This is not a rant about the French idea of customer service, as despite the ‘non, c’est pas possible’ and Gallic shrugs we have encountered over the years we have also had some great and very helpful experiences too. The award for best customer service has to go to our boulangerie who probably make hundreds of door-to-door deliveries each day, both to local villages and also to those in our village who can’t easily get to the shop. That is what I call a service.
In the name of progress our local supermarket have implemented improvements at the expense of a service offered and I am miffed. At the far corner of the car park, gone is the little booth where the service station attendant used to sit; door opened for air in summer and shut in with a fan heater in winter and in it’s place is an automated payment box that those of us who are on the short side have to stand on tip-toe to read the display screen. As a regular bankcard user I’m not too bothered about how I pay for my fuel, but there have been many sightings of more mature people wandering over from the car park and peering at the new machine with suspicion. A bankcard is an optional (and chargeable) extra with a French bank account; so many people still prefer to use cheques. This is now impossible.
My issue with this new system is 100% with the loss of service. This small town fuel station used to have a sign, in French and in English, stating that it was forbidden to fill up your car yourself. No matter how busy it got, the one member of staff patiently stood there and filled each car in turn, pausing to chat to the customers, take their money, sell tokens for the car wash and then move on to the next vehicle. I am missing this service; this exchange of pleasantries and the time spent in the queue people watching. I am also ashamed to admit it, but until this ‘improvement’ it had been many, many years since I last filled up the car myself and I don’t like change.