I used to be a quiet person. Most of my school days were plagued by shyness, mainly from low self-esteem and some not very nice people who used to think it was hilarious to make fun of me.
In my last year of school I decided to go away for college because I wanted to meet new people and experience more than the little corner of north Wales where I grew up. I realised I wouldn’t be seeing most of my classmates for a while so I came out of my shell a bit and got to know a few people.
However, it was six months in America that really changed my life. I got to know confident women who stood up for themselves and when they saw something happening which they didn’t agree with they said something. I realised that if I don’t like something, I don’t have to put up with it. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but it was liberating to realise I am in control of my life and I don’t have to put up with things, and ultimately that you can’t make people like you, so if they don’t take to you, sod them!
As a result I purged a few friends from my life who I realised were actually bringing me down. With a new sense of confidence I made new friends and got to know people who I was in school with and formed some close bonds with people, something I had never experienced before.
It also follows through into the rest of my life. When I get poor service, whether it be in a shop, a restaurant or somewhere like a theatre I can’t bite my tongue. I’m the woman who, with crazy hair, is ranting about how “disgraceful” the service is or how bad a meal was.
My latest reason to complain followed a visit to a restaurant on South William Street. I joined a friend for lunch and when we ordered I said I had a voucher for a €5 lunch and my friend pointed to a special lunch deal as her choice. The food was delicious, but when it came to paying we got a bill for over €25. I gave her the voucher and we said we’d asked for the other deal and she informed us that we couldn’t have both – so I asked why she didn’t say anything when we ordered. She said she didn’t see us ask for the special offer, but my friend clearly pointed at the sign.
The waitress then said she would amend the bill with my €5 offer, but the other meal would be full price. As we were in a hurry we relented and waited for a new copy of the bill. 5 minutes later we were still waiting and so we asked another waiter if we could pay. He said we’d have to wait for her, even though she was nowhere in sight, and he walked away as I tried to ask him a question. Now that made me really angry. I found a manager and began to tell him about how rude the waitress was and how we were waiting to pay and how staff had ignored us.
As a result the bill came to just over €10 – so, as you can see it does pay to complain.
Having worked in the service industry from cafés to restaurants I know that there’s no excuse for treating a customer badly, and in Ireland more than anywhere it definitely pays to be nice (trust me, the tips are worth it!)
If you do get treated badly and you complain but still get ignored then you can take your complaint further – if they have a head office then drop them an e-mail. You can also find out what rights you have as a consumer from the National Consumer Agency website: www.consumerconnect.ie
Don’t be afraid to get the service you pay for!