How to deal with rude and racist customers: An Ipoh restaurateur shows the way

A sign reminding customers to be courteous is displayed at Restoran M. Salim in Ipoh November 14, 2018. — Pictures by Marcus Pheong
A sign reminding customers to be courteous is displayed at Restoran M. Salim in Ipoh November 14, 2018. — Pictures by Marcus Pheong

Subscribe to our Telegram channel for the latest updates on news you need to know.


IPOH, Nov 24 ― Every restaurant has gone through at least one experience ― the rude patron who thinks that customers are kings and should be treated like one.

For Batcha Mohamed who owns Restoran M. Salim, such encounters have been increasing in frequency over the years.

“From verbal abuse, some of my staff were also physically abused such as getting slapped by customers,” he told Malay Mail when met at his shop on Jalan Yang Kalsom here recently.

He related that he had seen more than his fair share or hot-tempered customers, claiming they would kick up a fuss over the most trivial matters.

“They will throw a fit when their food arrived late,” he said, adding that some customers even hurled racial slurs at his employees, most of whom came from India.

Unable to tolerate seeing his employees so abused, Batcha sought to find a solution that would also not harm his business.

After all, with social media, any discontented customer could so easily ruin a business with just a few swipes on his smartphone.

Perhaps remembering the golden rule that underlines all cultures ― treat another as you would like to be treated ― Batcha started putting up plastic and laminated signs on the tiled walls of his shop.

Customers at Restoran M. Salim in Ipoh November 14, 2018.
Customers at Restoran M. Salim in Ipoh November 14, 2018.

The signs, largely in English, were polite reminders of basic courtesies.

“Please use ashtray.”

“Dear customers, kindly help us keep the restaurant clean. Thank you.”

The most eye-catching, because it was displayed at eye level, was a gentle reminder that everyone in the shop was a human.

“Our customers are important and so are our staff. We expect our staff to serve with courtesy and respect. Our staff will be motivated to improve when you treat them with the same courtesy and dignity as you deserve.”

Batcha said the same signs also decorated the walls of his other shop in the city on Jalan Tokong.

“I put up the signs months back after seeing how badly my employees were treated by customers,” he said.

Asked if the signs have been encouraged better behaviour among his customers, Batcha gave a rueful look.

A waiter takes the order for a table at Restoran M. Salim in Ipoh November 14, 2018.
A waiter takes the order for a table at Restoran M. Salim in Ipoh November 14, 2018.

“No, but at least the frequency has lessened,” he admitted.

A regular customer at Batcha’s shop on Jalan Yang Kalsom related that she last witnessed rude behaviour from another patron two weeks ago.

The woman who gave her name as Chai said the other customer seemed impatient and grabbed the entire container of pappadam from the serving counter and took it back to his table where he hogged it, instead of waiting for the staff to dish them out on a plate.

“The shocked workers had to take the container back to the counter,” she recounted.

She added that customers in a hurry should not visit shops where service may be slow during peak hours.