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Customer Service Rage & Makan in Singapore

April 16, 2010

Customer service – 2 words that most concisely encapsulate the purpose it should serve. Unfortunately, more often than not, many businesses do not appreciate the value of this. And most often, for me, it makes or breaks the transaction. I don’t want my money going to a business where these useless, rude imbeciles pocket it as their salary! 😡

Okay, so even though Cornell has kindly awarded me the sponsorship for my summer plans, I still have to arrange everything myself.I went on and saw the following deal:

JFK, New York City (Delta) -> Narita, Tokyo (Asiana) -> Incheon, Seoul

Incheon, Seoul (Asiana) -> Narita, Tokyo (Delta) -> JFK, New York City

for USD1490.

Delta Airlines - Fly anywhere, on any airline, but this one.

So since I am extending my transit in Narita on my return leg, I couldn’t do that online on so yesterday, I called the involved airline, Delta. Firstly, I had to hold for 30 minutes “due to overwhelming incoming calls” , while  music such as Ke$ha and John Mayer was played to me as I brushed my teeth and worried about my phone bill because it was not a 1800 number.

Finally some guy (henceforth known as “SG”) picked up the call and the phone conversation ensued:

Me: Hey, (details ticket information), could I extend my transit in Narita for my return flight?
SG: Okay, great. It’s $2567 altogether. How would you like to pay?
Me: Oh? That’s different from what I saw online. On expedia it says the flight is only $1490. It’s a combination flight of Delta and Asiana but I only wish to change my Delta flight time.
SG: Oh it’s Asiana? Sorry we can’t change Asiana. You have to call them.
Me: No, no. I’m okay with the Asiana timing, I just want to postpone my D-
SG: Sorry, miss, we don’t handle Asiana flights. You have to call them.
Me: No, you don’t understand. You see, I want to change my Delta fli-
SG: Sorry, miss, we can’t do what you requested. Thank you very much for calling.
Me: I-


I WAS SO EFFING PISSED CAN! RAHHRRR! I think I like imploded to form a metaphoric red, angry welt of pimple pus.  I waited HALF AN HOUR and this dumbass just keeps speaking over me. Is English even his native language?! Muttering something about “death”, “idiots” and “fail max” darkly under my breath, I decided to call expedia to solve my problem.

Can I say AMAZING customer service? So patient, very effective and lovely people. I made my booking so effortlessly through them and they set up an account for me immediately for future use. The lady, Denise, also recommended me the cheapest flight. Awesome service! I’m flying Continental there and back so let’s hope Continental’s as good as expedia. 🙂

Since I’ll be working in the tourism business in the future, I think it’s of utmost importance that Singaporean service staff need to be meticulous and want the best for their customers, not take the sloppy way out and engineer means to get the highest profit margins. I think there’s already a Service Gold Star program that’s being run by STB if I’m not wrong, but I don’t think many people know about it. (i.e. stores with good service would have the gold star sticker on their doors, check them out!)

Many hidden treasures in Chinatown. It's really not a fogey place.

Oh, and there are also other selected stores you should look out for. Just a little plug for STB: I was working very much in Chinatown for my internship last summer so I know that if you head to Chinatown, there are “heritage brands” (>30 years old). They are marked with this cute little cartoon figure dressed in a Chinese wayang outfit. There was some debate over if they should keep this mascot because some people say he looks like a cockroach, but I still think he’s pretty cute leh? Anyways, you should definitely go try some of these stores (addresses included) because they are amazing. My personal favorites are:

  • Lee Tong Kee Ipoh Hor Fun (Don’t just try the hor fun, must try their very own avocado-gula melaka!!!! I had the pleasure of chatting with the owner who said that this dessert (quite pricey at $3.50 a bowl) was inspired by an Indonesian restaurant, and she had to practise for many months before she could finally find a way to ground the avocado to such fineness. I brought my parents there and they loved it!)
  • Tong Heng (the FAMOUS egg tarts! I went back there like 5 times man, and brought my other friends along with me (i.e. my self-organized Chinatown tour) and they looooved the pastries too. I kept having to buy the egg tarts for my parents. Their curry poks are damn good too! I met the owner too and these egg tarts are diamond shaped because he said something about them starting off and ending off the same. Something cheem la, but whatever, cos the egg tarts are deeleesheosh!)
  • Lim Chee Guan (When I was there, the owner gave us each a whole hamper of their famous bak-kwa and when I brought it home, my mother squealed ecstatically, just like a typical auntie! HAHA, sorry mummy. Lim Chee Guan is definitely less commericalised than Bee Cheng Hiang, and only has one small shop space. Their bak kwa is definitely less oily but very very tender not full of greasy pork fat like other brands, so during Chinese New Year, they get the loooongest lines. And their bak kwa is also the priciest, if I’m not wrong. I only got to eat 1 slice because my greedy papa finished the rest of them! ): )

Haha, yea I know I keep writing about Singapore (people have mentioned it too) but I guess I really sub-consciously miss the place haha and it’s like the only country I know inside out. I guess when you come to an unfamiliar country, you also think back to what you know and so I guess writing about Singapore is a remedy to my nostalgia? AIYA, EXPLAIN SO MUCH FOR WHAT, I’M SINGAPOREAN, CANNOT WRITE ABOUT SINGAPORE MEH. hahaha (:

5 Comments leave one →
  1. April 17, 2010 11:23 pm

    YUM, thanks so much. I shall repay you when you next come home. 🙂

  2. April 18, 2010 10:23 pm

    Haha no problem auto (: I’m very much a foodie at heart. No lah, my turn to treat you after the last time at Secret Recipe Tanglin! (: I won’t be back for a while but when I’m, I’ll call you up!

  3. clement permalink
    April 19, 2010 7:02 pm

    you know, im actually going to star this on my google reader so that i can whip it out and check some of these places out if im ever in chinatown again!

  4. Augustin permalink
    April 19, 2010 11:56 pm

    wawawa so hardworking. before you finish ur studies already helping STB plug chinatown alr. good job cheryl 🙂 anyway, I think places like Chinatown and Little India have hidden gems especially for food 😀 and not to mention photography.

  5. aizat permalink
    April 23, 2010 11:42 am

    the thing about customer service, and service industry as a whole, is that the line ‘the guest is always right’ is actually very strongly enforced. i read some of the reports that my hotel has put up recently and all i can do is go ‘wtf’ at the kinds of things the hotel guests demand. and the best part is that the hotel will go out of its way not only to provide what the guest asked for, but apologise profusely for something that isn’t even remotely the hotel’s fault.

    fair enough the person is paying for perfect service, but it also breeds a significant amount of resentment among those that are working in the industry. put it this way, i only needed 2 days to hate the hotel guests with all my guts

    maybe such customer service as above is different, but sometimes providing the best service possible is bordering on ludicrous.

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