A reporter's view: Never complain about customer service unless it's unbelievably bad

These kinds of pieces often start with anecdotes like this, and I often think they're made up, but rest assured, anyone who travelled on the 8.43am Shipley to Leeds service on Friday can - and will - back me up (we're a tight-knit bunch, us .43-ers).

By Richard Beecham
Saturday, 25th June 2022, 11:45 am

A man was asked for his ticket by the train guard. The commuter - an older, well-spoken gentleman with a rucksack - then went into a scattergun rant about how there were train strikes the previous day, so he shouldn't have to pay for his train journey today.

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"What brilliantly flexible logic!" I thought. Would such a utopian society mean I would no longer have to pay for items that had been out of stock the previous day in the supermarket? The guy gets my vote.

Most commuters are quite pleasant, actually. (Photo: Nick Ansell/PA Wire)

But the other thing that struck me was the quiet dignity with which the train guard did his job. I'd have struggled not to have given short shrift to such a rude bloke, but not so the train guard, who dealt with him with the world-weary professionalism of a mum-of-three at the end of a day-trip to Diggerland.

It all got me thinking about a motto I heard some years ago that stuck with me - "don't be mean to someone you wouldn't swap jobs with".

Now, it's not for me to say whether or not the train guard enjoyed his job, but it would not be stretching credulity to assume Trainy McRantchops was someone from a professional background - not least because he was loudly professing to the carriage that he was travelling to London.

Some of us build up a sense of entitlement as the years go by and we get more comfortable, so it would probably do us all good to stand back and make more of an effort to see things from the perspectives of others.

Having worked in retail up until my mid-20s, I must admit I have probably gone way too far the other way when it comes to my interactions with the service industry. I try to live by one rule - never ever complain about anything ever. I know this is excessive, but hear me out.

Obviously, offensively awful customer service - like shop assistants violently pelting you with packets of garibaldis - needs to be called out. But these are, I'm sure you'll agree, very rare occurences.

So the next time you have a hair in your soup, or someone behind a counter doesn't smile at you, or you get given a Fanta instead of the Coke you ordered, just think "does that person really need me whingeing at them?"

I know I'm obviously wrong here. But if you're thinking about it, I guess that's enough for me.