Can I please help you, Sir?

February 10, 2014 at 15:12

Customer service ranges from extremely good to extremely horrible, and it has the ability to leave you smiling from ear to ear, or to leave you with grey hair (which you will probably have tore out of your own skull).

Like I’ve said earlier, the people here are really nice, and they want you all the best. The service at restaurants is great! Usually you have several people who are servicing your table when you eat, and you will get the manager over to ask if everything is okay. Food is prompt, delicious and well presented. Order water, and they will ask you if you want tap or bottle, room temperature or chilled, still or sparkling. Order a Coke and they will ask you to feel the bottle before they open to make sure if it is cold enough for your liking. They will even ask you if it is all right to pour it into the glass before they do so. The detail in the level of service is sometimes astounding!

Room service at the hotel.

Room service at the hotel.

Lunch at Le Pain Quotidien

Lunch at Le Pain Quotidien

Another thing that is over and above what you get in Norway, is home delivery for … everything. “A sofa? Alright, we’ll have it at your apartment tomorrow!” – “A slice of bread, you say? Will have it with you in 10 minutes!” – “Take out menu? No, you can take out anything. What do you want?” You can literally call the grocery shop and ask for a bottle of Coke, and they will bring it to your door, no extra charge! Especially good for those lazy days where you are tired of honking and just want to stay in:-)

The taxis and rickshaws are a bit different. Generally, they know how to take advantage of tourists, so one needs to be careful. It’s not like they are going to steal from you, they will just charge you more than the trip is worth, which isn’t going to be a considerable sum compared with what you would pay for a taxi in Norway. The Norwegian way to get a taxi in a different country is to always settle the price beforehand. This works fine a lot of places, but in Mumbai, you are going to get ripped off for sure. We did this the first couple of days when we went to work, and were reassured that it would cost about 200 rupees (NOK 20). “Fine”, we thought, comparing this to Norwegian prices, “That’s not so bad”. Well, we have learned that if you just tell them to put on the meter instead, it racks up to between 30-60 rupees (NOK 3-6). Of course, some will tell you “No” if you ask them to put on the meter. Then you just head over to a different cab or rickshaw. Mostly they will put it on themselves, if you don’t press them into saying a price beforehand.


Rickshaw with the meter on.

The worst part of customer service in India is probably when you have to call your telephone company. The course of calling customer service goes a little like this: First, you have to spend the first minute listening to a prerecorded voice telling you everything you don’t need to know. After that you get to press the buttons to maneuver your way through the jungle of different issues that you may be facing. Please note here, that for Airtel, you HAVE TO listen to every option before you can make a selection. After reaching your destination, issue-wise, you will be on hold, waiting for your turn. And you will not like it. For some reason, they try to make you hang up by pushing the craziest trance/dance/dubstep waiting music straight on your ear. I stood 30 minutes in queue, with nothing other than a minute long dubstep version of Pink Floyds Shine on You Crazy Diamond on repeat. My favorite song in the entire world by the way. When talking to them, expect to get put on hold for every little question.

Another thing that you have to get used to when dealing with people who are servicing you here, is the traditional Indian head shake. For me, I can usually tell what it means (it can be either yes or no) by the conversation itself. The problem is that often they do it just like a “no-head-shake” in Norway. And if you are standing next to a taxi driver asking if he can drive you somewhere, and he doesn’t say anything, just shaking his head, you are going to spend a few seconds looking stupid before he eventually beckons you into the car.

Best regards, Marius