I Write Letters

Dear Retail, Restaurant, and Service Managers:

Sometimes, mistakes happen. Sometimes, I get overcharged for something, or sent the wrong thing in the mail, or brought the wrong food, or shipped something missing the assembly instructions or hardware or something else I need, or given totally not what I asked for, or inconvenienced in any one of a hundred little and, generally, easily fixable ways.

I realize that these are mistakes, that no one intentionally tried to trouble me. I realize that, most of the time, I get flawless service from just about everywhere, which is why the failures and fuck-ups stick out. And I also realize that the mistakes are mostly made by people who are new on the job, or by members of a sorely understaffed crew, or by someone who's got great training and great back-up, but is just having a shitty day, as we all occasionally do.

Which is why, Managers, when I bring something to your attention (which I only do if your employees can't handle the problem), and I stress that it's not a big deal and I'm not angry at all and I totally understand that mistakes happen and I'd just like it fixed please, the last thing I want to hear is how much your employees suck.

I don't want to hear, "I can't get these guys to do anything," and I don't want to hear, "I've never had such a bad group working for me," and I don't want to hear, "The guy/girl who helped you is a real idiot," and I certainly don't want to hear anything resembling an oblique swipe at the race of the person who helped me on the presumption I share your racist attitudes.

I don't want to hear you denigrate your employees at all.

In fact, there's almost nothing that will ensure you never get my business again than treating your employee/s like shit in front of me. It's rude, it's shady, and, by the way, it's a terrible personnel policy, which doesn't exactly boost my confidence in the rest of your management ability nor inspire me to frequent your place of business. It suggests to me that your employees really aren't the problem.

Don't put them down—and don't make excuses for them, either (which is not only irritating, but often so resolutely condescending you might as well be putting them down). Just tell me, "I'm terribly sorry, ma'am," and fix the mistake, and let me thank you and be on my way.

Between you and me, Managers, I shouldn't be the one more fiercely on your employees' side. And when I am, I don't come back.


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