Sunday, June 2, 2013

Ze French

It's incredible, but I got my luggage money back! Completely. Even better, both companies refunded my luggage money. KLM refunded my 56 euro I paid online for the extra luggage, and Delta refunded 90 dollars to Michael with a cheque for the money we paid at the counter.

This raises my opinion of both companies. I was especially displeased with Delta, but in the end with Michael calling them he got it sorted out. KLM had good customers service all the way through, except when that French guy was so rude. But hey, the French right? What else would I expect.

I suppose that's racism, but it is what I expect by now from the French. The people I have encountered in their free time are nice and normal, but every time I have an encounter with a French person who works (say restaurant, customer service, bus, etc) they are rude. And mean. And short. Just terrible! I almost can't describe how horrific French people working in a service job are.

To Americans the whole of Europe doesn't have an ounce of customer service. But I can tell you there is a difference between the countries. We Dutch like to keep it plain and direct. We don't care how you are doing today, so we don't ask. When a customer wants to pay something he stands before the counter and holds out the item. Sometimes he might even say, "this please". The salesman will accept the item, scan it and say; "that'll be this amount". Customer gives the money silently, and the salesman will return the change and say "there you go. Come again!" The customer will grunt or nod and walk away. That's how a typical Dutch exchange goes when you shop. But you see, we aren't rude. We just keep it simple. No ruining of peoples' day, the exchange just slides in through your consciousness and out again. It doesn't add anything to your life, nor subtract it.

Now if you would go to America, that's a whole different story. Here they might care or not care how you are (some do actually want to know how you are) but everyone will happily greet you with a, "Good-day sir, how are you doing today?" The customer will smile brightly and reply, "I'm doing just great, thank you for asking, how are you?" This will seemingly please the salesman immensely and he will inform you that he is also great. "If you need anything, anything at all, don't be afraid to ask me, I'll be right here!" "I sure will, thank you!" will be the last reply of the customer.

Well, in my humble Dutch opinion that's a lot of energy and effort spent on idle talk. But I suppose it could make your day better. Someone cares enough, or pretends to care enough to inquire how you are, and listens to your answer. They are there to serve you and you feel great. The check-out goes quite similar. "Could you find everything you wanted sir?" "Why yes, thank you for asking, what a wonderful store you have". The salesman will smile and nod and thank him for the kind remark. There will be a lot of pleases and thank you's, and when they leave, "Thank you, come again, have a nice day!" And the customer will reply, "You have a wonderful day too and good luck working today!" The salesman will throw out another thank you as the customer walks through the door and it's over.

Man I get tired just writing about it. Just an energy drain. I understand it, because it actually adds something to your life. But I'm Dutch at heart and a utilitarian.

But now I went to France on holiday. I've been to Paris, Lyon and some of the countryside. I haven't seen the whole of France, but I am acquainted with the culture by now. If you go into a French store you are (like in most Dutch stores) ignored. But if you need help at any point during your shopping experience you are in for a treat. The French do not like to help you. They will make this clear. I cannot give you the dialogue, because they usually talk in French, and it's hard in any other language than theirs to be so utterly rude. But it goes something like this. "Excuse me could I ask a question?" The salesman will at first try ignore you. Maybe you'll go away. When you ask it again, they will sigh deeply and look in your direction. They will simply look at you until you speak your business, giving you a death stare the whole while. "Ok so uhm, well I was wondering if you have this in a size 7..." They grab the shoes, stomp away, and (if you are lucky) come back with the size. It will be given to you roughly and they will either immediately walk away, or stand there staring at you with their arms crossed over each other. Nice and awkward, thank you.

When you finally -against better judgement- decide to buy something, it will take you time before you get their attention. Because obviously, talking to the other salesman is more important. They'll laugh, haha it's so funny. You don't know what it is, you don't speak French, you just hope it's not you. When you finally get the attention of one of them they'll be pissed off for interrupting their conversation. They'll snatch the item from your hands, scan it, and angrily (in French) repeat the amount you owe them. The change will be thrusted in your hands and they will immediately continue their conversation.

This is just an example of their rudeness. The rudeness knows no bounds though, I am not capable of writing accurate enough situations that shows how French Service people treat you. It's out of my reality.

But in short, I hate ze French. Yes it's racism, I'm sorry. It's not personal. I'm sure you are a nice person. But please don't start working in a store.

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