I read a very informative yet depressingly familiar post in Sara Hague's blog, yesterday, basically about how a shop called Cocktail Scandinave (was that it?) lacks even the most basic rules of customer etiquette. You'll find this quite a lot: the customer is, by definition, a pain, who should a) remember his or her place and b) get lost as quick as possible as the assistants have to get on with running a shop. We're a million miles from US Customer Service and, yes, I know how many Americans will take issue with this but you are still light years ahead of any other nation on this matter. German and French treatment of customers often used to resemble the following formula: 'I will acknowledge your existence when it suits me. You do not exist while I'm fiddling around here behind the counter and should you address me, I will ignore you. Remember you are only a customer and this is our shop'. Germany has made phenomenal progress in this regard in recent years, but larger French chains are still stuck in the Stone Age, I fear. Independent boutiques are another matter, but can also be no-go areas. Incentives to return or recommend various emporia are often non-existent or, at best, thin on the ground, and this is why I'd like to tell you about an optician in Toulouse called Optique Rouaix.
Optique Rouaix is an optician's located in Place Rouaix, near the marché des Carmes. The clue's in the title, I suppose. A friend of ours works there, but she was in hospital having a baby when I dropped my Persol sunglasses Mrs. F got for me over ten years ago, and lost one of the lenses. Not being a wearer of normal glasses, I went to the only place I'd heard of. Yes, they could fix it for me by tomorrow for €30. Super, deal concluded; off I went, only to return the next day to find out that the new lens hadn't actually arrived. Terribly sorry, will be ready tomorrow at same time. OK. Went back the following day, only to be told that they'd like to re-weld one of the nose supports as it was rather fragile and said technician would be arriving later in the afternoon. Would I like to borrow a pair of sunglasses to tide me over, it being a very sunny day? Yes, indeed I would. No hard feelings, see you tomorrow.
I rolled up to Optique Rouaix the next day and was presented with my sunglasses, gleaming and sturdy; they'd renewed both nose supports, polished the arms and changed both lenses, slipping a spare into the bag for me. In addition, they replaced my rather battered case with a brand-new like version, same make aswell, no less. The price? That's right: €0.00. They were so sorry for the delay they decided to go an extra mile and let me have the whole caboodle for free. So, instead of paying €30 for one new lens, I was given two new lenses, a spare, brand new supports, a polished arms and a brand new case for the princely sum of zero euros. Because they were sorry to have kept me waiting.
Now, this next bit is obvious to you and me, but it still won't have occurred to everyone in the trade, more's the pity: Optique Rouaix treated a customer with extreme courtesy and that customer is now going to tell everyone who cares to listen just how good that shop is, thereby probably increasing their trade. This is page one stuff, but Cocktail Scandinave certainly hasn't read that book, nor have so many other traders. The glorious part of all that is, once you find someone who understands how to treat customers you feel like getting down on your knees and kissing their feet. Or better. These little discoveries brighten your day and push up your seretonin levels. Everyday rudeness or indifference should just be countered with a shrug and pitying look. After all, people who are permanently dissatisfied or unhelpful have to live with themselves all day, every day; once you leave their shop you're rid of the problem; they're stuck with it and will nurse their negative karma all the way to the emotional gutter. Bless.