Is The Customer Always Right?

“The customer is always right.”

An infamous saying that is thrown around between those who work with the general public, but one that should be completely eradicated from modern society.

Since I was around 14/15 years old I have worked in hospitality in a number of different types of restaurants, cafes and takeaways and this mission statement as it were is the bane of my life and extremely dehumanising.

Yes there are times businesses will make mistakes when providing service to a customer – we are all just human after all, mistakes are bound to be made especially during busy service hours. However, I feel like no matter how grand a mistake is it is completely unnecessary to be rude and to start causing a scene. In the few years I have been serving I couldn’t begin to tell you the horrors I have had to face at a young age: a grown women yelling racist remarks down the phone to me, an elderly women refusing to leave the premise because she didn’t get a full refund for part of her order missing, the list goes on. What I have come to discover is that some people just love to complain, even if nothing is momentously wrong, in the hopes of receiving money off their bill, and this enrages me. As a server you are the face of the business to the customer and you have to maintain the smiles and polite, friendly tone and take the sarcastic remarks and eye rolls on the chin. A lot of work is put in to providing a positive dining experience and earning tips so when you’ve worked hard to do so and are returned with sly comments and sometimes not even treated like a person it is incredibly insulting. I shouldn’t take it so personal but I do and I know a number of my fellow waitors/waitresses who do as well and this is where the mission statement ‘the customer is always right’ grinds my gears. No matter how inexcusably rude a customer is we are always expected to apologise profusely and offer condolences of how we’ll do better next time to keep the good name of the business. Yes, the customer is providing business; yes they are effectively paying my wages; yes, without them I probably would not have an income but I am still a human being and there are about a million and one things I would much rather be doing than serving rude strangers bending over backwards doing as much as I can to keep them happy. And it’s not only slight complaints/order mistakes that dehumanises a server, some people think it is more than reasonable to click their fingers in order to be seen or beckon you over with their hands. It is my job to see to you but I am not a dog, there are many other polite ways to get someone’s attention than clicking your fingers. I one time had a customer make off-hand rude remarks about myself but played it off as a joke entertaining the others around him in a little show and by all means did I want to shout at him and ask what his problem was, but alas no, that would generate negative comments from him which would ripple through his social circle.

I’m so sick of how it is expected to take all the rude remarks, comments and behaviour on the chin and to maintain the stupid smiles on your face and continue to plaster them with niceties entertaining complete strangers. After all, the majority of serving jobs are only minimum wage and are over unsociable hours. I just wish that it would be far more accepted to be able to bite back and actually call these customers out on their outlandish behaviour without being made out to be the bad guy because, believe it or not, the customer is not always right.

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