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Old 09.12.2005, 23:41
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Share your shopping experiences.

Hi All

I did my first intro attempt last week but somehow I got logged out and everything got deleted. Have to remember to copy the texts before hitting the "Submit" button.

Anyway, I'm from Singapore and been living in Switzerland for almost 2 years. What I really love about this country is that it has a very beautiful landscape and punctual (99% at least) public transport system.

Sadly, the service industry needs a hard kick in the BUTT. Is it me, or some of the "retail associates" in Switzerland don't know how to what customer service is.

Yes, I know Singapore does have its stories of bad and nasty sales staff but atleast, they don't do have a diploma after doing a 3 years vocational training to be a "Verkaufer". Moreover, what is the point of wasting 3 years when the most basic aspect of the job is almost non-existance.

Anyway here is my experience.

Shop: Ski Velo Centre in Hirschengraben, Bern.

Went to the shop with real intention of buying a bicycle from them. Went into the shop, looked at the bicycle in question for a few minutes and approached a lady staff who was doing absolutely nothing while standing behind the shop's counter, for assistance.

Giving us the "can't you see that I'm busy" look and upon seeing another staff climbing up the stairs. Without delay, ask him to assist us instead. OK nevermind maybe she was truly busy.

The staff who assisted my missus and me, was either tired or just can be borthered. Since I speak little Swiss-German, I let my missus do the talking. Little plesantries were exchanged were exchanged and told
him that my stolen bike got re-imbursed and we are interested in buying this Scott bike but I don't like the brakes lever because it's very uncomfortable and we don't mind paying the offsets.

His reply was, "Why don't you buy this bike!" I was like "Huh?". Speaking in Hi-German - I replied, "You recommending us another bike!".

He said, "Yeah the price for the new brake levers and the bike that you want would cost the same as this bike." Did i miss something or he doesn't understand us. I want this Scott bike. It's black and it's beautiful.

The bike which he recommends to us was a BMC make and its body frame has the ugliest set of colours. Dark Blue with White Stripes. The missus and I were gobsmacked.

But the best thing was, he left us without saying a word and attends to another customer who was trying out a more expensive bike. I shoke my head and left immediately. Well because of this, we decided to go to another shop and bought a TREK bicycle.

A week later after collecting my new bike, I deliberately released the air out of my new bicycle and went to the Ski Velo Centre to pump it up. Thank god that both the guy and the lady were present.

After filling the tires of my brand new bike and before leaving the shop, I looked at them and gave my biggest smile.

I was so interested in buying that bike.

My apologies if my thread is a little too long.

Would love to hear stories from the rest of the forum members. Be it good, bad or just plain nasty.

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Old 12.12.2005, 16:38
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Re: Share your shopping experiences.

Well, most businesses will try to sell you what they want to sell, rather than what you want to buy. However, in Switzerland they seem to take this to extremes and are quite aggressive at pushing you into getting their choice. There seems to be the attitude that the shopkeeper knows best and that you should buy whatever they tell you to.

What really annoys me is the way that supermarkets frequently drop products and replace them with something else - often 'own brand' stuff. When you ask about your chosen product, you're told that this is what they now sell and they seem amazed that you don't want to buy it instead. It's incredible that people put up with this, but there seems to be a very high tolerance amongst the Swiss consumer for being pushed around.

Personally, when a store stops selling something that I want, I like to take my business elsewhere. Unfortunately, because the market is so restrictive here just about ALL the shops do this and in order to get your chosen basket of goods you end up having to go to 2 or 3 different stores. It's not like the UK where you can go to a supermarket and get ALL the brands that you want under the same roof.

Also, there seems to be very little interpersonal skill with the shop assistants. They are quite often very rude, which when you consider that YOU pay their wages through your purchases, is quite puzzling. My own take on that is that things are so tailored towards 'safety and stability' of employment here that the shop staff don't actually feel they have to perform and that their job is safe no matter what.

If you are used to everyday life in another western country, I have to say that Swiss life can be very wearing on you. Even after many years all the hassles of everyday life here still can grind me down.

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Old 13.12.2005, 18:48
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Re: Share your shopping experiences.


Welcome to the forum - and sorry about you losing your posts. That was probably me restarting the server - I had some problems and needed to do some restarts (quite a lot of them actually) but didn't realise someone was actually posting - but you are right - better safe than sorry.

I've only been to Singapore once, and must say I was impressed. Parts of it reminded me a lot of Sydney, and the food was edible, taxes were low and everything seemed to work. Overall, apart from the rain I had almost nothing to complain about. I hear it's not a good place to smuggle drugs to, and what's this business with a law forbidding more than 5 people showing up in the same place at the same time? Taxi drivers complained that the rules were too strict and told me it was worse than Switzerland - but then again taxi drivers always complain don't they?

I tend to agree with your comments about the fact that they have to do 3 years' worth of training to deliver poor service is a joke. My girlfriend recently tried for 6 months to get a job - she'd partially completed university studies and nobody, and i mean nobody would hire her for a job because she hadn't completed a "lehr" - the funny thing is they don't even care if your training is relevant to the job, just as long as you have one. She worked for a while in a pub and at least did the things that make customers happy - smiled, acknowledged customers while they were waiting, and wait for it - wiped beer glasses if she'd spilled any froth down the side while pulling the beer. Isn't that just a basic courtesy? Seen it in a pub lately? Anyway, despite actually being good at what she did, nobody would hire her. Which is a good thing, because now she was forced to start her own business and is doing really well with it (though starting a business here is not easy!!)

So it is a shame that we seem to have all this training for staff, yet we constantly here complaints from people about unfriendly service. On balance though that I have to say that it isn't all bad, it just usually is. I have had some shopping experiences where I have been so impressed that I've bought extra stuff. I have had some really great experiences in Ochsner Sport and Sportplausch Wider where the staff knew what they were talking about and they spent a long time helping me. I've also noticed that I don't have to "hunt" the staff down, like I had to do in Germany, so I guess I should be grateful for that.

They say that sales staff are the worst paid staff from all industries, and I guess it is true. Swiss have often offerred this to me as a excuse for their behaviour (defending sales staff) as if it somehow makes it right. I retort that whatever you do you should do it with pride, whether you are paid for it or not. I used to earn almost nothing working in a department store. I was paid much less than the Swiss were and worked longer hours. It paid the rent (just) but I did the job to the best of my ability and took pride in my work, no matter how menial it seemed. I never complained about it.

Oh - sorry to disappoint you - but if you think that the staff in the original store felt any regret about you buying the bike somewhere else think again. If they even remembered you they would have come up with any number of explanations as to why you didn't buy from them, but all of those would not have involved laying any blame on themselves. Revenge in these situations is not sweet - it's only for your own amusement and that's as far as it goes!

@Gav - I know what you mean. We've both been here over 5 years, and even though I've pretty much figured it all out I still feel like they are trying to always grind me down. My girlfriend always says that she likes me much better whenever I am away from Switzerland - she says I'm a different person. I think she's right, I do notice that I'm much happier and jovial when I'm "outside".

Just a note about the poor service. I think part of the problem is that service staff don't know what service is because they've never experienced it for themselves. How can they deliver something they've never seen? They should be sent away to the states or Japan to learn a thing or two as part of their 3 year training!

I'd like to share a positive shopping experience (just in case people think all I ever have to say is negative). I bought some stuff from the online shopping site www.ch-foto.ch. Now they were advertising a housing for a camera with an availability of 3-4 days - but I happened to know that the Swiss distributor had a lead time of 3-4 weeks+. So I ordered and made my order conditional on the information on the website not being a lie. The guy contacted me, and explained that there was a longer leadtime, and he was dependant on the supplier. Now I was really angry, because I was sick of being duped by Swiss online shopping sites - because they don't take credit card you have to pay in advance for products you find out aren't in stock, and then you are screwed.

Anyway, to cut a long story short the guy wrote back to me in perfect English (his name was Scott) which lead me to believe that he was a foreigner himself. But it was also his attitude that was suspicious. He made it clear that he was willing to fight to keep me as a happy customer and to have me back. I was so impressed by this that I bought a whole lot of other stuff from him, and have always been back to his website as my first choice when I want to buy something camera related, even if he isn't the cheapest, or he doesn't have the item in stock. Mind you, when you are used to being jerked around, finding someone good makes them stand out like a shining star!

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