The manager of the Marriott hotel argues that the customer is not always right, but should we excuse poor service?


Where is the line between responsibility and kindness? What if “kindness” was used as a handy, catch-all tool to escape the responsibility of providing basic service?

When “kindness” becomes an excuse for bad service in hotels

My wife says I’m an overly kind person – I hear everyone (hence the often toxic comments section on Live and let’s fly) and I am far too generous to volunteer my time to others. Maybe she’s right, even if it’s a questionable character flaw. It always comes back to the same question I want to ask in this story.

Farouk Rajab, general manager of the Providence Marriott Downtown Hotel in Rhode Island, told The Wall Street Journal:

“We have always loved people in the hospitality industry. The customer was always right. Well, they are not.

A little background:

Mr Rajab, whose staff have been exhausted with complaints about not responding quickly enough to front desk calls and free off-brand shampoo, posted signs at the hotel entrance and in the lobby. restaurant, informing customers that they are experiencing a staff shortage and asking them to be kind and patient.

First, I think being kind and patient is just a great way to live a healthier, more enjoyable life. Second, getting mean and impatient usually doesn’t solve the problem. Even though it gets you what you want a little faster, it raises your blood pressure and it’s just uncomfortable to treat another human being.

My concern, however, is that hotels (and restaurants) are now using the “be kind” card as a wildcard to escape liability. Of course, we can all just vote with our portfolios… but that’s for future business.

What about when you show up at the hotel and no one answers the phone? Or does it take a waitress 45 minutes to take your breakfast order and it spoils because the kitchen staff is so limited? Or is your room not clean? What if you ask for a clean towel and are told there isn’t one? Or you just want to checkout, but there are 10 people in a line in front of you and only one staff member is working.

(these are all common events in 2021)

Rajab says the customer is not always right. Well, in this case the hotel is definitely wrong. It’s no wonder that workers aren’t getting competitive wages (Marriott CEO recently complained) or that customers are being asked to subsidize employee wages through tips. Whatever the cause, the labor supply is currently limited and hotels are more willing to show off if they have discernment beyond short-term bean counting.


I guess I’m at the point where I roll my eyes in hotels and restaurants asking people to be nice when they can’t provide good service. This does not exempt us from being nice. But we must gently and tactfully hold hotels accountable for poor service. Never let someone absolve themselves of being held responsible by telling you that you are not nice.


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