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Customer service

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alioth wrote:

I honestly don’t know, but I can say without a doubt that I have never known businesses so eager to turn paying customers away as some British airfields/airfield based businesses. (Some are excellent of course, but there are too many who seem to do everything they can to deter paying customers from coming and giving them money. It’s mind boggling).

For whatever reason, aviation in the UK (specifically GA) seems to attract a particular personality type – those who aren’t that bright and enjoy exercising whatever power they can over their fellow man. It means we see lots of silly signs making what the authors consider to be impactful statements, lots of long lists of badly-written rules and regulations, lots of high-viz jackets and lots of clipboards. Cheap chunky rubber-soled boots and white polyester short-sleeved shirts are de rigueur. Business competence is in short supply and customer-orientated attitudes are non-existent, meaning companies go bust regularly.

The situation is somewhat self-perpetuating, since the dreadful state of the business means that good people are not attracted to it.


It’s all part of a business cycle. Cut costs. Employ low cost labour and skimp on training to keep your costs as low as possible to either keep your sales price competitive or profits maximised or both.

Everyone does the same. Eventually consumers get fed up and someone comes along offering quality customer service but charges more for it, and a new cycle begins.

This is very visible with banking at present. It’s hard to find a business who isn’t complaining about ‘customer service’ at their bank with a frequent complaint of “It’s impossible to just talk to someone at the bank”. Even walking in to a branch now, is a bit like a ghost town. Often you’ve to start knocking on doors to find someone! God knows what bank robbers do these days when there is nobody to be found

It’s not as if the USA is a shining example of customer service.

EIWT Weston, Ireland

It’s not as if the USA is a shining example of customer service

Aside from the airport infrastructure (public funding), the amount of money one pays for “great customer service” is eye watering, we payed Signature for handling once: 100$ gets you taxi to your hotel, sun umbrella and plate of fresh water with red carpet, you also tip fuel truck drivers, 20$ is the standard minimum from a gentleman !

The difference with UK is you have that option to “upgrade the service for money” and there are no mesirable people wearing Hi-Viz jackets (or flying suits) while eating greasg food and asking your wife if it was a wingly flight while you are going to the loo

Last Edited by Ibra at 13 Jun 11:09
Paris/Essex, France/UK, United Kingdom

in general, I think the USA is an example of how good customer service is done, in comparison to European countries where for example ‘service’ is a dirty word and the customer should bow down to the provider/self-defined expert to see if he deigns to assist (e.g. Germany) or where class struggles have made a permanently dysfunctional service business situation with unchangeable anger and resentment in the workforce (e.g. UK).

More specifically in relation to aviation, if you overlook sticking $5 in a box for overnight parking I have only once paid for any service at a US airport, at the privately owned airport in Catalina. US FBO chains like Signature (and often the jetliner airports at which they operate) are a luxury option that a few people choose, and not something I’d pay for – the value they add for some is not important to me. There are many other places to go.

Obviously, the airport situation in the US is largely created by recognition of airports as Federal infrastructure. That is certainly not true for US business in general, it is a valid exception not the rule, and the business management issue is recognition of the difference and maximizing the result across all service business as the outcome.

Last Edited by Silvaire at 13 Jun 15:49

Silvaire wrote:

in general, I think the USA is an example of how good customer service is done

Well, I’ve only experienced service in the USA as a tourist and I appreciate that it may well be different being a tourist vs being a local. But my experience of service in the USA is at best mixed. It’s the only country I think I’ve ever been in where someone can be being quite rude or disrespectful while at the same time calling you “Sir”.

While I have had some great service in the USA, I learnt quickly not to expect that. Sometimes it’s great and other times it’s terrible with little predictability. I think it tends towards the extremes rather than the middle.

In most European countries (at least the one’s that I’ve visited) service tends towards the middle ground and is less at the extremes. But getting excellent service is generally as easy as being polite and asking for help or trying to make a human connection.

But of course this is all based on being a tourist. I’ve not lived outside Ireland, so don’t know what it’s like to live in most of these places other than what friends relate.

EIWT Weston, Ireland

Personally I find the difference in service culture between the US and Europe like night and day. The most striking difference is in restaurants.

My uncle lived most of his adult life in San Diego. Having recently retired to England (summer) and Spain (winter), he finds himself constantly disappointed – particularly in restaurants.


Judging service is nearly always a matter of opinion based on predosposed ideas.
I will never forget being taken out to a restaurant in New York by a Brit guy I was working with and his Brit client. IMO, the service had not been particularly good. The waiter obviously wanted to go home early and there were not many customers. He and the other waiter started putting the chairs onto the tables nearby. (So much for the city that never sleeps).
We all felt uncomfortable and despite the bill being quite high my host paid up left a tip and we left.
As we walked down the street towards our hotel, we were chased down by the 2 waiters telling us that the tip wasn’t big enough and it was customary to leave a sum equal to twice the tip.
I had every sympathy for my host’s embarrassment. An expectation of a tip, even if the service has been bad and even a protocol on how much that tip should be, was something I was not at all used to.
I well understand why many Americans and Brits feel that service is poor in Spain and in France.
One of the reasons for this is that for Spanish and French people, food and dining are very important to us and something to take our time over.
The complaint I hear most from Americans and Brits is that the service was slow.
But of the many Brits and Americans that I have sat down to eat with over 90% of them really struggle to slow down and really enjoy what they are eating. Its almost as if the meal needs to be gotten over with as fast as possible so that they can get on with something else.
Whereas to us, the meal and the people you are dining with are the experience. And one to be enjoyed to the full and with the expectation that the meal is prepared for you.
There are of course restaurants in all parts of the world where both eating habits can be catered for.


That’s a funny story @Gallois. I’ve never seen it happen but would have told the guy he got what he deserved, given him some details of why I believe that to be true, and why it’s my choice to leave whatever tip I feel is appropriate. Embarrassment would not be my reaction, particularly in New York where crass behavior is the norm, as demonstrated by the waiter’s behavior. I imagine he would get the message.

I have had quite a number of long Sunday dinners in Italy, also in France, and enjoyed almost all of them I can’t say the same for customer service by European businesses in general, there is more generally an assumption of hierarchy in which the customer Is subservient to the business and his specific needs or requests are unimportant. That is particularly true if he does not advertise himself as being of an elevated social class. But one takes the good with the bad.

Last Edited by Silvaire at 15 Jun 16:18

Customer service varies enormously across Europe.

Some of it a cultural thing (with certain countries making poor customer service a national pride) and some of it just bad organisation, or a ritual hate of tourists/foreigners.

In say Croatia, and Greece once away from tourist-heavy places, it is excellent. At this point I would post examples of the opposite, which would not be a good idea

The Channel Islands (the original topic of the discussion of the source thread, before it went off topic) are fine, IME. The Scilly Isles, rather less than fine…

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Graham wrote:

My uncle lived most of his adult life in San Diego. Having recently retired to England (summer) and Spain (winter), he finds himself constantly disappointed – particularly in restaurants.

My experience is the opposite. I find the quality of food in European restaurants to be way above what I find in the USA, although the quantities served in the US seem to be huge.

One cultural difference is that in Europe people generally feel they should be served a correct portion size and eat it; in the US the expectation is to leave a good percentage of what’s served.

I also know of incidents where restaurant staff in the USA have aggressively demanded larger tips, 20% minimum.

Darley Moor, Gamston (UK)
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