Why the Brits Don’t Like to Complain


Teasing Mother

I sometimes like to tease my mother when I go out to restaurants with my parents.

If she says something like “the peas are a bit cold and the steak was a bit tough”, when the waitress comes round and asks if everything was fine, I’d tell her, “My mother’s peas were cold, and she said her steak was a bit tough”.

You should see the look of horror on my mother‘s face. She laughs to show that I was only joking and says “No, everything was fine. It was very good”.

They don’t like to upset those nice people. Goodness knows what they think might happen to them if they are ‘caught complaining’.

Further Torture

I also told my poor mum, the next day, that I’d filled in the Complaints Book on the way out about her ‘poor meal’. She looked horrified as to what the consequences might be.

I was going to get someone to phone her up and say that everything had been sorted out and the chef had been sacked. I think that that would have been too much for her though, and she’d never have forgiven me. She is my mother after all, and not just the butt for my practical jokes.

My American wife says that I have inherited a little of that too, although I don’t know if it is breeding or culture.

Don‘t Cause Waves

I think that it is not just a matter of ‘knowing one’s betters’ though. I think that there is a certain element of not wanting to get fellow workers into trouble with the ‘authorities’. This allows those who give them services to get away with murder.

I tend to take the view that if someone thinks so little of me as a customer that they don’t take any trouble to provide me with good service, then any consequences for not doing so, if I complain, can be traced back to their own door.

They have the ability to provide me with any level of service that they want. I have the right to complain if there is no effort and the service is poor, if I’m paying for it.

Of course, I‘d rather that they weren‘t sacked – that they‘d just see the error of their ways. I think that‘s a forlorn hope though. I think that they‘d just believe, and tell people, that there was an asshole in their restaurant that got them into trouble.

Alien Concept

I’ve explained why she should complain when she gets sub-standard food to my mother, and she doesn’t demur, but I can see that it is an alien concept, and that she would rather be put in prison for ‘Failing to Complain in Appropriate Circumstance’ than to say that her peas were cold when asked if everything was OK.