Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Customer service, Nephew's birthday and Internet Shopping

I have often complained/talked about the lack of customer service in Spain, (here, and here) how it bothers me to be treated with sour faces and rude comments and I probably never thought I would say this, but you know what? It’s really annoying with too much customer attention as well.

I guess you get used to things. Whereas I probably didn’t see it as anything strange before (I don’t remember) I find it quite bothersome now, that shop attendants in Norway always ask if you need help. In my logic, if I need help I will approach the sales staff and ask for help, but if I am browsing through the shop on my own, looking for something or nothing in particular, I don’t want help. How could someone who don’t know me, help me find the perfect dress, shoes, bag etc. that fits my personality and taste anyway? I am afraid I need to do that on my own.

Avoiding eye contact as soon as I enter the shops doesn’t help either, they will either come up to me and ask, or actually yell from afar to get my attention. I have thus far only smiled and politely turned down their offers of help, and I hope that I can keep it up that way! After all it seems this is part of the culture of customer service in Norway, and who am I to say anything about it?

I had one experience where they weren’t all that wrong in asking though. I was looking for a birthday present for my nephew. Young boy, favorite hobby being skateboards and everything related. So out of my comfort zone. I have no idea what is cool and what is not, but I had a list of brand names that I know he adores. So off I went searching for the perfect gift. Me in my more classic style clothes, I might have looked a little out of place in those skater shops, I will admit that. I certainly felt it. Asking me if I needed help right there and then wouldn't have been such an off thought I guess. I ended up giving up quite fast and went home empty handed.

The answer was of course online shopping, I don’t know why I even tried the shops. I prefer online shopping to regular shopping any day. When I moved to Spain, (especially Barcelona), I went from rather enjoying shopping to close to hating it. To have to stand in line a good 15 minutes to try on things or pay for them is just something I don’t have the patience for. [I found that the best day for shops in Barcelona was Monday mornings though. Afternoon, nights and Saturdays being the worst times if you are like me, if anyone's interested.]

The biggest chain shops in Spain like Zara, Stradivarius, Blanco, Mango etc. all have excellent webshops, and I thought there had to be one for freestyle and skating clothes as well- and I found FreestyleXtreme, the answer to my prayers. They had all of the brands that were on my list, they deliver to a lot of countries, Norway included (which is not always the case, as Norway is outside of the European Union and all that) and best of all, comparing to prices in the shops, I got more for my money through this website. (When buying from Norway, or whatever other country, choose the country by clicking on the corresponding flag up in the top corner before purchasing.) Judging from the smile on his face when he opened the present, I would say I did well too! Him happy, me happy, and I got an extra star in my ‘cool aunt’-book!

Do you like to 'get help' whenever you are in a shop?

P.S. Me disliking this might just be me being strange again, seeing as it's so common here to get help with everything in the shops. 


  1. For me, it really depends on the shop. If it's a small shop and everyone working looks pretty busy, I'll flag someone down if I need help. However, over the weekend, I went to the plant nursery and there are all sorts of people just standing around watering plants as I spin in circles trying to find what I'm looking for. Someone should have offered to help me. I went home with only a sunburn, no plants.

    1. Uff, only a sunburn and no plants, that is no good!

  2. I am the same. I don't like it when people immediately come over and ask me if I need help. I want to look around first and if I really need help then I will ask them. I am a huge fan of online shopping. I love to shop in the Zara online store!

  3. Online shopping is ah so easy but so dangerous at the same time! It's way too easy just to click away beautiful products for home delivery... :)

    I like to be acknowledged when I enter a store but I'm not too keen on someone coming over immediately to ask what I'm looking for. Regarding Norway my experience has been quite the opposite though to your, I feel that here at times it is hard to get the services you want and need... But it varies from place to place, I think Lillehammer is better than Oslo! :)

    1. A quick hello is nice, and enough when entering a shop, but no more please! So weird that I have such a different experience about this, maybe it's different from town to town?