August 3, 2015 DMG

NYC Service Industry

Disclaimer – This is solely based on my limited experience here in NYC. I’ve been told that it’s an “NYC thing”.

In my last post I mentioned I would write about the service industry here in NYC. Boring right? Perhaps, but it’s been that bad that I feel I need to write about it!

I want to be clear, this isn’t a NYC service industry bash… it’s simply facts and experiences. I’ll let you be the judge.

It is a very rare occurrence to enter a retail outlet in NYC and be greeted with… well, a greeting. What I’ve experienced to date is either nothing or a grunt. There are occasions where you’ll hear a “welcome to blah blah” because it’s clearly in their job description to say so, but what I’ve really missed are retail workers who are actually glad to have someone walk in their store.


I went to a T-Mobile store to add credit to our prepaid accounts. I was greeted with something similar to the above and then pointed to the counter. The young lady who served me clearly wasn’t interested. Now, I don’t blame her completely… my transaction was far from interesting, but at the very least don’t make it obvious you don’t give a shit. She started to serve me while at the same time texting on her phone, which I assume was her personal one. Had someone done this to me in Australia I would have politely reminded them that I’m a paying customer and expect to be treated like one. Why didn’t I do that here? It doesn’t make any difference. It’s almost expected that you’ll get bad service.

Guess what? One of the credit transactions didn’t work and I had to go back to the store so they could correctly add it a 2nd time. What a surprise.


Had she paid attention to what she was doing and shown even a little bit of interest I have a feeling that transaction would have posted correctly the 1st time.


This time Verizon for my ADSL order. It started with an online chat which promptly led to me applying online. That process was actually quite good and the online chat agent was helpful. After then calling back a day later to validate my ID (didn’t have an SSN at the time) I was left thinking that the modem and connection would be ready a week later. Fast forward 3-4 weeks and I was still chasing mistakes.

Now, mistakes happen… I get that, but here is another disinterested customer service rep. In one of the many calls to chase up my order I talked to a lovely young lady who seemed to know her stuff, but was constantly snickering through the call. Eventually I asked if she found my Aussie accent funny, but no. Apparently she was in such a rush in the morning she had forgotten to paint her pinky toenails and so only had 4 nails on each foot painted. One of her co-workers found it rather amusing and made fun of her while she was talking to me. Hilarious I’m sure, but not while you’re trying to help someone out who has called several times already!


She told me everything was done and I would have it all early in the next week. What a surprise, it never happened and the next time I called they couldn’t find the order nor any notes of my call with Miss Pinky. Please, get your shit together.


Ah IKEA, what a wonderful place the world over… vomit. We furnished pretty much our whole apartment with IKEA. It’s cheap, looks good, the quality is OK, and it’s (supposed to be) easy.

So we purchased a couch in store and set it up for home delivery. Couch arrives, but doesn’t fit through the door. Honest mistake, all good. So we refuse the couch and let the delivery guys take it directly back to IKEA in the hope that it would make the refund process a lot smoother. Bahahahaha!

I called IKEA the same afternoon. I got my case ID and the promise of a callback or email with 72 hours. So we waited, and waited, and then waited some more. Well after 72 hours (like a week later) we called back to be given a new case ID and another promise of a ‘within 72 hours’ contact. So we waited, and waited, and then waited some more. Again, another week passes so we call again. I think Jude was on the phone for about 4 hours. That was wait time, call transferred, more wait time, promise of a call back…

So a little more than two weeks passed and I finally called again and got angry. It’s a shame, but it seems to be the only thing that gets their attention. It can also backfire, because if you piss them off they will likely just make it even harder for you (again, what a surprise). This time I asked if it would actually speed up the process if I went back to the store to get the refund. I was told that it would, but also that someone would call us back that same day just in case. Yeah, right… that was never going to happen (and it didn’t) so I went back to the store.

The wait time was about an hour for the refund desk (yay!). Eventually I got to the counter. All going well until they ask me for the same card that was used to purchase. Shit, it was Jude’s card. I pleaded with them, but was there even a little bit of empathy shown? You guessed it, no. Now, I understand policy and procedure but the clear lack of willingness to help was amazing. I asked if they (or I) could call Jude to get the card details… but no, they don’t do that. When I reminded them that they would have had to do that if the refund was paid 2 weeks earlier when it should have, they seemed a little dazed and confused. Yes, that’s right… you do that, you just couldn’t be bothered!

So, finally they agreed to get the card details and process the refund… which we still haven’t received but I’m assured is coming (it’s the bank’s fault now).


We spent hours on the phone and I spent a whole Sunday afternoon getting a refund from a global company that processes refunds every fucking day. You suck IKEA North America!

Like I’ve mentioned there have also been good experiences, but these would normally just be my ‘expected’ experience. Every transaction should come with a good experience.

Are we spoilt in Australia? The other day Jude had to call our bank back in Oz and after the call she proclaimed, “God I miss Aussie call centers!” I have to agree. So far the service here in NYC has pretty much sucked.

So what’s the reason for it. Could it be that most of these staff members get paid beans and therefore don’t give a shit? Or perhaps it doesn’t really matter that much because NYC is so full of people that they will always come back to said store anyway? I really don’t know, but surely your day would be just that little bit better if you smiled at a customer and actually helped them. Call me crazy.

Oh, and don’t even get me started on Taxi drivers! They wonder why Uber is doing so well…

Until next time… with a more positive post I’m sure. 🙂