If you're in a store or restaurant and dissatisfied with the work of an employee and want to complain, how will you say:

Call your supervisor!


Call your manager!

or some other way?

  • 2
    As an addendum to Max's answer, I would add to please consider using his phrasing as "Call your ____!" or "Get your ____!" would sometimes be considered antagonizing (even if you hadn't meant it to be). – Teacher KSHuang Apr 10 '17 at 11:48
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    @TeacherKSHuang I know it sounds like one is about to make up a scandal and I wouldn't like to start like this, but I just was curious how the person to whom, say, a waiter reports, is called. – olegst Apr 10 '17 at 12:12
  • @TeacherKSHuang Will adding the word please ameliorate possible rudeness? Or should I avoid imperative mood at all? – olegst Apr 10 '17 at 12:17
  • @olegst A "please" might make it less rude, but not necessarily ameliorate it. A lot would depend on tone of voice and body language. To avoid appearing rude, it is better to make it a question/appear optional ("could you get your manager please?"). That said, sometimes when someone is being rude/especially negligent you want to be forceful so they actually do what you say. – SteveES Apr 10 '17 at 16:54
  • Generally, I would ask for a manager or supervisor. Your implies that you're about to directly complain about the person in front of you. – chrylis -cautiouslyoptimistic- Apr 11 '17 at 4:19

Yes, in AmE, those seem fine. Although in certain contexts manager and supervisor are not interchangeable, I think that in the scenario described by OP, most people would not worry about the distinction. I've also heard people use boss instead of supervisor or manager.

I commonly hear

  1. Let me talk/speak to your ______.
  2. I want to talk/speak to your ______.

where you can use any of the names in the blanks.

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(In BrE at least) Both may be used, although in my experience manager would be much more common.

It would also be common to ask for the manager if you were unsatisfied and the member of staff dealing with your complaint did not resolve it. This means that you are asking for the person currently in charge of the shop or restaurant, not just the supervisor/line manager of the particular staff member. In this context you would definitely not ask for "the supervisor", and if you did people might not understand what you meant.

A situation where the word supervisor might be more common would be if you were talking to someone on the phone in a call centre.

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Based on what I know:

  1. If you didn't like the food the first think you usually ask for is a "book of complaints".
  2. The word manager is a good a choice if wish to speak to someone who manages the restaurant.

    • Please, let me speak/talk to you manager - If you are simply unsatisfied
    • Would you be so kind as to call (for) the manager - Somewhat very formal
    • I wish (would like) to speak/talk to the manager - If you are really dissatisfied
  3. I, personally, wouldn't use the word supervisor as it mostly addresses the manager of a manager, the person who supervises the work of a manager and assists him in directing and organizing the staff. However, it is a possible word too.

  4. If there is something wrong with your dish you may call the waiter "Excuse me" and ask him to change it.
  5. In most cases if you politely speak to the wait staff they'll handle everything.

Be cautious and avoid slang and bad words when addressing the staff.

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    "book of complaints" is wrong. There may be a "complaints book" where the staff record complaints - but that would be an internal thing that customers never see. Further, "administrator" would also be wrong. "SteveES" has got the answer about right. – Martin Bonner supports Monica Apr 10 '17 at 14:22
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    In my experience "supervisor" is someone who is floor staff, but also essentially the lowest level manager of the floor staff. They report to the manager who has more authority. You seem to suggest it is the other way around, but I've never really seen that. – JMac Apr 10 '17 at 14:40
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    @SovereignSun I'm wondering whether "administrator" might be a mistranslation. (In the UK) An administrator would probably not be in charge, but would be the person doing secretarial/administrative work. The other context for an "administrator" would be if a company got into financial trouble and was going bankrupt. They would "go into administration" and the "administrators" would effectively run the company and try to ensure creditors got paid. I've never heard it used for someone who is a manager/director/CEO etc. – SteveES Apr 10 '17 at 16:50
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    @SovereignSun "Maybe in Br.E and Am.E it's an internal thing but not in Russia." I think people are expecting answers based on how native speakers use English. "Administrator" certainly isn't used that way in British English, and I've not heard it used that way in American English, either. – David Richerby Apr 10 '17 at 18:23
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    @SteveES : I think "administrator" is a mistranslation too. I am quite happy to believe that the Russian word SovereignSun is translating, and the English word "administrator" have the same root - but that doesn't mean "administrator" is the right English word to translate the Russian word. – Martin Bonner supports Monica Apr 10 '17 at 19:19

I think it has to do with the nature of the complaint. If it is about the service generally, ask the "the manager." If you are dissatisfied with a particular staff member specifically, ask for "your supervisor."

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