Have you ever been in a ‘situation where you’re seated at a restaurant about to have a nice meal, when you hear someone at another table screaming and irate about the service or the food? As waiters scramble around to appease this irate diner, everyone looks at the commotion. And with nary a glance, this irate customer still manages to finish his meal and even smiles profusely when the manager finally approaches his table and informs him that the restaurant will simply give his tab for free.
Dissatisfied diners are probably every restaurant’s nightmare. But believe me, all businesses have their nightmare customers. In schools, you’d have the parent who questions and criticizes every school policy and yet re-enrolls the child year in and year out. I’ve often told my friends that to avoid “karma,” as I run a school myself, I always watch myself in my own children’s school.
Perhaps though, airlines and hotels must live with more and difficult disgruntled clients day in and day out. Just imagine having to deal with passengers who come in late or with too much luggage to check in? Or of hotel guests who find even the minutest detail to complain about at the front desk? Then too, you’d have the all-but powerful unhappy customer who might just utter, “Don’t you know who you’re talking to?”
But honestly, we all may occasi-onally find ourselves too in the shoes of the displeased customer sometimes.
My husband tried calling a telecom company’s hotline to follow up an application for a phone plan and to ask why the account had not yet been activated as he was told. Alas! All the agent on the other line could simply say was that he has noted the request on the system, and that my husband should find the time to go back to the branch where he applied.
When my husband asked for the phone number of their company’s branch so he could avoid the inconvenience going all the way there, the agent couldn’t even give such basic information, and said, “Sorry, but this is not indicated in our system.”
Exasperated, my husband replied, “What? You don’t even have the telephone numbers of your branches? But you’re supposed to be a hotline. And what you’re simply telling me is something I could have done without calling you. Oh, but that’s not in the system, right?” (Take note that my husband happens to be one of the coolest and calmest guys you could ever meet, so for this to have transpired is quite unusual).
Can one be displeased yet polite? Yes for sure. You need not curse nor embarrass someone just for the sake of complaining, particularly if the hapless worker is helpless too. And so, if the issue is handled quite well and amiably, there’s really no reason to be so difficult. Somehow, you wouldn’t want to be at the receiving end of karma so to speak, as you might just find unwanted bits on your steak dinner or be the butt of the entire crew’s joke of the day. Or worse, someone might just post your rant online.
I think to some degree, people can tolerate and accept slight lapses or occasional mishaps depending on the context. For instance, your expectations of good service depend on your perception of how expensive or reputable and esta-blished a restaurant or institution is. And so, when you’re dealing with a reputable company that spends millions on advertising and charges a lot, you don’t just accept lapses easily. But if you were to dine in a hole-in-the-wall restaurant with very modest décor and bargain prices, you wouldn’t exactly blow your top off when the service might be a bit slow, and will even gush about how surprising the menu may be. In the end, being the polite and well mannered but disgruntled cus-tomer may just be an act of restraint, patience, and self-discipline worth remembering.