A Service Provider’s Ethical Dilemma


“Never say no when a client asks for something, even if it is the moon. You can always try, and anyhow there is plenty of time afterward to explain that it was not possible.” – Cesar Ritz, Hotelier

Food for thought…

Cesar Ritz was an eminent hotelier, who probably needs no introduction to the people who are in the hospitality industry. He was a legend, and was often referred to as the “king of hoteliers, and hotelier to kings.” Eminent as he may have been, I have a bit of a problem with what he advocates.

People in the service industry are invariably taught never to argue with a customer, the maxim being “Customer is always right.” However, every service provider also knows that this is not always the case. There are demanding customers, and then there are impossible customers. Whilst saying no would tantamount to a something unforgivable in customer service, one also knows that saying yes could also spell more trouble. Worse still, one might set a dangerous precedent.

And then there are ethical issues. Would it be RIGHT to promise “the moon”, or the impossible, knowing fully well that it would not happen, and then risk upsetting the client even more ? Or would it be more prudent to be up-front about it and say no, rather than lie about it ? In my view, promising the moon, or the impossible, may temporarily placate a client and save the situation. For the time being. However, when the promised moon does not get delivered, no amount of explanations would suffice. We also need to remember that people don’t buy excuses.

What’s your take on this ?