Don’t Discount Their Ability To Bluff

, , , , | Right | May 8, 2021

I work as an assistant manager at a popular chain restaurant that’s located within an upscale department store. We had a regular customer comes in with his family and is an absolute pain in the backside. He complains about waiting times, service times, food quality, etc., every time he visits in order to score discounts on his bills which often exceed £100. He is pretty obnoxious and rude to the staff in general and we all know him by sight.

One night, we are full — no seats available — leading up to closing time and this guy is standing in the queue moaning to every member of staff that passes by about how long the wait is to be seated.

I recognise him and decide I am not going to give him the excuse to complain this time. I do absolutely everything I can to make sure he gets seated ASAP and that his meal and service are impeccable. Things go well, and he is being uncharacteristically civil.

The guy and his family finish up. He comes up to the till and hands me a voucher for a large discount on his meal. To clarify, we have these cards in all our locations that advertise vouchers for customers who submit their email addresses. However, these vouchers clearly state that these offers are not valid in all locations and that this particular voucher is not valid at our restaurant.

I weep a little internally as I know what is coming.

Me: “Sorry, sir, this voucher was not valid at our location and I can’t apply that discount.”

Customer: “The voucher must be valid because I signed up for the email offers whilst physically in this particular restaurant!”

Me: “Sir, the terms and conditions specifically state that this location is not included in the offer.”

It is ten minutes past close, so this is all happening whilst the department store is shutting its doors and their floor manager is getting impatient.

Floor Manager: “What’s wrong?”

I explain the situation.

Floor Manager: “Just give him the discount.”

Usually, I would just go along with this, but the guy has racked up a major bill and I have had enough of his nonsense.

Me: *To the customer* “This voucher was not valid and you will have to pay the full bill.”

Customer: “Well, how was I supposed to know that I couldn’t use this voucher here?”

Me: “The terms and conditions on the voucher are very clear on this. I would suggest checking T&Cs on vouchers before trying to redeem them.”

This may sound a little abrupt, but I have already pointed this out several times by now.

Customer: “Call your boss.”

I do. My boss is home, asleep, and rather understandably irate.

Boss: “The voucher is not valid. The customer does not get a discount. Use your judgement.”

I put on my best “access denied” face and repeat what I stated previously.

Customer: “Right, you’ll just have to call the police, then.”

Me: “That really shouldn’t be necessary.”

Customer: “I’m not leaving until you give me my discount.”

His wife and kids are waiting in the department store doorway asking what the holdup is. Everybody in the store is getting annoyed now as they want to cash up and go home. I’m not having it this time. I have to make a decision.

Me: “Okay, here’s what I’ll do. I’ll give you your discount, but you’re not welcome at this location again.”

Customer: “You what?”

Me: “You’re effectively refusing to pay for the full price of your meal, so you have a choice: pay the bill in full or take the discount and don’t come back.”

Customer: “Oh, you’ve done it now. You have no idea what’s coming. I’ll be taking you to court over this.”

I am totally past giving a f***.

Me: “That’s fine. What would you prefer to do?”

Customer: “I want what you just said to me in writing so I can show it to my lawyer and your head office.”

In for a penny…

Me: “Okay, then.”

I take a pen and paper and write the following:

Note: “To whom it may concern,

This is to certify that [Customer] is no longer welcome at [Location]. [Customer] is welcome to visit other locations in the [Restaurant] chain.

Signed: [My Signature] 

Assistant Manager.”

Me: “Here you go.”

The customer is gobsmacked.

Customer: “Oh, you’ve really done it now. Wait until my lawyer sees this!”

I give the guy his discount, process the bill, and give him his receipt.

Customer: “You’ve not heard the last of this, I guarantee it!”

That was the last I heard of it.

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