Service Not Included…
Some might call it sheer luck, but I have experienced good levels of service in the UK. I like to think it’s more down to the fact that I’m a selective consumer and that I’m a good customer – I have expectations but they are not unrealistic, I’ll pay for a good service, and if the service provider exceeds my expectations I reward them with my loyalty and recommendations to friends.
Let me give you some examples:
- When Sky first released their SkyHD set top box, I was one of the first on the list to receive installation. As the date of the visit approached, my excitement was squashed with word from Sky that they had underestimated the demand and had to push back my visit. But, to sweeten the blow, they gave me a voucher for free movies for 3 months and the service installation would now be free, albeit 3 weeks late. I was happy with that, especially as they then gave us another 3 months free HD movies after the box was installed.
- My beloved Mini decided one day out- of- the- blue that reverse was not a direction she wanted to drive in and I had a Mini engineer on my doorstep the next day. The engineer called me on the day of service to warn me that he was going to be early and he arrived onsite before I did. He waited for me patiently and then got to work. He completed the job 20 minutes later and gave me a full brief of the problem and how he fixed it. Brilliant! When the Customer Services centre called me the next day to follow up, I gave them full marks for an excellent visit.
Anyway, 7 months ago I packed my things (along with my history of good service) and moved to Israel to live with my boyfriend.
A new law (part of the Consumer Protection Act, amendment 24, 2008 ) has been passed in Israel, which states that a service organization has to provide the customer with a maximum time window of 2 hours for a service visit. If the Service is delayed by 2 hours beyond the 2 hour slot provided, the customer can claim up to 300 NIS ($75USD) in compensation. In case of a 3 hour delay, the customer can claim up to 600 NIS ($150USD).
So why, despite this law being passed, can I now describe just 2 examples of my poor service history here in Israel?
- We had a problem with our new oven and called for an engineer. The customer service operator told us that we could have an appointment window of either 8am – 1pm or 1pm – 5pm. When my boyfriend reminded her of the new law, she quickly offered us a slot between 9-11am, 11am to 1pm and so on. We selected the time and then my boyfriend asked that the engineer call us 30 minutes before arrival. No, not possible we were told because we were taking a two hour slot. After much persuading, she finally agreed that the engineer would call us. On the day of service, the engineer did call but to tell us he had arrived and to ask where we were. Well, we were 20 minutes away at the office! Apparently he couldn’t wait and we would just have to re-book another visit.
- My boyfriend renewed the annual contract with YES, our satellite TV provider, on the premise that they would provide English subtitles to Hebrew programs. We then discovered the option one day in the system menu.
“Great!” my boyfriend roared when he discovered it, “I can watch my favourite programs and you can improve your Hebrew”. Everyone’s a winner! Well, not so. We called YES, because the English subtitles weren’t working on any channel and yet the Russian and Arabic subtitles were. The lady in the call centre told us that the subtitles don’t yet work on every channel, but she wasn’t able to tell us which channels they do work on and merely said that it worked for her in the call centre when she tested it. My boyfriend persisted and told her that this needed to be fixed – a contract renewal depended on it! She finally admitted that the subtitles weren’t working for her either and that it could be that they added the option to the menu because it’s a planned feature due in a future software release. Despite putting in a request for a call back, so far YES has not contacted us about this.
With mounting frustration, I had to ask my boyfriend whether this was another part of the culture that I would need to adjust to, or was it just that you can’t get good service in Israel? His answer was simple: Service is not Included, it’s Expected.
If a consumer buys a TV and needs it serviced for some reason, the service is expected at no additional cost because you already paid for the TV. The product and service are not considered as two separate things and the majority of people are not willing to pay for service.
Little did I realize, that culture impacts on every aspect of life imaginable, even the service experience. Simply put, some cultures value service more highly than others so why should I expect people to behave the same here as in the UK?
The question remains, as I have found myself adjusting to many elements of the new culture I am surrounded by, will I come to expect service too?