How did consumers get the idea that pleasing service is a matter of justice? There is no fundamental human right to a short wait time, a smile, or a perfect evening out. “Good service” doesn’t have a universally agreed-upon definition, and yet customer service representatives are expected to meet every customer’s expectations as a matter of principle. Customers come to take any service that doesn’t give them the feelings they want as a personal insult. When the customer’s money doesn’t produce the hoped-for experience, this starts to provoke shock and moral outrage rather than simple disappointment. In displaying the language patterns of victims, reviewers illustrate how access to this form of expression can feel good — even healing — while drastically mischaracterizing who is harming whom.

Linda Besner on service.