Tuesday, July 21, 2009
I have an important ethical conundrum for you, dear readers. I've been wondering of late when it is okay to complain about someone, professionally.
Having worked in the service industry in a variety of capacities, I usually operate in the "no-complaining-about-workers-to-their-boss-no-matter-what" solidarity camp. I always try to give them the benefit of the doubt: they might be having a rough day/week/month, maybe they weren't supposed to have to work today but are filling in, or perhaps they don't usually fill in for this position and so aren't properly trained. (Having found myself in all of these positions and more, I have a deep sympathy for them.) However, recently I'm beginning to wonder if this is the best solution for everyone involved. Is it actually better to complain sometimes? If so, what is the best way to do it? (The only time I've ever complained about someone to their superior the whole situation BLEW UP into an incredibly nasty and stupid situation that left awkwardness everywhere like nuclear residue.)
Let me give you an example. A few weeks ago, I went to the salon to get my hair cut. The place was busy but not overly so. The receptionist, upon my arrival, barked "Why don't you go get a smock on?" (Issue #1 Since when do I have to put on my own smock? Issue #2 I have no idea what that means having never been to this particular location before.) I tell her I don't know where the smocks are, she says "in the bathroom". Where's the bathroom? I ask, trying to still sound pleasant. "Down there" she motions dismissively. I tell her who I'm here to see, find the smocks, and sit down to enjoy a juicy issue of Cosmo from 2005 while I wait. 45 minutes later, I am still sitting there having finished the Cosmo, 2 US Weekly's and half of a Self magazine (THIS JUST IN: If you eat less and exercise more, you can lose weight! Get me a subscription!!). Finally, my stylist comes over to me and begins profusely apologizing. The receptionist never told her that I had arrived, and when she had specifically asked if I was her client, the receptionist had said no and went back to filing her nails. (Yes, I'm just sitting here in a smock reading Cosmo because I like the atmosphere....)The stylist felt terrible, and I was more than a bit annoyed. When the stylist motioned to one of the other "junior stylists" (who are these extra people who work at a Salon?) to help shampoo my hair, the girl sighed dramatically and dragged herself over to the sink making it very clear it was extremely inconvenient and annoying for her to have to do her job at this particular moment. After this, things improved a bit. I loved the haircut and would consider going back to this woman again, except for the administrative snafus.
Now the question is, is this something to complain about? Is this sufficient enough to write an email to the manager describing my experience? Or should I post something online? (I almost feel as though that's not fair, because the place has not way to respond.) What would be the purpose of such a complaint? What would I get out of it? What would they?