Whining about Polish customer service is a Polandian tradition, and what better time to indulge than our first birthday.
My local shop, conveniently situated about 100 meters from the front door of my building, has a lot of points in its favor. It sells about 50 percent of the things one might normally need, the roof doesn’t leak, and it’s open 24 hours a day. I really have nothing against my local mini-market. The majority of the employees are angelic and entirely capable of handling the worst that mass-market tourism can throw at them. I’ve often witnessed the till girls coping with semi-paralytic British tourists trying to buy “some kind of Polish vodka.” But for every angel there must be a demon. About a third of the staff are made up of hard-core old-school Polish sklepowa. These Evil Till Ladies have a multitude of tricks up their sleeves.
The basket caper
Simply bringing you laden basket to the cash register is not enough. While most till jockeys can cope with the idea that they might have to lean over and move items up to the scanning device one at a time the old guard are far from convinced that this is a reasonable expenditure of their time. Evil Till Lady demands that items be handed to her one at a time. Lining things up on the counter will not be tolerated, it’s just far too confusing. Evil Till Lady will replace the items she has scanned at random locations on the counter more or less guaranteeing you will hand her the same item at least twice. Having paid for most of your shopping multiple times you are free to leave with only a withering glance and a radically lightened wallet.
The misplaced-decimal ruse
On the frequent occasions when the scanner doesn’t work Evil Till Lady will attempt to enter the product code and price by hand. At this point the customer is clearly doomed, but it’s worth hanging on to witness the full horror of the situation. Completely failing to enter decimal points is a favorite ruse. Attempting to purchase a bag of frozen fish, a jar or mayonnaise, and a KitKat the following conversation took place:
Evil Lady: That’s 2,234 zloty.
Me: 2,234 zloty! Isn’t that a little expensive?
Evil Lady: What?
Me: 2,234 zloty. Isn’t that quite a lot for some fish, mayonnaise, and a chocolate bar?
Evil Lady: Well, that’s what it says.
Me: Perhaps you entered the wrong price.
Evil Lady: Well why didn’t you tell me!!
Me: I’m terribly sorry but I assumed you knew what the hell you were doing.
Evil Lady: Idiot.
The blindness dodge
I wouldn’t believe this if I hadn’t seen it, several times.
Evil Lady: The scanner is broken and I don’t have my glasses. Read the barcode for me.
Evil Lady: Come on read it! You are young, I am old.
Customer: The whole thing?
Evil Lady: Yes the whole thing, are you an idiot?
Customer: Errm, ok. 54449 67777 7888 9332…
Evil Lady: What?
Evil Lady: Again! Read it again. We have 14 items here, what are you waiting for?!