Tuesday, 13 December 2011

15 Things that Make a Bad Customer

I wrote a blog about things that restaurants do that irk me last week. Well, here's the other side. I've worked in enough restaurants that I have a long list of things that customers do that make my blood boil! Please feel to agree, disagree and leave other customer annoyances in the comments.
  • Don’t leave pennies in the tip. It feels a bit like an insult. Even more so than not leaving a tip at all. Even now if I’m with someone who puts the pennies in the tip, I insist that they’re taken out.
  • Gaining attention. An inebriated, charmless gentleman once clicked his fingers at me in order to gain my attention. I didn’t think real people actually did this. But just to clarify, it’s not ok and makes you look like a complete idiot.
  • Acknowledgement. It’s also not great to stop talking for a split second whilst your food is put down, and then carry on talking without any acknowledgement or thanks to the waiter/waitress. I know it’s my job, but I’m not so sub-human I don’t need to be talking to.
  • I just bring the plate out. I don’t say what goes on it, so to go into a debate about why this food is crap is completely fruitless. I can’t tell you why. Please hold whilst I get the manager or chef to whom you can direct your torrent of abuse.
  • Leaving. If you decide you would not like to eat there, hold the snarky comments when you leave until you are out of earshot, a lot of other people do like the food.
  • Order of service. Someone I know works in a Michelin star restaurant and occasionally people come in and just don't know how to act, despite being guided pleasantly through the whole experience. Don't pre-empt what you think should happen, wait staff there know what they're doing!
  • Complaining. If you are going to make a complaint, please make it whilst I have a chance to do something about it or don't bother. If you have all but licked your plate, I can only assume that it really wasn’t as bad as you say.
  • Complaining for the sake of it. Following on, if you don’t want me to do anything about it, why did you complain? It’s definitely a better idea to glower at me every time I come near you. I offered you complimentary dessert, what more do you want!?
  • Pervy customers. Whether it’s pinching your bum or making a lecherous comment, it’s embarrassing for you AND the customer’s dining companions. Plus, y’know, it’s harassment.
  • Children. I have no objection to kids, and I know it’s really hard having kids, but for the love of God, keep them under control! It’s REALLY embarrassing having to tell your kid off for running around (or even worse, nearly tripping over one with several plates of heavy food. No end of trouble).
  • Customers disputing the bill. You would have agreed to all of these charges. You’re drunk and unwilling to take responsibility. Calm down and I shall explain it all.
  • Call your own taxi! Fair enough if you haven’t got a taxi number but where really does it say that I have any obligation to arrange your transport? I mean, I’ll do it, but I’ll huff and puff when I get to the office to phone them. Use your own phone.
  • Sheer unawareness. If you have pre-ordered and are in a ridiculously large group, please can SOMEONE know what you have ordered. It’s probably a heavy plate. I will either drop it on you or throw it at you on grounds of sheer doziness.
  • Indecisiveness. Also, I really love it when you ask for a few more minutes to decide and don’t pick up your menus for another twenty minutes. Catch up with your friends after you’ve chosen your food, and don’t give me evils when I try to take your order for the third time. GET THE HINT.


  1. I've been thinking about writing something similar but a bit more specific to the higher end of restaurants where you think people would know how to behave.

  2. Good idea, please do link me if you do. It would make interesting reading. I've worked in high-end restaurants before and sometimes they're even worse

  3. Hi Melissa,

    I think this is a great post. Most amusing and it certainly does resonate. However, I disagree with two of your points. The first one about not leaving pennies: money is money. Whether it comes in 1 penny coins or £50 notes. A whole lot of pennies over time can make up a lot of money. Pop it into your piggy bank at home and crack it open in a year.

    The second point is about organising taxis for customers. In a previous posts, you've written about wait staff going the extra mile and trying to please their customers. Surely this would go a long way in doing that. Really going the extra mile for your customers. I'm sure not every customer asks you to do this? If I had asked for this help and my waiter huffed and puffed - my tip would reflect my feelings about that.

    Apart from that, I loved the article. Especially about acknowledgement. I was a waiter in my formative years and there's nothing that irks me more. You put it ever so eloquently when saying that you're not 'sub-human'.

    I do love your blog.

    1. Hi Unknown,

      Thanks for your comments. I still don't like pennies in tips but I see where you're coming from.

      The taxi thing: No, not everyone does it but the requests for taxis also usually come at the time of night when everyone's tied up with bills and that kind of thing and then there can be a back-and-forth with how long they're prepared to wait for a taxi etc. Of course I wouldn't huff and puff in earshot of the customer!

  4. The taxis thing is interesting - I personally haven't ever asked for waiting staff to book me a taxi at the end of a meal, but I've noticed that the posher the restaurant, the more likely they are to *offer* to book me a taxi unprompted, or to enquire if I'm OK getting home, just after I've settled the bill. Maybe they just desperately wait to get me out the door?! Or maybe, when I'm with my Dad, we've drunk so much wine that they feel legally obliged to make sure we're not driving. Granted, this has happened mostly when I've lived in a rural area (though with nice restaurants), so maybe waiter taxi booking is more common when you've been eating 5 miles from anywhere.

    Sorry for the tangent... this is a great post (and blog!).



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