You are not a valued customer!

The dishwasher died. It was a very old dishwasher - I even still have the bill: 1987. Good old Bosch, it just works. But it had gotten very choosy about how dirty the dishes were that it was willing to clean. And then it just got so old and tired, and would quit halfway through. I could pump out the water, but there was soap on all the dishes, so they all had to be done by hand. And a teenager produces a *lot* of dirty dishes during the day, despite drinking directly from the bottles...

It being the end of the semester I had no time to trudge through the shops, and I do not have time to install it myself. I want to pay someone who knows what they are doing to throw out the old one and install the new. Quelle offers this service, and since we have been customers at Quelle for the past 30 years or so, we checked the catalogue. There was a nice one, so we went on-line. Of course, that one wasn't available, but there was a great deal: all the important bits (I don't need the gadgets, but Aquastop and A/A/A and a timer are vital) and on sale for only 550 Euros. Online they said that it was available.

But I don't trust computers, so I called to place the order. Yes, it is available. It will take about 10 days for the company who will install it to come, but I was not willing to spend 100 Euros extra just for express delivery. So we ordered, and I went back to the end-of-semester work.

Four days later the teenager remarks that someone from Quelle had called. No, he had not written down any names or numbers, if it is important they will surely call back. I don't believe that, so I call the Quelle number. The operator can just see that the order is in the process of being filled, and it will take about 10 days until it is delivered because they don't actually have one in the warehouse but they will be delivered soon. But she connects me to the service center, maybe they can tell me why someone called.

The guy at the "service" number speaks with a broad northern German accent. I ask why I was called and when I can expect delivery, as I had understood that the dishwasher was deliverable and not on back order. The guy turns surly and says that errors can happen, that's only human. I remark that I expect a computer-based on-line ordering system to be able to know if there are any items actually in the warehouse or not. At least the person taking my order should have up-to-date information.

He starts in on me, letting me know in no uncertain terms that he thinks that I have no reason to complain. I think that I do, and note that I have been a customer for many, many years. He hollers that Quelle does not need customers like me. I think I might have misheard him and ask him to repeat that. Last I heard Quelle was struggling financially..... Yes, Quelle does not need customers like me that complain. I thank him with as much sarcasm as I can muster and slam down the phone. Not only is "service" a foreign notion in Germany, it seems like there is an anti-service movement going on. We should be so happy as customers that companies are willing to do business with us.

An hour later a guy from Quelle calls. He says he knows nothing about my call, but wanted to let me know that they can't actually deliver and he offers me an alternative. Seems that they have a collection of warehouses, and there is actually one of the dishwashers in Stuttgart. But they don't ship items between warehouses, and he does not have one in Oranienburg and will not be getting any more in. So the computer was right - there is one available, just not for me. I note that I was logged in, the computer knows my address and should probably be able to guess that Berlin is not covered by the Stuttgart delivery center. He apologizes for the silly call-center guy and is very nice about everything.

But I am mad, and there is no other dishwasher with these characteristics in that price range. I can pay 200 Euros more and get what I want.... But I am too principled to do that. So we went to Karstadt down the street and bought one - paid 50 Euros more, and Karstadt belongs to the same global company as Quelle, but it's the principle of the thing. Attitudes like the ones at the Quelle service center need to be punished. And Karstadt offered to deliver and install it in two days, but I had no time to be at home. How about Saturday? No problem.

And here we are - it is Saturday, two pleasant guys are standing outside our door at 9am with a new dishwasher. They get to work and are done in 45 minutes. It gleams. It shines. It washes. It better hold out for another 19 years. I don't relish having to deal with purchasing another one before then.

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