Good customer service: priceless, or How one should NOT treat bitchy customers

As I have complained already, I had trouble exporting Facebook events into Google calendar. When I tried to export, Facebook gave me an .ics file and I for the life of me did not know what to do next. For some reason I supposed that there should be a link or a button or something, and when you press it, the event appears on your Google calendar (like Eventbrite does, and, by the way, that’s how I found Google calendar and started using it: that’s what I call good customer experience). Facebook offered nothing like that, and when I searched it I only found someone’s complaint that there is no application for exporting events. I decided that the logical place to seek help was with Facebook customer service. A message exchange ensued, pretty much along these lines:

– Dear facebook customer service, how can I export FB events into Google calendar?
– You can export your Events while viewing the main Events page, by clicking on the “Export Events” link at the top of this page. I apologize for this confusion. Please let me know if you have any further questions, and I will be glad to assist you.
– All this link does is offering me to open the same .ics file with Firefox instead of Outlook.
– Our records indicate that you are able to use this file successfully to import your events into your calander [SIC! – T.S.]. You will need to contact your Gmail, if you are experiencing difficulties. I apologize for this confusion. Please let me know if you have any further questions or concerns, and I will be glad to assist you.
– Could you please tell me, exactly HOW I must use this file to export events into Gmail calendar? (Also, please note that calendar is spelled with an “a”.) [Now, at this moment I am still unable to export events, and slightly pissed off with the whole situation]
– Unfortunately, you will need to contact Google if you are experiencing difficulties with your file. I apologize for this inconvenience. Please let me know if you have any further questions, and I will be glad to assist you.

I feel that our talk turns into a conversation of a blind man with a deaf one. I start suspecting that one of us is an idiot, or maybe we both are. I enter “importing .ics file into google” into Google and in 3 seconds find a solution. I must explicitly import the darned .ics file using Google calendar’s user interface, and it is a standard operation. 1 more minute, and everything is done. I am happy. (By the way, this is how you do it.)

But then I think, WHY ON EARTH could not the customer service person tell me that outright, saving a few useless messages and her own time (to say nothing about mine)? Could she use Google in the same way that I did and tell me what she found? Of course. But SHE DID NOT BOTHER TO. I imagined my own conversation with a client:

– Dear Tania, how much will you charge for translating this text?
– (this much) per word.
– How do I count the words?
– My records indicate that you are able to use Microsoft Word functionality to count the words in your text successfully.
– Yes, but exactly how do I count the words?
– Unfortunately, you will need to contact Microsoft if you are experiencing difficulties with your word count. I apologize for this inconvenience. Please let me know if you have any further questions, and I will be glad to assist you.

Ridiculous, right? Of course I am not responsible for teaching my clients to use Microsoft Word, but if I talked to them like in this imaginary dialogue, I guess I’d be without clients pretty soon. Hello, Facebook customer service? TAKE NOTES.


Horrible experience in a Montreal “restaurant”

I was in Montreal with a group of friends last weekend. I lagged behind the group (the new shoes I had on chafed my feet raw, and as we were passing the Chinatown, I told my friends to go ahead and choose a nice restaurant, while I buy a pair of flip-flops and catch up). I did exactly that, and, having caught up, discovered that my friends had chosen “St.Hubert” at the corner of St-Catherine and St-Urbaine. Not exactly my choice of a restaurant (especially because we were in Montreal downtown where you can find any number of nice, inexpensive and cozy places), but I decided not to argue, because my companions already have been standing in line for a while, waiting for admission. A little later, we were let in, they took our orders, brought us two bowls of coleslaw and the drinks. We crunched happily and exchanged impressions of the day. A little later a waitress brought us the appetizers we ordered. We talked some more, and then I realized that we have been sitting there for an hour already and there is still no trace of our main courses. I was going to see the fireworks later and I would have hated to miss them. (For those of you who does not know “St.Hubert”, it is not exactly haute cuisine – it is just a notch above McDonalds, with fried chicken and hamburgers on the menu.) We asked the waitress a couple of times when our food is going to be ready but she seemed unperturbed. At last, when I understood that I am almost late for the fireworks, I called the waitress and told her that it’s been over an hour and we still did not get our meals.

– Why are you yelling at me? – she asked.

(I was not yelling; I spoke loudly so she could hear me over the din in a crowded restaurant.)

– OK, – I said, – call a manager, I will yell at him.

Another 10 minutes later the manager appeared and asked me what was the matter, in a very stern voice (as a school principal would talk to a misbehaving student).

I told him that it’s been over an hour since we made our orders.

He shrugged. His face clearly said that I was stupidly bothering busy people with my stupid whims.

– Do you call that a service? – I asked.

– Yes, – said he.

I told him I was canceling my order, paid for the appetizer we ate and left.

We came out of the restaurant and looked behind. The sign above the restaurant said in large letters:


Other people from our group left with me, but others stayed. They told me what happened next.

The food was brought about 8 minutes after I left (which makes about 1.5 hours in total).

It was completely cold.

And the waitress demanded tips. “For service”, as she said.

P.S. It is not the general standard of service in Montreal; next day we dined in another restaurant and were serviced promptly by polite staff. So that’s probably a unique occurrence. I don’t know how to explain it; maybe their primary clientele is tourists who never come back anyway.

P.P.S. I was late for fireworks after all, but saw about the last 10 minutes of them which is always the best anyway.

On my way back to the hotel I bought myself a T-shirt saying:


I am just giftedly outspoken.