Unlike people from many countries, the British seem to be well known for their reluctance to ‘make a fuss’ or ‘cause a scene’. They would rather walk away and never return than complain.
Of course, that is a grossly unfair and wide ranging generalisation but, being a Brit, it is one that I feel justified in making. Another sweeping generalisation is that Americans won’t keep quiet if they have unsatisfactory products or service. Anyone who is familiar with the Fawlty Towers tv comedy series will know that in one episode an American character lives up to this reputation by making loud complaints about the atrocious service in the hotel.
Undoubtedly there are exceptions to both those ‘rules’ and one case of a Brit standing up to a bar owner comes to mind.
It was on New Year’s Eve almost 40 years ago when a couple in their 20s were out for the night with his parents. To cut the story short, a few minutes before midnight the bar owner let people from the general bar into the function room. The family was dancing but returned to the table to find it had been taken by other people. Even the ladies’ handbags had been moved aside. A few choice words and the family reclaimed the table but were seething.
Then the midnight hour arrived and afterwards the older man said he was going to write to complain about what had happened but his son believed the there was no time like the present and complained to the owner who was behind the bar. The exchange was terse and ended with the son saying that he would be reporting the matter to the licensing authority.
Within two minutes of returning to the table, however, the owner’s wife appeared and asked what it would take for him not to complain. Coolly and much to his dad’s surprise, he said that only a full refund would do. Another minute later and she returned with the cash. They left happy with the outcome.
Whatever attitude people in general have about making complaints, there is one practice that seems to be overlooked by the majority of us. That is making sure that our praise for one or more employees is made known to their superiors. Yes, I know that individuals can be rewarded with tips or gratuities but that does not tell the boss how happy you are. Giving praise where it is due is just as important, if not more so, than making a justifiable complaint.
Saying thank you or giving praise does not hurt us. So, let us all try to be fair. If you’re not afraid to complain, you need also be prepared to say ‘well done’.