Over the past 6 years, I have found that customer service in Barbados is at a very different standard than back home. Frankly, it’s almost non-existent. If you need help in the grocery store, good luck. Restaurant service is painfully slow. However, for the most part, I feel that it is part of the charm of this place I want to call home.
Over the past 5 months, I have seen both extremes of customer service here. From the apathetic cashier who wants nothing to do with the customer in front of her. To the supervisor who will practically bend over backwards to give me what I’m asking for.
Firstly, I’d like to show you the ugly side of customer service here. A few weeks ago, I was in the grocery store and I kept running into the same customer. She was pushing a cart around the store, trying to find the items on her list. I noticed right away that she walked with a limp and had a cane resting in the cart. As I finished my shopping and made my way to the cash registers, I heard this customer ask a store employee for some help locating some of the items on her list. This employee looked at the customer with such disdain and said, “I don’t have time to help you. Go find someone else.”
Umm..WOW! I wish I could tell you this was a one off occurrence. However, it’s not. I find that most of the cashiers at the store are rude, unhelpful, and just make the customers feel like the greatest inconvenience. I very quickly learned my way around the store so I wouldn’t have to ask for help.
Today though, I needed to ask about the price of some cheese. And this is where I saw the opposite end of the customer service spectrum. 2 weeks ago, the English cheddar was on sale for $9.99/kg (a big sale sign was posted on the side of the dairy case). I got some and really enjoyed it. Last week, when I needed some cheese, the sale sign was still up, but all blocks were priced at $11.59/kg. I decided to let it slide because I figured they had forgotten to take the sign down. Today, the sale sign was still up. And you guessed it: all the English cheddar was priced at $11.59/kg. So, I grabbed a block, along with the rest of my purchases (rum, margarine, and some Kielbasa sausages that were marked on sale).
When I got to the cash, I explained to the cashier that I wanted to check the price on the cheese. She smiled at me and said she would get a supervisor for me. A lovely woman came over, I explained the problem and she immediately offered to go to the dairy section to check. I thanked her and said I’d be glad to wait. I moved out of the way…and waited…and waited…and waited. When she came back, she quickly apologized for the wait and the inconvenience. Turns out, the sale on that cheese had ended on September 30. However, since the sign was still up, she had gotten the dairy department to reprice my block of cheese so that I would get the sale price. I thanked her for that and paid for my items.
After I left the store, I stopped to check my bill. Oh dear – another problem. My sausages hadn’t rung through at the sale price. And I didn’t want them at full price – they weren’t initially on my list. But on sale, I thought they’d make a nice treat. I went back over to the customer service counter. The same supervisor was there. When she looked up, I smiled and said, “I’m probably the customer of your nightmares today.” She laughed and said not at all. I explained the new issue and she told me that only some of them were on special: the ones with the Red Dot (because the expiry date was close). But that’s not what the sign on the freezer door said. Just that all of that brand’s Kielbasa sausages were on sale for $5.99/package. However, I told the supervisor that I had no problem getting a red dot package. They would last past the expiry date in the freezer. This lovely lady went and got me a package, rang through my discount and when she handed me my new sausages (and my change) she said, “You’re right. They put the wrong sign up. And the product hadn’t been properly rotated in the freezer anyway, so nobody could have seen the red dot stickers.”
And here’s what really made me smile: on top of the great customer service I got from the supervisor and the cashier, they both turned around and thanked me for being an accommodating, understanding customer and not getting upset at them.
I guess you really do catch more flies with honey. And being nice really will get you almost anything you ask for.