Anyone who says “the customer is always right” clearly enjoys being a bully

In the line in front of me, a man asked for two 12″ sandwiches on wheat bread.

The server had to inform him that they were out of wheat bread – it was still baking, so there would be a wait. The customer hit the roof. He lectured the serving staff about how this was no way to run a business and how they were clearly inept. He called them fucking idiots. They just had to take it, nodding politely with their heads down – the joy of working in the restaurant industry. The customer didn’t shut up about it, all the way until he reached the register. The clerk offered him his sandwiches at half-price, which he took.

Now, let’s consider this encounter for a moment…

The customer behaved like a complete jerk, berating people who earn a pittance, have no control over their supply chain, and who cannot fight back. He did this because he knew he could get away with it. The clerk then effectively rewarded this man’s bad behavior, which is sure to encourage him to do it again. That’s just how fast food works, and unfortunately Ass-Face now knows it.

I would never have done what the clerk did. I would apologise for the inconvenience, but if you’re a dick about it then you’re not getting a cookie. Now if a customer accepted a supply problem with good grace and a simple “Oh, really? Oh, I was really hoping for wheat bread…” – that’s the customer I would offer a discount. I will not take offense to people who treat me like crap, but I won’t reward them either.

Of course, the first customer is just the kind of belligerent jerk who would post a horrible review online, or complain to management and try to get the staff in trouble. The second kind of customer would probably accept the bread problem without another thought, and then wouldn’t post a glowing review because it was no big deal. However, I believe that karma works better when you make it work.

It’s a bit of an open secret, but in my industry there is something often referred to as “asshole tax”. Yes, we can change our house rig around for you. If you’re cool about it, we’ll do it for free. However, if you want to treat us like peons, we’ll charge you. For everything. Every chair. Every pen. Even the kilowatt hours on the electrical meter. It’s the tax you pay for making our jobs harder.

… Keep that in mind next time you’re planning a big event. Be nice. Be cool. Be a bit flexible. Don’t treat us like your slaves and we won’t set fire to your Tara. Don’t expect you can bully us into giving you stuff for free.

It doesn’t work that way in places where the staff can’t spit in your food.


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