Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Ramen Nazi and Other Customer Service Lows

Jason Lackey

The Japanese are an interesting people. Usually reserved and quiet they sometimes surprise you. A series of movies, "Bakayaro" illustrate what happens when such nice, reserved people are pushed to the edge and snap. Each of the movies was a collection of short features, each of which ending with someone snapping with the exclamation "Bakayaro!", which can be thought of as somewhere between "You Idiot!" and something a lot stronger and obscene.

Of course, not all Japanese are so quiet. There is a famous ramen shop in Tokyo, Ramen Jiro (ラーメン二郎) , a visit to which is documented on NPR, where the Soup Nazi would be viewed as a soft hearted rank amateur. There is no backtalk at Jiro, no, not even talking. "Shut up and eat!". No special orders, no this, no that, eat it all and get out, next.

Some say that Jiro has the best ramen in Japan, particularly at the original shop. Perhaps. Perhaps it is also the shocking contrast to the normal levels of Japanese customer service where even the staff at McDonalds bows and neatly folds the bag with a sharp crease, to go to a place where talking is forbidden as are most other things not directly related to eating ramen.

Polite, no. Focused on the task at hand? Certainly, which is in strict contrast to the story of the Overtime Ambulance Driver.

The driver worked for North East Ambulance Services in England. The run started normally enough, an elder gent by the name of Ali Asghar was felled by a stroke and was thus in need of transport to a hospital. OK, so far, so good. The ambulance picked him up and they started off to the hospital. However, the driver noted he was 15 minutes over his shift, so instead of going to the hospital to drop off the ailing patient, he went back to the depot to hand over the ambulance to the next driver.

Mr. Asghar died. At least they kept overtime to a minimum.

Have any of your own experiences with badly broken customer service? We would like to hear from you.

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