Someone sent me an article written about that old wives tale “the customer is always right” and I must respond. Is the customer always right? Of course not. They are very often misinformed, clueless, unreasonable or just plain dumb. But here is what may surprise you: the waiter is not always right either. There, I said it. Sometime I can acknowledge that I have made a mistake. I have found that when I do, the customer appreciates the honesty and it results in a better tip. Just ‘fess up. I have flat out told customers that I have forgotten to put their order in and that’s why it’s taking so long so here is a complimentary beverage and I’m sorry. I will also go out of my way to do what a customer wants but if it gets just plain ridiculous, we have to draw the line. I do not believe the customer is right when they demand that the music is too loud for their baby to sleep. Or when they want us to make something that isn’t on the menu simply because we have all the ingredients. Peanut butter and jelly in the house does not mean that the kitchen has to make a sandwich for your kid because that’s the only thing they will eat. If the kid doesn’t like what’s on our menu, then maybe they should be eating somewhere else or bringing their own stupid PB and J. And when this lady told me that there was no liquor in her strawberry daiquiri, I knew for certain that the customer was not right because there was most assuredly liquor in her drink. So in those instances, customers are wrong.
The article questioned why so many companies are willing to side with rude disgruntled customers rather than siding with their loyal employee. If management was more willing to ignore this antiquated rule, then employees would be more willing to give excellent customer service and in return the customers would have a better experience. Once, I was explaining to a woman that an egg white omelet was an additional charge. It was clearly on the menu but she couldn’t understand why. “I’m only using part of the egg and not the whole thing so it really should be less‘” she said. Never mind that it takes more eggs to make an egg white omelet, she was not having it. I kept telling her it was the policy and there was nothing I could do. She called a manager over who then voided off her additional $1 charge in order to appease her making me look like an asshole even though I was the one who was following policy. “The customer’s always right,” he sighed as he swiped his card in the computer to void the charge from her check. So now this woman will always expect that every time she goes back to that restaurant. And I now resent trying to do my job. Had the manager explained that it’s policy and made her pay the dollar, I would have had respect for the manager and the lady would now know she either has to deal with our rules or go somewhere else.
Before you jump all over me, anonymous poster, I do try to make my customers happy. If I can bring some extra bread because they are “starving” I will or if the sun is shining in their eyes, I will adjust the blinds. But if they want me to comp their steak because it “didn’t taste right” but they still managed to eat all but two bites of it, then the customer is wrong. If they ask for a discount because sitting on the patio was too loud for them to hear themselves think, that customer is also wrong. Is the customer always right? No. We give them the benefit of the doubt but sometimes they just are wrong wrong wrong.