Service With A Frown

In Austria, All You Get is a Grouchy Face Unwilling to Help -- Or Speak English

My picture of service in Austrian is a grouchy face, unwilling to help and refusing to speak English. Be unfriendly back, and you may or may not get decent service.

But at least you get some respect.

I had trouble with my Internet service, and no one could help me. So after several unsuccessful outings to the store, I called the help line. To begin with, they didn’t understand English. But even if they had, they couldn’t have helped me because my version of the software was in English while their was in German.

So after many hours, I ended up fixing it myself.

You would have thought that in a country that is so international service personnel would speak English, especially in a technology business. The younger people at least try, with their “ein Bisschen” (a little) English knowledge. The older ones are more stubborn.

Sometimes, you just want to yell at them, “How about a smile?”

For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out what they were so unhappy about. My research told me why. According to a survey of the Institute for Professional and Continuing Educations at the University of Linz, 1,044,000 people living in Austria are poor – that’s one out of eight. As nearly everywhere, there are more poor women in Austria than poor men, and the most affected age group are retired people over 65 years. But another study by the Austrian Employees Union revealed that 26% of all workers in Austria report that they earn less than they need to live on.

All of which could well explain their frustration. But why take it out on the customers? They’re only harming themselves and the company they work for.

It is not only the language and the lack of smile, though, but the service itself that’s lacking. Have they never heard of the “Customer comes first?”

Take the cell phone service provider One, for example. I bought H.U.I Internet at One, because the salesman answered yes to all my questions, promising that it uploads fast and that there would be no additional cost. I bought two, for both of my computers. Unfortunately he lied. And I couldn’t return it. There was a seven day limit and it took me more than seven days to figure out how to put it onto my Mac computer… And of course they couldn’t help.  When I went to the store to clarify the error, all I got was a that same grim face, unwilling to help.

Now I’m stuck with this useless device for the next two years. What service!

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