Complaint etiquette

Rude customers

We've all seen the horror stories on social media: a customer's rant that makes us cringe in embarrassment. So what should you do when a restaurant meal (or other service) doesn't meet one's expectations? The Guardian offers good advice on how to complain without being rude.

The article's tips are straightforward but useful. The first rule is don't complain while drunk. This should go without saying, but sometimes inhibitions are lowered after a few rounds from the bar. Somewhat less obvious is to not begin your complaint with an apology. "Don't start your sentence with: "Sorry…" What are you apologising for? Make your case politely but plainly." You should have already formulated a reasonable idea of how you want the complaint resolved. If what you are offered is not satisfactory, you can say so without going ballistic.

Other sage advice includes not threatening the server with a bad review. "Seriously, don't be That Guy. You know, the one attempting to - is this too strong a word? - blackmail the staff with the threat of writing a bad review on TripAdvisor or your pitiful blog." And naturally, you should recognize when you have a legitimate complaint and when you are just grousing. Burnt or grossly overseasoned food is a valid reason for complaining. If the restaurant doesn't make a dish the same way you do at home, keep your comments to yourself. The same goes for special orders - keep requests reasonable. Omitting an ingredient might be okay, but asking the chef to prepare a meal that isn't even on the menu is not.

Do you think customers are more eager to complain in the internet age, or do we just hear about it  more because of social media?


  • FuzzyChef  on  9/7/2014 at 1:23 AM

    You just hear about it more. In the past, people complained, but only to their friends. The internet allows them to complain to the world.

  • Kirstin_the_Kiwi  on  9/7/2014 at 6:57 PM

    I write reviews for restauraurants I have visited on The site owner regularly publishes general statistical information and the vast majority of reviews are positive. I think it is a lot easier for people to complain online these days in an anonymous way.

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