No, you’re not entitled to that. Here’s why.


Can we talk about entitlement?

I know you want to. I see your comments on this site. Many of you think the readers who run to us for help have, as you put it, “entitlement issues.”

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You’re right.

I could cite examples from any day of the week. But instead, let me tell you about a reader from Chicago who became the poster girl for entitlement.

I first heard from Poster Girl a few days ago, when she left an epic voice mail on my cell phone.

She explained:

  • That she was very important because she used to work in the movie business.
  • That she was now retired, but lived in an upscale neighborhood that signified her status.
  • She did “not do email,” so she insisted I personally mediate her case by phone.
  • She demanded I call her back immediately.

In an apparent effort to further motivate me, she also mentioned that she’d already called two of my syndication editors and had “a nice chat with them.” (Translation: “If you don’t help me right now, I’ll let them know.”)

I’m willing to overlook all of that needless posturing. In the heat of the moment, people say things they don’t really mean. I figured Poster Girl was just upset about something that had happened to her.

I called her back. No answer.

The next day, she left another, even longer, message. She repeated her previous statement but spent a considerably longer time on the fact that she absolutely could not do email because she was 74 years old. I was totally unaware that there was an age limit on email use.

I called back again, and this time, I got through to her.

The reader was every bit as demanding on the phone as she was in her message. Her tone was demanding. When I tried to answer her questions, she cut me off. When I fell silent, giving her a chance to speak, she offered an unconvincing apology. “I’m sorry I cut you off,” she snapped, then continued with what she was saying without missing a beat.

It turns out she wasn’t asking for help for herself, but for a friend. I politely explained that we needed to hear directly from the person and that we required a paper trail in order to help.

This did not seem to go over well. She wanted an immediate fix.

I’m not going to make you wait until the end of this story to reveal the anticlimactic ending. I gave Poster Girl my email address and asked her friend, who apparently did email, to send me the information. I’m still waiting to hear from that person.

This experience is instructive on many levels. Every day, people come to us because they think they deserve something.

Maybe they do; maybe they don’t.

I believe every customer deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. But after dealing with many readers, some of whom come to me wth entitled attitudes, I can tell you that it’s easier to offer that respect and dignity to some people than others.

The telltale signs of entitlement are known to even the occasional reader of this site. Asking for the moon. Refusal to cooperate. Demanding an immediate resolution. Rudeness. Self-importance. Threats.

Rarely does one person hit a perfect score on the entitlement scale, but Poster Girl did.

I don’t blame bad customer service for the ill-advised approach that may have doomed her friend’s help request to failure. I blame bad parenting. It takes years of indulgent and negligent parenting to raise a child with entitlement issues. Those kids grow into adults who surround themselves with enablers who nurture their entitlement to full maturity.

There is no cure for those character defects, and advocating for people like that is a challenge. But I will always try.

Are consumers too entitled?

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26 thoughts on “No, you’re not entitled to that. Here’s why.

    1. think in a lot of cases, any compensation should not be monetary, like never ever. This will stop the ambulance chasers to some degree.

  1. Interesting poll question because it points out that by far, most people are NOT rude, selfish, and wanting something they actually did not earn or deserve or do not want to take responsibility for their own actions or lack of actions. Thousands of people fly, rent cars, stay at hotels or BnBs, buy goods and sundries, etc without issues on either side of the transaction. But, the few that get noticed often become the representation of all of us, regardless of reality. So yes, “sometimes” consumers want something for nothing, but NOT all the time or even close to a large percentage of the time when looking at the whole picture.

  2. My goodness, Chris. It appears that the “Queen of Mean” Leona Helmsley is alive and well, and channeling her essence through Poster Girl. Ms. Helmsley really was given that title and proud of it.

  3. Bad parenting can be part of the problem, but if Poster Girl is indeed 74 years old, that is not the reason. She had 50+ years to alter any behaviors learned from her parents.

    You mention she worked in the movie business, so I would equate that to being an actor/actress. Or an agent. Maybe not, but gaffers and cameramen don’t strike me as the entitled type. And if she worked in Hollywood and was successful, one can see how this attitude became fine tuned after working in that industry.

  4. Maybe, just maybe, Poster Girl, at her advanced age, has the beginnings of dementia going on and it has nothing to do with a sense of entitlement. I’ve seen behavior like you describe in such folks. Might want to consider that before making judgments.

    1. that was my thought as well. Surely nobody would reach that age with so little self awareness. Or maybe I give people too much credit.

    2. That’s an interesting assumption, but I have met many people who, after reviewing their medical records, definitely did not have dementia and yet were unbearably full of themselves and entitled at an advanced age. Assuming bad behavior on the part of elderly people is likely dementia is an insult to people who actually suffer from dementia. Getting older doesn’t mean you get better or smarter or more mature by default. You get taller, you get shorter, and then you die. That’s all that’s guaranteed if you live to be a certain age.

      1. No insult intended. Just raised the possibility, because in some older folks that kind of behavior is sometimes a reality in the onset of dementia. I’ve been through it with a few folks and know of what I speak. Just raising the possibility. That’s all.

        1. A friend of mine that has dementia actually began showing signs of it with this type of behavior–something that was very out-of-character for her. She become unable to cope with the routine disruptions of life–from little everyday things to problems encountered during travel. She is a single lady, now in her 70s and in a care facility. Her friend noticed the problems when she began complaining and lashing out at things that had never bothered her. We thought she had suffered a small stroke but it was the onset of dementia. Her friends are her family and we all consult with her doctor. She says this is not uncommon with a very specific type of dementia but it not associated with all types of it.

  5. Well, the mean girl in me knows what she would do. If someone left me an entitled voicemail stating “that she was very important because she used to work in the movie business”, I’d make sure to leave a return voicemail telling her that I was sure I recognized her from Debbie Does Dallas and I was super excited to help any way I could. But that’s just me.

    1. Or “Of course I remember you from Venus Sexually Transmitted Diseases Clinic! You’re​ one of my favorite regulars!”

  6. So if a company had left messages like that, would you name names? If so, why not in this case?

    A number of cases written about on both the website and in the forums have an air of entitlement about them (Paging Dr. Dao) or the “rules don’t apply to me” ethos. I guess this website is just a microcosm of society.

  7. I applaud your decision to still try to help people with attitude and demands, and she does present as very entitled, but I would ask you to not assign blame to parenting. She may have been an orphan, or gone thru many foster parents, or was given much too much validation in her time in Hollywood. As another commenter stated, it could be dementia. I would rather have found out what the case was about – flights? cruises? rental vehicles? defective product?

    1. Even if she wasn’t raised by biological parents, I don’t doubt for a second that *someone* parented this woman poorly.

  8. Dear [Airline CEO],

    I am going to be buying a ticket on your airline next week to fly to my (very important) Niece’s debutante ball, taking place six months from now. (She’s going to be wearing an expensive dress from Snootie DuRag.) I want you to know you should make sure your employees treat me, Important Person, with the respect and deference I deserve. If they don’t, you’ll be hearing from me again, and I’ll make sure to tell all my rich friends at Chateu Mooron.

    Please reply to this letter immediately via Singing Telegram because I may not have my reading glasses handy when the mail arrives.


    Now you know how that poor random Lenovo sales employee felt when his cell phone was ringing from random people with computer problems.

  9. I don’t think bad parenting is always responsible for rudeness. There are polite parents out there who unfortunately have rude children. Sometimes, especially when egos get stroked too much (you said that this woman is in the movie business) or in other situations (sometimes older people think they’re entitled and behave rudely, or it’s the result of senility, dementia or something else that affects their brain-to-mouth filters), they develop entitlement issues, but these aren’t always the results of bad parenting.

    This is not to say that bad parenting doesn’t result in rudeness or entitlement (it often does); it’s just not the only cause.

    1. My grandpa used to say that once in a while, there’s a kid that’s just born bad.

      I know a guy who doesn’t know who his father even is and whose mother is an addict that’s been in and out of prison his whole life. He has a graduate degree and became a teacher and then a school principal, trying to support kids that grew up like he did.

      So yes, I completely agree. Parenting isn’t always the cause. Usually, but there’s always exceptions.

  10. ‘It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you lay the blame…

    Not that you would do so, but as a thought experiment, why not consider a two track approach to advocacy – one track for the masses & another track for the entitled? One is free & the other is, say $100/hr for the moderately entitled & $500/hr for the true royalty, like Poster Girl.

  11. Not wanting to learn new things is a sign of stupidity, not old age. My mom lives on email, and she’s 95.

  12. There are a myriad of reasons and all are guesses at this point.

    Yes, we do see it, especially in complaints with airlines. But travel is high stress and i wish everyone could just take a step back and breathe. Often, the pax gets blamed in these situations, which raises the tension. The pax may be completely innocent. I can’t count the number of surly cabin crew I’ve met in the last year. I’m sure that even if I raised a legit issue, id be facing expulsion.

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