An Italian in London: to complain or not complain

I work in a pub where the new year has seen a twenty pence cost increase for a pint. “£3.95? Yesterday it was £3.75” – that’s how most regulars reacted.

It’s a complaint that is repeated throughout London after the January price hike, whether I’m eavesdropping at the train station or waiting in line for my coffee.

It occurred to me that a lot of Londoners are under the assumption that if you complain loud and often, free meals, drinks or bus tickets will be the reward, therefore allowing you to spend a day eating and drinking without getting your wallet out. For instance, if I was to wait more than fifteen minutes for a freshly cooked meal, I was entitled to demand it for free. If my coffee was bitter, my wine horrible or my bus late, according to the London rules of complaining, I would be able to ask for all these products and services for free.

Although this constant complaining can be exhausting – especially if you are on the receiving end as a service provider – I now see that the continuous nit picking has indeed led to an increased quality and standard of living, not to mention better, more efficient services.

With the English continuing to think of ever more creative ways to complain, I will sit back and wait for my coffee to improve in taste, in the hope that when I come in to buy one tomorrow, it will be cheaper too.

image: Britta Frahm