Flip Flop Flying

Customer power or cutting my nose off

with 17 comments

Anyone who read my post on shopping will know that I hate bad service. I would always just moan about things, but over the last year or so, I’ve made an effort to do the only thing that would affect the store in question: not go there.

I felt very proud of myself when I first began this operation. It began around the corner in a little shop that sells everything: cigs, booze, newspapers, plant pots. The guy who runs that shop was so uninterested and miserable everytime I went in there, that I couldn’t take it anymore. So I bought my cigarettes and plant pots elsewhere. This is good, I thought, customer power!

My replacement convenience store was fine for a long time, then one day, the bottled-up rage of the woman in there came out: don’t bring your dog in here when it’s raining outside, it makes the floor all dirty! So I calculated the aprox. amount of money I would spend on cigs and other goods in there annually (around 1,500 euros) and decided to spend that cash in a different shop.

Then a bakery was rude to me when I went in there with Billy. I stopped going there.

Then another bakery was rude to me when I went in there with Billy. This one hurt, cos up until a month before that, I loved going to that bakery. The man and woman who owned it really liked Billy, and we had little chats in faltering German. They even lent me money one day when I locked myself out of my flat and didn’t have my wallet with me. Then the woman got married, moved to Turkey, and they sold the shop and another owner took over. They were fine with Billy during the transition period, but as soon as they took sole control: an abrupt, unfriendy, no dogs allowed. (And, I know, most food-selling places don’t allow dogs for hygiene reasons, but y’know, courtesy…)

The next bakery that bit the dust for me was the heavy metal bakery. The one outside of which I got beaten up. (Still not heard anything from the police about that, by the way.) I’m deflated and sad about losing this shop. Their bread is delicious. I can listen to Black Sabbath whilst buying the bread. What more could one need? Well, maybe a little support when one their regular customers gets the shit kicked out of him on their doorstep, rather than shrugs of I-don’t-wanna-get-involved.

Why am I telling you all of this? Well, as of this morning, I’m half-adding another shop to that list. It’s a coffee shop. A very nice coffee shop. I’m only half-adding it, cos I’m only not going there when one specific woman is behind the counter. Most people who make cappuccinos in this coffee-addicted world stick to the almost universally accepted recipe: one third espresso, one third steamed milk, one third frothed milk. But this woman does it without the steamed milk, so it’s just coffee and froth. Now some would say this is too an acceptable cappuccino; I’m not a fan of it, though, and it’s so rare that coffee places do it like that. This morning I asked for her to add extra milk, as I wasn’t in the mood for an espresso with a bit of lace on top. And, oops, I think she took my request badly, and got a bit stroppy. I got stroppy back. She moodily plonked my coffee on the counter, I dropped my 2 euros on the counter and stomped out.

The problem now, of course, is I’m running out of local shops. The map above shows where I live (blue X) and the verboten stores (yellow Xs). My damn stupid decision to stop going to places that piss me off is gonna leave me hitchhiking to Munich every morning to get a bloody cup of coffee if I don’t calm down. So, I’m still gonna go to this coffee shop. I’ll just have to peek through the window everytime to make sure it’s not her who’s working.

Written by Craig

June 26th, 2005 at 11:48 am

Posted in Uncategorized

17 Responses to 'Customer power or cutting my nose off'

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  1. I’m like you Craig. I take my business elswhere. Fortunately for me there is only a newsagent who has annoyed me. I went into the shop before it was ‘officially’ open and asked if he had a copy of the Sunday Times. He said that he didn’t know and that I had to wait outside. Actually he must have known that he didn’t have one because it was a bank holiday in France and as the printing press is in Marseille there wasn’t a copy that week.

    What you could do is buy your bread in another bakery and cheerily walk past the nasty baker’s waiving your purchase. Looking at that map you seem to have a whole area to the West to explore.

    George in Grasse

    26 Jun 05 at 17:15

  2. oops sorry I deleted my last post because I’m typing with one arm in a sling

    I know it’s owned by McDonald’s but I go to a Pret near work every morning because there’s this cheerful middle-aged Spanish woman who’s always really nice to everyone and lets you have coffees for free if there’s a problem, as there often is


    27 Jun 05 at 12:44

  3. I know exactly how you feel. I hate bad service, and rudeness, having worked in a shop myself I feel I have the right to complain. Our local coffee shop has a girl with attitude in too, but the coffee is damn fine and Ill be damned if I am walking further away for an inferior coffee. Like you, I check to see who is working… seems a bit daft I know.. but worth it.


    27 Jun 05 at 12:51

  4. I’ve just re-read what I wrote, and, well, it’s all quite petty, isn’t it? I’ve gotta try to control my anger at tiny things.
    I think going back to this latest place though will be a good thing. Like you, Aetheria, the coffee is too good to not go there.


    27 Jun 05 at 13:24

  5. how much does the coffee cost you? you could always get some super duper coffee maker?


    27 Jun 05 at 13:57

  6. I have a super gaggia at home, but there is nothing like getting an excellent coffee made by someome else somewhere else.


    27 Jun 05 at 14:06

  7. That coffee is not the most common cappuccino (1/3, 1/3, 1/3) but espresso and frothed milk (no steamed milk) is still a cappuccino, unless it’s just a small dash of foam, in which case it would be a macchiato (espresso “stained” with milk—either frothed or steamed). But the frothed milk should always be dense and creamy, not foamy or lacy as you described.
    So, yes, it was a cappuccino. No, it wasn’t a good cup of coffee. Yes, you have every right to demand it the way you like it. No, you shouldn’t have spat in her face and threatened to rape her daughter.
    Moderation craig…

    Luigi Castigliane


    27 Jun 05 at 23:45

  8. Luigi.
    Thanks. Yeh, the no-steamed-milk one is one I’ve had before in several places, i just prefer the other. Maybe that’s because I’ve never had one withe the dense-and creamy that you describe.
    I think the thing that annoys me is that they have no specific policy in the shop. They should choose one or the other type of cappuccino.
    I’m glad I didn’t spit and threaten.


    28 Jun 05 at 00:36

  9. Dear Craig,

    Your impatient attitude towards others has annoyed me, and I will be patronizing other blogs from this point forward. Unless you give me a compelling reason to, like, get me to come back or something.

    But seriously: And I don’t mean this in an (entirely) anti-German way: It’s kind of hard to find “friendly” businesses anywhere around these parts. Perhaps we should collaborate on a “least grumpy/nasty” Prenzlauer Berg business chart?



    28 Jun 05 at 09:44

  10. I agree with Craig, and have ‘bad service boycotts’ in place also. The coffee shop with the great lunch specials was the hardest to add. However, I agree that I’d rather spend my money where people are friendly, or at least pretend to be.

    I don’t think it matters, though as most German shopkeepers don’t really seem to care if you patronise their shops or not. However, it makes me feel better.

    Germany Doesn’t Suck


    28 Jun 05 at 13:53

  11. In a way, one could thank the moodier Berlin shop assistants for not faking it. Just as worse is those bored people who trot out their learned nicities but don’t even try to be convincing; just a tired, I-don’t-wanna-be-here ‘thank you’.
    It would just be nice to have someone smile once in a while, happy to be alive.


    28 Jun 05 at 14:05

  12. Craig, do you read/have you read any Davis Sedaris stories? You remind me of him so much. He’s pretty famous at least here in the U.S., but if you haven’t heard of him before, you should check out his stories. He’ll have you laughing out loud.


    28 Jun 05 at 16:38

  13. I’ve not read any of his stuff, no.
    I’ve often picked up his books in book shops, but never got further than that. I even had a borrowed copy of Naked on my bookshelf for about a year, until the owner asked for it to be returned.
    One day… (and thank you. Glad to remind oyu of someone who’s – apparently – talented!)


    28 Jun 05 at 18:38

  14. Fuck ’em, I say. If they ain’t nice, they ain’t gettin’ my business again. It takes so much energy to spread negativity, and for what? I don’t think that a shop owner needs to totally kiss my ass to get business, but they certainly shouldn’t be down-right rude. If they are smiling, great. If they are blank and robotic, fine too. If they make a nasty comment or let out a huge, annoyed sigh when I don’t have klein geld, then fuck’em. I don’t think this is a petty issue, Craig. I’m glad you’re bringing it up. Why so much unkindness? One has to draw the line somewhere. Being treated so rudely has an effect on my whole day when it happens. I don’t think I’m overly sensitive….rather, it is quite normal to feel either sad or angry when someone says something rude to you for no apparent (or at least not a good) reason.

    mama jens

    29 Jun 05 at 12:44

  15. You hit the nail on the head there, Jens: it has an effect on my whole day. Either I learn to live with it, or even laugh at it, or I stop going to said shop.


    29 Jun 05 at 15:06

  16. Having lived here for seven years and spent many a day pulling out my hair over bad service and indifference, it finally dawned on me one day that I’M the foreigner here and, apparently, all the Germans don’t mind the system.

    So I gave up.

    This isn’t Cornwall, this isn’t Boise, this isn’t London and it isn’t New York. So why do we all want it to be?

    (The annoyingly frugal) Germans don’t trust service because they believe it raises the price — hence the popularity of Aldi, Netto and Lidl (and a key reason why the Evil Empire of Wal Mart has largely failed here).

    The expectations — and justifications — for good servie are entirely ours. I know the argument — if they gave good service they’d be amazed how well they’d do — but it doesn’t hold true in Germany. In fact, it scares the customers away.

    When in Rome … so just quit letting it annoy you and, for heaven’s sake, quit tipping but make sure to buy the cappucino when the good barrista is there.

    The Big A

    5 Jul 05 at 11:04

  17. Andrew,
    Yes, I’m at a stage where I’m used to indifferent service, but bad service is still annoying. I was in a sandwich shop recently, waiting at the counter to order and the woman in the shop was on the phone, smoking a fag. I literally waited there for three, four minutes and not once did she acknowledge my presence. So I left. This is, of course, an extreme example.
    The quitting tipping thing is a good idea.


    5 Jul 05 at 11:36

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