the mudpond

It's good to let things breathe in your imagination because often your initial response to it is not the best thought-through response. I savour little glimpses of life. Mine and those of people who turn me sideways and around. Friend or stranger. Even a child. (the world looks different from down there) Sometimes an author, photographer, artist. I let things saturate and incubate here. Hopefully, deeper meanings can percolate up and flower.

Name:
Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

A stray cat.

10/23/2005

Stand Up But Don't Lose It

The meal was horrible from start to finish. The service was bad; the food was poorly executed; wine never arrived at the table... plus a series of small things like empty water glasses, unfilled coffee cups, bread baskets not being refilled and long waits between courses. PLUS. They felt ignored by the STUPID waiting staff. AND they threatened to walk out without paying.


This happened in a fine but very busy restaurant where I dined last night. As the irate diner unleashed a tirade of hot and harsh words, a hush fell and all activity froze. Even as he 'lost it', he held the entire restaurant in thrall.

Many people I know shirk at the idea of making an official complaint, preferring to vote with their feet.

But there is a growing awareness of consumer rights and people are more willing to stand up for themselves now than, say, a decade ago. Consumers are not only getting more assertive, which is probably due to very competitive marketing in almost every sphere, but they are increasingly willing to express their grievances when they feel they aren't getting value for money. People are becoming angrier, but constructively so.

Yes, sometimes we do need to kick up a fuss.

We owe it to ourselves – and to the guilty establishment, if it is serious about wanting to improve. So when your fluffy pancakes turn out to be a load of old crepe, you have a right to send them back to the kitchen post-haste, if you're paying good money for them.

This is not to say it's open season on belly-aching about every and anything. It's just that there's a simple rule to it.

COURTESY

Always

Flying off the handle over a fly in your soup won't endear you to anyone. Seeking out the person in charge, refusing to be fobbed off and making yourself heard in a reasonable, concise way, will usually bring the satisfaction of an apology and sometimes more.

But refusing to be fobbed off doesn't mean you let loose a string of “YOU ARE STUPID" to each and every explanation the restaurant staff attempts to make. Verbal abuse is NEVER a substitute for logic or facts.

An apology, when proffered, is NEVER be an invitation to heap on more insults and further verbal abuse.

IT'S AN OPPORTUNITY TO BE GRACIOUS. It may even be an opportunity to regain your dignity for having 'lost it' in the first place.

Thumping your chest and saying, for instance, "I am the President of CAP, therefore, I KNOW I am right, because.. " does not confer upon you more rights than the ordinary consumer.

Right is as right is.

Stating one's case firmly and politely when things go wrong gives the offending party a chance to make amends, but, only if you go about it the correct way. By being politely assertive in a restaurant, you can get things off your chest without cleavers drawn at 10 paces.

Whining and dining never look good

If the restaurant ignores your complaint, don't get mad, get even. Leave quietly and feel free to spread the word among your friends. It's more dignified than blowing your stack in front of other patrons and far more damaging in the long run.

Come to think of it, whether it be our expectations on the quality of service in a restaurant or our right of exclusive access to public toilets, don't we want to enjoy our rights in a dignified fashion?

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4 Comments:

Blogger Spot said...

Started this in your post about the lemon curd, but decided it's more appropriate here.

Yesterday at Midvalley Megamall branch of Picolo Mondo, I had the worst calamari in my entire squid- eating life. I now know what it feels like to chew rubber. The ravioli wasn't too far off the suck mark either. We promptly cancelled the panna cotta we'd pre-ordered.

Noting that there was a tableful of patrons within earshot of me should I voice my complaint at my table, I walked over to a manager-looking person, told him what I thought about the food and asked for my bill. He rather abruptly interrupted me mid-complaint and said he'd bring the bill over.

An eternity later, he brings over an on-the-house tiramisu. Guess it didn't occur to him to offer the cancelled panna cotta, given its obvious indication of my preferred dessert. Already aggravated by his earlier fobbing-off, I told him thanks, but no thanks, I WANT MY BILL. NOW.

He sends over the cook. I tell the cook that the food sucks, thank you for your tiramisu, but that's not the point. My orders turned out completely dismal, and giving me more of your handiwork isn't going to make me change my mind. You don't have to do anything, just listen to my feedback and give me my bill.

Another lifetime later, the bill arrives. It's the wrong bill. It's amazing how my usual hysterical banshee from hell temper hasn't and continues not to flare.

We finally get the right bill, wait another eternity for my card to be processed and leave with the tiramisu sitting embarassedly on the table.

Sometimes the battle just ain't worth it. Although must say that if I'd had just a little bit more energy I'd have made sure everyone in the restaurant knew what was going on.

12:35 PM  
Blogger Lucia Lai said...

quote: "Flying off the handle over a fly in your soup won't endear you to anyone. Seeking out the person in charge, refusing to be fobbed off and making yourself heard in a reasonable, concise way, will usually bring the satisfaction of an apology and sometimes more."

how true.

people will tend to give in to kindness and logic then to wild and rude rants. the more rude you are, you made the person heart harder to yield and s/he won't ever apologise to you. you only make matters worst.

as if verbal abuse is not enough, there's this thing of inciting others.

*sigh*

10:45 PM  
Blogger Spot said...

i was inspired to elaborate on my little story...but dunno how to track back to this post lah. you know where to go. i'd love to hear your opinion on whether or not i should have drawn my cleaver. :D

lucia - i complained and got a tiramisu for the effort. but that's not what i was looking for! :D

5:45 PM  
Blogger percolator said...

hiya spot,
I mentioned before I'm a FIRST CLASS tech idiot. So, sorry, no bells amd whistles like trackback. Oh please do blog about it, I'll hop right over to see if I might end up egging you on! lol!
But yeah, just reading your earlier account, I was almost 'straining at the leash' myself!! Believe me I've had my truly ugly moments where I came off much, much worse than ah pink did

lucia,
Unfortunately, all tooo often, kindness don't always beget kindness, like "give an inch and they take a yard" often even a mile! But what to do, growing up is hard to do.. heheh!

9:52 AM  

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