Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Attention to detail


Have you - I mean you in the UK - noticed that nobody (apart from foreign, migrant workers) cares about doing their job properly anymore? I'm going to try hard not to turn this post into a rant.

I got an email from a Floridian yesterday, saying that the box containing a pair of early 18th century candlesticks that I sent to him arrived smashed-in at the top. It was crumpled to such an extent that it made the 'FRAGILE' stickers all over it hard to read. When he opened it, he found one of the candlesticks actually broken, where a heavier parcel had been chucked on top of it.

We in the UK do not have any careful, dependable couriers we can use anymore - people whose only job it is to make sure that an item leaves A and arrives at B in good time and good condition. The company I used was Parcel Force - a 'sister company' (until anything goes wrong) of the now 100% privatised Royal Mail. The last time I used them, it was to send a large, glass item to the USA, and it arrived two months late and broken. They had sent it to Tasmania by mistake and refused to compensate me on the grounds that I wasn't insured (despite having paid £70 for the shipping) and that even if I was, they didn't insure glass anyway.

I wish that all of our restaurants could be staffed with young, Polish or Latvian waiters as well. They are efficient, courteous and polite without being obsequious, and they really seem to value their job, unlike the fill-in Brits on minimum wages who make a theatrical show of politeness and efficiency in order to make sure you leave them the tip which they are dependant on to make their wages up to anything which could be considered liveable.

The food is plonked in front of you, and they keep a beady eye out to wait for you to take a mouthful before they come up to ask if 'everything is alright for you today', then wait until you have swallowed it in order to reply, with a fixed, plastic smile on their faces. I just nod these days, and I don't smile when I do so.

"Look dear," I feel like saying, "We are all in the same boat. Just because I am splashing out £30 in your workplace, it's not because I am a bleeding millionaire, so stop trying to treat me like one."

In France or Italy, the waiters rule the roost. If you get a smile from a black and white clad, Parisian waiter, you know they mean it. Every now and then, a French 5-star chef tries to open an establishment in London and apply the same rules. They don't work here. We haven't yet got over the loss of our old class system which places servants as the lowest of the low and dependant on us for their very existence, so we resent being shouted at by some jumped-up Frog, even if he does own the joint.

It is now the same in every trade, skill or walk of life here in the UK. Nobody apart from a select few can be bothered with the details - the attention to which makes the difference between mediocrity and simply special. Nobody gets paid enough (apart from the bankers and politicians, who seem to be rewarded for failure), so nobody bothers.

I am lucky enough to have - arguably - the best employer in the country as a client. This has come about exactly at the right time in my life - i.e. when I hit around 45 years old.

He expects the absolute best from everyone, and he is willing to pay for it. He has the most loyal, meticulous workforce in the country, and they are not motivated by fear of losing their jobs.

When my 45 year-old friend told her employer that she was finding it difficult to live on the £6.45 per hour she was being paid and had not had a rise in 5 years, the employer told her that she was 'lucky to have any job at all'.

This is what is destroying Britain right now, and the destruction is deliberate.

22 comments:

  1. As a visitor to Britain four years ago, I can honestly say that all the service was basically shite, regardless of the ethnicity of the server. It was quite funny really, but then we don't have to put up with it all the time. I tried to convince the husband that we would go gangbusters running a cafe in the UK with kiwi style food and service but he does not wish to work in the food service, apparently. Oh well.
    I despair of the mail though, here it can now take eight days for a letter to get to a destination less than an hour's drive away. Ridiculous.

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    1. At least we made a load of money by exporting Fawlty Towers all over the word.

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  2. We are having A LOT of deliveries at the moment, and I can confirm that 99% of the delivery men (and their companies) are total shits.... but the 1% is such a pleasant relief.

    re restaurant service. Treat them as you are treated; it's the only way.

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    1. But only do it if you have finished your pudding and never intend to return to the restaurant, otherwise your next experience may turn out like John Gray's latest post.

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  3. Sadly, I cannot disagree with one syllable. The nosy robot waiters annoy me no end. I wonder if they exist because those of us who know it is annoying and obsequious are being displaced by the hoards of youngsters coming along behind us who do not know this.

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    1. Kill the young - it's the only solution.

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  4. I don't think that people seem to be as interested in their jobs as they used to be ….. you'd think that their day would be better if they showed some enthusiasm wouldn't you Tom ?
    We ordered a garden table and chairs the other month which arrived beautifully packaged and all in one piece. We decided to order two more chairs but that particular company didn't do just the chairs so we ordered them from another company. They arrived broken so they took them back and sent us another two ….. they arrived even worse for wear. The company blamed the Post Office but, I think that their packing was to blame.
    What will happen about the candlestick ? XXXX

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    1. I am sorting the candlestick now. It will be fodder for many future posts for months, I fear.

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  5. The non-caring attitude towards ones work and its outcome seems to be a worldwide phenomenon. Somehow people think of themselves as extra special and think that they are 'deserving' of great rewards without having put any effort in, really.

    I wonder what's going on with the mail service between Europe and the States. Some letters that my family in Germany have sent me, have never arrived here. Other letters arrive after nine (!!!!!!) weeks. It seems that they took the slow route via boat although my family paid for airmail. But, of course, nobody is a t fault. Ever.

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    1. The CIA and MI6 are never at fault. Neither are the post offices.

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    2. And the I.R.S. don't care either way.

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  6. Agree largely with what you say Tom - my experience has been more or less the same. Don't believe the 45 years old though.

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    1. It's true, Weave. It may be the only believable bit in the whole post.

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  7. Just a tip from one who sends packages all over the world. And, I agree, I no longer use Fed Ex nor UPS which are the main delivery systems in the states. I use the postal system, but the sure fire system I have found is to always put a box inside a box with filled spacing between. It has never failed. As for restaurant service, I never complain until the meal is over. The servers etc. would spit in your food in the US.

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  8. Just heard that the health board in which I work has just entered " special measures"
    I have never before worked in an area of which I was so ashamed of.......

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    1. Yes, I heard this morning as well and thought of you. Maybe it's not so much to do with bad apples, but more to do with the sort of things I talk about above?

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  9. If you want service, you must move to Japan. Shockingly excellent and a model for the world in this regard.

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    1. But I hate sushi, and I blow my nose in public. I have heard that farting's ok though, so maybe I should go there.

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  10. Okay I feel like Pollyanna here, but I have had mostly good service here in the US; maybe because we're in the midwest but then again you know I'm very pro-midwest USA. (though Joanne lives in the same general area that I do, and looks like she feels differently) Plus we don't go out to restaurants that often and if we do, it's here in town.
    The Post Office and delivery people - also generally well done, but way too expensive these days.

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    1. But I had the most awful customer service at a fast food restaurant in Philadelphia.

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    2. Do you have time to fill out a small survey so we can improve our service? (average time to complete, 45 minutes).

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