Networking

Rudeness, we don't have to tolerate it - From anyone!


I must be getting old because it seems to me that good manners seem to be a thing of the past.  People are so keen to assert themselves and protect their rights that they seem to forget that both sides of any arrangement have the same rights.

It was with great pleasure last week that I refused to work for a client.

It was a private enquiry, not related to my employment and the customer was someone who was very used to getting his own way.  I noticed that he was equally rude to his wife, kids, dog, housekeeper, Chauffeur and Butler (yes it was that kind of household.)

He wanted a server installation, full cat5 cabling to ten of the rooms in his house, wireless access points to cover the pool house, stables, tennis courts and garages.

I was to set up a mail server, a T3 link, UPS and automatic backups.

He didn’t want any mess or disturbance and wanted me to work at night, so that the neighbours would not see the work being done?!?!

He also wanted to dictate the price, the duration of the job and wanted to be able to call me in at half an hour’s notice if he had a problem, anytime of the day or night, for which he would pay a derisory annual fee, from which I was supposed to supply any and all parts I might need to buy.

The prospective customer, a fairly well known TV personality in the UK is not short of a few quid, yet the hourly rate he offered was well under the UK legal minimum wage. I offered to quote at a sensible industry standard rate but was cut short by a petulant, hot tempered tirade.

The tirade contained my least favourite phrase:

“Do you know who I am?!”  - This bellowed into my face from about four inches away. - The correct response to this arrogant phrase was revealed to me by an airline employee who decided that enough was enough when it happened to her.

She took the tannoy mike from its stand and broadcast the following announcement to the entire airport:

"Attention please ladies and gentlemen, we have a passenger at check-in desk number 46 who has forgotten who he is!"

I started to pack my tools and leave.

“Where do you think you’re going? I haven’t finished with you yet!”

“I don’t really care who you are.  There is an old saying: The labourer is worthy of his hire. I won’t be spoken to as though I was a piece of crap stuck to your shoe.  Like you I am a professional at what I do. I don’t need work that desperately that I would sign myself up to a lousy deal like this, you pay your pool man and your gardener more than this, maybe one of them could run your cables”

His jaw nearly hit the floor.  It has been quite some time since anyone spoke to him like that and it showed.  Customer or not, I don’t expect to be treated like dirt.

48 comments
M.W.H.
M.W.H.

I did this once and it felt good! I sell food for a living. Really good food. I was working my store one evening by myself and a customer came in acting all pompous and rude. When I tried to show him some meal solutions, he started ragging on me about how "you and I both know that it will be all dried out so show me something else that's good this time!". I calmly put the food back and politely asked him to leave. He was astounded that I would refuse to deal with him. I explained that I have been successfully serving customers for 20 years and that I am proud of the products I sell. I told him that perhaps he would be happier if he made his purchase from another merchant. He didn't know what to say and so he wandered silently towards the front door. Just before leaving, he turned around, came back, apologized and purchases the items I was originally suggesting. I have seen him in my store many times since this incident and he has been polite on every occasion. In this world, you get what you tolerate.

Christopher66
Christopher66

We need to go back to the days when successful individuals were assigned companions to whisper in their ears, "Remember, thou art mortal."

Sagax-
Sagax-

Rudeness, we don't have to tolerate it - From anyone! I insist that it should be said "Rudeness, we all should refuse to tolerate it - From anyone!

scuzzyfuzzy
scuzzyfuzzy

Yeah, you did the right thing. There is no money in the world that would make me put up with such behaviour. Else I would be working in the oldest profession in the world... But I don't ever find an explanation or excuse for such behavior - lousy day, bitch wife, ugly childhood... I don't care, I am not responsible for your problems - if I treat you politely, I expect the same. Or else I don't want to do anything with you... The sad thing is that you will never teach such people anything, they live in their own universe. There is a very small percentage of people who can handle the sudden fame and money. I have met some, but they are rare. So no point in making them understand, just walk away. I don't even care about the a**hole tax, I just don't want to ever see or hear from you again. And one more thing: I would never have said to him "Like you I am a professional at what I do". Cause he's not. You are.

jansie
jansie

dang guy. that is awesome. did you get any of it on video? no but seriously. i've also refused to supply a customer, in my previous job. thing is, this guy was rude with our office ladies, and that wasn't on. he realised his mistake though, and phoned to apologise. i've seen the guy around a few times, after i quit that specific job, and we get along famously. that old saying you referred to is actually from the book of james in the bible. it is too often neglected by those who have to apply it, along with love thy neighbour.

bpedler
bpedler

Congratulations on having the gumption to stand up to this cretin and tell him how it is in the real world. Should happen a lot more often.

jdclyde
jdclyde

Diplomacy and tact. We had a training session where a "professional" in the field was to show us how we could work together, better. One of the ( now former ) production managers bellowed out "Sometimes you don't have TIME to be polite". The reply was short and simple. "You don't have the time to NOT be polite". It is good that you first, looked at the business side. The better the pay, the more you can overlook, to a point. Even if he was not a rude SOB, the job should still have been refused based on the pay and the devaluing of yourself if you did it. [b][i]Edited because of the stupid "feature" that forces the title to be obscure and meaningless.

webmaster
webmaster

Old time politeness! Well Jeff, what is that? A Freudian sublimated neurosis? Hell, such a waste of time, fully uneconomical, a luxury that our new breed of entrepreneurs see only in light of the its economic advantages, and not as an end in itself. Under such circumstances and to such a person, who probably believes money can buy everything, I would smilingly and politely say, sir I am not finished with you either! For speaking to me so rudely, I will have to increase the price 30%. Last price and I have no time to haggle! Yes or no? This would be the most appropriate behavior in our market economy world, where politeness needs to be turned into an economical asset, in order to increase its value, otherwise it might disappear. So never give it away for free, the masses wonn't be able to appreciate it. Tagged with a price, it can probably survive in this and the next century!

percommode
percommode

Nicely done. Now if only we knew the name of the gentleman in question... :)

information
information

I have to reiterate well done. You may have taught the disrespectful personality something many have been afraid to teach. Maybe in the short and long run. He may gain something that will change him forever. Much Success to you.

JamesRL
JamesRL

Normally you never want to be seen as unwelcoming to customers, let alone turning away business. But I recall one customer we had (software business) that we did turn away, and maybe we should have sooner. One of our products has over 200 customers. They pay a fair amount upfront and support fees on an ongoing basis. This customer was a steal from one of our competitors and it didnt' take long to see it was a mistake. The customer wanted Mercedes treatment for Chevy dollars. While we have two product lines , they chose the lower cost one, then started demanding features and functionality from the higher line, without any increases in cost. They demanded custom work, after hours support, new reports (the software does have a report writer that they could use themsleves, but they didn't want to) and most of all new functionality that none of the other 200 clients needed or wanted. Eventually we told them we would be happy to tear up their contract and assist them in finding another provider. I am sure they are driving them crazy too. It isn't like our company doesn't know the business. We've been around almost 40 years. We provide all kinds of training, consulting services etc. We have the most clients (close to 40% of the market). And when we have clients who want to work with us, we can accomplish amazing things. But some customers who resent paying someone for a service and want to milk every possible dime out of you. If all of our customers were so demanding, we'd have to double the prices or go out of business. James

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

No doubt you did the right thing. Since cooking is an art and you are creating good food for people, it's only fair that you can tell people to bugger off if they don't want your food. Kudos! A few years ago I was moving into an apartment. On the move in day, the apartment wasn't clean, the keys were lost, and best of all, there was an incorrect move in date reserved for me. I start talking to a rep and she acts like it is all my fault that the complex can't get their act together. She was rude and very adversarial. I'll never forget when she told me she would NOT be disrespected. I had to respond that I had no respect for her to begin with... After that it was not only polite, but she bent over backwards to make sure I got into the apartment. She even had one of the maintenance guys help me move my furniture into my apartment. Why did I have to be a jerk to get good service?

jdclyde
jdclyde

Well done. I would give an "attaboy" but I am not sure if your a "boy"? :D That is the secret that you found here though on how to handle people. For many, the first instinct is to attack BACK when someone comes at you like that. They hurt you, so hurt them back. You didn't attack him. He would have been ready for an attack, he was not ready for your refusal to attack, yet stand up for yourself.

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

That's the flip side of the coin. You were very assertive, but polite in your response. You can refuse to tolerate rudeness without becoming rude in kind.

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

Unless you own your own business or have complete support from the higher-ups, you'll quickly find yourself terminated with cause.

sgt_shultz
sgt_shultz

i had to read the dang article because i thought you guys were talking about ME. these things can be great opportunities (probably not, but there is some potential) if you can get through it with your self respect intact and you can get the CUSTOMER thru it with their rightousness intact, you can make a great cash on the barrel head customer. who will of course pay at least double due to a**hole taxing. I agree with those that say, 'don't get mad, get paid quite a bit more.' I like to pretend i am hard of hearing for these folks. just keep smiling and say, excuse me? i can't quite hear you? hand 'em my card and say call me when you return to your old happy self. sometimes they do and man do i make out on those customers. because they can't find anybody to help 'em, see? i don't stand for it continuously but sometimes once is worth it

MikeBytes
MikeBytes

While true rudeness is not to be tollerated as we most all agree, in this PC world directness, bluntness, and getting to the point at hand get undermined by our concern for everyone elses "sensitivities". I am very sorry to say after many years in business that even honesty has been sacrificed on the altar of this objective.

MikeBytes
MikeBytes

While true rudeness is not to be tollerated as we most all agree, in this PC world directness, bluntness, and getting to the point at hand get undermined by our concern for everyone elses "sensitivities". I am very sorry to say after many years in business that even honesty has been sacrificed on the altar of this objective.

charliebub25
charliebub25

Hannibal Lecter's preffered victims are rude people. Free range rude.

pete
pete

Years ago I managed COBOL programmers and I used to say that everyone who was 'interpersonally challenged' and had a degree in Engineering or Math became a COBOL programmer because that was the only profession that would tolerate their silliness. Well, kids, those days are gone and so are the days when IT types can get away with being rude. I realize there's almost a machismo thing in the IT world about being so good that you don't have to waste you time being polite to people (think Dogbert, the evil systems engineer) . Frankly, that was never acceptable but we certainly got away with it until the late 90s, or maybe we THOUGHT we were getting away with it until we started noticing that a lot of IT jobs were getting outsourced even though the replacement services were not doing as good a job. The bottom line is that at some point the medication takes effect and people say, "I'm PAYING to get this crap?!" This is especially relevant when CIOs have vendors walking in their offices about five times a month offering to do the job for less money than in-house types..and they are very polite. If you?re an entrepreneur who thinks, well I don?t have to worry about being outsourced, your right, you?ll just get to starve as your more polite competitors get all the business. So if you don't think that politeness is an valued as an economic asset you either better be VERY GOOD at what you do, or be very much into waiting in the unemployment line.

ralphclark
ralphclark

Does that mean new support techs would have to be trained in rudeness? A product portfolio offering different levels of rudeness? * Standard package: we talk nonsense to you, pretending to have nothing to do with your problem, transferring you to a line that rings and rings for 30 minutes and then hangs up; * Bronze package: we use a brusque tone, cutting you off mid sentence and transferring you to a clueless support tech with the barest command of English; * Silver package: we subtly insult your intelligence - talking down to you and patiently repeating things slowly in a strained tone; support limited to scripted answers such as reboot, reinstall etc. * Gold package: subtle rudeness - we don't recognize your name or that of your company, forgetting your name two minutes after you said it. Optionally, if you prefer we can deliberately misquote your name and keep saying it wrongly. * Platinum package: we know you by name and are always polite and helpful. It may never happen but it would make a great science fiction short story.

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

A friend of mine owns her own business and automatically ups what she charges to difficult customers, I passed along that term and she deems it appropriate. It appears to be catching on in her area as well. Proving the old addage that it costs nothing to be nice, but rudeness can cost you dearly.

Labrat636
Labrat636

Just like tipping the server - If you are polite and attentive you get a nice tip - If you are rude and you don't check back - no tip for you

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

You will eventually meet him or someone exactly like him.

Sereniti
Sereniti

My sister is a phlebotomist. There are THREE signs at her office (one is on the front door) stating cell phone use is not allowed. Doesn't matter why, but her reasons are business, not technical. The lady on her cell phone in the waiting room was incensed when my sister attempted to enforce the "rules." Claiming she saw no sign, she then asked why. The answer was, "It's disruptive and rude." The lady told her in no uncertain terms that she (my sister) was paid to do her job and therefore had no expectation of politeness from clients! Apparently, this lady believes that if you pay someone you're entitled to treat them like doo-doo (a technical term I learned from the young Dr. Frankenstein) and they can't complain about it.

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

"Be the change you wish to see in the world" It costs nothing to be nice. I am a bit of an optimist, but I feel that if I go out of my way to be kind, it will spread.

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

I had occasion to employ a lawyer. A simple yes or no question would cost me 50 bucks. How long do you think it was before I only troubled him for the most urgent of purposes? If you make it clear to customers that interruptions have associated costs that they will have to pay, you can limit this behavior. another form of the a-hole tax

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

I try to be nice. I succeed more often than I fail, but when I fail.... In any event. I have observed that some people only respond to abuse, as if being nice to them somehow offends them. I do not understand why this is so, but I have seen it often enough to know that it is so.

DadsPad
DadsPad

just smile, give card, as to call when feeling better. No one that will do a good job and have good service will do it for a low price. A celebrity should know that to pay extra is how they get the service they desire.

jdclyde
jdclyde

was how when you reply to the article, it always turns your title into RE: and the name of the article. A poorly thought out process, as it devalues all of the root replies by not giving you any idea what they have to say until you open the post. I will not open a post is I don't see it as relevant to me or my interests.

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

I've got the real thing.... :D It provides the PERFECT excuse for ignoring rude people.

Dr Dij
Dr Dij

I'm a big believer in keeping cool. There can be any number of explanations. Other people including rich people can have hard lives too. Of course that doesn't excuse it in the least, just explains it. Just picture yourself as 'Retief, Galactic Troubleshooter' who trips attackers or sidesteps them and out thinks them without getting angry! (Keith Laumer has seriously funny yet cool character in this series) Reminds me of a neighbor who started yelling at me for no reason. I kept my cool, didn't yell back (did talk to him suggest he go back into his apartment) but didn't give ground since I was busy doing something. He apparently was used to ordering people around. Only when he acted threatening I made it quietly clear "Don't touch me!" and he stopped acting physically threatening. While I don't excuse it, I understand he has problem: I think the guy is getting a bit senile and has a problem in his marriage, they are constantly yelling.

Dr_Zinj
Dr_Zinj

It does take effort to do so. Outstanding rudeness takes effort to be really effective. It's deliberately employed to produce a specific, desired outcome. As such, it's effective communication. Average, run-of-the-mill rudeness is the lowest common denominator. There is no effort, and certainly no thought required. It's literally open mouth, insert foot, and the hell with everyone else. Middle of the road is just-the-facts, just do the job behavior and communication. There's no warm fuzzies in it, but there aren't any cold pricklies either. Minor politeness requires some training to learn, but becomes fairly automatic, even if it does seem quaint. "Please", "Thank you", holding doors open for ladies, infirm and young children, dividing the pie and letting others choose first all fall into this realm. Extreme politeness takes a LOT of effort and energy. You have to really analyze the audience, and carefully craft the entire interaction. Think international, traditional, victorian-style diplomacy and you get the idea. This is what all those etiquette books & classes are about.

percommode
percommode

Sadly, I already have met his type. However, it's more the fact, alluded to by the OP, of his fame that made me curious. See, if I knew who this person was then every time I saw or read about him in the media then I'd be reminded of the reality of this person and not just the image he or his advisers wanted projected. Much more fun.

jdclyde
jdclyde

I ask them to GIVE me whatever it is they do for a living, free. When they deny me, I simply point out that is exactly what they are asking me to do. Some "get it", some don't care. The ones that get it, we can do business, the others I tell them to call the geek squad. That will give them the level of support they deserve..... :0

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

I learned that the hard way myself. If you go the extra mile and don't charge for it, it becomes 'standard service' and expected. Being 'nice' does not pay. You are right, saying 'no' from time to time makes people understand that you *are* doing them a favor when you do it for them. OR... charging for everything doesn't hurt either.

jdclyde
jdclyde

You by nature want to be responsive to your customers and keep them happy, but you also have to remember you are in business to make a profit. (profit is not a bad word, people) You made an agreement, and when people ask for things outside of that agreement, you have an option for a new business agreement or not doing it. I never feel bad because I have to tell someone that we do not offer that service with what they purchased.

jdclyde
jdclyde

I must have missed it... ;\

jdclyde
jdclyde

Just like email, if the subject line doesn't concern me, I can't be bothered to waste my time with it. In a discussion when there are dozens, is is useless and insulting.

DadsPad
DadsPad

I once responded with a RE:XXX and did not like the way it looked. I would not have opened it myself. :)

wmlundine
wmlundine

Now that is unusual, eh? I sometimes see a dozen posts titled: RE:blahblahblah. Awful.

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

First off, I don't believe there is such a thing as 'extreme politeness'. Even people with Asperger's syndrome, such as myself can learn to be kind and polite, even if it is just an affect. Given what little effort it takes to be a tiny bit kind, it can yield great results, and if it doesn't, what have you wasted? A few kind words?

JamesRL
JamesRL

Top Gear had Steve Coogan on for their "Star in a reasonably priced car" segment, and he showed a clip from a new show where they had proposed using Jeremy Clarkson in a cameo. They didn't use Jeremey but that didn't stop them from mocking him. The scene was where Coogan's charecter is coming to the homeowners door to provide some service and the Clarksonesque charecter is funny with him, until he discovers he drives a cool car.... James

Jeff Dray
Jeff Dray

Before anyone tries to guess the name of the personality concerned, I would hasten to point out that the person in question isn't the well known chat show host who lives near me, who is a very very nice man.- A casual google search for my home town will reveal this person and he is a true gent. This one lives in an adjoining county, isn't as famous and has a bit of a reputation in the UK for being a bit of an A hole.

Tig2
Tig2

However, I would submit that you can likely guess given the detail provided by the OP. People who treat others with flaming disregard are noticed, noticeable, and remembered. Most importantly, they get talked about. Not nicely. Edited for clarity and stuff.