When we think of poor customer service, we think of rude salespeople, right?  Not always.  Last weekend, I had a customer service experience that was courteous but overwhelming and uncomfortable.  There is a furniture shop in the city that I once visited and loved.  Since I need a coffee table, I thought I could revisit and see if still there.  And yes, it was.  And the furniture is as good as I remember.  Beautiful hand-carved pieces in solid wood with a unique finish.  Art, really.

I was met at the door by two young salesgirls who proceeded to tell me about the pieces.  The girls kept interrupting each other.  One would start a sentence “People who buy will always return and…..”  and the other would start another sentence “na tena tuko na discount…”  I wasn’t sure whether they were trying to impress the boss who was present, or whether, if I bought, they would then fight for the commissions.  They just wouldn’t stop talking over each other’s sentences.

The boss and her husband were in a corner.  The husband never spoke a word.  But when the lady, in her seventies probably, heard that I wanted a coffee table, she took me to her favourite piece and interrupted my tour of the shop.  Of course, she showed me the most expensive one at Ksh 128’000.  I didn’t gasp.  I was in quiet shock.  Then she decided for me that I was now ready to pay.  She quickly asked whether I want to use cash or credit but we can take a cheque and we deliver after it clears.  I said I need to look at more coffee tables.  She replied that this is the most unique and we will accept Ksh 10’000 deposit and then I pay as I wish.

Twenty minutes later, she was willing to take Ksh 1’000 if that’s all I have and “we can talk of payment plans.”  Can one of the ladies please bring her the receipt book.  I sighed.  I love the pieces but Ksh 128’000 is like my annual life budget.  Even if I could afford it, I would not have bought it.  The customer service was unpleasant.  Too aggressive, almost forceful.

Which reminds me of an experience I had last year.  I went to celebrate Idd at the Diamond Plaza food court in 2011 with some friends.  The friends had promised that the place has the best pilau and Indian curries.  That was true.  The food was simply delicious.  But the customer service left a bitter after-taste in my mouth.  The waiters at the Diamond Plaza Food Court seem to be paid on commissions.  The way they run to push a menu before your eyes, then another and another is pitiful.  They do that while insulting each other and still taking pauses to tell you about the menu.  Sometimes you fear that they will break into a physical fight.  Once you order a juice, the soda guy comes, then the tea guy.  It’s truly overwhelming.

I thought they were trying to make some money during the festive season.  But I came back a few weeks later with a different crowd for more pilau.  The same scramble for customers continues.  Truly pathetic, it ruins a good appetite.





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