Anyone who works in
hospitality knows that people complain. Sometimes they are absolutely right to
do so because mistakes happen, no-one is perfect and when oopsies occur, most
people in hospitality bend over backwards to put things right.
But I have to be
honest – when I was running my restaurant, some people were sooo obnoxious and
so unpleasant, it was occasionally an absolute pleasure if things went wrong.
Now that I no longer run a restaurant, I freely confess that I possibly didn’t
try as hard as I could to fix problems if the complainers were totally
So here are 5 customer types who would always get short shrift for
any complaints – I would love to know if any other restaurateurs out there have
any other suggestions as well!
1. Loudmouth arsehole
Look, I’m sorry if something has gone wrong on
your table, but shouting and swearing at me isn’t going to put things right.
All that you are doing is disturbing neighbouring tables and ruining their
night as well as your own, and if you’re too busy shouting at me, I can’t get a
word in edgeways to apologise and work out a solution.
Tell me calmly and
politely what’s gone wrong, tell me once and then SHUT UP so I can fix it. The
more you shout, the less I feel inclined to help you.
2. Cheapskate freeloader
It’s all about appropriate recompense. Finding
a lipstick mark on your glass of wine is a situation which should be fixed with
an apology and a full, fresh glass of wine.
It does NOT justify demanding a
free bottle of French Champagne. You think I’m kidding? You have no idea...
3. Bullying blackmailer
I think this might be my least favourite type
of complainer. In my experience, people who are offensive and rude to waiters
are generally nasty little people of no moral character whatsoever.
unpleasant to my staff before threatening me with ‘exposure’ on social media or
the papers or a review site is just one more form of bullying blackmail.
mother told me always to stand up to bullies, so in this scenario, it would be
only a pleasure to do a Ramsay and invite the bullies to remove themselves from
my establishment with immediate effect.
4. Last minute whinger
This is the most depressing kind of complainer
– the one who keeps quiet at the time and then let’s rip to all and sundry at a
I understand that sometimes you don’t like to complain in full view
of everyone, especially if you are hosting guests, but it’s quite easy to buttonhole
a manager on the way to the loo and tell him your problems.
Or just man up,
state your case reasonably and politely and give the restaurant the chance to
sort it out then and there. I can’t think of a single restaurateur who wouldn’t
prefer this last scenario.
5. Mr ‘Do you know who I am?’
Actually, I quite enjoy this complainer.
only happened to me twice that a customer told me they were great friends with
the owner so I’d better do what he demanded or my job would be kaput. Sadly for
them, I WAS the owner and it was lots of fun to be able to inform them of that.
How to complain so
that a restaurant owner/manager DOES take notice of you? Here are my 5 steps:
1. Keep calm
2. Tell someone
3. Explain clearly
what you want the restaurant to do to fix the situation.
4. Be realistic about
5. Go to the top and
follow-through if necessary.
Cathy Marston is wine editor of food24, you can catch her on Twitter @cathymarston.