It’s said that America is really the home of customer service. If you want your dressing on the side, or no tangerines in your Asian peanut salad, that’s no problem. Return something without a receipt? Of course, sir. And, as I discovered today, removal men have no issue with taking away super king-size mattresses that are superfluous to requirements. As long as you grease their palms with plenty of greenbacks, that is.
But when it comes down to it, the concept of customer service in the United States is just that – a concept. It’s certainly not based on any sense of reality. Well, not from what I’ve seen so far anyway.
Today I stood in a line (did you notice how I didn’t say queue there? I’m starting to scare even myself) at Starbucks, and waited perhaps ten minutes for nothing more challenging than a grande Americano. Maybe I’d annoyed them by deliberately referring to it as a medium Americano, but that’s no excuse for serving everybody behind me their iced chai latte or skinny caramel macchiato before they even thought about giving me my coffee. When I finally plucked up the courage to ask where my coffee was, the confused stare I received suggested the ‘barista’ was still torn between spitting or blowing her nose in my drink.
As for some of the suppliers being paid to provide services for mine and Soon To Be Wife’s nuptials, their ability to return calls or provide information in a timely fashion leaves something to be desired. By which I mean that they may well have moved to Mexico, such is the level of communication we’ve been able to extract from them over the last few weeks. Forgive me for not naming them, given that I would still prefer that they deliver on their promises rather than leaving us racing around on the morning of the wedding looking for socks or cufflinks.
When it comes down to it, customer service is no better here than it is in the UK. And if you’ve ever been to a motorway service station somewhere off the M4, you’ll know that’s no good thing.
That said, I went to the Apple store earlier in the week after one of the buttons of the iPhone gave up the ghost. I believe if you look up the phrase ‘gave up the ghost’ in any dictionary, you’ll find the definition ‘dropped on a metal bar under the passenger seat in a car’. And today, the good folk at the Genius Bar gave me a whole new iPhone, free of scratches and with a fully working button. You can’t ask for better customer service than that, especially given that there were almost no questions asked.