Saturday, December 23, 2006

I mentioned the other day an expensive shellfish called the percebe, or ‘goose barnacle’ in English. To me at least, this looks repulsive and tastes no better than salinated rubber. Despite this, it sells at a prodigious price to those who feel it has echoes of the brave men who risk their lives scraping it off the wave-tossed, oxygenated rocks it colonises. Last Christmas it sold for 230 euros a kilo - or 70 quid a pound - but this year you can snap it up for a mere 350. Or a staggering 106 quid a pound. It takes all sorts.

A reader has reminded me that the El Corte Inglés department store [the only one in Spain?] is a major exception to the rule that Spanish service is rarely very poor. In truth, I don’t know a Brit who doesn’t spit at least foam [occasionally blood] at the desultory treatment you get in its outlets, always delivered with a supercilious arrogance on the part of the sales people. One friend, asking in the booze department about a particular liqueur, was told ‘Ni puta idea’. Roughly ‘No fucking idea’. But, for me, the biggest beef is that there are never any signs anywhere telling you which floor you need to go to. Except when you get there, having had to ask someone each time. This contrasts with, say John Lewis in Liverpool, where there are directories posted at every conceivable point around the store. I heard rumours last year that someone was planning a website dedicated to moans about El Corte Inglés but I don’t know whether this came to pass.

To be more positive, I’ve regularly said how much more sane Spain is than the ‘more progressive’ Anglo-Saxon cultures. To make the point, I leave you with this report from a UK newspaper:- A five-year-old American schoolboy who pinched the bottom of a female classmate has been disciplined for sexual harassment. The boy's father said he was unable to explain to his son why he was in trouble. "He knows nothing about sex". A spokesman for Washington County public schools, said : "It's important to understand a child may not realise what he or she is doing may be sexual harassment but, if it fits under the definition, then it is. Any time a student touches another student inappropriately, it could be sexual harassment," she said. The case comes weeks after a four-year-old in Texas who hugged a teaching assistant was suspended for "inappropriately touching" her.

A very merry Christmas to all my readers, of whatever creed and colour. But not to the Board of El Corte Inglés , of course.


David said...

Hello Colin,

Bon Navidad and all that.

Having read your comments on sexual harrasment charges against "Minors",in the USA. Then, combining this with the intentions of our wonderful British Government who appear to have stumbled upon another gravy tax train re ID Cards. I have finally come to the conclusion that we are all living in a gigantic lunatic asylum.

What on earth is wrong with everybody!

I admire your courage in returning to the UK albeit for a brief time, rather you than me.

Regards David

Lenox said...

Somebody who doesn't like the Corte Inglés:
Makes interesting reading...


El Casareño Ingles said...

You (or I) could write a book on quixotic Spanish customer service.

The very best customer service I've received in the whole world is in Seattle, and in Spain it has to be Extremadura, presumably because they don't get very many tourists.

The very worst in the world has to be Florida and in Spain in Andalucía, particularly anywhere on the costa. A colleague from Madrid says it's becuase of the change from family owned establishments to more commercial enterprises, so this would lend weight to El Cortes Ingles' poor image. Certainly the staff in the Puerto Banús store need a good kick up the backside.

¡Feliz Navidad!

Anonymous said...

I do not discuss the content of your comment... I am from Spain and it would be impossible to deny the lack of customer service in most places. However, the "ni puta idea" thing is not even plausible. No matter who does it come from, this story is with 99% of probabilities false.