Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Interesting Encounters With Rude Cashiers

Recently there were some articles in Today lamenting the low standard of customer service in Singapore. Actually, I find that the level of courtesy amongst the heartland retail shops and hawker stalls has improved considerably these past couple of years. This is probably due to the tough business environment and intense competition. Nevertheless, it is still quite common to encounter rude sales staff. Here are a couple of interesting encounters.

Encounter no. 1: Cake Shop at Bishan North Block 282

(Sorry this happened a few months ago, and so I cannot recall the exact figures)

I selected $5.60 worth of buns and paid the cashier $7; one $5 and one $2 bill. She then returned me $2.40 mostly in coins. As I turned away and counted the change, I turned back to point out her mistake. But to be doubly sure, I re-counted and then asked her how much was my purchase.

She replied impatiently: “Total is $5.60. You gave $7 and so I return you $2.40 lor ." .…. (pause) .. "Oh sorry, I keep thinking it is $8”, she added as she sheepishly she took a $1 coin from my palm.

Encounter no. 2: Food Court at Yung Ho Road (opp NTUC Lifestyle Centre)

The Cantonese have saying; “sin king loy yi, hou king yan”; meaning to judge a person by the way he or she dresses. This was often used to describe the discriminatory service meted out by rude Hong Kong sales people (in the bad old days that is – heard that they have much improved in recent years).

Recently I encountered discrimination of a slightly different sort. I was on my way to Jurong with 2 colleagues to meet a client, and was dressed relatively formal in long sleeves shirt and tie. As we were early, we decided to stop for coffee. I went up to the cashier to place my order. “2 coffees and 1 tea please”. But she was busy taking stock of cigarettes and totally ignored me. I was undecided whether or not to repeat my order. Maybe she already heard my order and she might scold me for being impatient and disturbing her. Or maybe she did not hear? Fortunately, her colleague came along and attended to me. Just then, along came a young man dressed in factory clothes and placed a similar order. Guess what .. our rude cashier girl immediately responded to him is such a friendly tone.

I never knew that you can be discriminated against for dressing smart.

On the other hand, it may have nothing to do with attire at all. Maybe it is a case for middle-aged uncle vs young Ah Beng – the choice is clear right? Anyway, it is still discrimination.


Heavenly Sword said...

In Singapore, we often have to be the ones to say "Thank you" to the cashiers first, and they may not even reply (or they may not even look at us). And I think this is one aspect that is terrible...

Anonymous said...

The other day, I telephone a govt department.

The other person: "Hello"
Me:"Hello, Good morning"
The other person: "Yes, what is it?"

Later I found out why she doesn't not know basic common telephone etiquette. The call had bounced to a backroom staff. Apparently, backroom staff are not expected to be courteous to the public.