Trek. We chose the Riverdale 10 movie theater because they have the MOST COMFORTABLE recliners around, and because we could have a beer. I mean, hey, who doesn’t love sipping a Guinness at the movie (that you didn’t sneak in yourself…)

We purchased the beverages and popcorn. I was so looking forward to the popcorn because I’d been living la vida low carb for 3 months. That popcorn was going in my mouth and I couldn’t WAIT.

We got settled in, reclined our seats, and started chowing down. The lights had just dimmed as I reached in for my 2nd handful, I popped it into my mouth, and immediately spit out a fresh and minty already chewed piece of gum. That wasn’t mine.

I’ll stop for a moment while you gag. Trust me. It’s 3 weeks later and I’m still gagging. I can still feel someone else’s ALREADY FUCKING CHEWED GUM IN MY MOUTH.

I leaned over and told Robyn. After she stopped herself from throwing up, we decided it was best I go see the manager. When I explained what happened, the manager on duty said “Well that’s weird. We’re not allowed to chew gum behind the counter.”

Me: I get that. But still. There was someone else’s gum in my popcorn. It wasn’t my gum. It was someone else’s. And it came from behind the counter,  so…

MOD: That’s just weird. *turned and yelled* HEY WAS ANYONE CHEWING GUM TONIGHT?

Me: Seriously? Nobody’s going to admit it was theirs. I just want my $4.50 back. That’s it. Thanks.

MOD: Sorry, you’ll have to call Laird. The customer service number is posted on that sign.

Me: Just give me the $4.50 back. That’s all I want. And you’re the manager so you can do that.

MOD: No You have to call Laird.

Me: Fine. May I borrow your phone? 

I dial the number listed and hear an undecipherable message that I’m pretty sure is on an ANSWERING MACHINE from 1987. I leave my name, my telephone number, and a message that says I would like a call back before the movie is over so that I can get my refund.

Of course, no call came. So I call again from my phone, and I said something to the effect of: All I wanted was my $4.50 back for the popcorn. Now I want a full refund of both movie tickets and the popcorn. I’ll happily pay for the 2 beers we drank.

At 8:03 AM Sunday morning, the magical Laird returned my call. He woke me up, but hey, he called me back. He told me multiple times he was on his way to church and stopped by the office and got my message. He listened to what happened, thanked me for calling and not posting a review on social media, he just doesn’t understand why people do that. I laughed.

Me: Oh I posted a review on FB. If your manager had just given my money back, there wouldn’t have been an issue other than just being grossed out for a while. If you would have called me back last night, there wouldn’t have been an issue. But you didn’t. So yes, you got a review.

Laird: I just don’t understand what people want. We post the customer service number.

Me: They want actual customer service.

The conversation goes on and on like that for a while. He never once apologizes for my bad experience. He just says “But they’re not allowed to chew gum.” Over and over. Like that’s the end of it. Then he says he’s going to investigate and get back to me. That was July 24.

Fast forward to yesterday, 08-10-2016–almost 3 full weeks since my incident.

Robyn decided to post a review. We hadn’t heard back. We’d done what they’d ask. So it was time to let the world know that these guys suck. 1

She gave them 2 stars, which I thought was being generous. Then Riverdale 10 decided to respond and things got awesome:


Someone thought it was a good idea to inform the customer she was wrong in her assessment because they have six employees over the age of 40.And please note the number they asked her to call while trying to slam her from not contacting them privately. That number will be important later on in the show.


Of course, since I was the one who was the victim of the already chewed gum, I decided to remind them that I did, in fact call…


Then I thought this person might need a lesson in how to handle customer complaints.


At this point, I figure it’s over and done with. Surely a manager or the owner has seen they have a troll who is managing their FB page and SURELY they’ve shut it down. Right? LOL Wrong.


Did you read all of that? No? Me either. I did skim it. Apparently Riverdale 10 loves good feedback, thinks I’m angry and public shaming them (I guess they don’t think having a customer find already chewed gum in their popcorn is HORRIFYING) and that if I had JUST CONTACTED THEM PRIVATELY, this would have all been taken care of. And then they proceeded to attempt to shame me like I was Cersi Lannister. Sorry honey, but Melf don’t play that.

unnamed 2


The Riverdale 10 person proceeded to rant on…


and that’s when I dropped the hammer:


Now, Robyn and I couldn’t help but poke a little fun after this, because frankly, it had been the most entertaining day either of us have had in a while. I can’t remember laughing so hard. I mean, I know this guy wasn’t trying to be funny, but he was hysterical. His customer service skills are spot on! Even our friend Marissa got a little hammer drop in there herself!

Not long after the proof was offered and we started openly mocking him, the entire thread disappeared. I guess this poor twerp doesn’t understand the concept of screenshots.

BTW, I’ve been told by a former employee that the only person who handles the FB page is the Owner of the theater. So no, it wasn’t some little college kid twerp who should be fired. It was the owner, who doesn’t give a shit if his customers find already chewed gum in their popcorn.

Because his employees don’t chew gum…

67 thoughts on “LIFE LESSON: How NOT to handle a customer

  1. OMG this is so wrong on so many levels
    Melissa. I am so grossed out that you had to experience 2nd hand gum.
    But…this is the most entertaining post I have ever read. How did someone so stupid and with such bad customer service skills get to be the manager?
    Thank you for sharing. I will never go to
    Riverdale 10 theater.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lived this place but now the only way to watch a movie is flat on your back. They sell so much stuff that the folks eating make a lot of noise and NOW I learn that some get bags of popcorn with free bonus gum! It’s a local chain and I hope they do well but it’s getting to be too much trouble to go there.


  3. The owner does not care about customer service and neither do the people who work there. I used to go there at least twice a week, but no more. They should have one line to purchase tickets and other lines for refreshments so you do not have to stand in line forever just to buy your ticket and get into the theatre. The thing that made me stop going was I ordered popcorn with butter. The guy asked if I wanted him to layer the butter and I said yes. Then he gave it to me and said it was $5.50 instead of the $4.50 it should have been. When I pointed this out to him, he said it was because I got two layers of butter. When I pointed out to him that it did not show that on the board, he said but that is the way it is in the cash register. I told him that was ridiculous and he did not care. You are right, they have no customer service. And after the films have started, if you come out for a snack, half the time there is no one there at the counter!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is genius….but I do have 1 question – did you borrow the manager’s phone to call Laird? And if so, how did you have the outbound call in your phone to screenshot and post?


  5. If that is the owner responding, they don’t care about your experience at the business, only their own. Your truths are falling on unsympathetic and defensive ears. I wouldn’t work for that person. I wouldnt employ that person, with or without chewing gum.


  6. Wow… I followed a link from FB and wound up here. Your life must be miserable and full of negativity.. You keep saying “all it was was $4.50. just $4.50.” Yet, you’re the one who was upset for WEEKS over just $4.50, and some gum. Crap happens get over it. Kids out there with terminally ill cancer, millions of homeless, and countless other things wrong in this world and this is what you’ve wasted weeks of time and energy on… imagine if you had put that effort into something positive.

    Some where out there is a popcorn gum chewer troll who spit their gum in your pop corn when you weren’t looking having a big laugh “I spit my gum in this ladies popcorn, she was upset for weeks blaming the theater, who has an rule their employees can’t even chew gum! HAHA!”


    • Hi Matt. I’m glad you found the post! I am also glad you wouldn’t be utterly disgusted if you accidentally put someone else’s already chewed gum in your mouth. Imagine if you had put the effort into great management, and cleaning shithole you call a theater…IMAGINE how awesome life would be. Let the troll laugh. I’m laughing, too. You know, because your employees don’t even chew gum…


      • Since your little diatribe is almost identical to the Riverdale 10 diatribes, I can deduce that you are the same person who was posting for Riverdale 1o, which means that you’re Matt and you’re the owner of the theater. I hope you really enjoy reading all of this “negativity”. Ironically, I had let it go. I had decided I was just not going back and I wouldn’t have said a word about it…until you (Or whoever) posted your crazy meltdown on my friend’s review. You need nut up. Grow a pair. Take some fucking criticism, and learn how to be a better business owner. if you (or the Riverdale 10 FB poster if it isn’t you) would just follow the motto “Don’t be a dick.” You’d be a much happier person. And maybe even a better boss.


      • oh, well I assure you this isn’t Matt or to whom ever your referring. Just someone who wound up here from a FB link that got shared, and found you to be truly saddening negative person.Especially after reading your responses here, then scrolling through a few more posts on this blog. Talking about making fun of “those people”. Calling people your “bitches.” I don’t think there was a single post I saw without foul language. But, whatever, it affects me none.

        “Ironically, I had let it go. ” Considering you made a facebook post about it today, I find that to be some what non believable.

        “Don’t be a dick.” That is good advice for a business owner I agree. Perhaps the kettle should not call the pot black.

        “such a narcissistic asshole in my life”
        Ironic, I think I saw a blog about you celebrating an entire month of .. you..


    • ^real dumb mother fucker right here.^ I bet it’s the theatre manager; crying and laughing at the computer screen, smoking meth; unable to figure out if they’re actually right or not, but they’ve never felt a high this high. This feeling, they will chase it. Prepare for nothing but horrible service from this theatre, as providing horrible service is their preferred method for getting off.


      • I can thank a facebook friend for leading me here, but I have to thank YOU for how you’ve enriched my life. Here I was- feeling so lost, but now it….it just feels so good to be here. LOL. You’re the best.


      • Well, Mel- what really bums me out about this incident is that it’s the epitome of why small businesses fail.

        When I was sixteen thru nineteen, I worked at United Artists/Regal- Lakewood, Cinema 150, and Breckenridge. I have friends that still work at Breckenridge. If this had been at one of those theatres, when I (or my friends who still work there) had been working, the first thing we would have done is apologize and not only refund your popcorn, but refund your tickets, give you extra comp-passes, and comp you sodas or something. I mean, honestly, this is terrible scenario that should be able to get the health department’s attention (because in an environment where this kind of thing happens- there’s probably much worse things going on behind the scenes (pun intended). Instead, he not only prohibits his managers on the floor from being able to make good customer service decisions, he handles it with the grace or humility of a pissed of gorilla at the zoo.

        How can you make a business last while you act like an entitled jerk? I understand that paying the rent on that big building isn’t cheap, so giving away passes (and apparently acting like a gentleman) is out the window, but with customer service like this, I highly doubt anyone would want to run to buy a ticket at this place. I know I wont, and I swear to god, we were just thinking about going to check this place out (after having not been in this place for about ten years). Paying the rent just got a little bit harder.

        And for the owner of the store- If you actually think you can live in 2016 and not respect the fact that someone can walk in, order from you, and then 30 seconds later NOT effect someone else’s opinion of your business via a good/bad review, you’re insane. As paying customers, we have the right to utilize your services, and then tell people whether or not they’ll leave your business feeling dicked or not, and we do this at an incredibly fast speed. But truthfully, the only person that can hurt your reviews, is you. You have the power to make the wrongs right, and we, as paying customers, respect that outcome the same.

        Liked by 1 person

      • ^^ALL OF THIS.

        I’ve been poking fun at him because he makes it so deliciously easy, but the fact of the matter is, I’m in CS and I have been almost my entire life. It doesn’t matter than your employees aren’t allowed to chew gum…it matters that someone else’s chewed gum was in a customer’s popcorn. AND THAT SHOULD HORRIFY YOU. I know that when I have a customer complain, I bend over backwards to make sure that customer leaves with a positive feeling, after a negative experience. I expected my money back, but had they offered that, and passes that don’t expire, I would have come back to that theater, and spent money again. They would have made their money back…AND I would have spread the good word about their service. It’s a shame he’s taking the stance he’s taking. His ego won’t allow him to learn from the bad experiences and make them good. And that’s too bad for him…and for that theater.


      • Exactly. There’s some weird disconnect here, and appears to be a new running trend. Just be nice to the customer, especially if they chew someone else’s GD gum! *I cringe.

        Best of luck to you. Did you even finish watching the movie?

        Liked by 1 person

    • Pointing out that others have it worse than someone so they shouldn’t be sad is just as ridiculous as saying someone else is happier, so stop being happy. Everyone has a right to their feelings, all feelings are valid, none are right or wrong. The right and wrong come with how those feelings are handled. You seem upset over something that shouldn’t affect you here, and yet you have the audacity to tell someone who was directly affected that they shouldn’t be upset because of terminal Illness other people have? You’re also saying that it’s ok how the person managing the Facebook page for the theatre acted in response to a perfectly acceptable post, but it’s not ok for this person to defend herself from such harassment. Think before you post, the person who found the piece of chewing gum could very well now have hepatitis, or she herself could have a compromised immune system that a cold virus the gum chewer could be a carrier for may now be potentially life threatening- Please don’t act like you k of everything when you don’t. Regardless, it’s disgusting, we have health codes for a reason, and the theatre is lucky that’s all she posted in her original comment. Anything else she posted was in defence to accusations that were easily proven wrong.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m feeling a little left out since it was my original review that started this! So, HI Riverdale 10! Guess what? We still don’t like poor customer service or gum in our popcorn, but we sure enjoy the hell out of watching you be an ass!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pure. Comedy. Gold. I haven’t laughed til I cried in a long time. Thanks for that. I just hope “Matt” doesn’t work himself into a heart attack. Take the hit, and know when to stay down, dude.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I guess they have ne blocked. I can see all the posts but cannot hit like button to write any replies. You are right in all your conclusions. They don’t like bad reviews period and who ever is responding for the cinema should be fired !. And that Devon guy is a dumb ass wanna be important person.. I won’t be bak tbere regardless. Rather pay more n go to Rave .


  10. OM-EFFING-G. ROFLMAO Mel you always make me laugh. And the chewing gum bandit??? ROFL.

    What a whiny butt. I think he’s, whether the owner or not, a Trump protégée. It’s all about someone else causing trouble and he’s not at fault.

    You should call the health department. In dead serious about that. You’ve got the documentation. The owner has actually pretty much admitted guilt with his behavior. And the fact that he followed you here is funny, yet mind-boggling. Talk about stalker behavior.

    As I said on Facebook. Only you. LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Well, I don’t know you but there was a link on fb to here. I am HORRIFIED at your experience and hope this post goes viral and rRiverdale 10 is soon out of business.

    I live closer to Breckenridge anyway. 🙂


  12. Thank you for your post. I’ve been there once and was not impressed. Thanks to your feedback about the place, I will not go back. So sorry that you got ABC gum, that is truly disgusting. Rave here I come! Great popcorn and beer that I already paid for! 🙂


  13. I can’t believe how poorly the managers handled your situation. Smh I have had terrible customer service there as well while going to view Straight Outta Compton and after I asked for the manager to give my complaint on the employee the mngr became just as rude and offered for me to leave. So that’s just what me n my 4 friends decided to do. After we made it to the theatre Colonial Glenn 18 we vowed to never go back. Happy to say neither of us have returned.


  14. I found this link on Facebook. What jerks! I’ll never support this business now. I’m glad you his is getting some traction because you deserve justice lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I don’t know if anyone else has mentioned this, but ‘Laird’ is really Matt Smith. I used to work for him. There’s literally no one there named Laird. Matt would make us give customers this name and number under the guise that it was some customer service rep, but it’s literally just Matt Smith himself. He said that doing this would allow for Laird to be the scapegoat, so people would be upset with an imaginary person rather than himself or his actual employees.


      • Also, a pervert. Before he opted for uniform t shirts, he used to tell his teen girl employees that we should wear shorter shorts and lower cut tops to help with concession sales. Just an all-around bad person to work for or do business with. It’s unfortunate that Riverdale gets the best indie and foreign movies, because I just can’t stomach forking my money over to this sad creep.


  16. Laird is Matt Smith, by the way. I know it seems ridiculous that a fifty year old business owner would hide behind a pseudonym, but I assure you, Matt Smith is Laird. If you think your experience was bad, you ought to consider how the employees feel. He’s a sexist, holier-than-thou criminal.


    • That’s what I’ve been told by multiple people. And I’ve heard his behind the scenes business practices are deplorable. It’s sad.

      I looked up an interview with him from earlier this year, that was definitely the person who called me back at 8:00 Sunday morning.


  17. Everything you’ve heard about this scumbag and more is true. Ever notice there are only white people working at those places. When you apply you leave a copy of your drivers license so he doesn’t accidentally call black people or ugly females in for an interview. Employees are cheated out of pay, if you quit or get fired you’re not getting your last check unless you get a lawyer. Employees are forced to buy uniform shirts at a marked up price. The film festival left because he wouldn’t fix the urinals not whatever dumbass excuse he makes up. He bilks the film distributors out of money, bilks the IRS, bilks everyone he can. Has to hide behind two gates most of the time in case a subpoena finally catches up to him.


    • Earl, thank you for reading and commenting. I’ve had other people tell me very similar stories to yours. It’s really unfortunate. I love to support local businesses, but only if they’re worth supporting.


  18. Pingback: Back to school | Bitchin' Fiction: Musings by author Melissa McKenzie / Melissa Francis

  19. Omg, epic saga of sadness. Whatever happened to “the customer is always right”? Just refund the popcorn money and say sorry for this. Could have fixed it all. Sorry you got bullied Mel & Robyn. Sorry Laird is crappy.


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