Wednesday, November 17, 2010

When in Rome... You Can Still Have a Bad Day

I don't expect two countries to be the same. I try not to compare them - I really do. And while many people say that customer service in South Africa is non-existent, these are the people who are used to American-style customer service, which is... different.

Today, however, it appears to be "Antagonize the Customer Day" here in South Africa. I went to the Post Office to pay our annual vehicle registration fee (which you can actually pay at a post office in this country - yippee!), and the lady behind the counter just disappeared when I handed her my paperwork. No explanation or anything. When she finally came back, she said, "The system was down. I couldn't do anything until it came back up." Do you think she could have told me that before she walked off, so I at least knew what was going on?

At the next shop, the woman at the till gave me R30 rand in change... all in R1 and R2 coins. She said, "Is this okay?" I asked if she had any notes. She said no. I asked if she had any R5 coins. She said no. I asked if she could ask someone at one of the other tills. She said no. Which leads me to wonder, why did she ask me if I had no choice? I ended up with 19 coins.

The next place I went had clothing high up on the wall out of anyone's reach. I asked a woman to get down a jersey (sweater) for me, and she said they didn't have it in my daughter's size. I said, "But there's a whole stack of jerseys. Can you please just check?" She said, "See. There's a size 10 behind a size 7. There's no size 9." Long story short, there were tons of size 9's. She just didn't want to look past the first two jerseys.

All this causes me to wonder - am I really a horrible American who can't help but compare everything to how it is "back home," or is there a base level of customer service one can expect worldwide? And does it even matter?

I think I'll just chalk it up to a bad day and let it go at that.

1 comment:

Heather, Rick, and Tendai! said...

you know whats funny... south africa (for us at least) has been the place where we have had THE BEST and THE WORST customer service.. (well.. the worst would probably be a tie with mozambique restaurants but that is a whole other issue). I dont think it is "american" of you to expect that if you are spending money in their store to pay their wage that you ask for help to reach something high up on the wall. ever. that isnt an american concept. its a business one. so dont feel bad for that one at all.
the other two.. well. thats just africa. specially the computers being down. drives me nuts when they do stuff like that. on the other hand some of the places we have been in nelspruit etc have some of the best customer service i have ever seen- i think it all depends on how well the person slept the night before and how often the boss is in store to review their performance! love ya and miss ya!!!