Posted by: martinworster | August 8, 2004

22. CUSTOMER DISERVICE

Miserable gits – me and them. Stop moaning…have a nice day!

 I have written an article for the local English speaking magazine Metropolitan out here on people in Barcelona with portable lap top businesses. I think my next article will be on customer service here – or the complete lack of it. One of the editorial slants of the magazine is the cultural differences between the thousands of ‘extranjeros’ (foreigners como moi) who live here and the host Catalan population. One thing I notice on a daily basis is the poor customer service. It’s probably linked to the whole notion that Catalans are on the whole not the friendliest bunch. By logical progression, you walk into a shop and they’re not jumping out of their seats to help you or even greet you with a smile. Half the time I’m thinking to myself; ‘Hello, I want to spend money so you can pay your bills, would you like to at least fein some interest in me?’

I guess it had to happen, something flicked in me with regard to the Catalan attitude and I have to share my opinions. I’ve basically had it up to here with their negativity and for the record would like to say that they are, on the whole, a bunch of miserable, unfriendly, narrow minded, difficult people. I know this could be seen as the superficial observations of a fleeting tourist such as I am. I have only lived here a short time and I am one amongst many of the hoardes of the transitory Barcelona population. I am a foreigner here. As such my experience might be claimed to be unvalid. That is correct. I am not claiming to be an anthropologist who has fully immersed themself into the host population. But I have made some observations – generalistations – that I would like to share.

I don’t want to leave here with a negative opinion but on the whole this has been forming in me. I’ve also noticed in a lot of people I meet who also seem to be having a similar negative Catalan experience. Maybe it’s the time of year.

There’s only so many shops you can suffer where you smile is met by a frozen expression of disdain. Were my daily transactions (food, train tickets, newspapers, drinks, whatever) are met with reluctance and verbal and facial reticence. I know – I hope – this will be a passing sentiment for me as it will be shame to have this cloud my time here. Living here has – obviously – affected me in various ways. I think it’s made me unfriendly. As I’m used here to not really saying thanks or being polite in shops I notice when I come back to England and the looks I get when I do the same things in shops in Blighty. I hope this ends.

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