Friday, May 09, 2008

Tim Horton's: Like Taking Timbits From A Baby


Okay, maybe it's just me, and without a doubt, every merchant has every right to protect his or her inventory through whatever employee guidelines they deem necessary. Still, I can't help feeling really tempted here to file this one under my already overflowing: "Pulleeze, Gimme A Break!" file.

Recently at a Tim Horton's store in London, Ontario Canada, a single mom of four and three-year veteran of the Canadian doughnut seller (whose equivalent down here in the U.S. would probably be Krispy Kreme or Dunkin' Donuts), noticed that a regular customer's baby was getting a bit fussy and cranky. In an attempt to calm the baby down, the woman gave the baby a Timbit, a popular doughnut-hole pastry that sells for about 17 cents Canadian ($1.70 for a box of 10).

And so far, this all sounds like a simple, kindly gesture, and possibly even good for business in the case of one of Tim Horton's "regular" customers. Right? Wrong.

Three managers happened to notice this little transaction on a videotape they reviewed at the end of the day -- and fired the woman on the spot for theft. This, they said complied with Tim Horton's rules forbidding food giveaways.

"It was just out of my heart. I should have gone to my purse and got the change, but it was busy," the woman told the the Canadian newspaper Globe and Mail.

She said that it was common practice to give Timbits to babies and pets, and that she'd noticed that the baby's mom (again, one of Tim Horton's regular customers) had been having a bad day.

But Tim Horton's district manager, Nicole Mitchell, told the paper:

"Employees aren't allowed to give out free products and that's the bottom line. She gave out free product and it doesn't matter if it is a Timbit or a coffee or a doughnut or 10 sandwiches or what."

Nice. (Not)

In any case, after receiving much (deserved) bad press after this incident, the company quickly rehired the woman, who has chosen to go to work at another Tim Horton's location just down the street. Tim Horton's hasn't decided what will happen to the managers who fired her, but offered both the reinstated employee and its customers an official apology.

However, the company hasn't decided whether it needs to revamp its nationwide rules on freebies.

So what do you think?

Is it really good for business in these isolated cases? Or... just plain old, outright, mean and awful stealing, perpetrated by burned-out moms and cranky kids?


Lynn Sinclair said...

Very petty, wasn't it? I hope they gave her a raise.

Lara said...

I was just in the bakery with a fussy baby yesterday. The lady offered him a sugar cookie, and made BOTH our days!

LAME!!!!!! I think a "re-thinking" of the no freebies policy is in order, especially in light of the bad press they are certainly getting over this...

Anonymous said...

When I read about this the first time my thought was that manager is an idiot! I understand why they'd have a no-freebies policy but my goodness use a little sense! I'm glad she was rehired. d:)