Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Waiters and waitresses are among the hardest working and poorest paid people in Spain. Sad, then, to read that the already-low levels of tipping here have fallen as a result of the economic crisis. Which can only mean that all that's being left on the plate are the copper coins of 1, 2, and 5 centimos. Shameful.

Better news comes in the form of the announcement that, for the 7 months of this year so far, road deaths are nationally 20% down on last year. Galicia's reduction is even higher, at 28%.

Consumer Services Section 1: If you go to a Feu Vert tyre shop [which is French], next to a Carrefour supermarket [also French] and ask for the Firestone or Pirelli tyres on offer, don't be surprised to be told they only have Michelin [French!] tyres in stock. Am I being as cynical as the Spanish to sniff une conspiration?

Consumer Services Section 2: If you get your tyres changed anywhere in Spain, be prepared for the mechanics to completely ignore any manufacturer recommendations as to the correct pressure. As ever, mine this morning were inflated to a level 27% above what they should be. Which would do nothing for my carbon footprint. Or my safety.

In related vein . . . Some friends recently bought a new car from the local Renault [French!!] dealer. With sales 30-odd percent down on last year, you'd think they'd be falling over themselves to provide an excellent customer service, wouldn't you? Well, the first irritation came when the salesman and receptionist couldn't find the second key. The second came when their solution was that my friends should find the time to return at a future date to see if it had been found. The third came when they realised there wasn't much more than a smidgen of petrol in a car they'd just handed over 20,000 euros for. Ten minutes later, they discovered there was nothing at all in the screen-wash bottle. Needless to say, everyone involved in the sale was pleasant and courteous. But this isn't exactly the alpha and omega of customer service, is it? Unless you're a Renault dealer in Spain. My advice is to avoid buying anything French.

Galicia Facts

Residents of my barrio of Poio are officially complaining about something I've long suspected to be the case - viz. that, come August, the entire staff of our sub post office all take their annual holidays at the same time, leaving us without any mail service for a month. Which can be a problem when you're relying on your bank to send you the time-limited vouchers which help you decide whether the deductions from your account are genuine, erroneous or just plain fraudulent. Why, I wonder, did Telefonica spring to mind when I penned this last sentence?

Another day, another report on one of our annual bullfights. But still no room in the Diario de Pontevedra yesterday for a mention of Saturday's elegant anti-bullfighting protest. The paper did, though, bring us photos of the previous event in the bullring - the visiting American Pressing Catch roadshow. But you know it's a slow news day when the headline article in the Pontevedra section of the Voz de Galicia is about the closing of the roads around the Alameda so that a fairground can be erected. Which is something that happens this time every single year. I feel they should have gone with the report that things are not going well on the restoration of the alleged birthplace of Christopher Columbus [Cristóbal Colón] right here in Poio. OK, it might stretch credulity but at least it has more human interest value.

Switching on the TV late last night, I was - what's the word? - amused to see the recent performance of Boney M in Cambados. Given the stick-like limbs of the bizarre male member of the troupe, it would be far more accurate for them to call themselves Bony M. You can catch it here, if you want. I thought it was all quite dreadful but some of the audience clearly loved it. Perhaps they're starved for culture in Cambados. And I suppose it was a wine festival.

My latest moan about Google is that, while I can live with them ignoring my instruction to operate British English for all my Google documents, it's very annoying the Add to dictionary option doesn't work either when I try to store British spellings. I think I know now what people mean when they talk of American imperialism.

Finally, my congratulations to northwest6 for being the 50th member of the AGA Forum. The cheque/check is winging its way to you right now. Wherever you live.


45N93W said...

Yes! Customer service in Spain is lousy, but not because most people are not naturally predisposed to be nice to the customer, but because most companies haven't even thought of training their employees. This, as usual, is a problem and an opportunity: there is certainly a customer service training market someplace there waiting to be developed.

Eh! BTW, I've registered in the Anglo Galician Association (Galician department) and I haven't got a confirmation. Uhm...!

Anonymous said...

Oh, don't get me started on customer service in Spain! I have just posted my annual whine on the August paralysis on my blog.
By the way, how do I register with the AGA? :-)

Colin Davies said...

Sorry, folks. There can be a [server] glitch with the confirmation email when you register with the AGA Forum. But you will in all probability be registered, if you are not a spammer. You can test this by seeing if you're allowed to start a new thread.

As for actually joining the AGA itself, please write to angalass@gmail.com and I will write back to you about how we operate.

Hope this helps.

Kpau said...

Sorry, bad service in Spain? Must be the grumpy northerns. Down here in friendly Andalucia (except the hard workers in the tourist zones) everybody has a smile!

And don't forget that the a government minister (I forget which one) recently complained to the press that people were driving inflation by leaving overly large tips in restaurants, and asked everybody to cut down.