By Pang Xue Qiang

Whether we are dining at a restaurant or calling a hotline, we have all groaned and rolled our eyes over bad service.

But, anyone who has worked in the service sector can attest to this: waiters have it hard, too.

“Every day, we have to deal with an endless amount of unreasonable demands and rude people. It sticks with you and ruins your mood,” said Sarah Goh, 23.

Sarah used to work part-time waiting tables at a café in Tiong Bahru.

“I grew to hate the job because I felt that I didn’t deserve the horrible attitude from the customers.

“You can tell a lot about a person by the way he or she treats the waiter,” she added.

She is not the only one to have learnt this: true character can be gleaned from how a person treats staff or service workers, such as a waiter.

Referred to as “The Waiter Rule”, the observation first appeared in Swanson’s Unwritten Rules of Management.

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The rule says: “A person who is nice to you but rude to the waiter is not a nice person.”

So maybe you get bad service because you are a bad customer.

“It is a tough environment for anyone in the service sector,” said Stephanie Hancock, owner of Wild Honey café.

“It is a tough job, especially when faced with difficult and demanding guests who don’t always treat those who are serving them with basic kindness and consideration,” she added.

It seems that Singapore’s service industry does not seem to be able to shake off its bad reputation.

A recent survey by market research firm Ipsos Singapore revealed that two out of three Singaporeans experienced at least one occasion of dissatisfactory service in the past six months.

Not all customers are rotten apples, though.

“We do have a large percentage of Singaporean customers who are really nice and reasonable too.

“I feel that the real problem here is the stigma placed on people working in the F&B industry – resulting in a lack of respect given and unconscious self-entitlement customers give themselves,” said Eunice Leow, 27, partner of Strictly Pancakes restaurant.

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“The statement that ‘The customer is always right’ should be rendered obsolete in today’s day and age. Customer service is about mutual understanding,” she added.

Even though Sarah has left her waitressing job, she said her own experience has changed the way she sees service workers.

“Customer service is a two-way street.

“I think it stems from basic respect. You can only expect good service if as customers you show and treat service workers with courtesy,” she said.