The graphic name of the website “I Wish I Spit In Your Food” conjures up the worst fears of customers. But it simultaneously resonates with millions of disgruntled service workers who want a platform to vent their individual and collective anger. The popular site has quickly become a virtual sounding board where disrespected, mistreated employees everywhere can finally be empowered with a public voice and way to express their feelings.

Today everyone is having to work longer, harder hours for less pay,” explains the site’s creator, Matt Ota. “They have to put up with more than they should. But if their bosses aren’t willing to help and they can’t afford to quit they wind up hating their jobs. Our website lets them express their frustrations without risking their livelihoods.

One reason that the site is generating so much attention is that many visitors find it outrageously entertaining. Getting an insider’s peek into how workers ranging from auto mechanics and bartenders to emergency room physicians and hotel receptionists feel can be interesting, shocking, and informative. The site is, however, much more than just a place to gripe or vicariously experience the plight of ordinary workers. Consumers, employees, and business owners can all learn uniquely valuable lessons from these real-life service-sector horror stories.

Disgruntled workers, for instance, post unvarnished accounts of dealings with terrible customers and their inexcusable displays of arrogant, selfish, offensive behavior. But they also provide intelligent tips for other employees about how to deal with those selfish and rude people without triggering a complaint to higher-ups such as shift managers and bosses. Anyone who works in a service industry can learn cleverly innovative ways to help protect their own reputations and jobs from customers who could otherwise make their lives even more miserable.

Meanwhile supervisors and business owners can find out exactly how it feels to be in the frontline trenches. By understanding the reality their workers experience on a daily basis they have a rare opportunity to proactively respond to improve workplace attitudes and raise team morale. That kind of leadership and intervention can help reduce attrition rates so that good employees are not inadvertently lost. Recruiting, hiring, and training new workers is very expensive, after all, so retention is one of the keys to success in today’s fiercely competitive economy.

Companies may say that the customer is always right. But if service workers are resentful and decide to exact revenge, they have sneaky ways to do so. The fact that a website based entirely on worker complaints can be so popular – with a name like “I Wish I Spit in Your Food” ( is all the evidence consumers need to grasp the seriousness of the situation. So perhaps the biggest value of the website is for consumers who can gain the kind of unique insight and empathy that will go a long way toward ensuring faster, better, more responsive and satisfying service.

Matt Ota