Is the customer alway right? Or is it ok to say no to a customer when they demand too much?

As a firm believer in doing whatever it takes. Going above and beyond expectations. When is it ok to say, "I'm sorry, but we just are not going to be able to meet your expectations tonight." I love to make unhappy guests smile, but sometimes do we have to draw the line and cut our losses. Maybe after the 5th redone entree, or the 3rd "wrongly made" bar drink.

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It's the nature of the beast. Folks have gone along forever with that mindset that the customer is always right, that sometimes, customrers take advantage of it.

I was in a place one time and there was a sign :
1) The customer is always right
2) If the customer is wrong refer to rule one

I don't know that I necessarily agree with that, but I have seen countless times, the customers that
complain and gripe about the least little thing, and places will do their damnednnest to make it right.

The other way to look at it, is, if you have a consistent "complainer", how much is it worth to have him
as a repeat customer, when there are other customers waiting to be served, who will be happy with your product, establishment or service ?

I had a situation working in travel. A family bought a vacation. They decided to extend it with extra side trip. I sold them more tickets. The wife asked "why we were charging more money."

Because, it is a separate transaction". She sid "It's the same trip." It went on and on.
Finally, I asked her (she was the wife of a doctor). "If I have an operaton, will the anesthesiologist charge me ?" She said she thought he would. I then said "It's the same surgery."

I think she finally understood, after I gave an analogy that she could relate to.

Customer Service is something, that sometimes we can't live with and sometimes we can't live without.
I think the problem here isn't not turning lemons into lemonade. The problem is trying to digest something that is indigestable.

A restaurant has a character. It can be counterproductive to please everyone and every whim. I was a manager of a very popular restaurant 10 yrs ago. it was popular because the experience involved food, customers, drinks, staff, and the physical environment, including music and decor. We put alot into it and we were careful, without being stuck up about it. If someone was acting boorish or offensive we let them know it; the same went for people who were making unrealistic demands on modifications to common menu items during a slam. It's a human situation. Sometimes a regular wants you to play a song off their CD during a quiet afternoon. Well, OK.

Overall, being corrected is probably not immediately "pleasing" to the recipient, but without intent, point of view and values the whole system breaks down. The customer is right for the customer. You have to figure out what is right absolutely, and really care about the customer in the process.
I think I understand both sides of the equation here, but I have to plead ignorance because I have never been in a position to not resolve a guest issue. It scares me to even think about what that would be like. If I get to the point where I think to myself, you know, this guest is just wrong and I am doing everything right I am concerned I will be at a point of no return and anytime a guest complains I will be that much closer to telling more guests, sorry you are wrong and not to be dramatic but how many guests can you say no to before you don't have any left?

In my experience, I have never had a 5th redone steak or 3rd wrongly made drink. Is it possible that it is an exaggeration or one time event that is being presented as happening more often than it really does. After the 2nd remake I would become involved as the owner, chef, or manager and communicate that the item/s have been made to recipe and see if they can be moved to another item. Again, I have been fortunate enough to always be able to make a guest happy one way or another.

How many scammers/hard to please does one restaurant actually have to deal with in a week. If we spend too much time with them, it takes us away from the great guests coming in. I say write off the cost of the scammers/hard to please guests and not focus any attention on them.
Nice point Andy - your answer looks very balanced.
I think that you can make the customer happy almost all of the time, otherwise there is, like you say, something wrong in the business.
I agree with Andy too. Many years ago, we were dining with friends and the woman ordered a chicken entree. It came cooked 'red on the bone.' This is pretty classical but she freaked and called the waiter over and yelled at him. The waiter took it back, then returned and said: "Our chef is an artist and he refuses to cook this any more. It is done perfectly. If you'd like to order something else, we'd be happy to accommodate you But he will not overcook chicken."
At the time, we felt the chef was being totally unreasonable - why antagonize the guest. Whose chicken was it? She ordered it -doesn't she deserve to receive it in a form that satisfies her? The customer is always right - even when they're wrong.
I've owned businesses for 30 years and it was only in the last few years that I felt the need to "fire" customers. Maybe it was a result of not running "scared" because each and every customer used to be very dear to me and perhaps was the last thing standing between me and failure. Maybe success spoils. I don't have any answers just questions and observations.

It may be a cliche but the mantra used to be "The customer may not always be right but he is always the customer." Actually, upon reflection, I think I can pin point the day this changed for me. A waitress asked me what she should do because a customer liked the looks of her companion's lunch and wanted it instead of what she ordered. I told her to tell the customer fine that we would box up her uneaten lunch but she would have to pay for both meals. She wanted to talk to me. When I approached the table, she claimed the steak she had ordered was over cooked. How could that be, the steak had never touched the table before she had rejected it. "Well," she says, "I used to be in this busiess and I know the customer is always right." She quckly learned that I no longer shared that philosophy and as it began to get loud and ugly, I agreed to comp both of their meals if they would just leave and promise to never come back. I'll spare you the rest of the details. I will add that when the policeman arrived that she had called, several customers gave me names and numbers if I needed any support.

Not long after this I had sent some birthday cards with free meals. The lady came in and ordered fried oysters. She sent them back and we prepared another dish for her. I went to the table to apologize for our very flavorable oysters when she said that was alright that she had never liked oysters anywhere she went but because she had a free meal she thought she would give them another try. She ate for free that night but she never received another birthday or any other offering from me.

I could write a book but people would believe it is fiction. During the last few years it seems like a segment of society is looking for something for nothing. Maybe there are too many managers who give away at the slightest complaint because it doesn't come out of their pocket. Customers are conditioned after a while to push the limits. Whatever, it was enough to cause me to sell and take a break from the business.

Writing is usually cathartic but for some reason this post is not. Perhaps it is due to the anguish that comes with trying to please an increasingly greedy public. As stated, I don't have any answers, only questions.
Absolutely horrifying and pretty disgusting. I can see why you feel as you do and hope you'll get more honest and loyal customers. It's pretty sad that people would try to rip off someone who is doing a good job, offering value and trying to give them a deal.
this is too funny.
It is okay to say no to customers A LOT of times! The customer isn't always right but because of this saying they know you are trying your hardest to please them. We had one customer who went home every week and called the corporate office to complain. They never tipped but we always serve them well because we know how they are but still every time they come in they have meal vouchers from Corporate. This is too much! I have worked under management that gave refunds and comped meals regularly. I have worked with some who will do no such under ANY circumstances. There has to be a middle ground. I work in a buffet and you can order entrees. If you go to Ruby Tuesday you have to pay extra for a salad bar (and its small). For 2.99 you can get one trip around ALL THE BARS with purchase of the meal. Many times two ppl come in and one gets entree the other the buffet. One customers wants to eat the others salad? HUH? NO you cant do that. "but hes not gonna eat a salad why cant I have it"? Because you didn't pay for it. Lots of time I ignore it because managers make me look bad by going over and saying "Next time you need to purchase a salad but its okay this time". No its not okay! But when customers find out how easily they can get a free meal they take advantage of the situation and complain for ANY and EVERY reason! I try my best to give every customer a positive dining experience because that is what I want when me and my family go out to eat but there is no reason to make my job harder because you are CHEAP!
The customer is not always right but the customer is always the customer. Sometimes the best thing you can do is fire a customer. You will be surprised what this will do to your staff that has had to put up with the difficult customer.

Even Southwest Airlines has fired some customers and refuses to sell them tickets. They just could not make the customer happy.
My first thought was, the customer is absolutely not always right.... but they always have the right to the best possible service. If that's not good enough for them, and become a burden to you, your staff, your business (a liability?)... then I am with Mel - FIRE THEM!

Case in point, in my business (real estate)... if they ask you to break the law, RUN! There is so much fraud going on out there right now. And having also been in the food service industry as a server/bartender for a # of years, I see this scenario in someone asking to be served alcohol, or "passing it" to someone else. I certainly had that experience many times. Not worth it!

And I frequent a very nice restaurant where an "obnoxious regular" was chasing away other potential customers out in droves. Finally she went over the limit one night w/one of the very gracious bartenders. While he did not say no to her request, but only that the specific special request may "take a while,"... well she went off. She tried to get him fired over that, - yelling & screaming all the while, making the atmosphere very unpleasant. Thankfully some of us other regulars protested to management. I think when they realized that she was the problem, and that they would lose the rest of us... well, the decision was obvious. Ban her... yes, sometimes it has to be done. I am glad, cause I would have missed that place.

I have seen a worsening of customer attitudes and demands in recent years. Esp. since 9/11 it seems. A "I'm gonna get mine" attitude. I really hate the way society seems to be heading. I think an etiquette class in school AND that everyone work for a min. of 6mths as a server, would help. ;-)
Just my humble thoughts.....
:Lori, Being in real estate, I'm sure you have your share of stories.
I talked to a realtor friend of mine who told me of a guy who refused to
pay the "paperwork" charges (about $25 at the time).
The client got all worked up about it, threatened to call his lawyer.

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