“I Don’t Give A Damn….

What you think you are entitled to!”

I was on vacation last week.  An amazing vaction on the new Disney Dream cruiseliner.  I am truly living a charmed life.  And I say that not to be pompus or a braggart.  I say this because I pinch myself everyday when I think about my life, my work and all the experiences I have had. 

Have I worked hard?  Sure.  Harder than some.  Not nearly as hard as some others.  Sometimes, not as smartly as I could have.  Have I gotten some breaks (or I’d like to think, created them)?  Sure.  More than some, less than others.

I don’t own yachts or real estate holdings and will probably work until the day they close the lid on the casket to give my kids a leg up I never had.  I look in the mirror and I see a regular Joe.  I am grateful for everything in my life.  Yet, I have high expectations.

But on this vacation, in observing some customers’ behavior, I started wondering when expecations morph into entitlement.  It’s interesting that the Wikipedia entry for entitlement links to the defininition of narcissism.

Entitlement is defined as “a guarantee of access to benefits”.  When I hear we live in a culture of entitlement, I’m not so sure that the definition is fair.  And from my vacation observations, I’m grappling with what drives people of what most would consider an economically priviledged population to develop a sense of entitlement.

On a ship where every staff member bent over backwards, sideways and upside down to accomodate each guest’s every whim, for some, nothing was good enough.

Because I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the psychology of consumers, my attempt at analyzing the root drivers of this behavior settled along two dimensions.  It may be wrong-headed or unfair.  But I wonder who has a greater sense of entitlement?  Or at least, who is more prone to develop one?  Those that came from priviledge and always had?  Or, those that came from nothing and now find themselves, not Bill Gates kind of wealthy, but with a few bucks (and probably as many maxed-out credit cards) in their pocket?  Or maybe a narcissist is a narcissist, rich or poor.

Can anyone set me straight?


  1. So true. It's a shame for the staff working on the ship because if you're unlucky enough to be serving people who are un-pleasable, pleasing the guests becomes impossible.

  2. Barry, I agree that entitlement and narcissism are indeed linked. As customers, we see such exclusive benefits (for some) as "reserved" tables with the best views, hotel suites with upgraded amenities, and red carpeted lines in the flight boarding area with little waiting for premium passengers.

    I'm not a psychologist but as a former United 1K and Hertz Presidents Circle member, I believe it's true that as one gains status as a premium customer, his expectations (e.g., to consistently access certain privileges or benefits) are heightened.

    If he was upgraded on last week's flight but not this week's, he might say, "Mmmm…" And if Hertz assigned him a Lincoln Continental in Atlanta but he received a Ford Taurus in Chicago, he might be disappointed.

    Many people might refer to the above expectations as reflecting elitism or entitlement. I get that. But it really is different when you are a member of that group. And those who say that they would behave this way or that way in the same situation are hypothesizing.

    That said, as it pertains to your post, leisure travelers (who are expending limited vacation days and paying their own way) generally have higher expectations in terms of value for price paid than do business travelers who use fewer amenities and expense all related costs.

    That’s not to excuse rude customer behavior towards employees. Like you, I’m only trying to understand it.

  3. Dave, Thanks for the comment. And that's my point. I've written about this several times before – that the customer is not always 'right'. It's a two way street. and come on, at the root, its about basic human descency. just don't be a a-hole. Thanks again.

  4. Steve,
    Totally get it. and as a reformed road warrior, I used to be in a similar situation of having VIP status with hotels, rental cars and the like. And, over the course of 20 plus years, there were times when the rental lot didn't have the swankiest car available or my favorite hotel chain was booked to the gills months in advace for the National Flugelbinders Association conference and I didn't get the Prezi Suite.

    I could have pitched a fit many times, I guess. But, as I matured (and maybe that's the point. that some never do), I realized two facts in these situations that are undeniable 1. Stuff happens – people aren't consciously out to screw me. Sometimes, factors are beyond the control of even the most customer-centric organizations and 2. There is always someone with more. More miles, more status, more money, more everyting. So, while I may be entitled to more than some due to my status, I'm not the Pope for crying out loud.

    I also get that when its your own money, you have a hightened sensitivity to the value for the dollar. But, hey, if your paying for a burger, your going to get the best damn burger you've ever had. But, you're not getting the surf and turf.

    thanks again for an insightful comment

  5. When the customer isn't right it's the responsibility of the representative to calmly inform them why and to do their best to show them why.

  6. ya your right it's always responsibility of the owner or representative . even me i cant handle it

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