Dutch Customer Service – A New Low


Anyone who has lived in Holland for more than a week will tell you straight away that their first bugbear of the Dutch is their complete ineptitude and empathy for anyone whom they consider a customer and the severe lack of anything that remotely resembles proper customer service.

It’s the first thing that annoys people of the Dutch, even before the swathes of red tape and bureaucracy makes their lives unbearable during the whole registration debacle that accompanies any move to Holland. And one could even consider that this exercise of registering with the authorities would also appropriately fall under the guise of customer service, albeit performed by the overpaid Dutch civil servants who perform this mind numbingly, but oh so important to the Dutch local government, registration process. But the tactic akin to the fabled Ostrich head-in-sand approach to customer relationship management is a talent that the Dutch have made all their own.

I’ve slowly, but still unwillingly, grown to accept the slowness of Dutch waitresses, her getting the order wrong, the cold meal served at my table because she was too fucking busy updating her Facebook to deliver it to my table, or the fact that I have to ask her eight fucking times for a refill of beer, or when she tells me to go and order it myself at the bar because she’s too busy!

I’ve slowly, yet temperamentally, gotten used to the fact that every fucking shop the length and breadth of the country shuts its doors at 6pm every weekday evening. If you’re fortunate enough to live in a large city, you are then lucky that you can avail of a meagrely stocked Albert Heijn (Dutch supermarket chain) whose doors remain open until 8pm on a weekday. But woe betide you if you forgot to do your weekly shop on a Saturday, when the shops are usually jam packed with Cloggies, fighting like buck toothed monkey’s over the last sliced pans of bread, because everything is shut on a Sunday and you’re shit out of luck if you’ve no food in the house!

I’ve slowly, and grudgingly, grappled with the oh so Dutch concepts of ONLY being able to make a hair appointment ON THE SAME DAY that I want my hair cut. Clogic (Cloggy Logic) is clearly at work here, because it seems to make perfect sense to Cloggies that one should only make one’s hair appointment on the day one wants it cut, and seems to perplex them something no end when one suggests that perhaps it would be more convenient for ME if I could choose the date and time in advance and have them ensure that someone is available and that I don’t have to wait around for ages for my turn. And this is but one such example of Cloggy Calendar Management.

For a nation that never does anything spontaneously, like going for some beers with your mates at the drop of a hat, and who lives and dies by their diary, how they fail to see the need or even acknowledge the need to be able to plan around a customer’s needs is mind boggling!

And I’ve slowly accepted – and choose treatment anywhere BUT the Netherlands – the piss-poor customer service associated with anything that involves a doctor, or healthcare in general, in this country. Pharmacies that shut on weekends, preventing any way of refilling a prescription until they reopen on Monday, or that they follow the same prescribed rules associated with shopping hours along with the rest of their shopkeeper brethren. Doctors who prescribe paracetamol as a cure-all for everything, including, but not limited to, Cancer, HIV/AIDS, detached retina’s, broken limbs and the H1N1 Bird Flu.

But I literally exploded this morning after an event that was the last straw on this camels back. You see, Herself and I returned from a wonderful trip from the very beautiful city of Valencia. A city that is not only beautiful to behold, but whose residents are warm, friendly and only too ready, willing and able to help out their fellow man, and provide said man (or woman) with prompt, friendly service, at what I must add importantly, are VERY reasonable prices.

Upon our return, we had to pick up our furry family member from the kennels. He’d been incarcerated there for the length of our short but relaxing holiday, and it was time we broke him out of the joint. The only problem was, the Joint he was staying at had a collection time which expired at 12:00. I arrived three (count them, one, two, three) minutes late to which I was informed that they were closed, they refused point blank to even entertain the idea of allowing me to collect the dog because they were too busy having lunch (a crappy cheese sandwich eaten with a fucking knife and fork no doubt) and I could collect said dog at 13:00 when they would start working again.

I flipped! It was the proverbial final straw on this particular camel’s back. I was like a caldera whose pressure has reached maximum and went fucking nuts. Finally, one hour later, Herself went in, exuding her usual grace and gravitas and collected the dog. Except that these fuckers decided to add insult to injury and had the audacity to charge us for a FULL EXTRA DAY, because I was three minutes late. Can you fucking believe it?

What grates on me is the fact that we are NEW CUSTOMERS. In every other civilised country, companies do everything they can to build up a good relationship with their clientele in the hope that their customers will return time and time again. For a new customer, a one-time minor offence like being three minutes late would normally be tolerated. Hell, I’d even hold my hands up and welcome a mild chastising and apologise over my tardiness. But no. The Dutch, in their typical Cloggyminded “Customer is always WRONG” mindset decided that ours was not a customer relationship which they value, and let’s fuck with the newbies!

Which says a lot about why prices are so fucking sky-high in this country in the first place. It’s as though companies here couldn’t care less if customers come and go, because they’ll compensate for the lack of a constant customer base by ripping everyone else off on a one time event only. So because a Dutch company is so incompetent, or has chosen to hire fucking morons who’ve been tasked with job of being the living, breathing corporate face of whatever the brand image they are purportedly marketing, everyone else gets the runaround and fucked royally in the ass, both on price and on the sheer harrowing experience of it all.

It’s small wonder how this fuckwit infested country even manages to keep afloat in the first place. Oh, I remember how…..because the government is in on the act too. They charge 52% income tax for fuck all in return, all the while rip-off merchants like those palming off horsemeat as beef steaks or hiring Eastern Europeans as modern day slaves on asparagus farms get nothing more than a slap on the wrist whilst being told Punch and Judy style that “You’re a very naughty boy” and health insurance executives announce profits increases of 500% year over year, all the while the health insurance coverage for your average Jan is reduced further and further each and every year.

Fuck Me!!!! Honey, book us a flight back to Spain, will you?

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