Last week, I had a drink with long-time blogger friend Ksam who was in Bordeaux on business. One of the things we talked about, on a balmy evening, was cultural differences in approaches to customer service. Basically, in most English-speaking countries the customer is always right whereas in France, the customer is very often a bothersome inconvenience.
Unfortunately I couldn't find the receipt, but that's no problem with faulty goods is it? Off I set for Zara to exchange them for a pair without a seam hernia, anticipating apologies on their part and gracious acceptance on mine. Mistake! A manager who looked as if she hadn't eaten anything since 1998 stonewalled for a while, asked how she was to know I hadn't stolen the trousers; said they looked as if they had been worn; gave me a condescending lecture on how important it is to keep all receipts; grudgingly agreed to exchange them just this once as a gesture of goodwill; then flounced off with one last glare from her dead-fish eyes.
I can't stand the whining about France that fills many expat Twitter timelines, but I also think that when you've lived in another country for a long time, a sort of Stockholm syndrome sets in and you begin to accept the blatant failings of that country as quite acceptable, noble even. I'm going to have to get me some hostage assertiveness training.