Sunday, 25 March 2012

Going Postal

Japanese service is famed for its impeccable politeness. Endless bowing and apologies in the improbable event that anything goes a little wrong. Gifts and deep bows in the very rare event that something goes seriously wrong.

Like, say, perhaps over a hundred ballot envelopes and candidate information packets not being delivered to members of an academic association.

Okay, so not a life and death problem, but still, losing mail? Losing time sensitive and important mail? You'd think that a mistake like that, with important documents of a regular customer (400+ mailings half a dozen times a year), would warrant a box of cookies and foreheads touching shoes, or at least a few boxes of tissues and heads below shoulders.

But no. When the president of the association called to ask what the hell had happened the delivery service employee on the other end of the line retorted, without even a hint of apology that the items had been located and would be delivered in the next few days. When told that this was unacceptably late the employee remarked that their advertised delivery time for the items in question was two weeks. Even when it was pointed out that it had never taken more than a week in the ten plus years the association had been using the delivery company in question and yet it had taken a full three weeks for some of the mailings to traverse Tokyo, a journey that could be done in considerably less time on foot, the employee still didn't apologize or admit any hint of possible wrong doing.

The association president is unflappable, so he didn't get angry but not surprisingly the association has found a different delivery company to use for future mailings.

Hearing the story from the president over drinks last night I found myself shaking my head and tsk-ing along with the other members of the Election Oversight Committee as we bemoaned the collapse of customer service in this country.

But I had to laugh, where else would this be even taken seriously?


  1. I agree customer service has recently gone out the door. When I first came here they used to apologise for the shinkansen being late on the evening news, not that it was a regular occurance mind you. If that was Sydney the news wouldn't be long enough!!

    Yesterday I actually had to get my broken glasses fixed. The service there is 'old school', opening doors, green tea, walking me to my car etc. I was shocked when I turned around to chat to the kids while stopped at the traffic lights to see the staff member still standing there waiting for us to leave, even though we were no longer on the stores property. All this and I didn't pay a thing!!! I miss service like this.

    The only way that you can voice your dissatisfaction these days is to take your business elsewhere...but I'd ell them why I'd left!!

  2. Achan - I must say the carrying my bag to the door and bowing me off bit wierds me out, but watching you off even after you've left the property? That does seem a bit much!

    Don't worry, my advisor gave the delivery service guy warning that we'd be changing services, and is planning to send back all the mailing slips and whatnot he has in the office. It'll give them another chance to apologize - not that we'd ever use them again, we can't as we will be telling the membership that we have "solved" the problem by switching companies.