In a short span of two days, I had three memorable customer service experiences which I think are typical of Merida, a city not known for its outstanding customer service whether it’s retail or restaurant. Perhaps some of you have had similar experiences? Read on.
The Dry Cleaners
Pre-wedding (not mine, one I had been invited to) and I had some shirts to clean so I stopped at a previously unknown-to-me dry cleaning operation at the Uptown shopping mall. I stopped there because I rarely if ever visit the dry cleaners and so my criteria for selecting one is if I see it on the side of the road or not. This one was there, with a parking spot to boot, so I stopped.
In I went, holding my two items of clothing and standing behind a woman who was in the process of leaving her clothing. No one looked up or acknowledged my presence in any way. The space was small, so the young woman behind the counter knew I was there, I was sure, and the other lady who was wandering around behind the counter unsmilingly definitely looked my way at some point before quickly looking away without so much as a growl.
I was there for a while, while the counter lady and the customer lady negotiated what was cleanable and what was not. I was growing increasingly impatient as one does when one is ignored, but finally, after what seemed like a Pleistocene length of time, customer lady departed leaving me face to face with counter lady. She looked up and then at my shirts.
“Digame?” she asked, finally acknowledging my presence.
¿Digame? What is she? A Venezuelan phone operator?
I asked her if she had any idea of what it felt like to be invisible. Her response came in the form of a bovine stare and silence.
“It would have been nice if at least you had said hello when I came in” I remarked.
“Es que estaba atendiendo a la señora”
Of course, I hadn’t noticed. Silly me. And imagine the effort and coordination it would have taken to continue attending one client and saying hello to another! I ask too much. There wasn’t much more to say so I left my shirts, took my receipt and left.
Thank you, Tintorerias MAX. Never again. Well, one more time, to pick up the shirts.
The Camera Store
It had been almost a week since I left my Canon camera to be repaired and maintained. When I went to pick it up, the person behind the counter informed me that unfortunately, it was not ready.
I was more than a little mortified since it was my daughter’s wedding and I kind of needed to have the camera that night, but I held it together as best I could.
“Is there nothing that can be done? I had hoped it would be ready for tonight. It’s my daughters wedding you see.”
“Déjame hacer una llamada” the employee said and went into the back room.
Although I have been coming to this place for many, many years now and know the owner quite well. I could understand that things were what they were and if it wasn’t ready, it wasn’t ready.
“Le vamos a prestar una cámara” I was told when the employee emerged, smiling, from the back room.
Once I picked up my jaw from the floor, I thanked her profusely and signed the receipt for 20,000 pesos of camera that they were lending me in order for me to be able to take photos at my daughters wedding. Who does that anymore? I was impressed, big time.
You have my business for life, Victor and Digicentro.
Home Depot Stop
I have 10 minutes to run in and buy a faucet, a simple garden-type faucet, as there is one at the house which is not closing properly and so, water is running all the time, which means the pump comes on all the time… but I digress.
I rush in, only to find that the aisle that has the faucets is closed, as a forklift is working in the next aisle over. There is an employee standing next to that little fence they put up.
“Can I just rush in and get this faucet?” I ask, showing him the one I had brought from home.
“No, porque están trabajando al lado” replies the employee.
I point to another customer, in that very same aisle, looking for something.
“What about him – does he have magic powers or something?”
“No, de hecho le estamos esperando para trabajar.”
OK, while you work/wait could you perhaps pop in and get me one of these? You know where they are, it’ll only take a minute.
He does. Comes back with several models.
“Tengo este que es cromado pero es de medio, el suyo es de tres cuartos. Tiene que comprar un adaptador. Y tenemos este otro de tres cuartos que no necesita nada.”
I don’t like the 3/4 inch one because it looks like a gas valve shutoff thing. OK. I am ready to buy the adaptor and the half-inch version, in chrome.
Miraculously, the forklift stops working in the next aisle and I am able to enter this one to peruse the faucet offerings. I quickly find exactly what I am looking for and am in the cashier line-up, not before showing the employee what it was I had been looking for. He shrugged and said “Oh” and that was that.
Home Depot, no worries and as the Terminator said, I’ll be back.