Which city has the best customer service?

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    Aug 28, 2007 3:40 PM GMT
    Omaha has a lot of nifty things, and I'd be happy here if weren't for the constant crummy customer service. Clerks are rude and unhelpful. If one more clerk points and says, "It's over there," I'm going to fall to the floor into a fetal position--I might start wearing mascara just so they can see it run down my face with my tears. But I don't think they'd care.

    I'm not really into travel and exotic adventures. But has anyone ever lived anywhere where the clerks A: know what products are in their store? B: help you find them? C: and in general do the job they are paid to do pleasantly and efficiently?

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    Aug 28, 2007 3:46 PM GMT
    I am sure the answer must be Paris.
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    Aug 28, 2007 3:56 PM GMT
    Of course not. If they're not sullenly nursing a hangover, they're busy working on a screenplay about their tragically pointless lives. Customers are an irrelevant annoyance.

    Really, you have to find a place so small that the owners greet the customers - they have a direct incentive to take care of you.

    Two exceptions: Les Schwab Tire Centers - someone RUNS up and asks what you need before you finish parking your car. But now that Les has passed, I suspect that things will get slack. And the Chevron station in downtown Pendleton: As you pull up, three or four young guys SWARM your car and start washing it, checking the oil and the tire pressure, and THEN asking if you want to buy some gas. Like some caricature of a 1950's service station. It's kind of scary, the first time you encounter it.
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    Aug 28, 2007 4:19 PM GMT
    I didn't have any idea that people from Omaha were so introspective and creative?! Does Omaha have a reputation for screenwriting in the US?
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    Aug 28, 2007 4:41 PM GMT
    Dublin has the best customer service, but only because I work here and thus skew the bell curve.
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    Aug 28, 2007 4:56 PM GMT
    I was recently at a Barnes & Noble. I went to the counter to order my doppio espresso, but no one was there. I waited. And waited. A guy came up to the other side of the counter. We waited. The barista finally came out and went over to THE OTHER GUY. I said "I believe I was first in line." She said, I'm not kidding, "Just a sec."

    I think I talked to two managers that day. I'm surprised they didn't give me stock options.

    This kind of thing happens all the time here, that is, when you can find a clerk.

    (Actually, Omaha is surprisingly artsy. As far as screenwriters go, we have Alexander Payne who made Election, and we have Saddle Creek Records which has Bright Eyes and The Faint. It's kind of a cool place which is on the edge of being discovered--but not if they don't improve their customer service!)
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    Aug 28, 2007 5:05 PM GMT
    NOT NEW YORK CITY!!!!
  • dfrourke

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    Aug 28, 2007 5:11 PM GMT
    no...not New York City...unless of course your leaking dollar bills as you walk into a store...

    ...surprisingly...I have found a great deal of assistance living in San Francisco...whether it be in Safeway, Walgreens, or a more reknown retailer...

    ...of course, I may just seem "out of place" or have that look like I don't know what I am doing...

    - David
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    Aug 28, 2007 5:32 PM GMT
    Here in Austin, I've noticed some general patterns. Customer service in national chains is either poor, uninformed, or too skewed towards ulterior motives (selling something I don't need). Often it's college kids, teenagers, or career "retail sales" folks who are employed here.

    On the other hand, our locally owned businesses have some of the best customer service around. People in these places care about their company and the customers who visit. It's not just a job for most of them.

    Again, just a broad-brush observation.
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    Aug 28, 2007 5:38 PM GMT
    Well it is clear that you live in the wrong country, Most places in Holland give excellent service, especially the ones out of the big city┬┤s. Not only in the shops they are all very helpfull, even the banks know what custumorservice is and here in Sneek even at townhall they know why they are there for, to serve tthe public. I clearly go for Sneek
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    Aug 28, 2007 5:44 PM GMT
    There you have it. 300 million of us live in the wrong country.
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    Aug 28, 2007 5:52 PM GMT
    And definitely not here in Kyiv - language difficulties accounted for!

    And be thankful in Omaha they actually point out its over there.... in Kyiv they kill you with looks when you happen to interrupt their staff social event... despite the fact that they are meant to be serving you!
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    Aug 28, 2007 5:54 PM GMT
    Someone making $8 (really $3 or $4 when you account for taxes, transportation, etc.) has little incentive to be nice to you especially when they're dealing with asshole customers all day. THAT SAID, medium-size cities tend to be a bit better, IMHO, than megalopolises (such as NYC which if memory serves, has some of the worst).

    Small businesses have more incentive to keep you around as oft times the employees know directly who they're working for (as opposed to some CEO on the other coast), the owners have a direct stake in making the business work (else they don't eat), and the customers consciously choose to go there (making the transactions pleasant for all, most of the time).

    For my money let me just say, I much prefer outright rudeness to that fake-but-oh-so-sweet niceness that some sales people affect.
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    Aug 28, 2007 5:55 PM GMT
    And for fear of beginning a new war with my fellow European counterpart... unless you were being truly sarcastic...which is slightly more difficult to ascertain online Paris is MOST DEFINITELY NOT the city with the best customer service... they invented surly service in Paris and exported it to the rest of the world along with fine wine, cheese, designer clothing etc etc!
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    Aug 28, 2007 6:03 PM GMT
    Just a counterpoint to the remarks about NYC's customer service: it also varies dramatically based on where you are in NYC.

    There's a big difference between, say, a shop/store/cafe in Times Square, and a mom & pop establishment in Brooklyn, particularly in the stronger neighborhoods like Park Slope or Carroll Gardens.

    IMHO, the other boroughs tend to have far friendlier and more helpful customer service than many areas of Manhattan, especially if you go into a store or shop that services the neighborhood, rather than a transient population of rushed workers, commuters, and tourists.

    That said, the most consistently friendly customer service employees seem to be in surprising places: Champaign, IL, Woodstock, NY, etc. I think it's often a small town thing.

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    Aug 28, 2007 6:06 PM GMT

    Actually one of the reasons I love New England, and Burlington, VT in particular is because everyone is so very relaxed and friendly. 0 attitude, and very, very diverse and accepting. The clerks at many places really try to remember customer names.

    Ex: I had been away for over two years, came back to spend the summer and walked in to the local Borders. The lady behind the counter at the cafe handed me my normal order (Large Kenyan AA) without asking and said 'I haven't seen you in so long, welcome back!!', then wouldn't charge me (she got a big tip).

    Going shopping up here, even to the market, requires stopping at least a dozen times to talk to aquaintances and store employees who recognise you.

    Before I met my partner I built a house up here on the lake, I thought it would be my retirement home and where I would live the rest of my life; Life happens, things change.

    I still think the area is THE BEST!.

    Rob
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    Aug 28, 2007 6:08 PM GMT

    $8 an hour - jeez - the McD's here is paying $12; I just saw a sign at Borders looking for clerks paying $15 starting.

    Rob
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    Aug 28, 2007 6:08 PM GMT
    Got it in one Kyvite - I was being entirely sarcastic, and playing the devil's advocate to those who hadn't picked up on that ;-)

    Although to be honest, service here isn't rude or surly - it's just not "enthusiastic". And that has more to do with labour laws than anything else.

    I am very curious to know about shopping in the Ukraine as my partner and I were planning to cross the Black Sea and visit Odessa, Simferopol and Simeiz a year ago (fate intervened and sent us to NZ instead)...

    ... and are you actually Ukrainian? If so, congratulations on your English ;-)
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    Aug 28, 2007 6:58 PM GMT
    Well, sure in any big city you will get service that is ahem 'unenthusiastic', but I have to say I wouldn't put the French at the bottom of the service, and have often had surpisingly good service in France, Paris included, that went beyond what would normally be expected anywhere. Actually I have found the Germans less enthustiatic, or more indifferent than the French. It was in Germany where someone atually said to my face 'Oh, English only' which, well I don't speak German, is not true as I do know other languages than English.

    I don't know if my local service is any better than any other, but someone definately worked a number on the local DMV as they have become extremely efficient as well as genuinely interested and friendly.
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    Aug 28, 2007 7:23 PM GMT
    I agree with you totally Wrerick, and the thing I love most about service in Paris is that when you do get exceptional service (and it happens often in the smaller shops), it is because the person genuinely wants to help you because they actually like you, not because they're scared they're going to get told off for not saying "have a nice day!!!!!!"
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    Aug 28, 2007 7:30 PM GMT
    I love Parisian shop staff. I once had a girl in Cartier sneeringly say "We have nothing for you." I got my picture taken with her, to her abject horror. On the flip side, the Rykiel boutique were incredibly nice and helpful, and they still send me a Christmas card. I think everywhere has horrible clerks and lovely clerks
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    Aug 28, 2007 7:55 PM GMT

    I once walked in to famous dept store in Paris wearing a two day beard, ratty old jeans, a t-shirt and deck shoes because my luggage had been lost.

    A guy in a blazer came over as I walked in and said "We don't want any trouble here"

    I pulled out my wallet, flashed a credit card, and almost immediately had the store manager personally escorting me to the men's department. When I walked out four and a half hours later the store had a car and driver waiting for me to take me back to my hotel.

    IMHO - In most places - to quote R Gere: "Stores are never nice to people; they're nice to credit cards".

    Rob
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    Aug 28, 2007 8:17 PM GMT
    What intrigues me about Omaha is that the people have the illusion they are friendly. They want to believe that Nebraska is filled with nice, helpful people.

    Speaking of doppio espresso--the times I try to get it, I always have to explain it.

    "Doppio espresso, please."

    "What?"

    "A double shot of espresso."

    "Do you want water in that?"

    "No, just the espresso."

    "Milk? Whipped cream?"

    "No, thanks."

    "Wow, not too many people order it straight like that."

    "Guess not."

    "Will a little cup be OK?"

    "I'd like a regular cup--as you've noticed, I'm driving."

    (minutes, hours, years later, I get the cup.)

    Me: Uh, could I have a lid?

    I've been through this scene so often, I'm going to film it with dancers.

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    Aug 28, 2007 8:18 PM GMT
    4outof 6

    Of course, i was generalising... i too have had very good service in Paris.. and was once mistaken for a Parisien...she was just not paying proper attention to my accent that's all. But one thing i can say in their favour (Parisiens) is that if you make the effort to speak in French, however badly, you will get better service that just speaking in English....

    unenthusiastic v. surly - now we are splitting hairs (I don't have that many on my head to share).

    Nope not Ukrainian, just living here... the other half of l'entente cordiale - A Brit for all those uninterested in Anglo-Franco modern history.

    Odessa is OK. Have only been there once, but liked it a lot. Simferopol is really a staging post for the rest of Crimea - its a small and pretty place, but most people pass through and head to the coast - Yalta, Sudak, Feodosia, Sevastopol etc.

    I know nothing about Simiez...somewhere else to add to the list before i leave here.
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    Aug 28, 2007 9:43 PM GMT
    i'm surprised at you guys who say "NOT NYC!" i found i get pretty amazing service here, especially since the competition for business is so fierce.

    i tend to agree more with italmusclebtm, that it's going to vary a lot in NYC depending on where you go -- as it would in ANY city.

    as someone who is really into food and wine, i've eaten in great restaurants all around the world, and i'd still say at least half of the top ten meals i've ever had have been in NYC, both for food AND service.

    hmmm... maybe i'll start a restaurant thread. :)