An Open Letter From A Food Service Employee


It is high time to address the elephant in all of our rooms: is the customer always right?

Many businesses, including my employer, would agree that even though the customer might be a technically wrong, they’re still right because they’re keeping your business running.

And it absolutely infuriates me that employees of food service and retail work alike must endure the ever changing moods of customers in the name of making money.

In my opinion, we are essentially devaluing the integrity of our employees when we allow for verbal abuse to be tolerated simply for an exchange of money.

Recently, I gained more responsibility as a part-time store manager at a local pizza company which I have been employed at since I was 16 years old. I am fortunate enough to have experienced only a handful of extremely disagreeable people throughout my four years in food service, but many of those that stick out in my mind have occurred recently thus leading me to write about it.

I have been cursed at, repeatedly. I have been called incompetent, stupid, and on many occasions had to endure a rant consisting of very few words other than the one starting with f and ending with -uck. I had someone call and claim they found a tooth in their pizza. Excuse me!?

But in the name of business, I have taken these insults and falsehoods, respected them, and even offered a free good or service as a result of disrespectful and irrational behavior.

Why have we allowed for this absurdity to become normalized, and even rewarded? I understand that in certain situations, the food service or retail worker is wrong. And I am perfectly fine with admitting failure on our end and compensating for it because that is how it should work. Contrary to popular belief, disputes can be handled in a professional and civil manner, and 10 out of 10 times you will receive more quality product and service if you’re respectful.

It is appalling though, that we still cling to the idea that the customer is always right.

Because sometimes… THEY AREN’T. And the staff should not be punished as a result.

At the end of the day, I rarely allow horrendous encounters with others while I’m on the clock to get under my skin because there needs to be a separation of emotion and work. I’m not employed to get mad and seek revenge. I’m employed to complete tasks and oversee responsibilities. But this culture needs to end fast.

Next time you are about to fly off the handle at a food service/retail employee for something, remember that the way you treat someone “lower” than you says more about you than the employee. Remember that there is no money in the world worth becoming irate over.

Remember this tweet too:

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