Sophie Thorpe

SOPHIE THORPE is burning her bra for better customer service. And some free bubbly.

barista champagne complaining complaints customer service customers free free stuff Lola Lo sophie thorpe

“This sis uh bludy outrage!” I slurred angrily at the Lola Lola staff, who stood nonchalantly behind the desk as I staggered backwards. They had dared to incur my wrath with false promises of a free glass of champagne.

As my frustration and anger rose, my alcohol-fuelled speech became more colourful, with liberal sprinklings of four-letter words. And soon enough I found myself in front of a towering bouncer, foolish enough to still be fighting for my right to some bubbly. Eventually I realized that the burly, bald man in front of me was not sympathetic, and I stumbled back to the flashing dance floor, with no fruits to show for my labour.

This was certainly not my finest moment. But my fury was not completely unfounded. My rage was not about the glass of low-quality sparkling wine that I had been deprived of, but rather the unfulfilled promise that had been made. In this case, my state of inebriation inevitably meant I took the complaint a little too far. I’ll be the first to admit that my manners were left behind after my 10th glass of wine.

But the staff pushed me over the edge; they made no attempt to placate me, they just shrugged their shoulders. Was it because I was drunk that they thought they could fob me off? Or is it simply that standards of customer service have slipped so low that they genuinely believed such treatment was acceptable?

In fact, service in general has got sloppy: baristas botch my coffee, my food arrives luke warm in restaurants and people are just plain rude. But the worst thing is that no one says anything. People sit there and smile as they are handed a dish they didn’t order.

A recent lunch with a friend turned sour when the waitress trottted off with our money, never to return with the change. When I accosted the girl for her cheek, my friend sat by in silence, blushing bashfully and desperately waiting for the moment when she could scuttle away in shame.

At first I was shocked by her response, but then her embarrassment spurred me on – I felt like standing and burning my bra right there and then. I wanted to start a riot in the streets, leading a rabble of dessert fork-wielding customers, all chanting: “Don’t be vile, serve us with a smile!”

If we’re paying for a service, why shouldn’t we complain if it isn’t up to scratch? And if people aren’t wiling to take a stance over something so minor, will they ever do so over something that actually matters? Or will they continue to be satisfied with mediocrity?

Renowned for our orderly queuing, for our repeated mumblings of: “pardon me,” “sorry,” “please” and “thank you,” we Brits rarely dare to step on anyone’s toes. We’re so busy watching our Ps and Qs that we’ve lost touch with our sense of self-worth and the guts to fight for what we believe in.

But this will be no more! We deserve free champagne! We deserve hot food! We deserve the best! So this is my call to you, unhappy customers everywhere, to stand up for your rights and complain!