Everything’s different here

I haven’t had many positive experiences with customer service.

I spent several months at the start of this year wrapped in a duvet and making pleading phone calls to my landlord about the faulty central heating, only to be fobbed off every single time and left to freeze. I was at the mercy of Apple when my laptop broke down and they insisted that it wasn’t under warranty – had it not been for the confidence and patience of Le Flatmate in being firm with the appropriate people, I’d probably still be working from internet cafés. And dealing with the bank when I had my card stolen was an exhausting and frustrating experience that I’m struggling to forget.

So when the shower suddenly stopped working yesterday morning, I found myself despairing. Getting someone to look at it would be extremely difficult, what with my lack of experience in looking up Yellow Pages listings in Dutch and all. And even if I did get the hold of someone, what hope is there of getting a workman to come and help you on a Friday? Foreseeing an icky weekend in a grubby, unwashed state, I glumly put the coffee on and sat mulling over my limited options.

I happened to mention it to one of the neighbours, who called in to say hallo. Up the stairs she trotted, all purposeful and motherly. It is a strange shower – runs on gas rather than electricity. Matches were struck, Dutch muttering was done. I stayed out of the way.

She returned, shaking her head and announcing that it was indeed on the blink. I will call someone, she said kindly. If you want to shower in the meantime, you can use mine.

How lovely. I sat down and took a sip of my coffee, deciding to reply to a couple of emails and then nip across for a shower. Plan in place, I opened my laptop, took another sip of coffee, and saw the plumber’s van pulling up outside.


Half an hour later, the shower was fully operational. Where was the long wait? What about all the frustrated phone calls? Why no arguments about it being nearly the weekend and them absolutely not having any free time until the middle of next month? Or the half-hearted tinkering followed by No, there’s nothing I can do with this, I’ll have to come back approximately 10 times with a selection of new parts and tools? Where was all the drama and fuss? The great difficulty in doing what they’re paid to do?

I feel slightly cheated.


3 thoughts on “Everything’s different here

  1. You’re in Teutonic country now lass! The Dutch speaking (Flemish) part of Belgium + The Neths. themselves and Germany – are all about law and order and get the work done on time – and not only that, it was Belgium that invented patat (chips)! What could be more civilized than that? Put your feet up, relax, enjoy!!!!

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