I’m never a fan of poor customer service, especially at a restaurant where you’re paying quite a bit of money. But it recently struck me that there is a right way and a wrong way to address the situation. For example, a while ago a friend invited me to join her for a group dinner out at a nice Italian restaurant. Immediately there were some objections because our waitress informed us that they didn’t serve tap water. Instead, you would be obliged to pay a couple of bucks for a bottle of still or sparkling. Rather than let this slide, one man in our group asked to see the manager and berated the man about the logic of not having taps. I couldn’t believe this guy, whom I’d never met before, could get so worked up about spending a couple of extra dollars.
From that point on, the waitress could do nothing right. My meal was delicious and I thought the service was fine, but half the table seemed to cop an attitude. The atmosphere was very tense. Someone would complain, and the waitress was visibly frustrated. When the bill came, I was not surprised to see that the tip was included, as we were a large group and that seems to be the norm these days. It amounted to a couple of dollars per person, but again, the man decided that the service didn’t merit that large of a tip. He told the waitress as much. I felt embarrassed and threw in a few extra dollars when I signed my credit card slip.
Ultimately, the dinner was unpleasant—not because we had to pay for water. It’s because some people seemed determined that they were being wronged and decided to spend the entire meal picking on minor things. I personally prefer to kill people with kindness. And it’s always nice to remember the saying “don’t sweat the small stuff.” Paying for water or waiting a couple of minutes for your grated parmesan definitely rate as “small stuff.”
I’m not saying that you should ignore rude customer service. I just think that you should pick and choose your battles. Life’s too short to be miserable about everything!