New Jersey Customer Service Experience Sparks Debate: What Makes You A Karen?
I went to grab a bite in Seaside Heights over the weekend because the sun was shining and my liver was thirsty!
The afternoon was pretty enjoyable but ended with a debate amongst a few other fellow restaurant goers and myself.
I want to start this story off by saying that I understand that customer service is one of the most difficult industries to be in.
I served and bartended for years before starting here at 94.3 The Point so I know from personal experience that some people will never be happy with the service you give them.
Not to mention, many people out there are looking for something to complain about to get a discount or free items.
Spoiler alert, experienced restaurant industry staffers can usually spot these people a mile away.
But the culture around customer service is changing. It almost seems like if you complain, YOU are the bad guy.
We've all seen this popular "Can I Speak to a Manager!" GIF poking fun at the haircut of those who usually have something to complain about!
Then came the birth of the "Karen" and "Ken" altogether.
According to TheGuardian.com, "Karen is a middle-aged white woman who happens to be as entitled as she is ignorant." The male counterpart of a Karen is a Ken.
These terms have become quite popular. There are Youtube Channels and TikTok accounts solely dedicated to those Karen videos for crying out loud!
Well now let me tell you how all of this ties into what I encountered this past Saturday.
My friend and I walked into a bar and sat down. We were greeted with menus immediately.
About two minutes later, two other women took a seat next to us.
This is where the problem started.
Our area of the bar was forgotten about for the next 15 minutes. The two bartenders didn't even acknowledge the other two women for a solid ten minutes.
After waiting 8 to 10 minutes, these ladies even started a timer to see how long it would take to get their first drink.
This is a bit much if you ask me but the story still isn't over.
Here's a little back story; I do know that it was one of the bartender's very first day on the job. However, it was her fellow counterpart who seemed to be dropping the ball.
We were able to flag someone down once this brand new bartender noticed that our section was still waiting.
Everyone got their drinks, placed their orders and all was back on track again until it was time to ask for a refill.
I personally used to hate the whole, "EXCUSE ME, MISS!" which would come from customers who needed your attention, so I always avoid flagging anyone down in that same fashion.
My go-to? Try and make eye contact with your bartender and server. It has become a polite yet well-known signal that you need something.
By this point of our meal, the bar had cleared out a bit so I didn't think getting the bartender's attention would be that challenging.
"Wrong again, Nicole!"
While the other bartender went to the back, this bartender sat eating slices of oranges while other customers at the bar were also trying to get her attention.
It was a very frustrating experience.
I am a very forgiving customer. If you forget my dressing or I have to ask for my refill a second time, it really is no big deal.
However, this was bad and everyone sitting at the bar was feeling the same frustrations we were.
If I complained, would I have been the jerk? I found myself scared to speak up for fear of being labeled a Karen.
This leads me to my main question: What is the line between being a paying customer with concerns versus being a Karen?
My personal answer comes down to one word: respect.
As long as you communicate your concerns respectfully, there should be no issue.
If anything, the term "Karen" should have an effect on how you say something, not just what you say.
Will things be absolutely perfect every single time? No.
But there are 1000% instances where complaining is not only valid, but warranted.
If I am paying $13 per martini, $15 for an appetizer, $25 for dinner, $8 for dessert and a tip, at the very least decent customer service is not an unfair ask.
But is there a line? And if so, where does it cross over into Karen territory?
I want to hear from you. Email me at Nicole.Murray@townsquaremedia.com.
While you think about that answer, here are some of the top-rated restaurants to hit up this Summer where hopefully, you will not be labeled a Karen.