Now that’s customer service!

It’s funny, we keep saying to each other how nice everyone is here — you’d think we’d been somewhere full of  rude people for the past 5 years and that’s certainly not the case in Costa Rica.  We always had a very warm feeling about how individual Ticos treated us, personally, and we made some wonderful Tico friends.  But, when you move out into the more general world of “customer service” — this is not an area where traditionally Costa Rica shines.  It’s simply not (yet?) part of their culture.

The U.S., of course, is a huge place, and I have absolutely no delusions that people are nice everywhere in the U.S.  ;-)  But I can say with some authority that people are extremely nice in Utah, at least when it comes to “customer service” types of interactions!

We’ve been “interacting” a lot with service people in our 3 weeks here — we had to rent a car, we’ve been shopping for all kinds of things at all kinds of stores, we’ve registered a car, changed over utility services, dealt with the bank, eaten out, bought insurance, had services like TV and internet installed, bought fast food, had car repairs done, enrolled Mom in a Day Center, and signed up at town hall for our “green waste” bin.  After literally every interaction, we’ve looked at each other and said, “People are SO nice here!”

It seems that people have consistently been friendly, like really friendly.  Not inappropriately friendly, of course, but friendly beyond just the required pleasant smile and routine “hello-how-are-you” that we might expect.  And they consistently have gone above-and-beyond when it came to helping us in some way.

Our first week here we needed to replace the battery in the remote control “twanger” (remote door opener) for the car we’d just bought.  David inquired at the jewelry counter at WalMart and was told they didn’t have that kind of battery for sale. BUT, they did have a bunch of batteries they used for various things, and maybe they could find him one.  The one gal started looking, and eventually had the entire staff of the jewelry department looking.  When the search was initially unfruitful, they asked if David, perhaps, had other shopping he needed to do and they would keep looking.

We finished our other shopping and he stopped back by the jewelry department but, no, they hadn’t yet found one.  No problem, nice of them to look.  As we were checking out, the woman came running over to us in the checkout lane, triumphantly holding a package of the needed batteries — which she gave us for free!

A bargain on scallops

Then, yesterday, I was shopping at our local Fresh Market where I’d gone specifically to get some of their advertised bay scallops for $6.99 a pound.  When I didn’t see them, I asked the woman at the meat/seafood market counter (after her very friendly greeting) if she had any.  She initially wasn’t aware of the sale, so she grabbed a flyer (and gave me one, joking about racing to see who could find it first) and sure enough, there they were. So she set off in search of  scallops, but didn’t have any in back or in the cases.  So she came around front to the self-serve seafood freezer case and looked, unsuccessfully.  I, adding a bit of “encouragement” to her search, had commented pleasantly, “Oh I hope you have them, my whole dinner menu is planned around them!” which was absolutely true.

She said, “well, clearly we have to make sure your dinner isn’t ruined,” and picked up a bag of sea scallops (at $15.89/pound) and remarked it might just be my lucky day.  She then actually spied some other bay scallops in smaller bags which added up to a much higher price per pound than the sale ones, but not as much as the very expensive sea scallops.  She’d already asked if I only wanted one pound and I’d said, no, I needed two.

So, while I have no doubt that had she not found the bay scallops she would’ve given me the much more expensive sea scallops, she happily scooped up 8 bags of the bay scallops, took them to the back, saying as she went, “Now, two pounds at $6.99 is $13.98 right?” and packaged them up for that price. She handed them to me with a big smile and said, “Have a great dinner!”

Now that’s customer service!

Now, sadly, this post *used to* have a whole additional several paragraphs about food costs in general (when I first posted it a few hours ago), but somehow — gremlins in cyberspace?!? — those last 3 pix and 5 paragraphs disappeared.   Poof — vanished!

Clearly it was meant to be a separate post, so stay tuned. Hopefully tomorrow I can face up to recreating it all — and I’m sure it’ll be better than ever.  ;-)





This entry was posted in Cost of Living, Food, Moving back to the U.S., Moving to Costa Rica. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Now that’s customer service!

  1. Paul says:

    I wrote you a long reply a few days ago & had to go back to put in our email address & lost my message in doing do. Very frustrating for one whose typing skillsleave a lot to be desired.
    I agree customer service is better in the US as companies really push it & I think people in the west tend to be friendlier too.. Salt Lake may turn out to be just the right place since it seems to be less expensve too. Our neighbors at the cabinas are from Bose Idaho, not to far from you, & tell me cost of living in their area was lower than much of the US.
    Re: food, all I can tell you is our food budget here is about $300/mo & was $400 in Baltimore. Our food budget includes paper & cleaning products. Although, we’re not extremely thrifty, we still save about $1300/mo here, albeit, half of that is housing since we still pay our mortgage ($1280) back in Balto. Luckily, we have renters. Plus in Balto. we didn;t track expenses so rigorously as we do here.
    So I read w/great interest your blogs, think of you fondly, & trust your decisions bring you happiness…
    PS Our renters just gave 90 day notice so must find new ones or sell house. It’s on Craig’a list bow.

    • arden says:

      Hi, Paul,

      So great to hear from you! Yes, although in our experience individual ticos were very “nice” people, the concept of “customer service” as a part of one’s business hardly seems to have made it onto the radar screen in Costa Rica. And I completely agree that cost of living is such a HUGE variable in the U.S. — which is, after all, a darn BIG country with widely varying costs. We do seem to have hit on a winner here — we find the area to be beautiful, the people really nice, and the costs very reasonable. We will be spending less here than we did in CR on almost everything, and much less than it seems we did in Maine before that. There are exceptions, of course, and a few things seem quite expensive here compared to CR, but overall, we’ve been pleasantly surprised. Glad that you guys read the posts (wow, I’m SO overdue to get up a new one!) and know that we miss you! Too bad about the renters — they had seemed like “keepers” so hopefully Craig’s List will turn up great new ones.

      Hugs to you both,

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