The issue of customer care in Rwanda is one that has been sung about so many times. You could be forgiven for thinking it is a line in our national anthem. Of all the things that have been said about solving this problem, the most enduring in my view is what President Paul Kagame always say; that customers should reject poor service.
According to the president, customers would not simply demand better services but they should also reject poor services. In other words instead of screaming to get the attention of the waiter, simply walk out of the restaurant for that kind of establishment does not deserve a penny from you.
Last week I witnessed a similar situation while seated with two colleagues at a restaurant in town. My colleagues ordered for some food but when the first plate was brought I pointed out that the food could have been burnt during the cooking. My fears were confirmed when the second plate was brought and my friends tried eating the food.
Soon both of them were complaining about the food and actually did not go beyond a few morsels of food before giving up. The young lady who had served them even conceded that indeed something was not right with the food and promised to tell those in the kitchen to do a better job.
I was then taken aback when another gentleman working at the restaurant insisted that they pay for the food and indeed my friends cowardly paid. I tried not to intervene in the situation just to see how they dealt with.
Once they were done with the payment I pointed out to them that what they had just done is very wrong. Why were they paying for food that was clearly burnt and which they had actually failed to eat? This is when I remembered the president’s call.
There is no reason why I should pay for burnt food that I have failed to eat especially when the person who served me also agrees that something is not right. If it was me, I would not release a single coin. In fact I would demand that the manager comes over to see my point.
If a business entity has failed to meet its end of the bargain by providing expected standards then I the customer should not be the one to foot the bill of your incompetency. If a restaurant messes up the food during preparation then I should not be made to pay for their errors.
If my friends had refused to pay for both plates then the owner of the business would have felt the cost of providing poor services. But because they paid him, he could be right to assume that he can always get away with a few plates of burnt food every now and then.
However if we all refused to pay for poor services then business people would feel the pain with dwindling revenues and would be compelled to improve on their service provision.
We should never sit for ages just waiting for someone to attend to us when we can walk out and go elsewhere or even complain to the manager of the place. Better service provision will not come on a silver platter. We have to demand and fight for it.