2007-10-22

Customer Service is Interdit

I went to Castorama today. I needed some salt for the water softener. Castorama is very big and this was my first visit inside the store. I didn’t know the term for “water softener” so I brought the old empty salt bag to help with the conversation, which went like this:

(I enter the store and go to the help desk)
Me, holding up bag: “Hi ma’am, I’m looking for a salt bag for the thing for the water. Do you know where I can find it?

French person, looking very tired: I don’t know where it is. Go to the bathroom section and {unintelligible}. I think it’s back there {unintelligible}. If you don't {unintelligible}{unintelligible} .

(1 minute later in the bathroom section)
Me: Hi sir, I’m looking for a bag of this salt for the water softener (by then I’d figured out how to say the word because it was printed on the bag). Do you know where I can find it?

French person, looking very tired: Yes, it’s on aisle 25.

Me: OK thanks.

I go look on aisle 25 and there’s nothing even remotely resembling water softener salt there)

(1 minute later at the Help Desk at the back of the store)
Me: Hi sir, I’m looking for salt bags for the water softener. Do you know where I can find them?

French person, looking very tired: They’re somewhere in the back, near {unintelligible because he used several complicated words in rapid succession}. if you just {unintelligible} you’ll {unintelligible}.

Me: (Knowing I won’t find anything if I do that) OK thanks a lot.

(1 minute later, across the store in the lights aisle)
Me: Hi sir, I’m looking for a bag of this salt for the water softener, and everyone says it’s in the back of the store but I can’t find it. Can you help me?

French person: I don’t know where that is. I don’t even think we carry it. Let me see the bag.

I hand him the bag and he gets on the phone and speaks very quickly in French, asking where it is. Then he gets off the phone

French person (again), looking very tired: I talked to my colleague, and we carry it but he doesn’t know where it is. Go to the Help Desk in the back and they’ll tell you where it is (points to the other end of the store, where I just came from)

Me, knowing I’ve already been there: OK Thanks a lot.

I walked around the back again until I spied the warehouse part of the store, where they do deliveries and stuff. I could tell it was the warehouse part because the store itself was clean and this part looked like a bomb had gone off recently. I knew it was “Interdit” to go back there (Interdit, meaning “it’s forbidden”, is one of the most used words in French. It’s right up there with “Yes”, or “sex”, or “Oprah Winfrey” in English), but I knew that this was precisely why I had to go there. I walked through the very wide doorway into the warehouse area

French man on forklift, looking agitated and nervous less than one second after I walked into the forbidden part of the store: What are you looking for?

Me: I’m looking for salt for my water softener. Do you know where it is?

French man, eyes lighting up because he now understands by my accent that I "didn't know" that area was Interdit: Yes, let me take you there

He took me to aisle 28 and VOILA. I had my salt. Only $10 per bag, which costs $4 in the US. Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous littlest sister said...

what a pain!

22.10.07  
Anonymous Mom said...

I'm impressed, 1st that they use a water softner; 2nd that you were brave enough to go looking for salt; 3rd that you persisted until you found it!! Way to go. :)

22.10.07  

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