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One of Those Days

September 1st, 2007

Warning: this is another post where I moan and whine about something minor that ticked me off. Feel free to skip over it.

For quite some time, my PHS cell phone had trouble charging, mostly because the contacts on the bottom where you rest it on the charger got worn through. I blogged on it before. I finally got it repaired… but didn’t know the hassle it would produce. First it was one of those runaround things, where the shop I bought it from said it was the service provider’s (“Willcom”s) responsibility; Willcom said it was the phone maker’s responsibility; and then the maker said it was Willcom’s responsibility.

The big trouble for me was the hassle of having to go to the Willcom shop. The closest one is located on the West side of Ikebukuro. If you know Ikebukuro, then you know that it’s not easy at all to get from one side to the other. Add to that the fact that the parking enforcement mercenaries seem to be out in full force in West Ikebukuro; I nearly got ticketed a few weeks ago when I went by scooter. Which means going by bicycle is necessary–but going by bike involves getting on and off the bike repeatedly to walk it up and down stairs and crap like that. So it’s no fun making the trip.

I had already made the trip once (I had to wait in line for ten minutes to get served) to find the shop and be told that it was the maker’s responsibility. Now, with the maker telling me to go back to Willcom, I fully expected them to deny responsibility again. What happened instead (after another wait in line) was almost worse: they accepted the responsibility to have it repaired. Which means I wasted a trip and time calling the maker; they essentially lied to me the first time. They accepted the phone for repair and gave me a loaner… but told me it would take an hour to have it fixed. So I had to waste an hour sitting there waiting for them to get around to doing a switch (which later they admitted could be done in 10 minutes). I couldn’t go back home, despite how close it was, because by the time I got back, I would have to turn around and leave again immediately.

After a week’s time, they called me back to say the phone was ready. So I went back… and was told to wait for another hour for the number to be switched back (this after waiting in line for fifteen minutes). Why didn’t they do that before I acme in preparation? Maybe they couldn’t have two phones like that at the same time, I don’t know. But I needed to get back home faster than that, so in frustration, I told them I’d pick it up later; they said, no problem, come and pick it up anytime.

So I just went back to pick it up. Guess what?

That’s right. It wasn’t ready. The server was down, they claimed. But they offered me the loaner back until they could get it cleared up. Why hadn’t they called me up when they discovered this, so as not to make me waste another trip? No answer, they just bowed very deeply in apology. Which was more frustrating–I didn’t feel like accepting any apologies, I just wanted not to be forced to waste more time and effort.

I stressed to them that the next time I came back, I just wanted to show up, be handed the phone, and then get out. They offered me the loaner back, but I was having none of that–I knew that they would again make me wait for as much as an hour while they tried to switch yet again. At which point they said they could do it in ten minutes. The hell with promises from these clowns, I thought. I said no, keep the loaner, make sure that my phone is reset and ready to be picked up without the hassle, before you call me and tell me to come over yet again.

Frankly, I can’t wait to get an iPhone and be rid of PHS. The one good thing it has going for it is that it’s cheap–I get a 2000-yen-a-month contract and 10-yen-per-minute calls. But PHS has weak signal strength, not as comprehensive coverage, and (now I have discovered) crappy service.

Rant over. What else is happening in the world today?

Categories: Focus on Japan 2007 Tags: by
  1. September 1st, 2007 at 17:20 | #1

    Do you ever just go all uber-Gai-Jin on these folks and start yelling and stuff? What’s Japan like in terms of how emotional/polite people can get?

    I was shocked on my trip to China how emotional my friend Lijun would get when negotiating prices in stores. She would stamp her feet, cry, yell, get angry… and then when she’d worked something out with the proprietor, everything was back to being just fine again. (Note to self: Never try and negotiate against her.)

    I gave it a shot myeslf at the Great Wall, negotiating down the price on a stack of touristy crap.

    Anyway, the common perception of Japan is that cool, almost Scandanavian reserve, very polite… one reason Seattle has such a cold attitude is the Japanese/Scando mix, they say.

    More importantly, if you DID go all Ameri-nutso on them, would it help, or would they just “lose” your phone?

  2. Luis
    September 1st, 2007 at 17:34 | #2

    Most Japanese will simply take it and not complain. Others, usually older men, will complain really loudly. I was thinking of getting that way as there was another customer in the shop, and sometimes you get better service if they think new customers will be frightened off. The thing was, I didn’t see how they could give me better than they had; if the server was down, then the server was down, and shouting wouldn’t do anything for it. I did show that I was upset and complained a bit–that’s what drew the deep bowing, partly because they knew I was right on the matter, they had jerked me around some. But mostly I held it in.

    I did not think for a moment that they would “lose” my phone if I acted up, though; I would be in my rights to demand a replacement, and they would have been obliged to give me one.

    Japanese service is usually very calm, polite, and measured. They really do have a good attitude most of the time, whatever other frustration may make the experience difficult. Sometimes you get bad service, but all too often it’s not the attitude of the clerks, rather the limitations of the product or service in general.

    As for Chinese service, my impression was that such is remarkably different, especially in the open markets, where haggling can get downright melodramatic, to the point of arguing with the clerk, staging walkouts, being chased by the shopkeeper, etc.

  3. ykw
    September 2nd, 2007 at 02:09 | #3

    Perhaps ebay has some spare parts and things that would help w/ a phone. There are often batteries for several dollars on ebay when the phone company sells them for 10x more.

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