You Are Entitled To Your Opinion, But Not To Our Service

, , , , , | Right | July 24, 2019

(As a night porter, I am expected to help out anywhere I might need to do so. This often means assisting the restaurant staff when they get super busy or have an angry or difficult customer that they need help with. This particular night, it is just after nine, and I get a call from one of the waiters saying that they have a particularly awkward lady who is refusing service from her waitress, and as there are no supervisors or senior staff present — the manager has gone to clean the beer lines — they wonder if I can come and deal with her. I agree, used to this by now, as a lot of our waiters are young, easily spooked, and inexperienced when dealing with obstinate people. I think nothing of it and take up a docket pad and pen to go and take her order. I was a waitress before I was a night porter, so I am quite accustomed to the procedure. I arrive at her table, and this middle-aged woman with an embarrassed-looking teenage daughter gives me a look up and down, as if she is judging whether I deserve to be spoken to or not. After drawing this out, she speaks.)

Customer: “Ah. A manager. I am glad they’ve seen fit to give me someone worth my while.”

(I am wearing a tailored, three-piece suit, and the required front-of-house purple silk scarf, so clearly she concludes that I am “senior” to the other waiters, and seems pleased with herself, judging from the smug look on her face. The uniform for the restaurant is a white shirt and apron, so any staff wearing suit-like paraphernalia are easily identified as management or supervisors. I smile sweetly at her, choosing not to respond to her statement.)

Me: “I hear that you had some trouble with one of our waiters?”

Customer: “I MOST CERTAINLY DID!” *snaps, sounding unnecessarily angry*

(At this point, I am hoping that one of them hasn’t actually done something to offend her.)

Customer: “The little idiot you sent out before was too young to even be in a restaurant with a bar, let alone know how to look after customers.”

(I am about to respond with the spiel about all of our staff being of appropriate legal age, etc., but she cuts me off.)

Customer: “Little s*** had an earring. At the top of his ear. Probably a [gay slur]. I can’t believe somewhere like this would employ someone like that.”

(My jaw is, at this point, a little open, and her teenager is clearly desperate to sink under the table and hide. I straighten up a bit and respond in a calm, measured, and polite voice. As a night porter, I am considered security, and therefore, am allowed to deal as I see fit — within guidelines, of course — with disruptive customers, which I definitely consider her to be from her blatant homophobic language and loud behaviour.)

Me: “Ma’am. Our staff are all highly trained and hard working. If you have a valid complaint about the service you have received, I will be glad to hear it. However, if you are merely here to supply us with insults, I am going to have to ask you to leave.”

Customer: “WHAT?!”

(She gives me a closer look now and finally notices my ears. I have not one, but six piercings in each. Our uniform code states that the service staff can have almost any number of ear piercings, as long as they are only fitted with small, unobtrusive studs, or flesh-coloured cover studs, as long as they are fitted in place very securely. The woman turns red; I am pretty sure that it is with fury at this point, and that an explosion is brewing. After a moment, she lets loose a torrent of hateful expletives and shrieks, aimed at me and the staff behind the bar, presumably the ones she blames for sending “someone like me” to deal with her. I allow her to do this for a few seconds before I interrupt her.)

Me: “Ma’am. You are now causing a disruption, and I am going to ask you to leave the restaurant at this point.”

(Her explosion of rage intensifies, now assuring me that I will lose my job, that I cannot do this to her, that she spends a lot of money here, and all of the other clichés.)

Me: “Ma’am, you are disrupting the other diners. If you do not leave, I am going to have to have you removed.”

(She is clearly expecting me to back down, because she begins to run out of steam and insults, and realises she is not going to be getting dinner. She lowers her tone slightly.)

Customer: “No. I’m not going until I have eaten.” 

Me: “I am very sorry, ma’am, but we are refusing service to you. We are still happy to serve your companion, but if you wish to have some food, you will have to order room service and eat in your hotel room.”

Customer: “I WANT TO TALK TO A MANAGER!” *folds her arms and sits like an infant with the “I won’t budge” face*

Me: “I promise you, ma’am, that this entire incident is going to be reported to the duty manager, and I am sure he will be happy to discuss your complaint with you in the morning.”

Customer: “You [slur], get me a manager now!”

Me: “I am sorry, ma’am, there is no manager available. You will be able to speak to someone first thing in the morning.”

(I give her an expectant look, and her teenager tugs on her arm.)

Teenager: “Mom… let’s just go… She said we could order room service…”

(The woman then proceeds to have a staring contest with me that lasts probably a full two minutes before she stands up, scraping her chair on the floor violently and knocking over the chair on the table behind theirs.)

Customer: “FINE.”

(She screeches and all but drags her daughter out of the restaurant. I stand the chair up, inform the rest of the restaurant how very sorry we are for the disruption, and go to the back of the house, where I find the waiter with the ear piercing and the one who had called me down, all but dying of laughter. I give them both looks. Turns out that the one who phoned me thought it would be funny to send in the person with the most possible ear piercings available to deal with her. After giving them a very understanding telling off — I mean, she DID call the lad with the piercing several pretty serious slurs — about how unprofessional their reasons were, I return to reception. As I take my seat and continue my paperwork, the phone rings, and as I pick it up, I am greeted with a now-familiar shrieking.)

Customer: “I WANT A MANAGER ON THE PHONE THIS INSTANT! I AM MAKING A COMPLAINT ABOUT YOUR RESTAURANT STAFF! I WAS INSULTED AND THROWN OUT UNDER THREAT OF VIOLENCE AND I WANT COMPENSATION!” 

(I smile a smile that one only gets to enjoy when things line up so nicely.)

Me: “Ma’am. As I informed you before, you are free to talk to the manager in the morning.” 

(There is an awkward silence on the other end of the line before she speaks up again.)

Customer: “Why is it you? I did not call the restaurant.”

Me: “I am on the front desk, as well.”

(I resist the urge to tell her that I am everywhere in a creepy voice. There is another awkward silence before she resentfully snaps.)

Customer: “Can we still get room service?”

Me: *glancing at the clock* “As it is now a quarter to ten, the kitchens have closed, and we are only offering a range of cold food such as sandwiches.”

(It has LITERALLY only turned quarter to ten this second, and I know full well I could still ask the chef to make something… but it is my opinion that this woman does not deserve the trouble.)

Customer: “OH, F*** YOU!” *screams and slams the phone down*

(I wrote up the incident and sent it to the duty manager for the morning, warning him that she would want to speak to him. The following day, I got an email from the morning duty manager, informing me that the “explosively angry woman” had been escorted from the premises in the early morning for — and I quote — “screaming her head off and threatening violence if he did not call me RIGHT THEN and fire me whilst she listened.” Needless to say, her “complaint” was not taken seriously, I still continue to enjoy my job, and she has been barred from ever returning. Some people know when they’re beaten, and they sure don’t like it. I just feel bad for her daughter. Poor girl was SO embarrassed by it all.)

1 Thumbs
1,139