Thursday, August 13, 2009

Customer Service in Ghana

Have you ever gotten so angry that you feel your temperature rise, you start to stammer and shake like a leaf? Well, that happened to me today. I felt like I was about to explode and perhaps make the Guinness Book of Records as the first human time bomb!

Now, this might not be a big deal to many of you; but for me, with a typical phlegmatic personality; it is a big deal! Definitely unheard of, no psychology book on character traits ever mentions the quick temper of a phlegmatic. Why? Well, because it's pretty much non existant!

So, here am I this morning at the post office in town trying to post a CD to my older brother. I purchased a padded envelope but due to its rectangular nature and my square shaped CD, it only filled about 2/3 of the envelope. In order to make the package more secure, I folded the extra third over and stuck it tight with the adhesive side of the envelope and cellotape for added security.

With my package firmly closed and addressed neatly I took it to the lady at the counter for her to process it. I cheerfully greeted her with a smile and hearty 'good afternoon' and slipped her my parcel. Without even a smile in return, the lady (who didn't  even acknowledge my greeting) looks up at me and in the rudest voice said (in Twi-local language);

'Who told you to seal the envelope like that?'

Me, very surprised replied (in English - for some reason when I am pissed I speak only English - lol) saying;

'What do you mean, sealed it like how?'.

Then she said;

'Who told you to seal the envelope with cellotape'.

At this point, I stood shocked. I just couldn't understand why she was talking to me like that. What did I ever do to her?  - I am starting to get really pissed - I spoke back in an equally rude and sarcastic voice;

'How was I supposed to know there were particular rules for the way envelopes should be sealed'.

She went off again accusing me like I was some criminal. I looked at her and said sternly:

'Okay, I didn't know - now I know, so next time I'll know how to deal with it'.

Then -and this is the killer- she looks at me and smirks;

'Now you're talking'.

Now, that last statement was the last straw. Boy oh boy, that did my head in! I snatched my parcel from her and walked away to another lady; determined that if I got similar treatment from her I would just leave. This second lady however was very pleasant. She took the envelope and kindly told me that they needed to see what was inside before sealing it, so she would have to open up. I was like;

'Oh, ok. I didn't know that'.

She then sorted everything out for me and directed me to where I needed to drop it. At that point I told her what happened with the other lady and told her to teach her decent manners. However, I wasn't satisfied. My blood was still boiling for more action. So I went back to the first lady and told her;

'Next time learn how to talk to your customers. You can go to the other lady for lessons'.

She looks at me and says;

'What's your problem, what did i say wrong?'.

I said;

'You talked to me rudely! There is no sign anywhere in this building instructing customers on how to go about sending parcels, so you need to be patient and explain the procedure to the customer, in a pleasant manner. Not shout at them like you did'.

Then, she raises her hand and dismisses me with a wave and says in Twi;

'get lost' (fio ko).

OOooohh, that did it. I looked at her raised my hand, gesturing towards her and said disgusted;

'You are a disappointment and a big shame to this establishment. It is in your best interest to take the advice I'm giving you. As a matter of fact, you should be thanking me for my frankness. The postal service system is dying and soon it will be non existant! It is in your best interest to be nice to customers, thus encouraging them to come again so that you can continue to receive a salary'.

The other pleasant lady I went to earlier then starts calling out to me to please stop. I walked to her and she was like;

'Please, it is okay. I will talk to her'.

With that, I walked out. Everyone there looking at me. Lol. ;p

What do you think of this? What ever happened to Ghanaian hospitality? Or is it because I wasn't a foreigner and so didn't qualify for it? We copy so many things blindly from 'developed countries' - bad and good. Why can't we copy their usually excellent customer service to? 

What is our problem? I have no answers, perhaps you do! Do you care to share? I would really want to know.

PS: Oh yea, by the way - I intend to go directly back to no other person but her if I ever have need to go back to the post office again. I would like to see if she has learned her lessons. If she hasn't, well; I'm surely giving her a second dose of my piece of mind. Lol


  1. Sorry about your unpleasant experience. Its a way of life around here especially with public institutions.

  2. THAT was an experience! And I'm proud of you for teaching her. Too bad she is probably still employed there treating others the same way. These are the things we could change in Ghana and make it a better country to live in.