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Old 04.11.2010, 16:22
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Rude IKEA salesman

Right, I had a bad experience at Geneva Ikea today. For some it might amuse, for some it might remind of a similar customer service incidents.

Whatever the case, I think it is better to share, discuss and understand cultural nuances than ignore.

Background - I am a new comer to Switzerland (Non EU, Asian) so settling down to the new ways. Incase i am mistaken please correct my understanding of the situation.

This morning I went to IKEA and approached a sales person (young guy in uniform at the tills)

The incident goes as follows:

Sales agent: Bonjour,

Me: Hi hello,

Sales agent: Bonjour,

Me: Hi

Sales agent: Bonjour

Me: - sorry, do you understand english?

Sales agent: dosent reply, ignores and looks into the PC

Me: I ask again, hi sorry, do you understand english?

Sales agent: yes.... i do a little bit but my colleague here speaks better english (in perfect english grammar + pronunciation which surprised me) and completely ignores me next minute

The other guy was with a customer and refuses to even acknowledge (which is fine, it doesn't surprise)

Now i was bit disturbed at this behavior (not used to anyone treating me like this) and walked to the next counter where i approached a girl (very french) who could not understand english (well sort of). When I asked if she spoke english and if she could help. She was friendly and said wait one sec....walks me down to the same (rude) sales agent and said - talk to him as he speaks english! Now remember, the girl had not seen me chat to this sales agent before.

Before leaving me to him, both of them discuss something in french but she insisted that he helps me.

Then the sales agent says: OK,you can ask me anything and i will try to help you as much as i can (again perfect english)

I ask my question,he replies and the issue is sorted.

Now i want to know whether customer treatment like this is common in a big city like Geneva? Is there anything wrong or is this the way city behaves?

This is not a personality conflict or misunderstanding. I have the maturity, blended appearance and international outlook to understand the difference. Never once faced a discriminatory issue in last 10 years in Europe.

Ofcourse, i did raise an official compliant with a full follow up action request, .

Having said, I sympathise with people who work on low paid manual jobs. It is hard work and frustrating to work in such stores but this cant be an excuse to treat a customer like this.

So what do you guys think ?
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Old 04.11.2010, 16:26
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Re: Rude IKEA salesman

what do I think?.. *looking around* you're in a french speaking country and even if you speak no french what so ever you could have made the effort to greet the person with a simple bonjour before asking politely if he spoke english

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Old 04.11.2010, 16:32
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Re: Rude IKEA salesman

Sounds about normal for Switzerland.

It's a cultural thing. Swiss shop employees don't feel (aren't expected to feel) that it's their #1 job to sell stuff or serve customers. Their #1 job, as they see it and as management sees it, is to keep the shop tidy. If customers wander in and buy stuff while they're doing it, that's OK... if customers wander in, find they don't get spontaneous service and wander back out again without buying, that's OK too.

In fact, after receiving your complaint the shop owner is probably wondering who you think you are, walking in and expecting employees to drop whatever they're doing!

Ain't it a funny old world?
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Old 04.11.2010, 16:32
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Re: Rude IKEA salesman

I would recommend you memorise this very simple phrase, most people will accept your good grace and try and help as best they can.

"Je suis désolé, mais je ne parle pas bien le français" (I'm sorry but I don't speak much French)
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Old 04.11.2010, 16:33
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Re: Rude IKEA salesman

I think grynch hit the nail. Some customer service people I have encountered really do put emphasis on the Bonjour exchange, so much that even if you do say it, and they happen not to hear you, they take the liberty to get very rude about it to you..Happened a couple of times and I have always made huge effort to repeat my bonjours many times I don't think it has anything to do with you being Asian. Just say it in French next time.
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Old 04.11.2010, 16:35
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Re: Rude IKEA salesman

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Sounds about normal for Switzerland.

It's a cultural thing. Swiss shop employees don't feel (aren't expected to feel) that it's their #1 job to sell stuff or serve customers. Their #1 job, as they see it and as their manager sees it, is to keep the shop tidy. If customers wander in and buy stuff while they're doing it, that's OK... if customers wander in, find they don't get spontaneous service and wander back out again without buying, that's OK too.

In fact, after receiving your complaint the shop owner is probably wondering who you think you are, walking in and expecting employees to drop whatever they're doing!

Ain't it a funny old world?
Especially in IKEA that appears to be a problem.

I find that sometimes the only way to get attention in those stores is to break something or set off the fire alarm, but then when I do finally have their atention they are strangely ill disposed to helping me with my questions.
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Old 04.11.2010, 16:37
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Re: Rude IKEA salesman

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Ofcourse, i did raise an official compliant with a full follow up action request, .
Welcome to Switzerland. I did the same after I was called an idiot by a service guy who could not use the mute button on the phone properly. I received a bullshit standard letter and a 10CHF voucher. They are not going to do at all what you hope they will.

But they are great at complaining when people do cross border shopping and blame everything on the damned EU.
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Old 04.11.2010, 16:38
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Re: Rude IKEA salesman

They guy we had last night in Dietlikon was very helpful.

And the woman at the collection centre asked us whether we were sure everthing would fit in the car before locking the main door - we were the last to collect something - at 2130

It does being able to speak a bit of the lingo though - and engage in the traditional greeting.
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Old 04.11.2010, 16:38
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Re: Rude IKEA salesman

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Especially in IKEA that appears to be a problem.

I find that sometimes the only way to get attention in those stores is to break something or set off the fire alarm, but then when I do finally have their atention they are strangely ill disposed to helping me with my questions.
haha that was hilarious, thanks for cheering me up!
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Old 04.11.2010, 16:39
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Re: Rude IKEA salesman

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Welcome to Switzerland. I did the same after I was called an idiot by a service guy who could not use the mute button on the phone properly. I received a bullshit standard letter and a 10CHF voucher. They are not going to do at all what you hope they will.
You were lucky. I've complained to IKEA many times and they never get back to me. I believe their complaints department is the shredder.
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Old 04.11.2010, 16:39
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Re: Rude IKEA salesman

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Welcome to Switzerland. I did the same after I was called an idiot by a service guy who could not use the mute button on the phone properly. I received a bullshit standard letter and a 10CHF voucher. They are not going to do at all what you hope they will.

But they are great at complaining when people do cross border shopping and blame everything on the damned EU.
i feel so much better already, no one called me that (atleast!) lol
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Old 04.11.2010, 16:39
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Re: Rude IKEA salesman

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You were lucky. I've complained to IKEA many times and they never get back to me. I believe their complaints department is the shredder.
Ahh... my complaint was not IKEA, just another Swiss retailer. The service is pretty much the same everywhere here.
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Old 04.11.2010, 16:46
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Re: Rude IKEA salesman

I used to be wigged out by this power thing some shop people try to play...Made me shy, especially if your French is not top notch. Until I realized, if you talk confidently, politely, clearly and loud (so other customers hear the exchange and witness unhelpful behavior), keep repeating your requests ad nauseum until you get service and answer you need and don't get into any intimidating antics, people with this very unservile attitude usually change into very very nice and helpful folks, the sharp turn was sometimes shocking..

Last time I was really scolded for placing an order for name tags and the lady didn't know how to place the order, in her store, for a product she was selling, and vented on me. I calmly noted that her incompetence surprised me but I could place that order with her, to help her. She calmed down and was very helpful after that. We say dogs that bark don't bite. As long as you don't give up, people will work with you. And what Mathnut said about cleaning is so true, has anyone been slapped with a mop 45mins before closing times, for making footprints on the floor?
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Old 04.11.2010, 16:50
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Re: Rude IKEA salesman

Do they not have badges telling you what languages the person speaks in Ikea? Usually a little British flag indicates English.
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Old 04.11.2010, 16:58
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Re: Rude IKEA salesman

I try to at least say hello in German and then say Sprechen Sie English? Then they are polite. I ran into an Ikea employee-girl whose name was Something Rodriguez and asked her "hablas Espanol" to which she responded "Si" completely insulted and then ignored me ...
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Old 04.11.2010, 17:01
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Re: Rude IKEA salesman

now this might cause some reaction but i have experienced far more friendliness and respect in German speaking parts (Zurich et. al) which was so unexpected. It might be personal compatibility? or maybe i havent seen it all yet?
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Old 04.11.2010, 17:04
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Re: Rude IKEA salesman

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I try to at least say hello in German and then say Sprechen Sie English? Then they are polite. I ran into an Ikea employee-girl whose name was Something Rodriguez and asked her "hablas Espanol" to which she responded "Si" completely insulted and then ignored me ...
Yeah, same thing happened to me, I apparently offended a Russian sale's assistant when I spoke Russian to her, trying to give her a break since she had a rough time in French...

If I picture myself in an Ikea wear house type of screaming kids and nutty customers environment, to work there and all, I think I would go crazy. I know, not an excuse to treat people like dirt, but still...And, they probably don't even have a discount for company furniture or lunches.
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Old 04.11.2010, 17:06
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Re: Rude IKEA salesman

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now this might cause some reaction but i have experienced far more friendliness and respect in German speaking parts (Zurich et. al) which was so unexpected. It might be personal compatibility? or maybe i havent seen it all yet?
I only went to Basel, Bern, Biel, Zurich, Vallees for some big hikes, but my experience is the same..strange. Helpful shops, smiling, warm and fun strangers...I want to move there.
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Old 04.11.2010, 17:07
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Re: Rude IKEA salesman

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............ not an excuse to treat people like dirt, but still...And, they probably don't even have a discount for company furniture or lunches.

I worked in various retail outlets in the states ( Geoffrey Giraffe anyone? ) for years , years ago, and the last place I got a very generous company discount,,, but I still enjoyed treating people like shit from time to time.. especially so if they couldn't offer me a simple greeting.

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Old 04.11.2010, 17:08
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Re: Rude IKEA salesman

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I ran into an Ikea employee-girl whose name was Something Rodriguez and asked her "hablas Espanol" to which she responded "Si" completely insulted and then ignored me ...
Perhaps she was struck with a profound sense of shame that the Amazonian rain forests were being decimated for the sake of cheap yuppy furniture
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