August 28, 2008

Of theaters and DHL in the middle of the night

Tonight was my off-Broadway debut in New York City!

I know this may come as a surprise to some, seeing as there has been no build-up to this historic (only for me, obviously) event. I thought I would be blogging every day - however, rehearsals have been very tough, lengthy and fraught with obstacles and "stuff" (eeeeeeeenough said!).

Difficulties aside, New York City has been lovely. The weather has been 'toadally AWesome',the exchange rate is great, I live on the upper west side and summer in the city can be fun!

Anyway, this post is NOT about opening night or summer in New York City. It is about DHL. Or rather, it's about 1800 numbers and American customer service.

There is a long-standing tradition in my relationship that whenever I have an opening night that the BF can't attend (i.e. most of them because they take place on foreign soil!) he sends beautiful flower bouquets to the theater. So, when there were flowers at the theater tonight which were not for me I was a little sad. Because he hadn't sent an sms or email to say break a leg or merde either. But, being the connsumate professional I am, I only shed a few hasty tears and then went on stage to 'knock 'em dead' as they say in these parts.

When I called the BF in France at 2:30AM (my time) to tell him about how it all went... he was really upset to find out that I hadn't received the flowers he had indeed sent. So, simultaneously, we visited the DHL tracking site and saw that a delivery attempt had been made, but because the box office only opens at 5PM, no-one was there to accept it. However, if they re-try tomorrow before 5pm, it will be the same story, so I decided to call DHL's 1800 toll-free number to give them a specific delivery time.

It was 3:04AM when I dialled 1800-CALL-DHL. I got an automatic voice asking me which service I needed and instead of pressing hash, I could speak to this voice and get referred to a 'representative'. There was obviously no wait (BONUS!) and the very friendly person on the other side sent a note to the depot immediately and I will get my flowers tomorrow at the requested time.

I know this is 'all in a day's (or night's) work to Americans, but I am still stunned about how this stuff actually DOES work around here. Why do they think people would need to be able to reach customer service at 3AM? Why would they just offer 24 hour, free service like that? I was half-hoping to get to a recorded message saying"our operating hours are" so that it wouldn't be quite so embarrassing for their French customer service counterparts. But alas... shame on French customer (non) service yet again. As much as I defend your need for proper lunch-breaks (and I respect that - digestion IS key) look at what the "d*mb Americans" can get done. AND with a smile to boot.

Here is what this scenario would have looked like back in Paris:

1. Trying to find the customer service number on the website requires several hours of detective work

2. You eventually find a well-hidden email form that you may submit, but receive an immediate response saying it will be treated within the next 90 days.

3. You FINALLY (with the help of your lawyer) find the CUSTOMER SERVICE HOTLINE!

4. It costs 35c a minute (that's Euro cents - do the math) to call.

5. It will only be answered from 9:30 - 12 and then from 14:30 to 3PM.

6. You call, during their appointed hours, and pay to hear 22 minutes worth of lying- through-their-teeth-adverts about the company and their services.

7. At minute 23 of your 'death by customer service hotline', a snotty bitch finally answers the phone, gives you tons of attitude for not having been at the theater when they tried to deliver and tells you that the re-delivery will cost you €35 and will be between the hours of 9AM and 4PM - NO NEGOTIATION.

You gotta love the whole "customer is king"thing they've got going here!

1 comment:

DN Houston said...

Welcome back to the States. I married a gorgeous love of my life american girl, thats learning afrikaans, in Vegas this Thursday. Vegas was great!