Friday, October 26, 2007


A couple of years ago, I might not have been too excited about the greatness of customer service in the United States. Especially after being on hold for what felt like hours listening to bad elevator music only to have my hopes dashed by a human voice that transferred me to another set of musak. But, hey, the call was free, so what can you expect?

In Switzerland, there is no such thing as free. It doesn't matter if the company you are giving business to messed something up, you will still pay them more for the privilage of trying to resolve it. There are no toll-free numbers, rather special extra toll numbers for issues like this.

For example, with the SBB online ticket ordering, they send you an e-mail stating that if you have a problem with your order you can call them for only 10 cents a minute (plus whatever outrageous rate your phone company charges you) for the pleasure of trying to get to the bottom of your unresolved order. They put it so nicely, like they are doing you a big favor by making you pay to call them.

However, despite the overpriced calling scheme, (the Swiss will make money off of you no matter what!) you never have to wait for someone to talk to and there is only one short automated menu to get past which asks which language you prefer--German, French, or Italian. So I just stay on the line and hope for the best. Both times I called I got someone to speak with me in fairly good English and today, the young woman I spoke with acutally called ME back within ten minutes after having solved my problem. So despite having paid I don't know, five dollars, I did not waste 20 minutes like I would have on a toll free number in the U.S.

So while there is no perfect customer service in the world (and I'm a cheap person, so I can't believe I'm saying this) I'd rather pay a little for service. Even if it's to resolve an original service that was non-existant. After all, time is money. And I deserve a raise.

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