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Customer Service Ireland


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It’s been just over 7 weeks since my wedding day, and I’m finally ready to talk about it.

By it, I mean the dress.

Though everything worked out in the end – thanks to an insanely talented, Dublin-based dress designer named Sarah Foy – it almost didn’t. In fact, the story of the dress is one that almost ended very badly, with me frantically searching the wedding sales racks at Monsoon (which I did) and had my best friend from America sending me her own dress (which she did) in a last-ditch effort to find me something to wear on the big day.

It started out innocently enough. Back in late March, I started the search for my wedding dress and found what I thought was the perfect dress within 40 minutes of walking into the first shop – Berketex Bride in the Jervis Centre. I went with my friend Sinead, and a very helpful saleswoman named Claire chose a few dresses based on what I said I wanted and my body shape. I fell in love with the third one I tried on and decided to buy it straight away. I paid for it in full (big mistake), and Claire advised that I write down my wedding date as August 3rd, well over a month before my actual wedding date, just so I could be sure to have plenty of time to get alterations if I needed it. “It’ll be our little secret,” she said.

She also stated that the dress would be ready “around July 20th” and that someone from the shop would ring when it was in the shop. Done and dusted!

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Mad PostmanSometimes the lack of customer service and creative thinking in the movement (yes, I consider it a movement – and I’m leading it, ha!) really drives me crazy. I know, I’ve written about this before – and I will probably write about it again!

A perfect example of this came in the form of a very grumpy postal delivery man who came to my office yesterday with a package. He requested I pay 84 euro in customs and VAT charges or else he would not release the package to me. The conversation went like this:

Me: There is one dress in the box and it’s five years old – how do you justify charging me VAT and customs on it?

Him: I dunno. But you have to pay else I can’t give you the box.

Me: OK, who can I speak to?

Him: Customs.

Me: Do you have a contact number?

Him: No.

Me: Ok fine, I’ll deal with it later. Do you take Visa or Laser cards?

Him: No.

Me: OK, can you wait five minutes so I can run to the ATM down the road?

Him: No.

Me: You can’t wait FIVE minutes???

Him: No.

Me: Congratulations, you’ve officially just become the most useless f***ing person on the planet!

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secretary_monkey_on_the_phone Dear Eircom,

I just wanted to write you a note to say “thanks” for the joy that is dealing with your customer service reps – a delight that I had the pleasure of experiencing for a whole two hours this morning. Of course by “delight” I actually mean an excruciating, dying-a-slow-death type pain that’s about as pleasurable as sliding down a razor blade into a pool of salty lemon juice.

I rang because I need phone service and broadband, which I assumed would be a simple enough request considering you are a phone and Internet company. But as they say, assume just makes an ass of u and me and never has this little nugget of wisdom been more true! I first spoke with a woman named Esther, who went over the offers with me. She said I could get broadband and a landline that covered my needs for €41.99 per month for the first six months and then €46.70 per month afterward. She also mentioned there would be a €29.99 connection fee for broadband, which I thought was rather excessive and that it would take at least 10 business days to connect both the phone and broadband lines and that they’d have to send someone out.

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Galway 15

Two weeks ago a food blogger in Taiwan started serving a 30-day sentence for writing a critical review of a local noodle restaurant. Known only as Ms. Liu, the blogger wrote that the restaurant’s food was too salty, which led to the restaurant owner taking her to court for defamation. The judge sided with the owner and in addition to the jail time ordered Ms. Liu to pay NT$200,000 (4,900 Euros) in damages to the restaurant.

I imagine some restaurant chefs and owners are secretly celebrating this “victory.” The relationship between food bloggers – most of whom are amateur writers with little or no cookery school backgrounds – and restaurant owners has always been tenuous at best. Many chefs cite bloggers’ no-holds-barred critiques as nasty and irresponsible while bloggers say they’re merely doing the public a service by offering straightforward reviews. Both arguments are equally compelling.

noodles

Even in Ireland, where the social norm would be to quietly accept mediocrity rather than complain, I’m seeing a real uprising among food bloggers who are fed up with lousy food and terrible customer service in restaurants. A local vegetarian food blogger relayed her disappointment at the “nasty” comments she received from her waiter – who clearly wasn’t interested in her vegetarian-related menu questions – at a popular Dublin café. “Next time you have a veggie customer, I hope you treat them better than you treated me,” she warned. Recently CheapEats.ie “named and shamed” a Dublin restaurant for “appalling” service and then launched a week-long series outing a variety of other offending eateries. The feedback from readers was generally positive; they, too, were fed up with the lack of good service and conceded that it was high time blogs called restaurants out for it.

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customer_service

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.

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