Today I went into a big-box sports shop in town looking for a pair of running shoes. I saw a few pair I liked and stood near them, waiting patiently for one of the two sales clerks who loitered nearby to assist me. After a few minutes of being stared at, I did a little hand up gesture, the polite and non-verbal “oi” to let them know I needed help. No reaction. One of them, a young woman, walked over to me (or so I thought) but then passed and started arranging shoes on the very shelf I was standing next to. “Excuse me,” I said. She turned, pretended not to hear me (there was just no way she didn’t unless she was legally deaf) and walked away. She then strolled over to a boy, no more than 10-years-old who stood about 5 feet away from me and asked him, “You doin’ all right there?” She then turned again and started to walk toward me, and again I said, “Hi, excuse me…” but my words hung in the air like one of those cartoon bubbles of text as she passed me by, again ignoring me.
I’ve touched briefly on customer service (or the lack, thereof) in Ireland before, but I think it’s time for a full-blown rant. To be frank: I’m fed up. Even after over 10 months of living in Ireland, I’m still taken aback by the blatant disregard for customers around here. For a country in the depths of a dismal recession, I’m surprised that businesses are still ignoring the need for better customer service. The big-box stores are especially guilty of this. Almost every time I’m in the check-out line at Dunnes, I’m standing there, waiting while two register clerks exchange weekend gossip, completely ignoring the fact that there are numerous customers waiting to get on with their lives. Thankfully Tesco offers a self-checkout line, which I always use as I am over the slow and often rude service there.