Customer Service Stress

A major complaint I hear quite often living here is that the customer service is total crap. Do they kiss your ass every time you walk into a store? No. Has anyone ever been openly rude to me? No. Have I waited what felt like a thousand years to get help in stores and restaurants? Absolutely yes. So while I don’t consider myself to be one of the foreigners here who has a major problem with German customer service*, there are moments when it does scare the bejeezus out of me. This is a story about one of them.

BV and I had gone into the Karstadt department store recently to pick up a few things, and a brightly-colored spring sweater caught my eye. Since I still had a few gift cards floating around my wallet, I decided to go ahead and get it. We checked out with my sweater, and then proceeded to hunt the store for men’s socks, before checking out again and descending to the U-Bahn level to exit the store.

The bottom level of the store is the food section, and as it is at the U-Bahn level, it sees a fair amount of foot traffic. BV and I were eagerly debating what our planned dinner order would be (we were marking the end of vegetarian January/February by going out for Greek), when we heard peep peep peep as we went through the doors. We stopped, turned around, peep-ing again, and paused in the entryway. There’s no security in most stores here, and people continued to go on about their business around us. The store employees in eye/earshot didn’t blink at all, and then we heard more peeps as other people went in and out. We figured at that point that the metal detector was faulty, and since we had receipts for our purchases, we headed back out the door.

The next day I pulled out my new sweater to try it on with a few things and, you guessed it, the friggin’ ink tag was still attached. Sonofabitch. For two reasons, really.

  1. This means an extra trip into the city, because I’m usually carrying around enough stuff to class that I don’t really care to add a shopping bag to the mix and…
  2. ย I can’t do this by myself. My German is serviceable under benign circumstances but just the thought of trying to explain this to a cashier was enough to scare the crap out of me. Did I have receipts? Yes. Did it warrant a lengthy explanation? No. But the American in me would like to give some kind of a justification/story to explain myself more. And my German is not good enough to do that and I didn’t want to cause a scene somehow. Or get arrested.

That meant when poor BV came home, I got to tell him that we were going to take another trip into town at some point because of the aforementioned reasons. He wasn’t thrilled about another extra trip either, but he completely understood my reasoning.

Cut to us on the S-Bahn a few days later…

BV: Yeah we have a receipt, but what if they think that we bought one and paid for it, but stole this one?

Me: Oh my God I didn’t even think of that! Why would you say that? Don’t put thoughts in my head!

We walked back into Karstadt, peep-ing again on the way in, headed to the nearest Kasse, and waited to hear our fate.

When our turn came, we stepped up, BV pulled out the receipt and the sweater, showed her the ink tag and…

Cashier: Oh mein Gott,(continues in German) sorrysorrysorry, hate it when that happens, etc.

She took the ink tag off, folded my sweater up, handed it back to us, and went to a cabinet in the corner. We thought maybe there was a “whoops something happened” form or who-knows-what, but she came back with two chocolate hearts (Lindt, not some crap chocolate), handed them to us and apologized profusely for making us come back.

All that stress for nothing.

To be fair, she did ask us if the alarm had gone off, but BV explained that we had heard it go off with other people as well so we just assumed it was faulty. So could I have explained that myself? Debatable and I’m glad he was there just in case.

However that means perhaps it’s time to set myself a new goal. To not only be able to survive a normal interaction in German, but to be able to get my own damn ink tags removed without fear of a panic attack. That seems reasonable, right?

 

*I highly recommend spending a few years in Prague. Those customer service people HATE EVERYONE. Germans seems positively cheerful in comparison.

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6 thoughts on “Customer Service Stress

  1. Lindt chocolate hearts though… that’s almost worth the extra trip into town ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I used to make Jan go with my to buy shoes because I didn’t know how to ask for the second one. Now I just buy my shoes from Deichman where both are already right there ๐Ÿ˜‰ (I could ask for the second one now though!)

    • That’s what I said. Plus we did a few other errands that needed running and went out for Thai. Win, win, win!
      Plus good to hear that other people have similar problems… gives me hope that another few years ought to help. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. oh wow, some nice customer service! I’m one of those people who complain about the service here haha. Well I have noticed it’s not everyone, some people are nice, but there have been times where I’ve had to deal with someone who has just been really rude and condescending and it makes me feel like crap!

    • Don’t get me wrong, I’ve complained once or twice! ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’ve often said that I think it’s good that I spent a few years in the Czech Republic first though because compared to that country, German customer service is downright cheerful! Hope your experiences improve though… can’t see how they possibly benefit by being rude to people.

  3. This and not getting proper drugs from the doctor are the moans I hear the most about Germany, and I’ve never felt that strongly about either, glad it’s not just me. Though I haven’t attained the chocolate level of apology yet!

    • Clearly you need to have more mishaps to up your chances of getting some chocolate!
      I’ve heard the drug one a lot as well, and I don’t get it. But then I almost never go to the doctor, and wonder how often one has to go in order to have this much of a problem with it…

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