The ‘C’ Word.
One single word with multiple mental connotations. Perhaps for you this word brings to mind an opinion (or five) of a specific generation. Perhaps other stereotypical views are summoned; such as opinions on genders, races, cultures. Perhaps you adamantly believe in the existence of entitled behaviour of those around you…
But do you see it in yourself?
We live in an age of abundance. Years ago, with limited establishments, consumers had limited options. If you particularly wanted something, you ordered it, paid for, and received it. Your purchase was a treat, and delivered to you as advertised.
In recent years, this routine has changed, drastically. Customers are increasingly demanding, sometimes requesting extensive menu changes, and sometimes going off-menu completely. If the staff do not bend over backwards to comply: customers leave a bad review on Trip Advisor, or the company’s social media.
Sometimes the staff actually do provide the customer with exactly what they ordered, but the customer will still complain, out of some misguided hope that they will receive money off, because they do not understand what they actually ordered, or perhaps because they just like to complain.
‘But the customer is always right!’ I hear you cry.
Except, they aren’t. They really, really aren’t.
Customers have rights, and therein lies the difference.
‘What are consumer guarantees?
When a consumer buys goods or services, the ACL provides that they have guaranteed rights including that:
• the supplier has the right to sell the goods; • the goods are of acceptable quality; • the goods match their description; • the goods are fit for any purpose that the consumer makes known to the supplier; • repairs and spare parts for the goods are reasonably available; • the services are carried out with reasonable care and skill; and • the services are completed within a reasonable time where there is no agreed date.’
As seen above, this does not mean that customers may dictate the business hours of an organisation to the organisation.
This does not mean that customers have the right to imagine utterly nonsensical adaptations are feasible, and threaten legal action if they are not made possible.
This does not mean that staff may be spoken to or treated in a demeaning manner, they may not be abused or assaulted; they may not be disrespected.
This does not mean that one customer may be put out and disadvantaged for the sake of another.
This does not mean that laws may be broken, in order to satisfy the all-holy consumer.
If this is all sounding extreme, I would like to direct your attention to just a few anecdotes I have had the privilege of compiling in recent months. These are taken from what can best be described as a ‘support group’ for those in the hospitality industry:
Did we somehow, as a society, wrongly decide that ‘servers’ are in-fact ‘servants’? Did we somehow forget to adapt with society as a whole, and therefore forget to acknowledge that working in the service industry does not mean ‘taking the easy way out’? Did we progress in such a way as to make food preparation a commodity available to the majority, but not acknowledge that those catering to those needs are doing so as a chosen profession?
Many (if not most) of the people serving you in cafes, restaurants, cocktail bars etc. are highly trained in their profession. Many also have degrees and qualifications outside of the hospitality industry, but enjoy their roles within it, and remain in them for this reason.
We are no longer in an age where having food prepared for you is a sign of vast wealth and power, so why do some people maintain the mentality that those doing so should be grateful for the opportunity; and suffer mistreatment and poor manners as a consequence?
Perhaps you are not of the entitled mentality; but I am willing to bet you know someone that is. Perhaps you could show them this article, and encourage them to review their behaviour.
Perhaps we, as a society, could take a step in the right direction, and remember our manners with the barista and the wait staff; just as we do when we interact with other paid professionals.
Perhaps we could all make a more conscious effort to be grateful. Grateful for being in such a privileged position that we can pay for something and have it provided to us.
Perhaps we could take some responsibility if what we have our hearts set on is not on the menu.
If we continue to demand the unrealistic, if we continue to demand services for free, if we continue to underpay and under value the hospitality industry as a whole: it will not survive.
‘You cannot demand a service while simultaneously degrading those who provide it for you’.