Well I think one of the things that people assume is that some people think they can get someone fired from their job for bad service or treatment from a business and they would say I am going to complain to your manager and get you fired because they gave them a dirty look or called them an imbecile or a raving idiot or something like that. And they would say I am going to complain and make sure he loses his job so I would like to find out if this ever actually happens? Or if someone who was trying to get something at a shop or somewhere and someone gave them a dirty look they would get some of those people to lose their job and things like this?
My first wife was fired from a retail job, supposedly because of a complaint from a customer. Her employer did not do a good job of proving it to the unemployment board, however.
But are you limiting your question to retail businesses? I worked in a business where a single customer might be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, and my bosses were acutely sensitive to how the customers thought they were being treated.
There’s also the question of whether a firing to placate an irate customer is actual or fictional. See, e.g., the remarks of the journalist Jessica Mitford in the aftermath of an article she wrote for Life magazine that needled the phone company,*
*Yes, “the” phone company. Back in the day, there was only one.
There are way too many possible variables to make a generalized statement.
For example, if a customer complains that “Barbara” gave them a dirty look and treated them poorly because of their race (or religion or sex or other protected attribute), then it may well be up to corporate risk management to decide whether Barbara should be allowed to remain an employee. Depending on corporate culture, she may be out the door quickly for PR reasons. Similarly, if the employee is already on thin ice due to repeated complaints, one more complaint may get them fired, even if this particular complaint can’t be proven.
On the other hand, management may not care about an ambiguous complaint, or one from a customer who is perceived as overly picky, or one against an employee with an otherwise stellar record. Some employers are very very touchy about public complaints, and some let employees get away with a lot.
As a teacher, I was forced to resign over a piece of false gossip. Someone decided I called her child stupid in front of the class. I never did, but the rumor spread to the entire town (population 300) and the superintendent, instead of investigating, forced me out.
My experiences in retail saw many times customers would complain to managers about really stupid things, (OMG! She rolled her eyes! Fire her!), but only one firing for a very bad employee-customer encounter. A customer said something stupid, and a cashier said something about the customer being a crackhead. Cashier was fired, but manager did not follow procedure and the cashier was allowed back.
More often than not, customers would harass an employee until the employee decided she did not need to put up with this abuse and quit. As far as I know, managers weren’t trying to pacify anyone.
I worked for at a 5 star resort where high profile celebrities and the elite stays. Since I was in the sales/marketing office, we’d have daily briefings about what happened the previous day. Every few days I’d hear about someone, usually low level (server, maid, etc), though sometimes managers being fired immediately because a guest complained. There was little leeway or appeal as far as was reported to us. It was, a guest complained that someone at the pool didn’t provide them outstanding service and the worker was fired on the spot. I hated leaving the office, because if you didn’t acknowledge and greet everyone, guest or not, you could be written up on in the spot.
While I was there (only six months thankfully), Sean Penn was there (this was during one of the many times he and Madonna were on the outs) and his stay was supposed to very low profile (again, everyone was supposed to be treated the same, like a king or queen, because they really could be one). One of the pool staff started spreading word that he was spotted at the pool and that person (don’t remember he or she) was fired for making a big thing about it with the other staff. The most we’d hear in our office about celebrities or dignitaries that wanted to stay low, was what that we would have a very high profile guest from X date to Y date, so be especially about what we say to others in and out of work.
My nephew and his wife complained about their server at Dave and Buster’s a few weeks ago and she was fired on the spot.
The complaint was “She’s stoned out of her mind on something and slurring her words and she stumbled while seating us then wandered off for 10 minutes then bought us a big giant drink order like 10 drinks that were obviously for another table and we told her they weren’t ours and she rolled her eyes and said “I think they are” and wandered off and we haven’t seen her since.”
And I’m thinking other patrons complained, too. Apparently the lady was whacked.
I got fired like that once.
I’m pretty sure it’s rare for an irate customer to be able to get an employee fired over a single minor complaint (like giving them the fish eye or incorrect change).
Egregious provable offenses or numerous repetitions of minor ones would be much more likely to result in dismissal.
I’ve wondered what penalty there was for naughty truckers who get reported to those How’s My Driving hotlines, and if things have changed since the advent of ubiquitous cellphone videos.
:eek: Has Dave and Buster’s been bought out by Godfather’s Pizza or something?
Mostly they probably don’t with one complaint unless it’s over the top egregious. Someone tending to get one per week as a opposed to one a year will eventually get canned.
At the call center I work in, it is possible to get fired over a single complaint, but that takes site director review of the call in question (all are of course recorded), and it generally takes something as egregious as calling the customer obscene names, or the recording I heard in training (identifying details had of course been edited out) of a guy who got so mad at a quite reasonable caller he was challenging the caller to a physical fight. The phrase “come at me bro” got used a lot on that call.
Usually though, there needs to be a pattern of screwing up accounts or rudeness, and there is a multi-step disciplinary process involved.
Part of it also depends on the reason why. I had someone call and want me fired because I had the nerve to not rent them a room claiming we were sold out. Only…we were. And my boss knew it. He basically told the guy “she wasn’t lying. Go away.”
I know bosses have used legitimate complaints as documentation when firing someone but even in my years of fast food I never saw anyone get fired over one complaint. Quit, yes.
As people have pointed out, some complaints like being high or drunk, violence, abusive or racist language will get you fired immediately. Most of the time, it takes a pattern of behavior before you get fired, if ever. Even for low-level jobs such as retail or wait staff, it’s still a pain to hire and fire people.
That’s a big reason why companies like temps, contractors and other contingency workers. They just have to call up their agency or the firms account manager and have someone replaced at a whim.
Not like that is that easy either. I constantly deal with clients (usually some fuck-head IT middle manager) calling me up and asking to have one of the engineers replaced on their project. I try to explain to them that we don’t have an infinite number of people on the bench waiting for work (at least, not anyone better than who they want removed) and that they might wait another month before someone becomes available. Sometimes they demand to speak to my boss. As if I were personally withholding a replacement engineer and not actually working with my boss to find someone within the company or at one of our partner firms. But really, unless it becomes a pattern, no one gets fired.
I worked for the US Govt. for most of my career in what is called Foreign Military Sales, where we handled multi-million dollar deals with foreign nations buying US military hardware. Being the Government, it’s hard to fire someone, but I got moved into several jobs during my career because someone else had pissed of a foreign General or high mucktey-muck and needed to be assigned elsewhere (far as I know I never got the boot from my position, albeit I did get into trouble once or twice). Worse one I remember was an Air Force Colonel in a Mid-East country said something to or about the ruling family and was on a plane out of there in 4 days.
I haven’t worked a lot of retail or customer service jobs, but in the ones I have, there was a very clear distinction made by management between customer service failures on the part of the workers, and jerky customers’ complaints. The former were NOT condoned, but the bosses generally had our backs on the latter.
For example, I worked a summer in a sporting goods store. We had customers get super-pissed because we had sold out of the weekly sale item and told the customer that I couldn’t authorize him to get a similar more expensive product for the same price, and that was a managerial decision. Or pissing off a customer by telling him that no, we weren’t going to put the 9mm ammo on sale just because we had a sale on the 357 ammo and he didn’t have a 357, but did have a 9mm. Or the guy who got super-pissed (red faced and spitting mad) because I couldn’t string his new tennis racquet right then and there, despite me telling him that there are like 2 workers at the store who know how to do it, and neither of them was actually scheduled that particular shift, but that if he’d leave it, we’d have it strung later that afternoon when one of them was in, and call him to come pick it up.
Some people wanted instant gratification right then by the sales associates, and if they didn’t get it right that second, they became irrationally irate.
I work as a retail cashier, and the false complaints about me reach to the moon. The idea that the video is for our protection is very true. It’s saved my job many times.
The only times I can think of that someone was fired for bad behavior was on Christmas Eve, when a young guy came back from his break totally high and/or drunk and started cussing out the customers. We got quite a few complaints on that one.
Having worked in accounting at several construction companies, I’ve heard stories of workers being fired on the spot for arguing with the wrong person, especially site/safety inspectors, as well as contractors losing the contract on the spot. One of my bosses (who was the controller) told me about how the foreman on a large multi-million dollar project got into a huge argument with the inspector and not only did the company lose the contract, but they had to fire almost everyone in the company because of the loss. She got called by the company owner on the weekend and was told she’d have to prepare the final checks for dozens of employees to be issued on Monday.
As I’ve talked about in other threads, construction companies often live and die by the typical 10% final retention payment, which often is the majority of their profit. Any payments before that go to labor and materials.
Me and an ex might have got a bus driver fired for a complaint; admittedly, the complaint was that he ran over a cyclist in a bike lane, didn’t even stop, pretended (when the thankfully uninjured cyclist came up and hammered on the doors at the traffic lights) that he hadn’t noticed, then hid his name badge when my ex tried to get the driver’s name in order to report him. The company said they could could ID him from the ticket I’d bought on the bus in the absence of a name.
I’m not entirely sure he got fired, but after a few weeks of just sailing past bus stops if he saw us there, he disappeared from the route and I never saw him driving a bus in our small town again, so it seems kinda likely. I don’t exactly feel bad about that one though, pretty much regardless of what was going on in his life.
It happens but I am guessing more at large operations or places like say a Denny’s that has a fair turn-over to start with. I’ve known people fired like that and I got someone fired like that so I don’t think its rare but the smaller the shop the more rare I would think it becomes.