Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Hold The Line

ok, rant time....

Public Enemy once sang the song and many of us still know its true "911 Is a joke", but living here has changed me a bit and made me slightly forgiving of those 911 dispatchers because (and I never thought I'd say this) at least they answered. If there's one thing (beyond the feeble shower caps) that has annoyed me about this country, it has been the casual attitude towards basic communication. I can't even tell you how many phone calls to offices have gone utterly unanswered during business hours, the sheer number of emails that have disappeared into the ether or been answered far too late . All because some people don't seem to give

While talking with a friend a few weeks back I asked her why the phones (mobile and stationary) didn't have message service/answering machines/answerphones, and she reminded me that during Communism most everything was government monopoly, so the customer (or the new business inquiry) was not a priority, they'd get to you when they got you. This attitude seems to have carried through very nicely up to today's "market economy", and I can only pray that the people here get hip soon. I mean you know you've got a problem on your hands, when I miss this:

Good luck.


Tina. said...

Oh, dear Camille, I totally understand your frustration! I'm so sorry, too.

I still remember how disappointed I was the first time I came back to Slovenia after spending a year here. On my first day, I went to the shopping mall and couldn't believe how rude everyone was. I slowly gotten used to it again, but was happy to be back here, being treated as customers should be treated. Yes, with common decency. I'm not saying that things are perfect here in the U.S., but they are way, way better.

As for the voice mail services, same thing. This past summer I kept getting annoyed with people who have been calling me and didn't leave a message if I hadn't answered. And if I left a message, they wouldn't listen to it. Argh! Viva la difference, I guess. :)

Hope ranting helped you a bit; it does help me.

Schokolade Mädchen said...

It is the same mentality in Germany!

Camille Acey said...

@Tina - Alas I dont think I'll be happy until things really change...or I find something else to be annoyed about. :)

@schokolade - welcome! i am enjoying your blog (which i found this afternoon) - ugh, this might be a european thing. not charming, REALLY not charming.

Alex said...

It's not like that throughout Europe. Here in the UK you really do get good customer service. And yes, I'm always shocked at how rude everyone is when I go to Slovenia. But (and you may be surprised to hear this!) things have improved a GREAT deal in the past few years. Especially when it comes to the civil service - they're polite, friendly and efficient now (well, sort of - compared to a few years ago at least). And I've been getting email replies within days for the most part! Still not as good as the UK, where you normally get a reply on the same day, but hey, it's better than being ignored altogether. :)

And I've noticed that most people are quite friendly if you're friendly with them; I think the problem is that a lot of Slovenes are really rude to shop assistants and clerks, and then they in turn don't bother being nice back. I think it must be harder for you to establish a good rapport in such short communications though, as you don't speak the language that well yet - but hopefully it'll get better. :D

I wouldn't know about phones though, because I never use them. I always have difficulty understanding people over the phone and it's just so very scary, especially to talk to strangers, so I only use a phone if I REALLY have to (and I as a matter of principle never answer the phone if I don't recognise the number). It's so much easier just to talk to people in person, or else write them an email or letter. Oh yea, or Facebook them if they're your friends. :D

Camille Acey said...

Hey Alex,

Thanks for writing. It's not so much the shop clerks. I seem to get along well with all of them and they are all happy that I speak enough Slovene to make my requests clear. In fact, besides the post office, I've never even needed to speak English to any clerks here in Radovljica and everything has been pleasant. I am really just more annoyed about business communication. Work-related phone calls, letters, and emails seem to go at absolute snail's pace, and this is a place where a lot of the business people have two cellphones! I mean I know I am not "that important" here but even as a small fry in NYC I'd get speedy responses from people for quick requests, and people ALWAYS answered the phone, even if just for the secretary to tell you that the person would have to call you back.

Camille Acey said...

@ alex - Also, I hear you on hating the phone. I think that is why I am so annoyed. I muster all my courage to dial the number and then no one answers! How rude!

Alex said...

Hehe, I know exactly what you mean by mustering the courage to finally use the phone. I normally have to make an appointment with my orthodontist about twice a year, and she's known to be a bit nasty, so that's particularly traumatising. (She actually likes me and is very nice to me, but I'm scared that one day she'll change her mind and yell at me like she does at most others!)
So when I finally dial the number and no one answers, it's really awful, because I know I'll have to do it again - soon!

Oh, and once I sent an email to some government agency and waited for a reply. And waited. And waited. Finally I decided to go there in person, and when I asked them why they hadn't replied, they said something like, well, if we replied to every email, all we'd end up doing is replying to emails all day long. We actually don't read emails at all.
Ok, fair enough - but why advertise on your website that you can be contacted by email?! Grrr. That was several years ago though - I suspect (or hope, at least) things have turned for the better.

So, umm, well, there's not much point to this post. I suppose we can all just hope things turn for the better soon, and that business people finally learn where the 'answer' button on their phone is. :D

Tina. said...

Unfortunately, things are not always so great here either. This made me think of your post.

Camille Acey said...

@Tina - I am sorry to hear about this experience. What a nightmare! I am CERTAINLY the last person who would say America is perfect, but in this case I could partially blame this on the global nurse shortage (my mother is a nurse and harps about this every time we speak). This shortage means that not only are there fewer nurses but sometimes the people they (have to) take on as nurses are totally clueless and shiftless. UGH.

Tina. said...

This has been the first really bad experience like this for me here. And I totally understand the shortages and all that. I was upset the most about being lied to. :(