00-02 Customer is always right


Customer is always right 

Travelling is never cheap. It can only be expensive or less expensive. But why are people prepared to spend money far from their homes? It’s because they hope to buy happiness! They want to feel happy at least for some time once or twice a year. 

The problem is that along with their luggage they often carry the load of their troubles and grudge. Those who work in the hospitality business must understand this and be tolerant with the customers. Even with the customers like this one:

May I help you? – I have a reservation.

Customers are always right, even when they write funny and sometimes silly complaints. These are the real complaints received by Thomas Cook Holidays from the dissatisfied customers. 

-  I was bitten by a mosquito. The brochure did not mention mosquitoes.

- On my holiday to Goa in India, I was disgusted to find that almost every restaurant served curry. I don’t like spicy food.

- They should not allow topless sunbathing on the beach. It was very distracting for my husband who just wanted to relax.

-  It’s lazy of the local shopkeepers in Puerto Vallartato close in the afternoons. I often needed to buy things during ‘siesta’ time - this should be banned.

-  No-one told us there would be fish in the water. The children were scared.

-  It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England. It took the Americans only three hours to get home. This seems unfair. 

What makes customers always right? When mafia were planning to invest into future Las Vegas, one of its bosses said “It’s a good place to trap people in to take their money”. It is all about customers’ money! For business to be sustainable you have to be able to sell your product or service twice, not once. And it all depends on customers being happy and satisfied. 

The typical tasks carried out on a daily basis by a tour operator include: 

•  Providing general and specific advice about different travel destinations

•  Drawing up complicated travel itineraries and ensuring that all the needs of the customers are met

•  Making arrangements for transportation, accommodation, tours, and activities

•  Contacting airlines, hotels, and ground transport companies such as coach operators to make suitable arrangements

•  Advising the customer about travel issues including required documentation and financial matters, such as appropriate exchange rates

•  Dealing with and documenting complaints in an efficient and diplomatic manner

•  Making alternative arrangements for customers who have had their trips interrupted by unforeseen issues

•  Evaluating customers’ holidays and issuing appropriate feedback forms  

How to “trap” the customers for the first time? Specialists in marketing believe that it all starts with the slogan for the destination:

No stress, the smiling coast – this is what tourists expect. Now read some tourists’ complaints: 

-  We found the sand was not like the sand in the brochure. Your brochure shows the sand as white but it was more yellow.

-  Although the brochure said that there was a fully equipped kitchen, there was no egg-slicer in the drawers.

-  The brochure stated: ‘No hairdressers at the resort.’ We’re trainee hairdressers and we think they knew and made us wait longer for service.  

Try to figure out the reason why trainee hairdressers were disappointed.  

Tourism is often plagued by misleading advertising, but it is impossible to patiently some tourists’ whims. Please, look at the map of the United States before watching this front desk conversation:

- We need to switch rooms. We were expecting to watch the sun set from our honeymoon suite, because, obviously, we're on our honeymoon, but we couldn't see anything. - Right, uh...Well, the sun sets in the west and Miami is on the east coast of Florida, so there's really nothing we can...
- The brochure said, "Watch the sun set over the ocean." - Didn't it, honey? It may have said "sun rise".
- We want your best room. -  The honeymoon suite is our best room. - There's always a better room.
- Look, I'm sorry. Perhaps I can offer you a complimentary breakfast? - I want a higher floor, a better view, and better lighting. It was way too dark in there with the curtains closed. - How about a one-hour spa treatment? - I want a better room. - All right, we don't have a better room unless you build one, and being a bitch isn't  gonna change that. - Rita. Excuse me. I'll be right with you. - We can't have this conversation again. - I know. I'm sorry. - This is the second time this week. Plus, you're always on a break or calling in sick. I don't know what's going on but, honestly, it's always something. And now I have to comp the honeymoon suite.   - I'm really sorry, but I just can't afford to employ you anymore.

to comp = to provide with something free; If you call in sick, you inform people where you work that you will not be coming because you are ill.

The word “brochure” is pronounced differently in British English:

Don’t confuse these two words: complimentary and complementary. A complement, with an e, is a full crew or a set. When something complements something else, it means they go well together. You might talk about a wooden frame that complements a photograph or the crew needed to operate a flight to the Moon.

So when you come to your hotel room and see the bottle with the signature like the one you see in the photo below (Trump hotel), feel free to drink the water. The hotel will not charge you for consuming it. But minibars are often full of these “traps”, so it is better to spend some time and go to the store to buy some groceries. By the way, “minibar” discussions at the front desk have the potential of ruining the vacation when you check out and pay 4-5 dollars for the soda. 

Pay attention to the correct pronunciation of the word “suit”. Russian tourist agencies' ads often contain phrases like this one: 1 Bedroom Suite - сьют с 1 спальней. So when the frustrated Russian tourist is demanding «сьют», he or she risk to be misunderstood at the reception. To memorize the correct pronunciation please watch the following videos:

I have a reservation in a honeymoon suite. 
…schooner complete with five suites including a master suite with the bathtub. – His hotel suites for him and the family in Paris cost him twenty one thousand dollars per night. For five months he’ll be staying in the hotel’s Imperial suite which comes with its own dining facilities and a pink maple bathroom with his and hers washbasins. Suits here come with the services of a full-time butler to look after your every need.

Butler is the main male servant in the home of a wealthy person (sometimes in charge of wines and liquors)

Tourists are often unhappy with the taxi service:

Official passenger complaints have included dangerous driving, sexual harassment, violent altercations over fares and poor driver hygiene

Altercation = a noisy, heated, angry dispute

The author of this unit once traveled from Bali via Lombok and Sumbawa to Komodo Island to see the dragons. When you have the goal like that, you never complain about the service in the hotel. The hotel room you are about to see cost 3 dollars per night including the egg with the fly on it. Please forgive the amateur quality of this footage:

Mongolia’s slogan sounds frankly enough:

Watch the video meant to help you memorize the word “nomadic”:

Now Mongolia managed to change from traditional nomadic herding culture to major economic political power and from soviet-style communism to democracy. - They were nomadic herders until disaster struck.

Now read and analyze more tourists’ complaints trying to pretend, that you are talking to these people. Don’t smile!

- We went on holiday to Spain and had a problem with the taxi drivers as they were all Spanish.

- We booked an excursion to a water park but no-one told us we had to bring our own swimsuits and towels. We assumed it would be included in the price.

- The beach was too sandy. We had to clean everything when we returned to our room.

- The roads were uneven and bumpy, so we could not read the local guide book during the bus ride to the resort. Because of this, we were unaware of many things that would have made our holiday more fun.

- I compared the size of our one-bedroom suite to our friends’ three-bedroom and ours was significantly smaller.”

- When we were in Spain, there were too many Spanish people there. The receptionist spoke Spanish, the food was Spanish. No one told us that there would be so many foreigners.

- We had to line up outside to catch the boat and there was no air-conditioning.

- It is your duty as a tour operator to advise us of noisy or unruly guests before we travel.

The last one is particularly interesting for its grammar that describes hypothetical situations in the past. We are imagining the result of something that did not happen. We are imagining a different past.

- My fiancée and I requested twin-beds when we booked, but instead we were placed in a room with a king bed. We now hold you responsible and want to be re-reimbursed for the fact that I became pregnant. This would not have happened if you had put us in the room that we booked.

Read more about this grammar: https://www.englishpatient.org/platform/app2/#/slide/UInZB3ZeAy

Do you still think that customer is always right? Then enjoy the episode from the movie Falling Down:

There is, however, an alternative logic of customers’ treatment:

Enjoy the dialog from the movie Desperado:

Excuse me. But I used to work in a bar, so I know what it's like to wait on people.  And I just wanna to bring to your attention that the service here needs immediate improvement. - What do you mean? What do I mean? Our waiter. Where is he? Don't tell me he's still in the bathroom. Our waiter never came back to see if we wanted anything else, we did it . He never brought us our check either. We wanted our check, we’ve been waiting for our checks so we could get the hell out of here. Here. This should be sufficient. And don't be expecting a tip either - If you don't treat me good, I’m not gonna ask you out.- And your beer tastes like piss. - We know! Because we piss in it! That's not all! 


This is the homemade video clip about the trip to Komodo Island which was promised above.

If you are interested in these magnificent beasts, you can watch some videos and enjoy good American English here:


Специализируемся на развитии навыков говорения и понимания реальной речи на слух. Используем только оригинальные материалы.