Friday, November 4, 2011

Il Cliente Ha Sempre Ragione-The Customer is Always Right!

I’d like to bring up customer service because we Americans are a bit spoiled. I (Guido) have refused to return to only one business around here after they ignored me a couple times.  Normally when we walk into a shop we immediately hear something like buongiorno, dimi which equates to “good morning, tell me how I can help you”.

But without further rambling preamble, I am pleased to introduce my friend Domenico Maiolino who is the winner of my Customer Service Award – 2011.

Domenico is an auto mechanic (auto officina) with a small 2-man shop in Scalea. I first met him a year ago when I needed a couple of tires and have since bought more tires, puncture repairs, oil changes, etc. A couple times he dropped what he was doing to help me and since has always been a great man to work with and he and his assistant are both very good mechanics. Domenico is patient with me – he repeats things or tries another way of saying something until I figure it out! I can also roam under the lift, look at work in-progress and ask questions. I like him and recommend him to all.

Domenico’s shop is on the southern edge of Scalea, Via Fiume Lao 164, Tel 0985 939686.

Not far away from Domenico’s garage on Via Lauro is Ranch Motori where I have the car washed.  Again, very courteous folks that work hard and aim to please. I like to roam around looking at farm implements and remembering a past life!

The service that has been the most difficult to adjust to is that from the government. Our experiences with immigration and the national healthcare system have been “interesting”.  Di hit it on the head saying the medical and immigration folks are not nasty or incompetent, they are just under-staffed and given poor resources to work with.  Poor, outdated computers, obsolete systems all around.

One thing we have learned is that quiet wallflowers will quickly be overlooked. The squeaky wheel gets the grease and Italians know how to squeak!! Just this week, we might have spent all day waiting for someone to get us in the hospital waiting room and take us to the doctor Di had an appointment with. They have no receptionists or nurses to come find you….. you basically get into the hall and grab someone to say why you are there and/or snag the doctor himself.

It’s just a new and strange system to us and we are learning. This medical trip was done to try a private doctor instead of one through the health service, so when done I asked him where to go to pay. He took the money himself. Oh. The docs and techs are good, but the other part of this system is strange to us. We don’t know if all of Italy is this way or just Calabria.

We’ve spoken before about queues for everything. Whether government healthcare, immigration or taking a driving test – everything requires a wait. The good news is that if there is not a bar next door, you can be sure the building will have a good vending machine for a caffe.

A cute village story is my visit to the comune (city hall) to drop off our census form. I figured 30 seconds to run inside and drop it at the clerk’s desk. No. The guy inside (hired special to process census forms) spent 20 minutes going over the entire long form, doing some corrections and erasures so it looked nice, then gave me this very official receipt (completely stamped of course) so I would have perfect documentation to prove I had completed the form. In case the Carabinieri come asking?? I think Italians use any excuse to bang a stamp.


  1. You are so right! Small shop and family run businesses still give great customer service. Forget the government...they are designed to give us ulcers.

  2. Thanks Bev. You are right about the gov, why else would it be so perfectly designed for that?

  3. Hi, I am back from my travels and trying to catch up with all my favourite bloggers. We handed in our census form at the post office but were not issued with a receipt!

  4. LLM,
    Good to have you back. Well, I guess now you'll be going to jail...too bad, your house was just looking so nice!



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