/ Food & Drink

Does it pay to be polite?


Manners cost nothing – ‘Hello’ and ‘Goodbye’, ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’ – but other than the exchange of niceties, how many of us actually consider whether there are monetary benefits to being polite?

Most of us would’ve been brought up to be considerate of others – minding your Ps and Qs – we do this because it’s just polite to do so. As I was often reminded by my parents, ‘treat others as you wish to be treated’ and ‘speak to others as you wish to be spoken to’.

For those in hospitality it will be of no news to them that ‘service with a smile’ has monetary benefits in the form of tips. Tips are traditionally based on quality of service, but it’s become a standard practice for some. Some will always tip, others will carefully mull the service to work out whether to tip and how much – maybe asking themselves: ‘Did I get that service with a smile?’.

Politeness pays off

But for a café in Spain, the benefit is very much for the customer to reap. This café, near the city of Girona, has recently introduced a new graduated pricing system for its coffee. A courteous client will see themselves paying €1.30 [£1.17] for a coffee, a curt client will be set back a whole €5 [£4.50] for that same coffee. Those middle-of-the-road customers who remember their ‘por favors’, but no ‘buenos dias’, will find themselves be paying a reasonable €3 [£2.70].

The café owner claims to have been driven to introduce the new system after finding that customers were so rushed that they were missing simple manners.

And this is no new concept. A small café in Roanoke, Virginia, introduced a very similar policy last year. CUPS Coffee and Tea proudly brandished its new sign threatening upcharges if customers forget their Ps and Qs:

Cups Coffee & Tea in Roanoke, Virgina

Really I think it’s quite a nice incentive, manners cost nothing, after all. But it isn’t just a discount on your coffee that you could land, it could even be an entirely free meal. Like for one pair of friends in Plymouth who had their whole meal paid for at the Barbican Pasta Bar last year by a couple sat near to them. The generous strangers were keen to settle the bill to recognise the politeness of these two friends.

So, something as simple as minding your manners may even help you manage your money. It could be that you land yourself a discount on your next bill or an entirely free one if you’re lucky (and polite).

Over to you

Should it pay to be polite? Or do you think that manners should cost nothing?


In August I was interested in booking a holiday for a week, but it had to be from Thursday to Thursday to fit in with other commitments. The small company that I had used before did not offer these dates but having found them very accommodating ten years ago, I decided to make an enquiry. We had a long chat and I related a couple of anecdotes about my previous visit, which had been very enjoyable. Not only did I get the dates I wanted but was offered a discount of more than 25% because I was a previous customer, even though it was eleven years ago.


It shows there are still companies in this country that do value loyalty Wavechange . loyalty to me is number 1 , you go through thick and thin in life but a loyal person is like gold ,once proved their value is beyond measure .


Absolutely, but I don’t know any that do home, car or breakdown insurance. I use various printers to produce leaflets, cards, posters and banners and they are great, but they are all small and local. My favourite is a one-man business. For years I have used a small motor engineer that specialises in refurbishing classic cars but is happy to do repairs on ordinary cars and offer advice. His personal service was remembering to return my coat when I turned up the following year for an MOT.

I would love to know of a breakdown recovery company that offered a no-claim discount. The last time I called one out was in 1989, yet I pay the same or more than a new customer who might have a poorly maintained car. Being polite has not worked. 🙁

I can’t imagine that we are the only ones who are keen on loyalty, Duncan. I don’t mind paying a bit more for good service and decent quality.

Jane says:
16 October 2016

Bad manners really bug me. In one of our local shops there’s a lad on the till who asks for the money without a ‘please’. When I repeat the amount with a ‘please’ at the end he looks at me like I’m an alien. I get the same when I remind him to say ‘thank you’. I’d been using one of the other local shops because of him until the other day when I had to go in there. I reported him to his manager and told her they’d been losing custom to their competitors, whose staff had better manners. I think bad manners does cost us, whether we notice it or not.

Patrick Taylor says:
16 October 2016

I have always believed that whatever job you do you should do it to the best of your ability. If you do not your are guaranteeing a poor attitude and a dissatisfaction with your role.

As most of us know sometimes your employer has silly systems, or they do not provide proper training but you have to rise above that so that you can take pride in your work.

It was instructive in France to note in a restaurant in a small village [4000] that the Head Waiter was training four teenagers in the intricacies of the job. And they really were into being the best. Of course it helps that in France being a good waiter is recognised as a proper job not something of a stop-gap.

I have had many roles and I enjoy the customer-facing ones the best as if viewed as a challenge to make people satisfied/happy it provides a reward to oneself when successful.

anthony humberstone says:
6 January 2017

Good manners, being polite and helpful to others was part of my early education. if it was taught to our children the world would be a better place. Please, thank you and a smile can brighten all our days.


I missed this convo and it’s a good one in some ways.

Taking note of wavechange’s comment, “On the other hand, it is disgraceful that we have some rude people, and I feel sorry for those who have to handle customers’ complaints, either by phone or – worse – face to face.” and looking at it from the other side as it were, some of you may think the Dark Side where you’re on the receiving end…

People have gotten progressively more rude, abusive, arrogant and just downright unpleasant in recent years to us as a business on the phone and by email especially.

It is not at all uncommon to hear abusive people demanding this that and the other, especially when it’s a complaint or a problem with something. It used to be, a decade or more ago, unusual to have people shouting and swearing demands but these days, it’s a daily occurrence.

Staff in call centres are constantly faced with a daily barrage of unreasonable demands and tirades of abuse and why the staff turnover for many is extraordinarily high as for many people, the stress of it is unbearable. And in the UK, good call handling staff that will stick it are hard to come by as the salaries aren’t good enough to be taking the grief all day, every day.

I am astonished that there’s not more about this online but I suppose that companies probably don’t want to tell potential or existing customers about some of the more unpleasant stuff that they have to deal with in this politically correct and customer orientated climate we live in these days.

Although you can find some brilliant stories of customer service in some places. Thing is, many people think that these are unusual and not common. The reality is, many you see are daily and in some cases multiple instances a day.

So much so that in many public service areas, especially the NHS ones, you’ll see signs all the time warning about abusive behaviour will get you ejected. A polite way of saying, if you don’t behave you’re going to the back of the queue or you may not get seen at all.

Is it any wonder that some businesses choose to try to promote better behaviour also?

For people that are dealing with whatever company (or much anything really) where they are looking for support, is being aggressive or abusive really the way that they think they’ll get help or a response?

People should keep in mind that the person (yes, it’s a person!!) that they are dealing with is probably trying to do the best they can for them, not always I accept although I expect that is the exception not the rule but, giving them grief isn’t really going to help speed things along. This is so as that person will not want to call that abusive person back, have them come back or even want them as a customer most probably. Some customers are simply more bother than they’re worth, let them go to the competition and give them abuse will be the attitude of many.

And sometimes, for difficult and abusive customers, yeah they go to the back of the queue and get poorer service as they’re going to complain, post bad reviews or whatever else they threaten as leverage to get what they want so there’s no point pandering to them. Some I know in business will actively make their life harder, it’s just human nature really in just the same way as the customer chooses to be of a mind to think that being aggressive or whatever scores points.

People that are pleasant, mannered and reasonable will in almost every instance receive better service in my opinion, almost without doubt.

Or you move your call centre to India, the Philippines or somewhere that you can get staff at the drop of a hat and that also saves you money. I wouldn’t do that but I can see why it would appeal to some, especially larger businesses but then, I’m not a fan of call centres at all.

Case in point though, a contract for my own business is ending after several years and sadly some staff are moving on and this is summed up by a comment made, almost word for word by three out of four of the staff on phones…

“I’m looking for a job where I don’t have to deal with the public at all on phones etc as it’s just too stressful taking the abuse all the time”

That’s why it’s hard to get staff to deal with the public and why I suspect that many call centres are overseas now as, anyone that has done the job normally never wants to do it again.



All sounds very nice Kenneth but if the company you are dealing with are ignorant B,s and ripping you off then I don’t deal with call-centres but put my point bluntly (no swearing ) to those who run the company and I don’t take no for an answer . I got that from a certain fuel supplier and immediately canceled my contract with them , I don’t “muck about ” . If companies were all nice in their dealings with the public then there would be no need for some people to behave that way but if they have been financially ripped off or treated like dirt (PC World/Curry,s etc ) then they have every right to complain loudly and vigorously. What you are complaining about is the old English way of accepting authority has now gone and the American way is being applied , well blame the government for encouraging American methods used by US BB to be applied to UK BB so the public are only “getting up to speed ” with modern methods.