My Theory On Blooming

LIFE OF AN AMERICAN EXPAT LIVING ABROAD

So, lately I have absolutely had it with the lack of customer service in this country.  It’s absolutely ridiculous.  I’ve never been so appalled with the behavior of the service industry.  I am not sure what chip these people have on their shoulder, but it is a serious issue that’s pissing me off.
I know I am an American.  And, that this isn’t America.  But, in America, “the customer is always right” attitude and a smile is what gets you big tips and returning customers.  Yeah, sometimes the servers at TGI Friday’s or Applebee’s might lay it on pretty thick, but you know what…I like it.  They bring me ketchup or mayo or extra pickles without rolling their eyes or a snigger.  They check to see if I’d like another refill on my Diet Coke every 15 minutes, the manager checks to see if everything is okay, and they give my kid a free balloon and crayons to top it all off.  What did I get in downtown Brussels (just outside of the Grand Place)?  I was ignored…Completely and utterly ignored for over 15 minutes, while every other table in our vicinity was served.  I finally had to snap my fingers, and the pinhead waiter said “J’arrive” (I’m coming in french) and walked away.  Yeah, I gathered up my family and left.  I was so pissed off.
We’ve been having a leak in our house for over a month now, and after calling 3 plumbers (the first two were on vacation for the entire month of August) I finally got someone to come out to the house.  I was told he would send me an estimate for the work…3 weeks later, I still haven’t received the estimate, but I have received a bill for 80 Euro.  Seriously?  The leak has now turned into a major issue…I have a new water feature in my living room…a waterfall with crack in the ceiling of the living room, and water damage on the walls.  This could possibly have been prevented had someone been available or willing to work!  There is a recession people, and there are a lot of people out of work or under employed…if someone is willing to pay you for your expertise, don’t you take it?
Okay, so if you have managed to get someone to your house to do the repairs, it will probably take double the time estimated.  I mean with all the coffee and cigarette breaks.  Not to mention the lackadaisical lunching.  My girlfriend’s next door neighbor has been having a new roof put on for the past few months.  The other day her daughter looked out the window and said “they have been working on that house for a long time”.  It’s sad when a 5 year old is calling out your productivity.
My latest run in with stellar customer service was at Brico the other day.  I had to rent a carpet cleaner.  It was Saturday evening when I rented it, and I only needed it for one day.  Since the store was closed on Sunday, I asked the man helping me whether or not I would be charged for a day or a weekend since I was not able to return it the next day.  He stated that I had to return it by 12PM on Monday to only be charged the day rate.  I was very pleased with this, and planned on returning it Monday morning.  On Monday, I arrived at the store at 9:30AM.  A different guy was working the desk where I had to return the cleaner.  As he was writing on the invoice, I noticed that he was charging me for the weekend rate.  I interrupted him politely, and said that I was told that if I brought it back before 12PM, that I would be charged for only one day.  He looked at me with a pissed off look, and with his French accent said “You are wrong.  You must not have understood”.   Talk about fuming.  I thought I was gonna rip this scrawny little schmuck’s smirk right off his face.  I tried to stay calm, but you know that didn’t work.  Needless to say there were a few expletives thrown at him.  I grabbed my invoice, and headed to the register, where I was greeted by a clerk with the personality of a wasp.  I just don’t know how so many people can be so damn miserable?
I do like to give credit where credit is deserved though.  The gentlemen who do the gardening at my house are superb; especially the team leader.  He is always smiling, and helpful.  If I ask any of them to do something extra, they never hesitate…unless they have no idea what I am saying, but we always seem to figure things out.  So, to them I say THANK YOU.
As you can see that this is a big issue for me, and it just kills me that this is the way people are treated at restaurants and stores, or by vendors.  I just can’t stand it, and I guess my expectations will never be met, but I’m not going to lower my standards for anyone.  Remember, you choose where you eat, what you buy, and who you seek out for work.  If they treat me like crap, chances are you aren’t getting any tip, and I won’t be back…but I will take my wine with me (you can do that around here).

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