Saturday, July 07, 2007

Post Titled: The Customer is Always WRONG

A month ago before I went to the states I had to return an antenna (the wrong kind, apparently) which I bought for our TV, (now comes one of those Isn't it just wierd the way things work here? quaint little stories... actually I'll keep it short.) So, we have always joked that within the Wonderful World of German Shopping the Customer is always WRONG- evidence to support this manifests itself at the initial: being completely ignored when you walk into a shop developing to asking to return an item you have purchased often is met with the same reaction as asking for a kidney.
So, it has been a very very long time since I tried returning something to a German store (12 years in fact). THe reson is that I was met with such .. well, let me paraphrase the conversation:
"Hi, I'd like to return this sweater"
"Well, I found one I liked better."
"Then why did you buy this one in the first place?"
"Uh, well, I didn't expect to find one better- I mena, I just want to return this."
"You should be more careful next time with your decisions!" (turning red in the face) "Silke!!!" (calls for co-worker to bring the necessary paperwork.)

THat was 1995, and now, although there wasn't an attack on my character included, the process of returning the antenna to Media Markt was as such:
1.enter service waiting room, two large old desks, one gray moustached man and an elderly German couple are having a discussion about their GPS ... this discussion goes on in loops for 20 min.
2.there are three people in front of me in line, and an ever-growing number behind, the first kid is a teenager who keeps getting paper cups of water from the water dispenser...
3. wait... wait...35 min.
4. another worker shows up and things begin to move more quickly, I get my turn, explain that I bought the antaenna, ok not a problem, there is some paperwork to be done-
5. three forms filed out, I am given two other forms to take to - someone somewhere...
6. I am sent off with these papers. Wander a bit... there is no other customer service desk in the store so I ask the security guard who redirects me to the sales rein the satellite, antaenna and receivers dept. where I give up my papers adn he opens a document on the computer and fills in my information, prints it, goes elsewhere to get a stamp and signature from his supervisor, then he brings it back to me and I get to sigh, fill in my name, address, and then get a carbon copy to take to the cashier. at the cashier I finally get my 9,99 EURO back.

All this to return a 9,99 EURO antaenna.

Which helps fuel my theory that the Germans have a hardcore paperwork fetish.

BUT to be fair, I feel very good since returning to Berlin, I feel myself capitualtinghappy to be hasseled in the same way that everyone else it, happy to wait in line and be smooshed in like sardines into elevators and public transit. I am a happy capitulator.



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Blogger Ithaca said...

Hey, great that you're back!

Worse things than the Great German Paper Chase, though. Such as the letters that go astray, leaving the sender/receiver no recourse with Deutschepost. And then whenever you send something that actually has to arrive you have to spend about 90 euros to send it by FedEx, with the result that you look anxious not to say desperate to the agent or other person-to-be-impressed at the other end. (Needless to say it would not look better to send an accompanying note saying: Look, I'm not actually desperate, I just wanted it to get there and chose not to leave it in the lap of the gods.)

1:14 pm  
Blogger "Post-Google" by TAR ART RAT said...

Laps of the Gods must be overflowing with waves of postal plenty...
Gosh, I just noticed how many spelling errors were in this post, gotta go back and weed a few out.

1:22 pm  
Blogger Johanna said...

Congratulations, you managed to sum things up very well. It's been ages since I last tried returning something... and then it took several trips to Saturn (I'll spare you the details).
Strangely, I also often get the feeling that even just ringing up an item is considered an imposition by most employees. After all, while they are at work, you have the pleasure of shopping....
Only Belgium might be slightly worse.

7:24 pm  
Blogger aufbühner&abräumer said...

hey the thing is once the store has your money it doesn t want to hand it back. thats the real deal. with aaaaaaaall that probably totally unessecary paperwork, they re just trying to make you think. ahhhhh, th next time it wont really bet worth it to gor through all that shit for 9,99. Baaaam you keep this unusefull anntena and they keep the money. by the way american apparel doesnt even do cash-back-returns in germany. That really pisses me off. hihi

10:57 am  

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