An Open Letter to the Unscrupulous Complainer

DISCLAIMER: This post is not about legit complainers and their legit complaints, such as the legit fly in the legit bowl of soup. This piece is not intended to dissuade any reader from reporting an actual crime, nor is it meant to serve as a rallying cry for those who doubt the validity of accusations brought into question by ensuing biological processes. The situations mentioned are intended to be broad and lacking in specifics, yet universally understood. To be clear, names aren’t named, because there are no names to name. (Apologies to my voyeuristic friends, but do take heart: Somewhere in the world, right now, TMZ is harassing a former child actor from a two-season 80’s sitcom.)


Picture yourself at the end of a long day of work. The fatigue, the satisfaction, the comforting knowledge that your family will be fed and the lights will stay on in your home because you spent the day away from them to earn a living serving others. You grab your coat, your lunch bag, and head for the door when you get a text from your boss: “Come see me in my office.”

Finding it unusual but thinking little of it, you make your way down the hallway to find your manager. You’ve been staring at this carpet for years; you like it here, and you intend to like it here as long as possible. Jobs like this don’t come around every day.

You enter the office. Your manager asks you to shut the door and take a seat, and proceeds to hit you with a heavy dose of WTF: You got a customer complaint today. A serious complaint. A complaint that calls into question not only your judgment, but your grasp of professional ethics, and the very essence of your character. A complaint that could cost you a week’s pay, your position with the company, and your ability to remain engaged in the career you’ve been committed to for years. A complaint your brain is struggling to comprehend – because it is 100%, indisputably, ridiculously bogus.

You are told to remain home for several days, pending investigation. The long days and sleepless nights that follow are sheer torture, and worry has spread to the rest of your family like a third world virus. What if you lose your job? What if you can’t get a new one? What if you can’t pay your mortgage? What if…?

Dear unscrupulous complainer, it’s quite possible that you don’t have a clue, so I’m letting you know that this is a fairly accurate description of what happens when you file a phony complaint, particularly in a larger business involving one-on-one consumer/service provider interaction. And what, pray tell, did you get out of it? Seriously, please leave a comment below, because I’d love to know.

I bet you didn’t consider that the innocent person you smeared is prone to panic attacks and racked up a hefty doctor’s bill, thanks to you. You probably don’t give a damn that the utilities didn’t get paid that week, just in case that career we’re talking about actually got flushed down the toilet you threw it in. I’m almost certain that you don’t care that this service provider is going to be borderline paranoid and overly cautious in every single business encounter he or she engages in for at least the next six months, if he or she is lucky enough to retain employment.

But getting back to you, because you’re obviously the only person around here who matters: Why did you go out of your way to do this? Was your wallet feeling a bit light this morning? Are you lacking the perception of power in other aspects of your life? Do you need to read a book about transference? I happen to have some good ones I’d let you borrow, if I wasn’t convinced you’d accuse me of inappropriate book lending.

— Andrea


Andrea Lipomi is a licensed massage therapist and esthetician who lives and works in Las Vegas, Nevada. She also peddles massage therapy ebooks and NCBTMB-approved continuing education courses at, will travel hundreds of miles for a fantastic spa experience, and craves dark chocolate and Depeche Mode’s upcoming tour dates on an almost daily basis.

12 thoughts on “An Open Letter to the Unscrupulous Complainer

  1. In this field, I think that’s something that we don’t think of day-to-day because if you’re doing everything right – why would it even cross your mind? It’s a real shame that there are immoral, selfish people out there that don’t think before they falsely accuse – on how it could ruin someone. Very good post.

    • Thanks Jane. It truly is the kind of situation that’s very difficult to wrap the mind around unless someone very close (friend, partner, coworker, oneself) has been subjected to this crap, and you were there to witness the aftermath. It’s a shame, and I’ve seen it happen a handful of times during my career.

  2. I believe in Karma and reaping what you sow. I’ve reaped what I’ve sown over the years and had to learn some hard lessons.

    The people who set out to ruin others’ lives either consciously or unconsciously will eventually feel the same despair when their livelihood and/or is in jeopardy. And frankly, they deserve it. As you said, there are legit complaints for good reason. But to complain in such a way that it risks someone’s career and livelihood, especially if it was never warranted in the first place? Pathetic.

    • Kim, thanks for the support, as always. I agree — I have a hard time believing that someone who is happy with themselves would be capable of maintaining that happiness while smearing the reputations of others for personal gain.

    • I think “complaints” are lodged with the complaintant’s ego in mind – obviously. The nature of the complaint, especially when it involves a touch-oriented situation, is so sensitive that corporations have already considered the reaction they impart on the accused employee and act under advisement of their battalion of lawyers – to suspend pending investigation. In many cases, while a touch practitioner is “under review”, the pay is lost (from not working), the case is being built (“for” the corporation, without the involvement of or account recorded from the practitioner), and there is an impending threat (most-likely) to the employ of the practitioner and at-leastly their in-house and professoinal reputation. All these consequences have far-reaching effects, not only for the practitioner immediately, but for the future of the employee practitioner.
      I have seen this happen, too, and I still believe the best confidence an accused practitioner can garner (before it happens) is a good liability insurance policy and a (possibly “assisted”) persistence with the corporation to be kept in the loop about what the accusation actually is. There is nothing worse that being accused of something and not knowing what it is. Well, maybe being terminated over that unknown accusation – that would be worse.

      • Hi Dave. Thanks for sharing your insight. I agree with your take on the “battalion of lawyers”. As far as our insurance options go, I haven’t been able to find any that provide any coverage for accusations of inappropriate conduct of a sexual nature. Most that I’ve looked into specifically state that they DON’T cover that…am I missing something? And if so, sign me up!

  3. People know if they complain they will get something for free and that is as far as they think. God forbide someone considers the ripple effect they may have. My mother would have slapped me silly for lying even at the age of 34, but she doesnt have to cause she did her job right from the begining. Where are these peoples morals and values? Also, why complain to a manger tell your provider the problem. Maybe your particular issue is special to you. I could ramble forever on this topic, good choice miss. A

    • Thanks Kelly. I totally agree that it’s also ridiculous when a client keeps their mouth shut for 60 minutes — even after you ask them if everything is OK — only to find out they complained to your manager when you weren’t within earshot. Clearly we ask people if everything is OK just to hear ourselves talk, right?

      • Oh yes, this is the clincher. It is more serious in your line of work. In my line of work it happens, too. People call and complain later instead of speaking reasonably to someone at the time of the error.

  4. This is exactly why spas should never offer comps after completed sessions. I’ve seen people come in to our place and abuse good, skilled and conscientious therapists just to get a freebie. If someone is going to lay on a table and ‘endure’ a lousy session without giving feedback, that’s the client’s fault. It shouldn’t be rewarded. A good therapist can always change how he or she is working on someone. The desk and the therapist both encourage clients to speak up if something isn’t working for them. If clients are unhappy, THEY HAD A WHOLE SESSION to say something. Therapists still deserve to be paid in that scenario. They can’t get that time or energy back.

    • Thanks a million for your thoughts on this, Lourdes. If I ran my own business, there would be no rewarding of ill-spirited or passive-aggressive behavior. Those clients would cease being clients, per me, in keeping with my ethical standards. Nowadays, it seems like management employees (in all types of businesses) are petrified of negative reviews. There’s probably a mathematical management formula out there that measures the risk/reward ratio of these situations. 😛

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