Saturday, January 12, 2008

Angolan Customer Service

As an American, I forget how good we have it in terms of customer service when I am at home. Two experiences this week have reminded me that Angola has a way to go in terms of good business practices.

Changing money:
I get my salary in US dollars, so I often have to change money at stores. I have my preferred money changing place, but I often have to change money at ShopRite because I invariably spend way more there than I want to. ShopRite has a money changing booth, which I think doubles as a manager’s office. Tuesday I went there to change money and waited for the guy to see me standing there. He was counting out money; he finished his one stack, put it down, looked me in the eye, then turned to pick up another stack to count. Although there is only one reason I would be standing there, I thought he might not have understood that I wanted to change money. So I said, “Boa tarde, good afternoon.” He turned around, looked at me in the eye and went back to counting money. I was getting angry, so I said again, louder, “BOA TARDE.” He rolled his eyes and finally put down the money to change my dollars. I said to him, “Não me ouviou? You didn't hear me?” He looked at me as if I was crazy, changed the money and went back to what he was doing.

At Zulu: Zulu is supposedly the best restaurant in town. It definitely has the best location- right on the beach- but the food is average. I will give Zulu credit because of all the restaurants in town, it has the most professional and courteous waitstaff. But they still do some things that make you want to bang your head on that beachside table. I went for an after-work drink with my friend Anne and her two kids. I ordered a rum and Coke, which they pour right at your table. I guess it seems fancier that way. The waiter came over and poured the rum. As he did, a bunch of black junk that was not supposed to be there came floating up. I pointed it out to the waiter, who prompty used his ice tongs to try and fish out whatever it was. I told the waiter that the glass was dirt and as such, the rum was now dirty, so would he please bring me a new glass? He happily obliged and came back with a new glass. He then proceeded to pour the contents of the old glass- junk and all- into the new glass! I pointed out to him that the rum was still dirty and said, specifically this time, “Please pour me some new rum.” He then said he couldn’t, because the rum had already been poured and if he poured another shot, I would be charged for a double. I tried to explain to him that the rum was not consumable so it was his responsibility to bring me another one. He looked at me blankly and I said, “If you’re not sure I suggest you go ask your manager what to do.” He came back and said, “Okay, this time we won’t charge you for the second shot.” Gee, thanks!

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