October 23, 2009

German Customer Service (or Lack Thereof)

I've heard from a few people that they loved the post about my mess-ups around town. Along those same lines, I wanted to write about how we've gotten scoffed at a few times (quite hilariously may I add) by German waiters, waitresses, and receptionists.

  • A few weeks ago, I went into the doctor's office (I'll post about the German healthcare system another time) and said that I had an appointment with such and such doctor. The receptionist quickly replied "Nein," which I'm sure you either know or can guess the meaning. I repeated that 'yes, I was quite sure I had an appointment at this practice.' After a bit of back and forth (during which she never even looked in the direction of her appointment book), I finally persuaded her to look for an appointment for Golz. And, somehow *shock of shocks* there magically appeared to be an APPOINTMENT for me. All I could do was stare at her and reminisce about the wonderful receptionists I had known in the States.

  • Greg's friends from high school, Robin and Ryan, were visiting last Saturday. After dinner, we decided to go to the Hofbrauhaus so they could experience a local (although touristy) beer hall. We did come a bit late (about 9:30 or 10 pm) and asked a waiter if we could sit down. He proceeded to quite dramatically look at his watch and roll his eyes at the audacity that we would want to sit down at his table and pay him for beer. I'll leave it up to you to imagine his face when we only ordered two beers for the four of us (I hate beer and a liter of beer was more than enough for our guests). I'm tempted to go back and torment him each time we have guests. So tempted.

  • This week we went to the Auer Dult, which is a market that they have here three times a year. It was chilly so we decided to get something warm to drink. The lady behind the counter was reading back our order (which included only 4 drinks) and my grandma was trying to ask her in broken English what was in the desserts. The lady barked at and shot daggers with her eyes at my little 80-something-year-old, white-haired grandma. The lady was not going to have anyone interrupt her for anything. Well, my aunt and I had a couple of words for her, but she was already on to the next customer.

But I don't want to give you all a bad impression. I've had some amazing people help me here in shops, stores, restaurants, etc. Often people start chatting with me in German and although I don't have anything intelligent to say in their language yet, I usually smile and nod. And then I run away so they don't know I don't speak much German and didn't understand a word they said. I just don't write about good customer service because it's usually not as funny.


  1. That's one the of things we really have good in the US...usually the waiters, cashiers, hotel personell etc are much friendlier and go out of their way to make your experience nice. What you notice in Germany, unfortunately, is usually what you'll get across Europe (esp. in Italy :P). Although, I'll have to say customer service in Prague was pretty good.

    It's all an adventure! May you have many more... :)