Services foreigners received in Shanghai contributed a lot in their culture shock in Shanghai. I heard too many stories about it. Can I call it “service shock”?
Yesterday, I went to the Bank of China Tianlin Branch. When I queued to register my ChinaPay service at my Bank of China credit card, I witnessed a foreigner arguing with the agent behind the thick glass of the counter.
The story was like this: The foreigner, well dressed, young man, about 28 in age, wanted to open a bank account at Bank of China. He can speak a little bit Chinese but cannot read or write Chinese. He insists the person serving him to fill-in the form on his behalf.
At the other side of the counter was a young man in uniform. He insisted the customer find someone else in the lobby to help him. He said according to the regulation of the Bank of China, service representatives like him must NOT fill in any form on behalf of the customer. I guess this is to avoid fraud by the employees. Although I doubt whether the policy works or not, there is a reasonable explanation for it: thus the service representatives cannot fill in a form and withdraw money from a customer’s bank account.
Well. Here is the paradox. The foreigner repeated his argument that 1) “I am your customer”. 2) “I don’t want others to know my information”. He refused the help of the secure guard who wanted to help him to fill in the form. He said “I don’t want him to know my personal information. It is my privacy”… Reasonable! The service representative has the liability keep all the information confidential while others may not.
Ha-ha. It is an interesting argument. Finally, the young man in uniform was forced to call their head quarter for further instruction and the foreigner waited at the counter angrily.
I don’t know the result of the argument. At least it was not settled before I left the bank.
Expected and Delivered, Big Gap in Service
Shanghai’s service industry needs to improve to meet the international standard. Due to less competition, banks agents are still sitting there comfortably where customers in line and wait for half an hour to get served. My CitiBank account manager called once a month to update me about my bank status, although I didn’t deposit much money there, but ICBC and Bank of China never called for a single time. That is the difference.
Shanghai Still Need to Do a Lot of Work to be Foreigner Friendly
From my observation as a local resident, I still feel Shanghai is not foreigner friendly. By unfriendly, I don’t mean discrimination, attack, against, or words like this. It is just the information and the service level.
Not many people can speak English now. Of cause the places foreigners are expected to go, like hotel, tourist company, stores designate for foreigners, even Xiang Yang market, people are able to speak English. However, for expats, who really live here and must deal with local services, like utility companies, banks,
housing, things are much harder.
Fortunately, Shanghai has a large number of foreigners and foreigners find out their own ways to survive and make money from this gap. The most comprehensive English guide for Shanghai is That’s Shanghai. There are companies like Easy Mandarin are teaching people to learn Chinese. Real Estate companies like Shanghome.com to help expats to find places. And there are portals like ShanghaiExpat.com for expats to gather.