The UK’s most feared professions

Terrifying chefs, fearsome builders and rude call centre workers: how to get good service from them all

Gordon Ramsay

Gordon Ramsay has a lot to answer for. A new study has revealed that chefs - and other hospitality workers - like bartenders and waiters - are the most feared professions in the UK. It means we're scared to complain about dodgy food or poor service, for fear of what they might do. And they're not the only terrifying ones.

See also: The most and least trusted professions

See also: One in ten homeowners let down by builders


A study by Fletchers Solicitors, found the top five most feared:

1. Hospitality (chefs, waiting staff, bartenders) – 68%
2. Financial services (accountants, bookkeepers) – 64%
3. Trades (construction, electrical, plumbing) – 59%
4. IT & Telecommunications (call centre workers) – 55%
5. Transport (rail workers, airline staff) – 53%

Alarmingly most of us are scared by people in all of these professions. It doesn't bode well for their customer service skills, but it's even worse news for us, because it means we're likely to accept poor service from them, for fear of reprisals.

That's bad enough when we're waiting an hour in a restaurant for someone to take our order, but can have much more serious consequences when we are dealing with other professions on the list. Take tradespeople, for example, when we invite someone into our home, and pay them hundreds or even thousands of pounds to do a job, we need to have the confidence to ensure they do the job we expect, and hold them to account if they fall short.

Likewise, call centre workers have a reputation for being difficult to deal with, especially when we are trying to cancel services. Unless we can cope with them effectively, we could end up stuck in a costly deal we don't want - or even worse we can find ourselves upgraded. Over the course of a year we could waste hundreds of pounds as a result.

What can you do?

When you are dealing with a professional you are slightly scared of it's worth taking five key steps to improve your approach:

1. Prepare
Even if you're just complaining about your cold soup, you'll feel better if you know what you're going to say in advance. For more complex things, like specific requests from tradespeople or to a call centre, make a note of what you want to say, so you can refer back to it.

2. Decide the outcome before you start
Do you want a replacement meal, or your money back? Do you want to leave your media supplier, or would you settle for a better deal? What work do you need the tradesperson to complete, and by when? If you go in knowing what you want, you're more likely to get it.

3. Stay calm
Often we're afraid of the reaction we'll get from people, but if you pledge to stay calm - no matter what - then it will help stop tempers rising or emotions bubbling over.

4. Be polite
It can be difficult if you feel ripped off, or infuriated by being kept on hold for 20 minutes, but ideally you want these professionals to start from a position of wanting to help you.

5. Remember you're the customer
There's an enormous difference between being polite, and being steamrollered. Remember, you are paying for this service, so you have every right to insist on having a good job done, and good service. You don't have to get angry or be rude, just know what you want, and insist on it.

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