Public Interest Courtesy Rule #15

BellWith modern life being what it is, it is impossible for us to accomplish all things alone. We sometimes need the assistance of other people to complete a multitude of tasks which we may not necessarily have the time, skill or inclination to complete for ourselves.

For example, we may need people to bake our bread, service our vehicles, mow our lawns, or prepare food and drinks for us when we dine out. The people who provide such products and services to us certainly deserve our gratitude and thanks. However the relationship between customer and provider is not one sided, it requires both parties to fulfil their respective roles with politeness and respect. Sadly this is not always the case.

Disturbing as it may seem, sometimes product and service providers can overstep the boundaries of the role they have been contracted to do, and may in fact provide an inferior service or treat customers with a lesser measure of respect than they deserve. Once a particular service or product is required, customers pay a pre-determined amount of money to fulfil their end of the transaction. The particular service or product in question should then be faithfully carried out by the provider who accepts payment for these services or the exchange of goods.

Providers should always remember some previously unwritten rules which apply to completion of these transactions. Please note that these guidelines do not apply in every circumstance, but the essence of each should be used as a basis for appropriate provider behaviour.

  1. Never disrespect a customer’s possessions. This means that when you take possession of a customer’s property to complete a particular service, you should treat that item appropriately and ensure that the item is returned to the owner in the same state as it was given to you. This is of course aside from any improvements you have been engaged to complete. For example, if a car is dropped in for a service ensure that all the settings in the car have not been changed and that you have not made adjustments for your own enjoyment. This means that you should not adjust car radios, listen to your customer’s CDs, change the seat position or adjust the height of the steering wheel.
  2. Never sell a product that has come in contact with the ground or has been otherwise marked or damaged. This guideline relates most particularly to the retail sector where food, clothing and cosmetic purchases are sold to the public. As a purveyor of products, you have greater knowledge of the history of a product than your customers. For example, if you know that a bread roll has fallen on the floor do not sell it to a customer, if an item of clothing has been soiled with makeup or grease do not sell it to a customer, and if a personal hygiene or cosmetic product such as perfume, makeup or moisturiser has been opened do not sell it to a customer.
  3. Never criticise a customer for their food or beverage choices. Menus offer consumers a diversity of food and beverage selections to choose between. In addition to listed menu items, some customers may have some alternative combination of food items, or require some other special dietary need to be met. Regardless of the circumstances, if you are able to accommodate a customer’s reasonable request, there is no need to find their selection amusing or otherwise criticise their choice. This is just downright rude.

In all cases please remember that customers are helping to pay for your salary and so you should treat them, their possessions, and their future purchases with respect.


  1. Navilyn

    I’m so glad someone else ‘feels my pain’ and made a Public Interest Courtesy Rule!

    So, with that being said, remember this, the shoe is always on the other foot. One moment we’re the customer, and the next we’re the provider. Do onto others as you would have them do unto you…

  2. Tracey

    Hi Navilyn – Yes as someone that has been on both sides of the counter, any kind of purchaser-provider relationship requires both parties to fulfil their respective roles…rudeness should never be an option.

  3. LuckySnap

    Nicely said Tracey!

  4. Tracey

    Hi LuckySnap – Thanks so much….this is one particular pet hate…or a combination of several pet hates of mine – as you can tell I have a few here and there. 😉

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