The phrase “the customer is always right” was popularized early 20th-century department store owners, and it’s meant to convey that shoppers should always be treated in a kind and respectful manner. It does not literally mean that whatever the customer says is the absolute truth, because that’s obviously insane, yet millions of people seem to believe that a 120-year-old customer service maxim is an open invitation to act like assholes. Take, for example, a British woman known only as “Jo” who, after attending a birthday party at The Cowshed at Hucknall in Nottinghamshire, decided to use Facebook to announce to the world that she’s the worst.
In a brutal takedown, Jo claimed that her sister-in-law’s 50th birthday celebration was abruptly cut short by the pub’s “staff with awful attitude” who, she alleged, demanded they leave because one member of their party was too drunk. Jo said the pub billed them approximately £700 for food and drinks.
“Maybe a course for your staff in customer service wouldn’t go amiss – rude staff huffing and puffing because they had a large round to bring out!” she wrote in a now deleted Facebook post that was preserved in screenshots by other Facebook users.
After reading over Jo’s very public complaints, The Cowshed at Hucknall— remembering that “the customer is always right”—thoroughly investigated the problem and offered Jo a cheery, fact-filled, and equally public response.
“Hi Jo, thanks for reaching out!” the comment began. “We love feedback, whether it be positive or negative, we especially love feedback like this so others can see the type of people we have to deal with sometimes.”
The pub carefully dissected each and every claim Jo made to ensure that not one of her concerns went unaddressed. First, staff needed to make sure that she hadn’t been overcharged, because ringing up a £700 tab is, in fact, practically impossible.
“Our most expensive pizza on the menu is £9.00, this means that if you ordered only pizzas, you’d have to order 77 of them to be even close to spending £700,” The Cowshed team wrote. It then analyzed the bar menu, writing that the pub’s most expensive drink is a £6.10 double gin & mixer. Factoring the size of her party, the pub calculated that for the £700 Jo claims she spent, she should have received, at the very minimum, 39 pizzas and 57 drinks. No staff members could recall such a gargantuan order, so management was forced to consult video recorded by the pub’s security cameras and pull up Jo’s credit card receipt on the digital point-of-sale system. Shockingly, in this instance the customer actually wasn’t right: the party had paid the pub £280 for eight pizzas and five rounds of drinks.
Understandably, five rounds of drinks can make the memory a bit fuzzy, so The Cowshed recounted some of the group’s zanier antics in hopes it would jog Jo’s memories of this special family event.
“The gentleman in the blue shirt headed into our bar from outside and decided to vomit everywhere but the toilet,” they wrote. “Our staff stepped into to [sic] help, but you demanded to ‘deal with the situation,’ and rather than clean up the mess, proceeded to smear it over an even wider area with our mop, whilst... once again, being loud, rude, sticking your hand in our staff’s faces and shouting over anybody who was trying to communicate with you or help.”
Management also spoke with employees to get a fuller picture of the event, since it’s already been established that Jo’s memories are a wee spotty. Plus, every good manager must be sure that no matter what the circumstances, the staff must always be full of that attentive “customer is always right” spirit. The findings were thus:
“We allowed members of your party to bring in food from other venues to circumvent their food allergies. We cleaned up all the smashed pint glasses you broke and birthday cake you dropped and smeared all over our tables & benches, and tolerated the many loud family rows you were having with each other.
Rather than treat our staff like human beings that are just trying to earn a wage, you decided to treat them like your own personal servants, clicking your fingers, shouting, swearing and barking your orders at them, to the point one was almost in tears and refused to deal with you any more.”
The Cowshed did concede that while Jo’s family is a colorful bunch, not all members of the party were rude and ill-behaved, writing that “with the ironic exception of the young adults that were in your group and one or two others, you all acted like belligerent, entitled little toddlers from the moment you walked through our gates.” Hopefully Jo will pass along the pub’s comments those young adults’ parents, who should be proud!
Concluding its thorough examination of Jo’s complaint, The Cowshed clarified that despite the unpleasantness, Jo and her family had not been banned that evening; the restaurant maintains a no-banning policy, as people getting shitfaced and doing stupid things is a regular occurrence at most pubs. However, since Jo “[ran] straight to the internet, played victim, and told a pack of lies,” that policy has been overturned, and neither she nor her family is welcome there again. In addition, the pub has shared their names and faces with the owners of every pub, restaurant, and venue in Hucknall.
Let this be a lesson for us all: a customer who believes that they are “always right” will eventually find themselves barred from being a customer.