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  • 執筆者の写真Hiroshige FUJII

Whether Customers Are Gods or Not?


I saw the news that the number of “customer harassment” will increase in December and January. “Customer harassment” means an excessive complaint and an annoying behavior to service providers by customers. For example, these customers tend to shout abusive words, demand kneel down on the ground (we call this behavior “dogeza” in Japanese) and post real name on SNS. According to the questionnaire by the labor union in Japan, about 70% of the 80,000 respondents answered that they experienced excessive complaints. Furtheremore, there were about 600 people who became mental illness due to customer harassment.

I took up this topic because I have a part-time job at a restaurant and I also experienced the customer harassment. Here are two most unfogottable experiences. The first is a drunken person was loudly singing and uttered harsh words. Moreover, the person angrily useed violence with clerks because the dish ordered was out of stock. In the end, we called the police. In another example, when I asked an elderly man, “When should I bring desert to you?” (Some customers eat desert before meals so clerks always ask this question), he said “desert is after meals is a matter of course. Are you stupid?” and demand an apology.

According to a TV program “Close-up Gendai(NHK)”, there are two main reasons why such “customer harassment” often happens in the modern society. The first reason is that the excessive service inJapan makes customers expect too much. Another reason is that the disparity in income levels has expanded. Probably, some people who are dissatisfied with their social position release their stress by expressing complaints to clerks. Besides, “Customer harassment” particulally increases in December and January, because many people enjoy Christmas, year-end parties and New Year holidays, but some peopleare more likely to feel the gap from these events.

As mentioned above, some Japanese tend to look down on clerks. However, what I wanted to tell you the most is customers are not Gods and clerks are not servants or slaves, and vice versa.Clerks stand on equal footing with customers. In my experience, it is important to have the courage to not individually respond to excessive complaints and companies should protect clerks from these situations. The ILO(International Labour Organization) and The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare in Japan recently move to take measures against “customer harassment.” I will work with courage to make a good workiplace without customer harassment.


A Fujii seminar year-end party was held at a Japanese style bar in the end of December. This was my first time to sit and talk to the third grade seminar students and a professor Fujii. I was nervous at first, but it was a lot of fun and the time flew by. We became lively over love stories the whole time. The second grade seminar students who participate this seminar as observers unfortunately didn’t take part in this party, but I would like to talk with them a lot the next time. Of course, these was no customer harassment during this party!!


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