When it comes to bad service, everyone has their war stories - from people being blanked in boutiques by snooty shopgirls to rude waiters slamming down plates.

My own bugbear is having to wait more than five minutes for a coffee. One Sunday recently, a cafe had a sign up saying "30-minute wait for a coffee". Unacceptable. Almost as bad - shop assistants who follow me round in a shop asking how my day is going or whether I have anything planned for the weekend.

It is a hard game, the retail and service industry. Not just having to be nice to punters all day but it's a tough job on your feet. Plus the pay is not great at the coal face.

A bad experience can also be turned around in the public eye by a swift smart public response that shows that a company takes customer service seriously.

Yet anyone in the retail or service industry knows that those frontline employees can make or break a company's reputation. Ask the bosses at SkyCity or Glassons.


Both companies were in the spotlight this week for alleged less than desirable customer experiences.

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First up was British Formula One racing maestro Lewis Hamilton who blasted Auckland's SkyCity Casino after a bad experience on his first night in New Zealand.

The 31-year-old posted an outburst on Twitter, telling his three million followers: "Don't ever go to the sky city casino in Auckland, they treated me like dirt. Can't believe how rude they were. Worst casino experience ever!"

In the same week, at Auckland fashion store Glassons, 19-year-old Christina Victor told NZME her day was ruined when she was pointed at, laughed at and told she "looked dodgy" while being wrongly accused of shoplifting a pair of shoes from Glassons clothing store.

Reaction to both incidents was mixed online.

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The teen shopper received an outpouring of support, with one Facebook poster receiving more than 1200 ticks of approval.


"The staff at ALL Glassons need to come down like 5 notches! They walk around like they workn at a Gucci or Vera Wang Shop."

Hamilton on the other hand, received little sympathy, with posters telling him to "stop whinging" and "boo hoo. Didn't they wipe your bum for you ya cry baby".

Which reveals in my opinion, the strange Kiwi phenomenon of "hating on" the successful or the rich.

It doesn't matter who the person is, a formula one racing driver or a young Auckland shopper, consumers have the right to be treated well and with respect.

After the reported allegations, both companies responded - a Glassons representative told media "it's being investigated", while SkyCity Group communications manager Kelly Armitage told NZME she would not elaborate on the British star's treatment.

"As with any customer, we don't talk about the specifics of their stay with us."

A bad experience can also be turned around in the public eye by a swift smart public response that shows that a company takes customer service seriously.

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We don't know the details of Hamilton's experience at SkyCity but his three million online followers are left with the impression, rightly or wrongly, from a guy who, let's face it has experienced the best of international hotels and casinos, that Auckland is a bit parochial.

The reaction of some Kiwis to his complaint just underlines this further.

Luckily it seems Hamilton enjoyed the rest of his stay, taking in the sites of Queenstown and Milford sounds, sharing a video with fans on Snapchat saying: "Yup. This is the most beautiful place I've seen!"

That is the sort of publicity for New Zealand tourism that money cannot buy.

But we can't just rest on the laurels of the natural beauty of the country.

Good service must also cement our reputation in tourism.