17 March 2015

The Lack of Customer Service in Europe

Every now and then, I find myself in a restaurant, and then realize how rude the people are. Not that I am asking for a slave. No. I am not asking for the restaurant staff to constantly wait on me. But sometimes, there are places here in Berlin that makes you feel that you should be thankful for even being allowed to set foot on their establishment. In other words, service is really bad sometimes, to the point that there's actually a part of me that is looking forward to my upcoming visit in North America so that I can experience some good service.

See, living in Europe somehow toughened me up. Restaurant staff don't wait on you, they don't fawn on their customers always scanning the dining hall to see whether there is a customer who needs something. Most of the time, most mid-range restaurants and cafes here only have one waiter working the whole dining area, and he would be always pre-occupied with the many things that needs to be done. He typically has to be the one making the drink orders, in addition to the one carrying the plates and cleaning the tables. I know, it is a busy job.

But sometimes, it would be nice if there is a little smile here and there. The other day, we were in a cafe for brunch on a Saturday. We had a friend visiting us, so we picked her up from the airport, and went to the cafe directly from there. We sat down around 10:45, and the cafe was half empty. 45 minutes later our food was still not there. So we got up to ask.

"Can't you see that there is a large number of people here who ordered food before you?"

That was the chilling reply. Wow. Can't you really be more impolite? Is it a crime to ask about one's food, especially when one is waiting for more than half an hour?

This is the situation in most of the cafes here in Berlin. Maybe it's the rude Berliner attitude, I don't know. At least there are places I know where they do acknowledge that food is slow, and they really warn people about that. But seriously, Europe excels in many things, but customer service is not one of them.


  1. Customer service in France is... laughable. i'm not even talking about the "customer is always right" BS (I think it's BS because so many customers suck and abuse the system in North America). But just, you know, getting the service/product you need is difficult. It's like employees are doing you a huge favour.

    1. Zhu,

      That sounds pretty much like how Berlin is!