Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Customer Service in Switzerland

Oddly enough, I am feeling wonderfully comfortable with my ambivalence following our trip to Zurich. I had hoped to come back with clarity on our future plans to either a). move back to Zurich or b). settle in Spokane. Now, I feel totally at ease with going back and forth multiple times a day. What's coming? We don't know, and it honestly doesn't matter. Clarity, shmarity!

But, one thing that I have 100% clarity on is the total and utter lack of customer service in Switzerland.


Switzerland is known for horrid customer service in retail settings. Here are a few examples:

The photos above are of Einzigart, my favorite store in Zurich. I love that store despite the fact that no one greets me when I walk in the door. In addition, questions are met with scowls and scoffs. During our trip, I bought Coco a pair of slippers there. I tried to pay in cash, which is the norm in Switzerland. The total was 22.85 CHF, but the store didn't have any change. IN SWITZERLAND! The land of cash. No change! What followed was a big confusing hullabaloo in which a friend tried to step in and shuffle everything about, until I finally paid with a card. Ridiculous. What would they need money for anyway?! It's not like they're selling stuff. I'll still go back. ;)

Next was the Apple Store. As I mentioned yesterday, I happened to drop and smash my phone after a night of too much champagne. It happens. In fact, it happens a lot. This is actually the third time I'll have my screen replaced. When I just happened to be walking by, I popped into the Apple Store on Bahnhofstrasse to see how the price compared in Switzerland. At that point, little chunks of glass were falling out every day. It seemed better not to wait until we got home. It went like this:

Walk in, find a guy in a blue shirt.
Me: "Hi, I need a new screen for my phone," holding phone so he can see.
Him: "Yes, you'll need to schedule with the repair department, which is that line there." Points to long line of six or more people waiting to see girl in a blue shirt hunched over an iPad.
Me: "I was just wondering what the price is."
Him: "She can tell you when you schedule."
Me: "But, depending on the price, I might wait until I'm in the States later this week."
Him: "I don't have that information, you'll have to ask her."
Me: "You honestly don't know?"
Him: "No."
Me: "Seriously?"
Him: Silence
Me: "Okay," walk out the door.

How many times a day do you think people go in there with that EXACT SAME question?! Maddening. My screen is still broken, by the way. As soon as I'm done with this post, I'm scheduling a Genius Bar appointment. Any recommendations on full-coverage cases? They're all sooooooo ugly. Woe is me!

The final example happened at Starbucks and comes from my friend and comedienne Sylvia Day. I think this status update says it all.
One morning before the Writers Workshop, I stopped in at Starbucks and they were out of coffee! They offered to make me something else (and charge me more!) so in the end, I just waited five minutes and was late to the workshop. Not cool, Starbucks. Not cool at all.

If you're not already following Sylvia Day on Facebook, you should be. And if you're in the Zurich area, she has a holiday show coming up. J and I went a couple years ago and it was great fun. Don't miss it!

Tell me your hilarious (lack of) customer service stories. I would love to hear! xo

20 comments:

  1. Hahahahaha Germany is much the same of course. I find myself actually apologizing for inconveniencing store employees for, you know, disturbing their peace by buying something.

    My best story is that we were in a bakery that has seating and we ordered a coffee to drink there and she told me I could only have my things to go because they were closing in 30(!) minutes and she had already cleaned the tables and floor.

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  2. Oh, this brings back so many memories of shopping in Zurich.

    I had so many "fun" customer service experiences when my husband and I lived there back in 2000.

    I had two crazy supermarket experiences when I first arrived. The first was at Co-op and I was doing a really big shop for pretty much everything. I got to the checkout, everything was scanned and only then did I discover that they didn't take credit or debit card. No credit card in the supermarket? What? The staff member yelled at me for wasting their time as I didn't have enough cash on me. They refused to hold my groceries while I went to the bank to get cash, so when I came back 20 minutes later I had to go get every single item again.

    My second (and this one is the best!) supermarket story was at Migros. I decided to go shopping at lunch time. I had no idea they closed for lunch as the door was wide open. I did notice that I was the only customer as I walked around the aisles but I didn't think too much of it. When I got to the check out, there was no one there. I figured they were just away from the counter as it was quiet, so I rang the bell on the counter. The next thing I know, this angry woman is running towards me yelling and screaming in Schweizerdeutsch (which I hadn't yet got the hang of). She grabbed my basket of groceries, slammed it down on the ground and started physically pushing me toward the front door - which was still wide open - all while screaming "What are you doing?" in my face. When she finally explained that the supermarket closes for lunch I suggested that maybe they should close the door when they're not open. This resulted in a tirade in which she suggested that only a stupid person wouldn't know that supermarkets close for lunch and that they shouldn't have to close the door or even put up a sign to placate such idiots. Anyway, from the following day through my entire 10 month stay in Zurich, that particular Migros closed their door at lunch time! They even put up a sign with the opening hours. Oh, and I always got the evil eye from the woman at the checkout ;)

    And then there was that time that I got told to leave a perfume store because I had the audacity to leave the tester bottle at the front instead of putting it at the back! How dare I! The staff member had even started ringing up the three or four bottles of perfume I was buying before my little transgression but then decided she didn't want me as a customer! She would prefer to lose a sale than deal with such a "messy" customer. Ha! Good thing there was another perfume store a few doors down on Bahnhoffstrasse!

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    Replies
    1. Oh my goodness. Thank you for sharing. These are definitely some of the more "fun" experiences I've heard of. How dreadful!!!! xo

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  3. That is all so very annoying! In regards to you phone, get a glass screen protector- maaaagic! I drop mine, seriously 5 times a day as well as my 16 month old throwing it. Get one ASAP!!

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    Replies
    1. HA! I've broken through the glass protector, too! No joke. It was tempered glass and everything. SOB! ;)

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  4. I swear by Rifle Paper Co phone cases and have been using them from iPhone 4 to my current iPhone 6. My screen has never shattered even though I've dropped my phone many times (tile, concrete, etc). I find that they are really durable yet very pretty but make sure to get an "inlay case ". They don't claim to be the toughest on the market but rubbery insert and the hard shell seems to do the trick for me. https://riflepaperco.com/shop/phone-cases/

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    Replies
    1. YES - my iPhone 4 Kate Spade case had the silicon inner layer. I think it made all the difference. I know without even looking yet that the Rifle Paper Co. cases are going to be gorgeous. Thank you for the tip! I'll check them out. xo

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    2. I saw that you recommended them on your Friday round-up. Did you bite the bullet and buy one? Which did you pick? I've got the Birch Floral. I've gotten many compliments and I like how the black rubbery layer matches my black screen.

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