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Is Germany returning to service dark ages?
Photo: DPA

Is Germany returning to service dark ages?

Published: 08 Nov 2012 09:01 GMT+01:00
Updated: 08 Nov 2012 09:01 GMT+01:00

Germany is not only living up to its old reputation as a service wasteland, but is turning back improvements made in the past few years, according to a new study published this week by pollsters YouGov.

Conducted as part of the search for Germany's "most customer-friendly service provider 2013", the study suggests overall consumer trust in service providers is down eight percent on the previous year. Only four percent of those asked said they saw no major problems in the way German companies treat their customers.

More than half (57 percent) of the more than 1,000 consumers surveyed said being dumped in a call centre queue while waiting to speak to an adviser was their most infuriating customer service experience.

The most frequent complaint was incompetent staff, with 44 percent saying unhelpful or idiotic assistants were most likely to make their blood boil.

Contacting companies in the first place was also often a major problem - 36 percent of those asked said companies being unavailable was their biggest service nightmare. And just nine percent said opening times were too short.

Other forms of communication problems came high in the survey results, with 22 percent of participants citing bad website design as their pet hate.

So could Germany really be sliding back into the service dark ages? Are staff that surly, or do you know companies who will go out of their way to meet your every need?

What's your biggest customer service pet hate? Ever have trouble phoning your phone company or accessing your internet company's website?

Or is the worst thing about being a consumer in Germany something different? Do you ever get scowled at in a shop or bullied by your vet? Have your say here.

Registered users of The Local may add their comments in the field below. If you haven’t signed up yet, you can do so here – it’s free and only takes a moment.

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Your comments about this article

09:10 November 8, 2012 by hech54
"In Person" service?....no problem. Everything else?....CRAP. Your choices are either e-mail someone for technical help OR you have to pay for a phone call only to be kept on hold while someone answers. NO other options.
09:36 November 8, 2012 by charlenej
I'm sorry, but when was customer service here good, and jesus don't tell me it's getting worse. I honestly thought this was a given. Germany = bad customer service. I'm pleasantly surprised when I meet nice service people.

I've had people be rude to me in my own house when they knocked on MY door to try to sell me something. I mean, really?
09:37 November 8, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
All of the above. I never noticed an improvement in the first place though. I often get the feeling from a shop assistant that I am bugging them just by being in the shop. Unmanned cash registers while the assistant is off doing something else and waiting for at least 3 people to que before coming back to reopen the sole 'Kasse' is one of my favourites. A smile is received on the odd occassion which completely knocks me back by surprise. I guess it is just the charactar trait of the natives of this country. They never were considered the most jolly or friendly of people anyway. Unless they are out of their skull on alcohol or drugs.
09:51 November 8, 2012 by freechoice
i really hate it when you have to pay for the customer service telephone number. i feel that they wanna cock-up to collect more money from my phone bills.
10:24 November 8, 2012 by Tatsiana
With respect to food industry, try Austria, you'll see how good service is in Germany.... Well, to be fair I am only comparing Munich vs Innsbruck. But here in Innsbruck I stopped going to the restaurants, because they are so damn slow, that it makes me more annoyed then relaxed. Never had that problem in Munich.
10:37 November 8, 2012 by lucksi
Service in Germany? Yeah, that is not going to happen. Press one to join the waiting line to talk to some person making 5 bucks an hour who can only read scrips back to you.
11:16 November 8, 2012 by nailerr
Sometimes we meed a person who is helpful and friendly. And we thank them profusely. So they keep that up.

Elsewhere we find people are rude, incompetent and pathetic. Telekom have broken a wall, had my girlfriend come to a shop 5 times with different "requirements" to get her business contract iPhone repaired before telling her "oh, no, we pick it up from your house" and then screwing up the voicemail and connection for days on end. All while telling her she was doing things wrong.

Arcor called us liars on the phone after lowering the speed of our internet and only after being shown the contract admitting we did have a faster speed previously.

HTC Germany took 5 weeks to NOT repair a phone despite a clear list of problems that HTC globally acknowledged existed. Previously breaking a device sent in for other issues...

It goes on, of course. But what makes me so angry is that this is accepted. That people allow this to be the state of things, and that it is accepted. Not enough people push or complain after being treated like crap.

So to those few I've met who help and try to do their best, we thank you. Even just for caring to try.
11:16 November 8, 2012 by igerman
I was only a few months in Italy, but on every shop, no matter how small it was, after I paid I received also a smile and 'grazie e arrivederci!' that means 'thank you and goodbye'.

In germany in most of the cases after I pay, I have to hurry up because the next customer is served and I don't even have time to take my change, or to put my card back into wallet and take what I bought. As for 'thank you'....you can forget it. I allways say it, as if I have to thank for spending my money, but now I do not wait and do not expect a thanks from them, I do it from respect. It is also a problem of the companies they don't teach employees to be friendly and/ or show some respect!

As for the expensive customer service telephone number, everybody knows is meant to charge the bill of the customers. For the most of the contracts that I had, I changed the operator/ company mostly because they didn't had a normal telephone number or other way (email) to communicate with customer service. There is still one contract left.... but not for long.

Conclusion - customer service quality in germany has to be invented. If it was until now, I couldn't see it. We can speak only about exceptions.
11:34 November 8, 2012 by wood artist
It's hit and miss. Most of my experiences have been good to great, but then...

Day 1 at the Berlin Landisarchiv: Spoke with a woman about getting something. She told me no problem, except it was closed that day. Since we were speaking English, I asked it there would be a problem...since my German isn't that strong. She said No Problem.

Day 2. Returned. She was there, remembered me, and directed me to the counter. The man there was rude...in any language, and had no interest in helping at all. I suggested she might be willing to assist, and he said he wouldn't talk to here even if she did come in to "translate."

Summary. Obvious. Yeah, he was all about customer service. After a bunch of searching...a couple weeks worth, I finally more or less found what I needed.

wa
11:37 November 8, 2012 by michael4096
I tend to agree about the lack of commercial attention to service but not about the individual service people being unhelpful. Or, rather, that is not my experience.

I find that almost all service people I deal with are very friendly and helpful once you establish an respectful relationship. People who assume service personnel should immediately bow and scrape face more immediate push-back here than in other countries but as far as I'm concerned they are as much to blame as the assistant. It always amazes me how many people expect their 'clients' to meet them on equal terms but are unwilling to extend the courtesy to others.
11:50 November 8, 2012 by Omufu
I will never get used to it, but I try to take it less personally when people are even outright rude when they should be helpful. After three years in Berlin I realised, with quite a shock actually, that many of the jobs here that I would normally consider a 'service' kind of job, just aren't seen that way here. No wonder! For me, a person who works in a supermarket is there to be helpful if I need help, and at least to engage with me at the counter. Heck no! Here they just don't see it that way at all! They work for the supermarket, their job is to process goods and people as fast as they can, and if you hold them up in ANY way they get surly.

SO many people here who work directly with customers have no training, and not even the concept of 'service' or even basic respect. I went to a swimming hall the other day for the first time. I wasn't sure about something, so I asked the young lady on duty, who was slouching on a banister. She kept slouching, barely turned her head, and looked at me like I had shot her dog. I expect it now, so it didn't mess with me too much, but wow...

Bottom line, if 'service-people' in my home country acted like this, they would have no job, and it's so disrespectful that it might even turn into a physical fight. I guess if you grow up with it you just don't notice how rude and terrible it is...
12:00 November 8, 2012 by smart2012
Service in German shops / restaurant is very poor. So no changes since the 10 years I am leaving in Germany.

Where I did see a big change is in services in other type of companies which I am using eg

1. Lufthansa.. Earlier days I could get a hot meal or a sandwich with a yoghurt in economy, now what we get is a miserable sandwich, and in some cases they even do not serve anymore tomato juice (only in business).

2. DHL: now the guys leave the package on the floor at the entrance of the building, and run away... and in many cases the package get delivered to unknown neighbours and then lost

3. Liefer / montage serivce of furniture companies: the guys come and are so fast that they scratch the furniture and my baby could mount them better.. Also, in many cases there are missing parts, which means you have to raise a complaint and wait another 5 days before another guy come (in some cases still with the wrong part)

The reason is simple: savings: companies are struggling with profit and they save money on the service...
12:04 November 8, 2012 by raandy
Service, is an oxymoron in Berlin.
12:54 November 8, 2012 by BobbyBaxter
I think it is simply a Berlin trait i.e. miserable, unhelpful and rude.
12:57 November 8, 2012 by zeddriver
One should not have to be taught how to be kind to a customer or any another person in general. being polite should be the case whether one is at work or in public. But the German way is to follow the rule book to the letter. If that book does not say smile, They won't. It's a kin to a programed automaton. Garbage in garbage out.

I had one case that involved T-Mobile. My only internet is via a sim card modem hooked up to my iMac. I asked T-Mobile for a USB modem. They said "this is not possible" I was gobsmacked. OK. So I called T-Mobile in the USA and told them of my issue. They said they could sell me an unlocked USB modem. But it would cost $100. Three weeks later I get the Modem. Take it to T-Mobile and said I need a sim card for this USB modem. The same guy that told me it was not possible to get a USB modem reaches below the counter and whips out a USB modem that cost 4.95 euro. Problem was. His script book calls a USB modem a web'n'walk stick fusion III. So in his little German world. There was no such thing as a USB modem. He was so clueless and lacking in initiative it was horrible. and it cost me big money. Germans are the most stupid smart people I've ever come in contact with.
13:19 November 8, 2012 by Zubair Khan
Survey is true. Couple of day back I experienced undue delays for baggage claim service on Frankfurt Airport. I flew from Austria to Frankfurt. Flight was jsut one hour. It took one and half hour to get my one piece of luggage. Previously it was not that bad.
13:29 November 8, 2012 by moccasynth
I too find it astonishing that it could have ever have been seen to be improving in the first place. The banks are AWFUL (closing for lunch still? really?) and you can't get small change for your business after lunchtime. Internet installation services are woeful (except kabel deutschland so far, who were great actually). Restaurants: that Berlin-Face of utter horror when you ask them something simple is galling. Just answer the question. The Ordnungsamt people we have dealt with for our business actually shouted at us in their office because they "didn't have time". That would NEVER happen in Scotland, ever. DHL are pathetic and unhelpful. The zoll place where you go and pick up your parcels with import problems is a joke, kafkaesque. Public servants have no idea what their function is here (which is a kind of customer service I suppose). It's always nice to travel back to the UK or the USA and you see just how much better it can be (esp USA).

It's a real shame that the Besserwisser mentality exists in the customer service realm. If it wasn't for such atrocious customer service/besserwisser, living in germany would be so much better.

I am always polite to everyone in Berlin but it doesn't rub off generally.

But of course, there are the very occasional people who really do well. Holmes Place on Hasenheide is one.
13:37 November 8, 2012 by CoolBlueIce
Don't get me wrong... I love Germany and love living here... but one of the culture shock items I had to work through was the total non-existence of customer service here at any level. For such a "logical" country, you would think retailers would "get it" that good customer service just makes good business sense... but nooooo!
14:02 November 8, 2012 by LancashireLad
Yet again it's cultural. Respect is seen as a luxury not a human right. It's all just an extension of that. That's why it is accepted as a lack of respect is expected.
16:37 November 8, 2012 by catjones
There is no penalty for bad service with many of the large companies just simply monopolies with limitless support from the government. germans support, respect and admire power even if that power is corrupt......it's in their DNA.
16:47 November 8, 2012 by raandy
moccasynth concerning Zoll

Mark Twain said "if you want to see the dregs of society go to the jail when they are changing the guard."

Here they could easy substitue Zoll for Jail. Some of my most unpleasant experiences have transpired at this ugly place.
18:19 November 8, 2012 by finanzdoktor
Wow. Sounds like I should hope to get accepted or reassigned to somewhere in the Bavarian Alps of Germany, instead of Berlin. Wonder if this holds true for the Black Forest area or further north in Germany?
19:01 November 8, 2012 by Steve1949
Is that a trick headline? How can something that's never exisited in the first place get worse?
21:06 November 8, 2012 by drdoom
My German friends always depends poor service by saying they make high quality product, so no need for service. It may be true, but overall service quality is average for German brands. But surprisingly one can have good service from foreign companies. I had very satisfying service from Dell, but can not say same for German brands. The ugliest in the list is internet and telephone services - I will call it plain robbery, definitely there is room for improvement.
21:21 November 8, 2012 by charlenej
Also, what is the point of having an email contact, if you have no intention of ever emailing customers back when they ask a question. I have been trying to get in contact with restaurants for weeks to plan a party and I just hear *crickets*

Here I'm trying to spend money with these people and they don't want it.
21:43 November 8, 2012 by ovalle3.14
Not surprised by this survey, this is how many Germans treat each other also on their private lives. In my experience, the only place with worse customer service in Europe is the Czech Republic.
22:55 November 8, 2012 by pjnt
Customer service in Germany is disgraceful. Incompetence in the work force is painfully evident. In my 10 years here I have pages of colossal errors - from simple problems in phone service - unable to contact them, banks - their inability to change my address when I moved for 3 months after being told the first time, to more serious issues when a government employee came to my door and asked if I lived there. (get it? I was registered, he looked up the address and came to ask me). The issues are endless and it never got better. It must be getting worse.

Luckily there are still many positive things here.
02:13 November 9, 2012 by blackboot11
to repeat pintabove and I totally agree:

"Customer service in Germany is disgraceful. (period)

Incompetence in the work force is painfully evident."

I just this week I had a small package 'express delivery' via DHL from Leipzig to Berlin with Saturday delivery with signature between 8:00 am and 12:00 noon.

for quite an extra fee ...

The package made it to the Berlin hub at 6:30 am Saturday morning according to their website and I finally got it delivered to me at almost 9:00 am on the following Monday. Some 48 hours later...

Shitty and expensive service from angry and disgruntled employees.

Way to go Germany !

When I asked the DHL delivery person what the problem was he just gave me the typical Berliner Schnauze and walked back to his truck and drove away.

This is a ctypical example of what kind of service one gets in Berlin these days.
11:32 November 9, 2012 by Kamelia
As my boss rightly phrased it: Service is sometimes confused with servitude, and some German customer "service" agents will sometimes refuse to be polite or acknowledge an error just because of that. Fine line? don´t think so!
12:12 November 9, 2012 by Jo30
I have to agree with everyone's comments - customer service doesn't exist, and its not a Berlin-only thing as I lived in Dortmund. I could go on for hours about examples but I agree its a simple cultural thing. I found once you got to know bar staff or supermarket staff after a few months of going to the pub/shop they became friendly and smiled and all the things that you expect. It seems they just don't give it out lightly!
12:30 November 9, 2012 by gwenness
WHAT customer service? There is none now - how can it *possibly* get worse? Insane.
14:06 November 9, 2012 by clarajane
totally agree there never was customer service here. i went for dinner at the Rathaus in Munich and ordered boneless sardines (that's how it was described in the menu both German and English) and when the dish was served, surprise, surprise the fish had bones, when I pointed it out to the waitress, she answered that I should know, fish naturally come with bones! but i pointed out the menu to her and she just sulked away. so I continued eating, I was holding my fork with a vegetable on it and the waitress just took away my plate! she came back a few minutes later and asked whether i wanted something else or another sardine dish! i was mortified!

2nd incident, went to get ski gear at Karstadt Stachus and asked for the staff's help, she just stared at me and walked away!

3rd incident, the montage guys from IKEA, I swear I called them about 20 times min to fix my bathroom cabinet when the delivery guy missed a rubber thingy at the bottom of one of its legs.

It's insane, they have never heard of customer service I tell you!
14:57 November 9, 2012 by Landmine
Customer service? In Germany, that word and service is unknown....

We think it is bad in America, but come to getmany and it it a million times worse than the worst experience you ever had in America.
18:48 November 9, 2012 by raandy
zeddriver I hope you feel better after getting that off your chest :-)
19:02 November 9, 2012 by AClassicRed
I've found that most people in customer service of some sorts in Germany are brisk, but they were brisk with everyone before and after me, so I never took it personal. In the regular shops I visit since I always try to be polite even to the most brisk person, people recognize me now and treat me nice enough and sometimes even warmly. Can produce some consternation in that I am the person people ask the time of, can I watch their bags at the busstop while they grab a coffee.

As far as other shoppers or others go, because I don't just brush by someone instead of saying, "excuse me", and if I have to say "excuse me" I thank them for having moved out of the way. I often see the surprise on people's faces and they warmly reciprocate. This leads me to believe it is a vicious circle of sorts. Because someone else isn't polite or fair, the person who feels slighted decides to treat someone else that way.

The only times I've actually even been perturbed at someone was in dealing with too many of the Americans who come one of the places I work. They expect you to treat them like they're your firstborn, and then look and speak to you as if you aren't human or worthy of attention: you are a worker and beneath their boring notice. Or they were very quick to take offense believing you were trying to slight them in some ways, and I'm like, "Calm down, the whole world is not about you or trying to put you down."

I don't believe in generalities or making broad statements labeling or stereotyping a whole group of people or country like many of you have done because I have repeatedly found it can entirely be dependent on what attitude you bring to the proverbial party. If you are looking to be offended, you usually will be. You'll find some fault. If you choose to take some kind of service problem personal? Life's too short. Speak up when you need to, but don't think more of yourself than it's necessary to think. If someone is short with me, cut's me off, etc. I tell them about and I didn't like it. I get surprised glances for that, too but almost always they become nicer.
22:29 November 9, 2012 by romber58
Another slow newsday at "The Local"...bringing this old canard up once again....
00:26 November 10, 2012 by dirving71
Is Germany returning to service dark ages? The question we should be asking is when did Germany ever leave the service dark ages. Customer service in Germany is a total oxymoron. It does not exist. What's your biggest customer service pet hate (sure you meant peeve)?

Let me see

1. The fact that when I first got into country and tried to get telephone service set up, it took months to actually get it set up properly because when I kept calling for assistance I kept getting the old line that somebody was working on it while the problem was never solved. To make matters worse, we got billed for every minute on the customer service number--99% of it spent waiting for someone to answer the phone. Furthermore, we still got billed for two months of service when neither the phone nor Internet connection were not working--even though they were hooked up properly. It is for this reason I will not do business with Deutsche Telekom to this day--despite their many efforts to get our business back.

2. The fact that most stores seem filled with clueless clerks.

3. The fact that most salespeople or clerks act like they are doing you a favor by being there when the reverse is true. If we do not purchase products in your place of employment, you will probably be out of a job. The customers are the reason you have a job and you should do everything to make their experience a pleasant one so they will want to come back.

4. If you are not skilled with automobiles, get prepared for a lifelong journey to find a decent mechanic and avoid getting screwed by unscrupulous mechanics who will try to charge you hundreds of dollars for an unnecessary work that could have been done for 30 euros by changing a few fuses.

5. Rude salesclerks who would have been fired on the spot in America if they some of the things they do hear--loudly berating a customer for asking a simple question, refusing to help you when it is obvious they are not even remotely busy, etc.

6. Today, my wife spent 25 minutes on the phone with an O2 rep because of an overcharge. Turns out O2 changed the contract midway and took away the free 100 cell phone minutes they promised and changed the rate as well. I would change but it is not allowed before your contract is up unless there are extenuating circumstances. This is just a quick synopsis of some of my experiences. There have been some good experiences but they have been too few and far in between.
08:14 November 10, 2012 by Enough
Exactly...Dark Age Service never left Germany. I can't tell you how many times I've wasted hours waiting on some dumb sales clerk trying to figure out something they should know.
12:09 November 10, 2012 by jg.
I must have missed the improvements in customer service in Germany - my impression is that service is largely non-existent in Germany and this hasn't changed in the decade or so that I have lived here. I have met quite a few nice and helpful individuals but sadly, they are the exception rather than the rule. Corporate attitudes and legislation shore up the German tradition of poor customer service.
19:40 November 10, 2012 by RhiannonIlana
This totally doesn't surprise me. My partner has worked in retail for 20 years. Now suddenly at the age of 43 he is mostly regarded as 'too old' by the management who want youngsters who look nice but have no idea about anything. He had to move stores despite having glowing letters from customers who then followed him to the next store, to the extent that the manager told his former coworker not to tell people where he had moved to! These stores' ONLY advantage over Amazon is personal service yet the managers seem to think that doesn't matter.
21:43 November 11, 2012 by gorongoza
To this guy at The Local who posed the quesation.

Going through people`s comments I am sure got a true reflection of what service in Germany is like.

I used to think I am the only one experiencing such a before-the-dawn-of-civilisation service in Germany.
12:39 November 12, 2012 by authun
Tip to those frustrated with internet: Get Vodafone. They happily speak English and, when I had them a year ago, didn't charge for customer service calls, and they was enthusiastic and helpful when needed.

No other service experience in Germany has even compared to them.

No, I don't work for them in any way! I think they're good because Vodafone is ultimately a UK company (right?).

@the friend of drdoom

Product quality in Germany is nowhere near high when it is delivered with the typical crappy German software. Software is essentially a service after all.
21:38 November 12, 2012 by lenny van
I had two unhappy experiences recently. There was a 2 cm scratch on the stone skirting of the car and the company demanded that I pay them € 500 for the "damage". I refused to surrender the keys to the car, unless they wrote that the car was not damages on my receipt. I was thrown out of an ADAC office into a downpour with severe thunder and lightning and there are no roofs under wich to take shelter around the ADAC car rental return in the south of Munich..

My German is neither god nor bad and I can cope in most situations. In the Vodafon shop next to the Apple shop in Munich, I was refused service because I asked the mumbling customer service rep. if he would either speak louder and clearer so that I could understand him. He replied that Vodafon language in Germany is German. I refused to leave when he told me to get out and I was physicaaly thrown out on the street.
10:31 November 13, 2012 by authun
I mean not good because because, but on account of their knowing good service from the UK.
14:06 November 15, 2012 by rohit_ffm
I think that it is mostly subjective. I have experienced very good and helpful service reps and downright rude and mean ones as well and also in the same business enterprise as well.

Being a foreigner, I dont think I can generalize this but still I think overall service quality can be found lacking in most places.

The other big problem is the fineprint in contracts. I still havent been able to get my head around the concept of informing 3 months in advance to get out of a contract, be it a cellphone connection/Internet connection/gym membership/bahncard/insurance contract etc etc. A customer should be able to leave a contract as and when he wants to , if there is a valid reason and should not have to wait for extrenuating circumstances to arise. And the arguments I have had with service reps for this. They wont even accept at the time of subscription to not renew it again.

the age-old excuse that the quality of the product is so good that you dont need service is totally misplaced. The quality is fine but so it is in many other countries where service quality is way better.

The companies need here to change their mindset but the consumers also need to start not just following the process as is laid out in front of them but question it and criticize it.
14:49 November 15, 2012 by Shirazz
Since you asked…

Just got back from Germany, country that I visit once or twice a year for business and leisure, have many great German friends. and I generally meet good people but.....

#1. Having used ICE trains for many years, the last couple of years I notice that most of my trains were late so I asked fellow passenger if it was just my imagination that German service mind and efficiency are slacking, I got a long lecture of agreement from him.

Situation #2. Wanted to buy a three day German rail pass, which by the way, is available only for people residing outside the country, so it should be international mindedly handled, right? Wrong.

Called DB to ask if I could buy it from station nearer to my place, at Berlin Spandau where I could also hop on the train from, instead of Haupt bahnhof.

I asked if they spoke English, ¦quot;I connect you to my colleague¦quot; was the reply. After 15 minutes, three connections to ¦quot;colleagues¦quot;, and a couple of redials after they hung up, I told the girl ¦quot;No! don¦#39;t transfer, I¦#39;ll speak German¦quot;. So after I spoke in my simple but understandable German, the woman then tried to speak in English which was horrible, I had to translate to German to make both of us understand, and at least we both laughed. ¦quot;Yes¦quot; she said, I could buy German rail pass from Spandau station. And she was so sure.

Next morning at Spandau ticket counter, I waited while the old man kept talking away forever verrry slooowly to the customer before me before finally folding slowly and handling his ticket while I was tapping my foot, dreading I would miss my train. My turn came, he articulated every word while I ran out of time. ¦quot;No-we-do-not-sell-German-rail-pass-here-only-big-staions-wait-I-will-look-where-you-can-go……

¦quot;It¦#39;s Ok, I know, Hauptbahnhof¦quot;

I dashed out to catch reeegiooonaaal train to Haupt, and by that time, was too late. And I bloody called them day before to ask!!!

Situation #3.I have an online account in Germany. The last year has been a mess with trying to transfer money. Finally this year I asked a German friend to assist me, still a mess, so we called the bank. The bank asked why my friend called instead of myself, he was told that my German was not good enough and if they would speak to me in English. The smarty pants rudely said to my friend, translated to ¦quot;No, this is a German bank, we speak only in German¦quot;. My friend told them if they didn't want to speak English, how was I to call them, and if that¦#39;s the case, they should not have agreed to let a foreigner open an account with them in the first place, and he should go to a night school and learn English.

Consequently, they locked my account on the account that someone else tried to deal with my account instead of me calling them first (about my account). Ha! Catch zwei und zwanzig.

Situation #4, Lufthansa…..don¦#39;t let me even start…

I love you Germany ….but….
00:12 November 19, 2012 by strahlungsamt
The reason there's bad service in Germany and the reason people tolerate it so much can be summed up in one word - Hartz.

When I lived in Berlin in the 80s, there were always jobs available. If you were willing to work, you always had something. And it paid decently.

Then, some time in the 90s, some guy named Peter Hartz came up with the brilliant idea of creating 400 euro/month jobs which you could do while still receiving your social welfare. Right then, all motivation to work hard disappeared. You can't even get one of these jobs unless you're on welfare and the people doing them are often sent by the welfare office. This benefits only employers who can now hire people cheaply, with no requirement to pay benefits and the state collects no taxes. Good wages in Germany are a thing of the past now but the unemployment figures are lower which looks good on the balance sheets.

So nobody has money to spend anymore, nobody can get a pay rise and nobody is paying into a retirement fund. Once again, the Neoliberal brilliance shines and penny pinching all round wins. Think about that the next time you get bad service in a shop or restaurant. The service person probably doesn't want to be there. Don't take out your anger on him/her. Most Berliners understand this and are probably in the same situation themselves.

Penny pinching has become practically religion in Germany. Look at the recent disasters in the S-Bahn or the Berlin Airport or Hauptbahnhof. All delayed and with cost overruns just so somebody could save a few bucks.

One other thing, when it comes to websites, Germans are still stuck in the early 90s. The amount of times I want to go Columbine on German stock models who stick their ugly mugs in the page for no reason, don't start me. They seem to hire a whole army of techno dancers from Bruno's to design the page to death yet they can't hire a decent programmer to make the damn site work properly.
08:46 November 19, 2012 by Smiß
I find the customer service delightful after having moved to Ulm from Finland one year ago.
09:31 November 20, 2012 by trallallero
I read "igerman" that compared Germany with Italy.

Well, I am Italian and I can say that his personal and little experience in Italy has nothing to do with the typical Italian behaviour in the shops. I'd like to know in which city he has been, because the first thing I have pleasantly noticed, entering Germany, is the respect with which people treat each other.
16:01 November 21, 2012 by laurencelewis
I have never seen a comments board on The Local so united :).

I agree, customer service here is atrocious. Administrative hours are ridiculous and the level of beurocracy is completely inefficient. Retail stores are completely unable to communicate among themselves to help a customer resolve a problem, and the time it takes for any communication to happen is obscenely long. Also, why the hell are so many companies still dependent on snail mail.

Germany is, for a generally very progressive country, very backward when it comes to adopting new technologies and cleaning up messy administrative systems. I think there is generally the attitude of 'If it ain't broke don't fix it', which is reactionary and stupid.
17:54 November 21, 2012 by ApzuMA
MVV Mannheim, power company.

Had my electricity shut off with no notice. Admittedly my fault, I had not saved the payment receipt from my American bank for the previous 6 months of payment. They do not keep records of German payments.

Was told by MVV customer service that they had no record of the past 6 months. I had to pay a cut off fee, a 'restore' fee (one of their electricians turning a fuse) and the 'lost' months worth of payment.

I was also told there were records of a Tony Bennet in my profile. I had asked that his records be checked, as mayhap my payments had absconded themselves into his. I was refused.

I asked to speak to a supervisor. I was flat-out told, 'No.'. I was a bit flummoxed.

Although I did not raise my voice nor get malicious, I did drop an f-bomb. I said, "This is f'ing ridiculous'. I was scolded for using profanity and was threatned with the service rep hanging up.

Ultimately, I accepted my fate, as many do. I still feel resentment with MVV.

Although there are many other experiences, one could empathize with attitudes absorbed throughout adolescence and the environment. MVV's was bad all over, I was a bachelor and was and still am paid in dollars. Although I do not pay taxes because I am expempt, one would expect an iota of customer respect in the fact I take nothing away from your economy and do nothing but put dollars in. No expense to you.

Folks here are certainly much more affable and cordial after a few, though.
23:16 November 22, 2012 by 1sap
Service is bullshit in Germany

1. Never believe any bloody contracts .. starting from Insurance Companies to you house contract .. they have enough loopholes not to pay back you money .. you feel miserable and helpless when they ROB you right under you nose.

2. Any Contract .. you can never come out of it .. till you let these companies suck you blood ..

3. You call a call center .. they start robing you right from the min the call starts . and then you are in the wait list .. once i waited 20 min .. till some one picked up and ended up paying 12 euros .. for a bullshit clarification wotth 40 eurs .. idotic but i had to do it .. else they send you threat letter from all the bloody available legal mechaninery in the country.

Sick culture . parasitic companies .....
05:49 November 28, 2012 by stablemate
kind of sad......service is way to keep customer......all around world to company treat like could care less......really too bad...as someone would stay if respect...
10:04 November 28, 2012 by authun
@ApzuMA

Come again? I'm not sure how any representative is supposed to understand you at that rate.

@1sap

I couldn't agree more when it comes to contracts and distrust of the bureaucratic companies. The lack of consumer checks and critical thinking from the natives allow them to run roughshod over people's rights. I only reluctantly go along with my German wife's insurance planning because she essentially insists upon it.

The one thing I do sympathize with the insurance companies over is that everyone and their (grand)mother in Germany seems to have an excuse for having themselves declared unfit for work!
11:39 December 7, 2012 by belladons
I think it¦#39;s pretty funny when I first speak english to a German rep during my initial conversation. On a couple of occasions I let the person speak—in most cases it¦#39;s a man, and in one particular case he was rude to me. So I let him have his disrespectful conversational way with me while I answered in english. Then there was silence, and I let him have it in German…..lol. The man had no idea what to say. I even do that in some department stores, which the same has happened to me…..lol. You should see the look on their faces….lol. It¦#39;s pretty comical….lol
01:36 December 8, 2012 by mitanni
Bad customer service is probably a governmental strategy to discourage spending and encourage saving...
15:24 December 11, 2012 by petaj
i hate it when there are two tills open, but they decide for some reason to always have two people working together on one till - one taking the payment and the other putting the item in a bag. total waste, when there is a queue why not have two tills open? may only be marginally faster but from a customer point of view just seems like a waste. PET HATE.
12:38 June 30, 2013 by fundoo999
Do you love hidden costs? How about shelling out an unexpected 40+ Euros on a tour bus you have already paid an exorbitant price for, when you had planned to spend your cash on food and souvenirs? How about rudeness? And some good old fashioned Nazi racism to top it all off? If so, Germany is perfect for you. After reading some of the responses that customer service reps have written to the bad reviews about service, it is apparent that Germany has zero concept of customer service. Read their responses- they are rude, defensive, condescending and blame the customer! "We are sorry that you suck. We regret that you are not capable of understanding the basic policy…" Are you serious? Is this your concept of damage control? Stop responding like jacka****, you're only digging yourself into a deeper hole! Coming from the US, this is quite a shock when it comes to customer service. Wow, no wonder no one wants to visit this wretched country. It is only known for two things: Nazism and cars. And the German punctuality and efficiency they always brag about is a by-product of Nazism so I wouldn't be too proud of that if I were them. These people act like Nazi's and you get all offended over people being 2 minutes late to something that doesn't even matter in the bigger picture of life. These Germans have not changed- they are same militant, racist, abusive people they were back in WWII. They will get all offended if you call them Nazi's, but their behavior shows that they have no soul and lack a large chunk of humanity and empathy. Even the "friendly" ones go ape sh** when you do some minute, mundane thing that is "out of order", like taking 12.5 seconds too long to find cash. How do they raise their children like this, without any love? Is this human? I think not.
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