Dear Miss Manners: Occasionally I come across a customer service policy that is designed to serve the company better, as opposed to the customer. In those cases, I realize the representative is simply relaying the message and most likely had nothing to do with putting the policy in place. Yet I can't help but show my displeasure to them, as they are acting as the face of the company in that moment.

Do you have a polite way to address this in the future so that I don't feel I'm flogging the messenger?

We expect companies to operate within both social norms and the law; we do not necessarily expect them to be altruistic or work against their own self-interest.

Miss Manners therefore expresses neither cynicism nor disparagement when she expects all company policies to serve the interests of the company: Even a lenient return policy presumably does so by building customer loyalty.

A good company policy serves both company and customer. What you are describing is a bad company policy, which is one that appears to take advantage of the customer. In these days of instant online reviews and customer boycotts, companies promulgate such policies at their peril. The less-understood cost is the wear and tear on their own staff, who are forced to represent the policy and deal with the understandable wrath of you, the customer.

How do you object to the policy without killing the messenger? With a polite but firm demeanor, and a willingness to follow the process through the chain of command — asking for a manager when a representative is not empowered to solve the problem — rather than degenerating into a yelling madman.

Dear Miss Manners: My mother, who doesn't drive anymore, was invited to a wedding about four hours away from the city where we live. I offered to drive her there and said we could spend the night in a hotel before driving back.

Somehow, the groom's family (the mother of the groom was my mom's friend) learned that I was in town and insisted I attend the wedding as well.

Beside the fact that I was looking forward to a relaxing few hours sitting by the hotel pool and reading, the wedding was an expensive, formal affair at a very posh country club. I was not prepared to attend a wedding, nor did I want to, not knowing anyone but my mother.

I politely declined. My mother said it was rude of me to refuse the last-minute invitation and that I insulted her friend. I said if the bride had wanted a plus-one for my mother, she would have indicated so on the invitation. Should I have given in and gone?

There are hosts who can give “command performances,” but most such hosts command armies. Even they cannot expect 100 percent acceptance of their invitations, although the rate does go up when those armies are used to round up stragglers.

Extending an invitation to you was intended as a kindness on the part of your mother’s friend, but there is no requirement that you accept. You might, however, be more vague about your reason for declining and merely cite a prior, nonspecific commitment.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com.

2018, by Judith Martin