**Disclaimer: My experiences with Russian customer service have, on the whole, been positive. So although (I feel like I say this every day here) stereotypes exist for a reason, let’s not be too hasty to pass judgement on an entire nation by one person’s experiences.**
I just returned from a trip to the grocery store and have a tale to tell about Russian customer service.

I picked out about 1200 rubles ($40) worth of merchandise, intending to avoid the grocery store for at least another week or two. Since much of the stuff I bought needs to be boiled, I had the great idea that I should buy a pot. Of course, I picked the cheapest metal pot in the store, which looked like it would probably melt/give me cancer. Even so, it was only 250 rubles ($8), and it even came with a warranty card!

Fast forward to the checkout line, which is empty, other than the archetypal surly Russian cashier. Our interaction proceeded as follows (in Russian):

Me – “Hello!”
Cashier – “…”
Me – “…”
Cashier – “Want a bag?”
Me – “Yes.”Cashier rings up my items, jamming them all into one bag, as is expected. She gets to the metal pot, but it won’t ring up.

Cashier – “You can’t buy this.”
Me – “Try putting the number in.”
Cashier tries, but it doesn’t work. – “No, we can’t sell you this.”

Nobody is behind me in line, so I figure, why not ask for a manager?

Me – “Can I talk with your manager?”
Cashier, after a five second blank stare – “Fine.”

The manager comes and is actually smiling! Just the encouragement I needed.

Manager – “This isn’t working?”
Me – “Unfortunately, no. Can you fix it?”
Manager, with more smiles – “Of course!”

The manager tries to scan the item and puts the number in, but nothing works. The smile disappears…

Manager – “We can’t sell you this.”
Me – “Ok…”

The manager then proceeded to put the valid merchandise in a trash bin and walk away, and that’s how I ended up eating an orange for dinner tonight.

Stay tuned to this channel for more ADVENTURES IN THE MUNDANE!!!

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