The facts are quite disturbing, according to research, Brits have been revealed to be a nation of whiners, with the worst moaners spending 10,168 minutes a year blowing off steam. Ouch!

Research has shown over half the nation (56 percent) admit to a daily groan and one in five (19 percent) moan more than three times a day, resulting in 1,016 moans per year, for 169 hours.

When Brits aren’t complaining about the weather or relationships, it’s the workplace which takes up much of the moaning time, with annoying colleagues coming out on top (30 percent), ahead of work mates not pulling their weight (28 percent) and rude clients (24 percent).

Despite our love of whinging, we have no tolerance for others that do the same as four in ten (40 percent) Brits hate having to listen to someone complain and one in four people (24 per cent) have admitted that they even moan about others moaning.

The ‘whinging pom’ in Australia

The Winjin' Pom (the name is a pun on the "whinging pom", an Aussie expression used to refer to a person of British origin who constantly complains about things he has to face)

The urban dictionary defines this as, ‘A person of British origin who will consistently complain about any situation that they may face. They are emotionally unable to deal with any sort of adverse condition without commenting negatively about it’.

Not just Portugal

Complaining isn’t limited to Portugal, one English newspaper, The Scotsman, reported on one visitor’s complaint regarding a Spanish hotel, “The entertainment in the hotel was all focused and catered for the Spanish - why can't the Spanish go somewhere else for their holidays?”

A Twitter account on holiday complaints lists some classic complaints, these are apparently genuine. “My financé and I booked a twin-bedded room, but we were placed in a double. Now I am pregnant”. Another read, “They should not allow topless bathing on the beach; it was very distracting for my husband who just wanted to relax”.

Ask any travel company and they will probably tell you that the British are the source of most complaints. There is a school of thought, encouraged by the UK media, that complaining might get you a discount, refund, or some other advantage. The forgoing complaints from the holiday complaints Twitter account probably didn’t get them a discount. It’s called ‘trying it on’.

Is it just the Brits who complain?

Looking through readers responses to online articles from The Portugal News, it does seem we do tend to complain a lot. Last week I wrote about customer service. Needless to say, this resulted in a lot of comments, nine out of ten were negative. As I read through them, I found myself asking, are we in the same country, let alone the same shops? I have rarely encountered the problems and perceived rudeness that many readers complained about. I have found the staff in shops to be helpful and polite, usually very friendly. There will always be exceptions, but these would mainly seem to be in the service industry rather than retail establishments.

In every country there are some risks dealing with the service industry, but it’s easy to check out a company you plan to do business with. Personal recommendation is always good or simply Google the companies name, you will be surprised how much background information is available online.

It simply isn’t the nature of the Portuguese people to be rude or unfriendly, they are, by nature a very warm and welcoming people. Back in the eighties we commissioned two Gallup Polls, and both years, the number one reason people were considering moving to Portugal was ‘The Portuguese people’.

Personally, I have travelled extensively, and I have never encountered a more welcoming people. I have lived in Portugal for 49 years, so I believe I can speak from some considerable experience.

Are we the problem?

For the vast majority of readers, these comments are not for you. However, some people do approach local people, in shops, cafe’s etc, with what I might call a negative attitude. I must admit I have seen this and thought, this isn’t the way to get good service.

Many Portuguese readers respond to online complaints with the simple response, if you don’t like it, you have other choices of countries to move to. Nobody is forcing you to stay here. Although many people don’t agree with me, let’s face facts. It’s a privilege to live in Portugal, we are guests, and should not forget it. If we are not born here, we are guests. You have plenty of choices of other places to live, though I doubt you will find anywhere better. Surveys bear this out, Portugal is a top location for expatriates. The welcome we get is warm and genuine. Frankly a lot better than SOME people (not you of course) deserve.

Some people have said to me, we pay our taxes, so we have every right to complain. I beg to disagree. Paying your taxes doesn’t make you the ‘owner’ of the country with a right to complain and insist on your rights. If you go to a restaurant and pay after your meal, it doesn’t mean you own the restaurant! If you didn’t enjoy the meal, go somewhere else. We pay our taxes in return for the services we get, and if you don’t feel they are good enough, go and find somewhere better.

That might be a bigger challenge than you realise.


Resident in Portugal for 50 years, publishing and writing about Portugal since 1977. Privileged to have seen, firsthand, Portugal progress from a dictatorship (1974) into a stable democracy. 

Paul Luckman