Saturday, June 11, 2005

The Customer Isn't Always Right, The Employees Just Can't Say So

Have you ever demanded service because you were the customer and "the customer is aways right"? Have you ever felt that it was your right to make employees run around like chickens without heads because you were basically paying their bills? Felt that it was your duity to make sure that the manager knew you weren't happy? Felt like you were entitled to a free meal because your food didn't come out exactly as you ordered it? Do you really think that just because you tried something new and didn't like the way it tasted (even though there was absolutely nothing wrong with it), that it should be taken off your bill? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then you're not going to be very happy with the rest of this post, but you are in serious need of a rude awakening and this is just the post to do it.

Most employees (not just restaurant employees!) hate the phrase "The Customer Is Always Right" and most of us would like to smack whoever coined it. Sure, it seems like a good philosophy for anybody selling something, but what about times when the customer isn't right (and believe me there are plenty of those!)? There are times when customers will do whatever it takes just to get something free. There are some customers who are not above yelling, screaming, cursing, lying, and threatening (there's so much more but those are the prime examples) to get what they want. Tell me, are they right? Should they really be allowed to do that? Should the employee that was unlucky enough to be helping them have to put up with that kind of treatment without so much as a peep by way of self-defense? They shouldn't, but they do because "the customer is always right." Managers are trained to do whatever they can to ensure a happy customer, and the customers know it. "I wanna talk to a manger!", "Go get me a manager!", "Where's your manager?!" are all commonly heard, and most without a "please" or "thank you".

Most people take out their anger on the first person they see or the person that is (unfortunately) helping them. That's why I hated serving. No matter what the problem was (if the food was too cold, if it wasn't cooked right, if it wasn't even the dish they thought they ordered, if they didn't like it, blah, blah, blah...), it was all my fault and no one else's. It wasn't the cook's fault for misreading the ticket. It wasn't the food runner's fault for bringing the wrong tray of food to the table or for pulling the quesadilla with onions instead of the exact same one except without onions out of the window and traying it up with the rest of the food. It wasn't the hostesses fault for seating them too close to smoking or where it was "too loud". It was all my fault. Anything and everything the cutomers were unhappy about was all my fault and my tips would suffer because they weren't happy. Then comes the words all angry customers say "I want to speak with a manager", though usually not that nicely. Nowadays when I see people complaining (it doesn't even matter what they're complaining about really), I normally just think that they're trying to milk some free food out of an accident or something. Some people are just always trying to get something for free when they really don't deserve it.

I know how it looks when a guest complains about their experience, so when I go to a restaurant that I didn't enjoy, I don't ask to speak with a manager, I don't demand that the food be taken off my bill, I simply go online and write out an e-mail to that restaurant (usually long, detailed, and thorough) explaining why I will not be coming back. That way, their food costs are affected, it doesn't look like I'm scamming for food, and it will give the management some idea of how to fix problems (or who to fix) so that other customers don't have the same experience I had. I also happen to know that Corporate (if it's a chain restaurant) does not like to see e-mails such as mine about any of their restaurants. I don't look to get anyone fired, I don't wish termination on anyone because they maybe had one bad night, just ensure that it's not going to happen again to anyone else because anyone else might not be so nice.

Unfortunately, most customers don't handle things that way. If they did, so many more people would be happy and better off, I might even start serving again if that were to happen. But let's face it, as long as any store works by the "Customer Is Always Right" philosophy, customers are going to think they're right even if they are not. Customers *know* they're right and they are always going to fight, argue, threaten, lie, and cheat to get what they want (usually free stuff) and they aren't going to let anyone tell them otherwise.

For more examples of when customers aren't right, please visit: and read thoroughly through whatever you like. Anybody in retail, grocery stores, etc. will get a total kick out of how true all of these stories are!