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The Customer Is King: Story of a Faulty Food Processor

After ten years of living in the U.S. many things still amaze me. The high level of customer service is one of them. Here's my latest story, that of the returned food processor.

I bought one of those machines at Macy's on December 24th because I was planning on chopping Brussels sprouts on Christmas Day. When I emptied the box one blade was missing. I went back to the store on the 26th, returned the unused processor, picked up a new one - and got 20 dollars back because the price had dropped since my original purchase two days earlier.

For American readers this exchange may sound like the most normal thing in the world. I was flabbergasted. In Austria I would have had a hard time convincing the sales person that the machine was faulty from the get-go. She might have said something like: Da könnte ja jeder kommen (anyone can say that), implying that it was my fault if a part was missing; she would have sent me home with the original machine and no blade; I would never have gotten as much as a smile or 20 bucks.

The customer is king. Der Kunde ist König. The sayings are the same in English and German. I like how the U.S. treats royalty.

P.S. For those of you who enjoy cooking: I was planning on preparing Brussels sprouts the Mark Bittman way, with figs and bacon. The recipe is easy, the result delicious. It works well with whole sprouts too...


debi said…
You are so right, Christina, we do consider it normal to be treated like royalty by a retailer. And we tend to just take it for granted. Now, I will be more thankful. Seeing something from a different perspective is always enlightening.

I will definitely try that recipe - it looks delicious!

Happy 2011!
Thanks, Debi. Happy 2011 to you too and good luck with your writing!
Reese said…
I completely understand, since it is near impossible to return anything in Asia (except Japan which has excellent customer service).

However, I do find one area in Asia that far exceeds in customer service - airlines. The US has a long way to go in airline customer service.

How did the Brussels sprouts turn out?
Ingrid said…
Just stumbled across your blog and had to comment about the blender story - your description of a return of a defective item in Austria was right on!!!
After living in the US for many years I now return to Austria at least once a year for an extended stay and have encountered such scenarios several times. It never fails to amaze me how unfriendly and complicated retailers deal with their customers. My biggest complaint is though with grocery shopping, what a nightmare the checkout is! When I complained to my niece about it she replied "Oh,
Du bist wohl sehr verwöhnt" - true, I like the way supermarkets, at least here in the PNW, do business.
Nevertheless I love my visits to Vienna!

Reese and Ingrid -

Thank you for sharing your experience.

In defense of Austria I need to add that customer service in some of the international chains is great. Ikea and H&M come to mind. Both can keep up with US expectations; both are Swedish. (Hm - Sweden, does that count in favor of Austria?)

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