Good Old Spanish Customer Service…

Things come to a head when the power goes down at catavino.net!

In other news, things are hotting up here in Spain, which means it’s siesta season again! Do you remember what to do?

29 thoughts on “Good Old Spanish Customer Service…

  1. Ray

    Back in ’96 in Canarias, I mentioned the concept of
    “The customer is always right.”
    to a Spaniard flatmate that had just got ripped off by a rather rude shopkeeper.
    It was the first and only time that my friend ever said anything nice about my culture (U.S.)
    “Won’t that be nice.” he repeated.
    I had just taught him “won’t that be nice” a few days before, when we watched “The Princess Bride.”

  2. SergiMan

    Oh my God, here comes he summer and words like ‘siesta’, that should be banned from this website. Does anybody really think than the average Spaniards enjoy ‘siestas’ daily? Come on, Ben!!

  3. bill

    A company I worked for a couple of years ago had their phones cut off by Telefonica because of an unpaid bill for €16 for their fax machine, dating back 6 months. No effort was made to contact the company beforehand, and they were cut off for nearly a week. I guess the real stupidity of the whole affair was that Telefonica actually lost money because nobody could make a phone call, and it pushed the company into using skype instead.

  4. Ray

    @SergiMan: There may not be many left that do, but man, what a joy it is when you can enjoy a real, good siesta.
    It’s probably the one thing I miss most about working graveyard shift, the possibility of enjoying a siesta. In the middle of the night, a ‘siesta’ just doesn’t have the same meaning.

  5. Tom

    SergiMan – loads of Spaniards have siestas. While I don’t get the full jornada intensiva, I know loads of people who do and a lot of them make use of it by having a little siesta.

    You’ll be telling us that the country doesn’t shut down in August next!

  6. cindy

    when you drive down the street between 2 and 5 pm , and you see all the store fronts closed up, where do you think all the people are and are doing? lunch/siesta.
    all my in laws do so. my husband doesnt have that luxury in his job. but then he is home at 6 pm and doesnt work weekends either!
    i cant… its not in my programing….
    sort of like the spaniards that ¨program¨their kids to not be able to drink cold liquids. i was raised with ice in my drinks and productivity in the after noon (after 12 noon, not after 5 noon)
    customer service.. that is an oximoron in spain right?

  7. faemino

    La siesta…ya estábamos tardando.

    Anyway, this is my two cents worth:

    -last time I had a siesta (not being Sunday or not being on holidays) was like 25 years ago. I truly believe this is the case for most Spaniards my age
    -in big cities, not many people can afford to go home for lunch anymore. No siestas then.
    -in smaller cities or towns, yes, people usually go home to have lunch with their families. They have to cook lunch, fetch their children from school, take them back to school after lunch,wash the dishes, etc,etc…and be back at work at 4 or 5. Not much spare time for a nap.
    -yes, small family run businesses do close from 2-5. I seriously doubt their owners are having a nap during that time. I’m sure many would love to, but very few have the time to do it.
    -in my opinion, these days, only seniors, children and a small number of very lucky human beings have siestas on an ordinary weekday.
    -we call the 2pm-5pm interval the “lunch break” (because that’s what it actually is) not the “siesta break”. We say “nos vemos después de comer”, not “nos vemos despues de la siesta”. I would only use the latter perhaps on a lazy August Sunday afternoon after some cañas.
    -and finally, the siesta is supposed to be a 15 minute affair.

    And this is it, really. Sometimes I would love to be guiri to find the whole “siesta” thing so fascinating.

  8. cindy

    ah yes it is fascinating ! so very very !!
    all my inlaws take their siestas everyday. self employed and all that..dentists, morning teachers, store owners… and for longer than 15 min !
    i think we wouldnt see so many people (children included) out at 11pm, if they didnt take their siestas!
    ah yes siestas as very fascinating ! my body wont let me, but i wonder what im missing. sometimes.

  9. ValenciaSon

    The guiri side of me finds it fascinating that even folks in small towns take off from work from 2-5 for lunch!! I’m sure it has a lot health benefits and labor benefits as the workforce can sustain their peak efficiency later into the day.

  10. Sara

    As for customer service, I find that asking for the “Libro de reclamaciones” works wonders. Seriously.

  11. Stuart

    The customer service of internet providers in Spain must me terrible.
    There’s always a steady flow of worked-up stressed-out slightly-maddened Spaniards hanging around English language Spain-loving blogs with some complaining to do. Be it on siestas, racism in Spanish sport, or anything…

  12. frank

    “I’m sure it has a lot health benefits and labor benefits as the workforce can sustain their peak efficiency later into the day.”

    If only that were the case, Spain is a very inefficient country, the siesta would appear to have no benefit whatsoever.

    Spain ranks 10th in the number of hours worked per year, although productivity lags far behind countries that work fewer hours….

    Today the economy of Spain is the fifth largest in Europe, accounting for around 9% of EU output. Per capita income, at 78% of the EU average is among the lowest in the EU,

  13. Dean Hunt

    I made the rare mistake of falling asleep for an hour recently, and I felt like death when I woke up.

    Horrible feeling.

    That said, it often takes me 30+ mins to fall asleep, so a siesta would be wasted on me.

  14. Dean Hunt

    Oh, and sticking to the topic of this post ;-)….

    Yes, I have experienced similar customer service on numerous occasions. Especially when we were building a house here.

    There just doesn’t seem to be any systems or protocols in place. On many occasions we have called and received advice to do A, only to call back the following day and get told that A doesn’t even exist.

    Has anyone else noticed that in Spain when a person in a supposed authoritative position (shop keeper, council, customer service, bank etc) doesn’t know the answer to your question, they just invent an answer?

    Happens all the time to us.

    Must be the Spanish pride, or maybe it is just us.

    Anyway, yes, they have leaps and bounds to make in the customer service department… based on the fact that it doesn’t even really exist here yet. But I have also heard similar stories from friends in the UK.

  15. faemino

    Frank, according to Eurostat, in 2006, Spain’s per capita income was 102% of the EU-27 (EU 27 countries)average. Uk’s was 118% and France’s and Germany’s were 113%. So yes, there’s a gap, but it is not that big. I don’t know where you got that 78% figure, but it doesn’t look correct, unless you mean the Euro-Zone, not the EU, and even in that case, 78% looks a bit low to me.

    But anyway, productivity has much more to do with things like the cost of energy (very high in Spain), the job market structure (very inefficient in Spain) or the educational level of the workforce rather than with siestas.

    So yes, a Spanish worker spends more to produce the same as -let’s say- an Irish worker, that’s right, but that has nothing to do with siestas or no siestas. It is simply because “inputs” are more expensive in Spain than in Ireland.

  16. Jonk

    @ Dean, once you get accustomed to short napping you don’t feel bad. Plus it’s better at 15-30min than an hour. If you train your body for that nap it basically falls asleep instantly and you will feel refreshed after only a short time.

    I had to train myself to do this because shift work gives me no alternative. I would arrive at my girlfriend’s house exhausted, take a 5-10 minute nap just by plonking my head on her shoulder and then felt pretty energetic from then on to go out and see a movie/do whatever.

  17. Parubin

    Spain’s GDP per capita is 105% of the average of EU27, for God’s Sake not 78% according to the latest official publications by Eurostat.
    Italy is 103%, France is 111%, Germany is 114% and the UK is 118%.

    But well, in some forums I have learned that Spain is the most innefficient country in Europe (wait, no, it isn’t even Europe as Africa begins in the Pyrenees), with a GDP per capita at the level of the Czech Rep., Malta and Estonia, with a housing crisis booming because Brits stopped buying real estate, with agricultural products aimed solely to British supermarkets, with terrible weather, with a complete disregard towards the common norms of civilization, with unseen level of generalized corruption and inneficiency, whose growth is only due to British taxpayers and Euro funding, and what not.
    Thank God I read so many forums and never read a book in my life.

  18. Pepino

    Drifting off to sleep is so muh easier during the day than at night, I find. I can sit on a park bench after lunch for a bit of air, and in no time at all I have that sudden head wobble where your chin hits your chest and then immediately bounces back again, leaving passers-by giggling :-)

    Mind you, I often find just closing my eyes and hovering around in that “twilight zone” between sleep and consciousness for a few minutes is enough to recharge my batteries for the afternoon.

  19. Ben Post author

    Apparently Churchill used to fall asleep with a teaspoon in his hand, sitting in a chair. When he reached real sleep, his muscles would relax and the spoon would clatter to the floor, waking him up, fully recharged for some more work.

  20. cindy

    i have heard of the spoon nap thing also. i didnt realise it was churchill.
    when i may have a lunch in my home, usually involving the whole family of my husband; some head to the couches and fall asleep in about 30 seconds. waking in about 30 min. totally ready to go. sort of weird for me to have all my guests sleeping in my living room, but my husband thinks it normal.

    what i dont understand about customer service here is why do the store owners act like they are doing me a favor to help me? dont they want a sale? do they think they are the only store i can go to? we have a store here that when we have ordered appliances from they never call to say if or when we will ever get it. one time it took a month to get something. the owner first said 3 days, then he never called to let us know of the delays.
    we have now waited for a year for them to finish our new kitchen cabinets. one door ! that is all they need to be finished. dont they want their money?

    i just dont understand this concept of ¨business¨ !!!

  21. Jambro

    Parubin, you must really hate Spain. I wonder why you even waste your time reading this forum.

  22. SergiMan

    Faemino estamos en la misma frecuencia – ¡otra vez a vueltas con la dichosa siesta!
    I live in Catalonia and know only one guy who positively enjoys his daily siesta.
    And please do not tell me that we Catalans are hardworking people!! (Otro topicazo…)

  23. Mrmark

    Parubin wrote “But well, in some forums I have learned that Spain is the most innefficient country in Europe (wait, no, it isn’t even Europe as Africa begins in the Pyrenees), with a GDP per capita at the level of the Czech Rep., Malta and Estonia, with a housing crisis booming because Brits stopped buying real estate, with agricultural products aimed solely to British supermarkets, with terrible weather, with a complete disregard towards the common norms of civilization, with unseen level of generalized corruption and inneficiency, whose growth is only due to British taxpayers and Euro funding, and what not.
    Thank God I read so many forums and never read a book in my life.”

    You are so right Parubin. The Brits (and I’m one) are so arrogant that they can’t accept that other countries have done well by their own devices. When Ireland overhauled the UK in terms of gdp per capita, all you heard from Brits was “it’s only because they had subsidies from the EU”. Tell Brits that the Madrid metro system was able to build 78 new stations in 3v years (or whatever the figure was) and you’ll get the same response. I wonder what the explanation will be for the extensive fast train network. Will the Brits dare to actually praise the Spanish (who showed there was a investment case and managed to arrange finance and the consequent building)? No, it’ll be “look at the Barcelona delay” etc.

  24. Amapola

    I am from Spain and I have been in 4 continents and practicly have rubbed shoulders socially with people of all races, countries, educational and economical backgrounds. At the end of the day In my experience there is nothing to compare to Italy and Spain at any level. In other words I would rather eat lentil soup with a nice morcilla in Spain or a calzone in Itally no matter what I had to put up with or not than duck a l’ Orange anywhere else. Spain and Italy should be considered heaven on earth and any of you that have the priviledge to live there. NEVER EVER LEAVE!

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