On Jan 13, Panera emailed me that they had loaded my Panera card with a $5 “Reward” to try their “Fast Lane Kiosks”. The so-called “reward” was valid for 2 weeks. I made a special trip to the Panera near my house. The mgr there had no clue what I was talking about. The folks at Panera’s toll-free “customer service” number couldn’t tell me how to find out which Panera locations have Fast Lane Kiosks. I managed to find the office of the franchisee for MD (where I live). The Marketing Director there said none of the MD Paneras have these kiosks.
After I wasted hours on this project, Panera send a “reminder” on Jan 20. It belatedly advised that I could redeem my so-called “reward” via online or mobile. (Their first email never mentioned those options.) Meanwhile, the historic blizzard Jonas dumped 2 ½ feet of snow on the Mid-Atlantic. When navigating returned to semi-normal, I had one day left to redeem my so-called “reward”, before it expired on Jan 27.
On Jan. 27, I duly placed a “Rapid Pickup” order on Panera’s website for a café near my office. Panera emailed me a confirmation. However, when I came to the Panera café, they had no record of my order. They were very nice at the café, but I felt as though they thought I was trying to “con” them into giving me free food. It was very embarrassing. This was my SECOND wasted trip to a Panera café in an attempt to redeem my so-called “reward”.
Incidentally, I discovered that that café (in DC) DID have the elusive “Fast Lane Kiosks”.
On Jan. 28, I contacted Panera’s VP of Ecommerce about this incident. She forwarded my email to her subordinate, the Manager of “CBSS Preventive Analysis” (whatever that is). He ignored my inquiry about what he could do to make me feel better about my ordeal. After I followed up again with the VP+, the Manager responded on Feb. 2 and promised me a gift card. I described all of the above hassles to him and he proceeded to offer me…a $10 gift card! In light of the hours I had wasted, as a result of Panera’s miserable customer service, I rejected this insulting offer.
The VP of Ecommerce wrote:
“I am sorry we have not exceed [sic] your expectations in resolving your concerns. Can you provided [sic] me the details.”
Besides being semi-illiterate, this response conveniently ignores the fact that she ALREADY had all the “details” and she never even MET my expectations, let alone “exceed” them!
Her boss, Panera’s Senior VP & Chief Information Officer, ignored my follow-up email. I then emailed the Senior VP of Company Operations, who initially seemed more responsive. On Feb. 3, he promised to “make sure [my complaint] gets addressed appropriately.” Despite his promise, no one has contacted me since then.
Based on all of the above issues, I believe Panera is dealing in bad faith. I call it “Panera Punishment”.

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