One company I worked for had a very nice on site cafeteria. At Thanksgiving and Christmas, the company arranged with the cafeteria contractor to serve a free meal to employees - prime rib, sides, dessert, and drinks (soda or bottled water). Free. The last year I was there, someone wrote to the president of the company in one of those 'ask the president' type forums and complained that the sides weren't to her liking, the prime rib was too fatty, and why weren't there more dessert options? It should also be noted that about once a quarter the company would sponsor a themed 'fun day', where they would serve a casual meal (hamburgers, BBQ sandwiches, etc) outside, complete with free Tshirts and some theme-related games or activities. The event would run 3 hours around lunchtime (say from 11-2) so that as many people as possible could go. People always griped about how 'cheesy' the activities were, or whined about how they didn't like hot dogs or BBQ or whatever.
Well, complaining to the president does seem a little over the top! But, in my limited experience, I've been to some events that were company sponsored, and even though we were getting stuff free and nominally didn't "have" to go, there was often pressure to attend to look like a team player, or if you weren't attending you felt pressured to come up with an excuse. And some people's (probably true) go-to excuse would be a complaint about the activities or the food--not necessarily shouted from the rooftops, but a quick, "Oh, I'm not so fond of hot dogs," in passing.
One example: Every week, for years, we had a seminar at noon on Tuesday, and about half the time there would be a pizza lunch afterwards with the speaker. People started to complain about the pizza--that they were tired of it and would like something else. Of course there are rude ways to complain, but I don't think suggesting a change is, in itself, rude. That's a lot of pizza for some people and maybe they were starting to feel like they didn't want to attend the lunch if it was always going to be pizza. Would the organizers rather they just stop attending, or would they rather know what the issue was, and look into ordering sandwiches instead? (Now the people who popped in, took pizza, and left without chatting with the speaker? Rude. And I will freely admit I used to do that myself sometimes, because I saw other people doing it and assumed it was a normal thing, but when I realized how awful it actually was I stopped.)
Another example: once a year the company put on a ceremony and reception to honor employees in a certain category from the whole section--several departments put together, maybe a couple hundred people. I hated going to it because I felt it was poorly done. They got people's names and departments wrong in the program; the person announcing people's names obviously hadn't taken the briefest time to prepare and stumbled over the names of the many foreign-born employees; the food was not good; it was at an awkward time of day; etc.. And this was not just one bad year, I went to this for five years in a row and it was always like that.
I would complain to my mom and she would always be like, "Hey, they're honoring you, suck it up and go." But, to me it didn't feel like an honor, it felt disrespectful almost, because it was so shoddily done--like someone had told them they had
to do this, but they didn't want to, so they put the least amount of effort possible in.
Sorry, didn't mean to pick on you!
Your post just made me think of similar situations I've been in, where I had the opposite perspective. It's like threads when people complain about gifts--some people find that tacky, full stop. Me, I'm a "it's the thought that counts" kind of person... and sometimes, you can just tell that the thought was almost non-existent, or even negative. That's what would hurt/disappoint me, not the fact that the gift/food/etc. was off-target.