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Complaining with Fun

By Fun Researcher # 001 Ted Schredd

How many times have you been traveling and something along the way went horribly wrong? The weather causes delays, your reservation was lost, or your food is colder than a body in a cryogenic freezing chamber. Well having a fun attitude may not fix your problem but it will certainly make things a lot easier.

People who work in the service industry have a lot more motivation to help you when you are not angry and obnoxious. Yes sometimes it helps to stamp your feet, shake your fists and voice you displeasure - but usually in a daycare. Using humor can get you more upgrades and special treatment than you ever thought possible.

My first lesson with this concept was from my friend Terry. In all the years I have known Terry - I have never seen him lose his cool. We were in Whistler for a ski trip. When we checked into our room we were disappointed that the kitchen that we had booked was nowhere to be found in our room. We had just purchased a week's worth of groceries and the closest thing we had to a kitchen was a two cup coffee maker. No fridge, no stove, no nothing. I was furious.

Terry went down to the front desk and the conversation went something like this;

"Hi how are you doing?" Terry said with a giant smile on his face. "Can I help you?" the clerk responded. "Well we are having a bit of a problem." Terry stated. "Well what is it?"  the clerk asked with a stoic face. "Well we have been trying to cook up our pasta on the back of the TV and it's been four hours and the water just will not boil - maybe it is the altitude or something."

Well we all broke out into hearty laughter. After the clerk stopped giggling we were quickly upgraded to a room with a kitchen. It turns out I made the wrong reservation. I could have went down screaming and yelling only to find out that it was my fault. Even if I had a more mellow approach chances are I wouldn't have been upgraded for free.

After that little incident I have always tried to use humor to get what I want, when things go wrong.

I was staying at a hotel in Chicago when the sound of the party in the ballroom was oozing through the walls. I went to the front desk to request some towels. I told them that my glass of water on the night stand keeps getting vibrated off from the sounds of the ballroom and I need something to wipe up the water. Again we had a good laugh and they upgraded me to the best suite they had.

In another situation I was at Denny's waiting for my meal to go (don't tell anyone I eat at Denny's please). I commentated to the hostess that she didn't look well. She told me that she was really sick and that the boss didn't believe her. I told her she should get a big gulp of milk and pretend to be sick in the garbage when the boss passes by. Again many giggles as I waited for my food. When I told her that I loved plenty of ketchup with my fries - she put an entire bottle of squeeze ketchup in my bag.

I have had so many upgrades at the rental car company that I have lost count. Usually I ask them which car could get the most air, or is it illegal to do burnouts with bleach in that locale. I try to get them laughing and I am batting about 50% for upgrades.

Now I will never know for sure whether my jokes truly do get me special treatment. But put the shoes of receiving complaints on your feet. How do you feel when someone is bitching at you sending you thunder bolts of anger? It doesn't matter whether they are right or wrong it is still an uncomfortable situation.  

People in the service industry have more than their share of knuckleheads making unreasonable demands on them. It is so refreshing to have someone voice their displeasure through a little humor. You may just be the difference between destroying their day and making their day. Who knows you may even get an upgrade and you will have touched someone in a positive way in a potentially negative situation. And in the worst case scenario at least you will make yourself laugh.

Ted Schredd is the CEO of

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