Wednesday, 11 April 2012

That's Deja-Vu to You...

After a long run of silence I am finally updating my bloggity blog-very fittingly from the place where my last entry was written. That’s right my friends, I am back at reception in Vauxhall getting my babysitting on. Well, just getting my sitting is more the case at the moment. To my defense, I do think that I have earned my right to sit after a brain-crunching week working (very ill) at the Bar Council during the busiest time of their year. But I will come back to all that office-y goodness after I have caught you all up on the (mis)adventures of one Miss B abroad.

My current location at 80-84 Bondway, where it all happens. Blogging, that is. 

The first thing that comes to mind and which must be noted is the lack of customer service in England (more accurate translation: this customer is inconveniencing me in a big way). If you do happen to get it, it makes your entire week. Someone who actually looks at you, speaks coherent words to you, or makes an effort to turn the corners of their mouth up into a face-cracking half smile have somehow won you over and you find
yourself looking for their ‘expert’ services the next time you frequent their place of employment. These people are the ones that go above (above being a minimal yet distinguishable amount) their job roles and are much better to deal with than the robots that make up the rest of the working population, thus making these special ones
(and I do mean ‘special’) stand out.

I can’t believe that I am actually already starting to say that someone that looks me in the eye while giving me change is giving me good customer service. The long lost days of positive social interactions are behind the citizens of the Motherland, and have now moved into a period I feel should be referred to as Ugh: We
Just Can’t be Arsed. At least then everyone would know what kind of service they will be getting instead of the kind of shock service people like me (re: friendly Canadians where most (note, I did say MOST) employees do everything but walk your dog to make you happy) get when I am served at a shop and leave thinking, ‘did that just happen?’ and ‘are they even allowed to speak to me that way?!’ After a while, I did get used to it-enough so that I now think the same thoughts when someone is polite and smiles as I go through their till.

Following years of work-bots causing the annihilation of anything that could even be remotely considered as customer service, there is an obvious difficulty re-mobilizing employees to put customers not even first, but more like number 88 on their list of priorities (it seems like checking out the tops of my carefully-selected Primark shoes or counting tiles on the floor, or best yet, seeing if they can look through me is more of a priority than choking out a hello). Due to these unfortunate circumstances, employers who are rediscovering the very wide and available niche market of superior customer service and attempting to exploit it are having some difficulties passing the torch on to their checked-out staff.

Although they may be well intended, the ones that do make attempts at friendly service are awkward at best, and oddly have me wishing for the days I was ignored and the only words spoken were grunted in
irritation. The finest example of said type of service came when Ben was wanting to buy a laptop from PC World, one of the largest retailers of electronics in London (think Best Buy/Future Shop), looking to drop some cash money on one of their fine electronic specimens. In Canada, most employees, especially ones working on commission would have descended upon him like fresh meat, looking to extract cash out of him in every way possible, with the hard-core techies boring him with technical specs until he bought something just to make them stop the stream of letters and numbers being fired out at lightening pace.

We had done all of the comparison shopping we needed to do, got the facts and figures and Mr. Man had decided on the one he wanted. There was a moment pre-purchase where the heavens opened and we were offered customer service, but more looking was to be had and we politely declined (much to our dismay said associate was busy making sales when we were ready to buy-lesson learned when you are offered help, take it!).  Consequently, while the brotha was busy making sales as he seemed to be the only one keen to do so, we were left loitering around the computers hoping to entice someone out of their retail coma to come and literally bring a box from the back containing a laptop. 


We tried to employ a bait and switch approach and slowly wandered over to the Macbook Air display to touch the laptops interestingly as if we could afford to pay cash no questions asked and to see if anyone could be tempted by a more expensive opportunity.We would then casually walk back to the more affordable section with an associate in tow.


Finally Ben employed the 'I am just going to full out lean on the laptop I want until I get it' approach which happened to mysteriously catch the attentions of an associate passing by. After he had completed the strenuous task of locating and delivering Ben's laptop into his hands he proceeded to half-heartily and misinformedly (I don't care if its not a word, it pretty much sums up this guy's wealth of information ie.not much) give his 'expert' opinion as to which software he should get and what warranties are available. I will forever consider myself smarter than this man who tried to sell Ben a full MS Office software package when most good laptops will come with at least a starter version of some of the applications. I was told I was wrong about the software after informing buddy that HE was wrong. In the end I basically told the associate what the computer comes with and what should and should not be needed at the time of purchase (may be slightly biased in my version, but I was still right). Ben got things moving by standing up, which usually gets things moving (I still crack up at peoples faces after they see him stand when they aren't expecting something his height to come out of a small chair), and speed paying for his purchase. 

The best part of that day which I have saved for last is the random associate in the HP section that had me biting the inside of my cheeks and giving Ben a 'did-that-awkwardness-just-happen' look as we made our getaway. Being quite self-sufficient and now expecting not more than a bored glance our way we were making our way through the HP laptops when an eager female associate spotted us and attempted to initiate contact. I could see her out of the corner of my eye making a very slow and deliberate approach eyes trained on us and the laptop although she made no greeting. Approaching. Approaching. Approachingggggg. She then joined us. And leaned over the laptop investigating it closer. Still. Hasn't. Said. A. Word. Finally she leans towards us and mumbles something which I can't remember as I am about to explode with laughter in this poor woman's face. Ben manages to get out that we are fine, thank you, and we ran like we stole something out of there. I can't even tell you how unbelievably TANGIBLE that awkwardness was, I honestly don't think I have ever experienced anything like it before, and may never again.

If this is what re-mobilization of the workforce is going to be like I am going to have to practice my Blue-Steel face so as to not completely crease up when failures of epic proportions like this happen right in front of my face.

your diva abroad x


  1. Just to add to the final point...I think I actually asked her if we could help as the awkwardness was becoming unbearable!!!Welcome to England babe - i hope you can now understand my surprise at the nice-ness of people in Vancouver!! love love Mr Man xx

  2. Is that what you asked her?! hahah I couldn't remember for the life of me (besides the obvious bad memory) as all of my efforts were being concentrated in trying not to laugh like a crazy woman! I most definitely get it now-no preferential treatment for Canadians in England, or anyone else for that matter! love xx

  3. That is the most halarious thing i have ever heard.... lol shana i love your writings its like reading a novel... you should for sure look into some kind of journalism... and wow at your self control not laughing at her...i wouldnt have been able to control it...