The Oregon Fail, Part 3

| Germany | Language & Words, Tourists/Travel

(I am in Germany on a school trip. I have never been before, nor do I speak German. I am currently with two of my friends talking about going out to dinner on the train platform.)

(A middle-aged man hurries up to me.)

Man: “Guten tag!”

Me: “…guten tag.”

Man: *over enunciating* “Do. You. Speak. English?”

Me: “…yeah?”

Man: “Oh, thank god. Everyone’s so unhelpful around here! How do I get from [rattles off a number of places in quick succession].”

Me: “I’m sorry…”

Man: *cutting me off angrily* “I thought you said you spoke English!”

Me: “I do. I just don’t know any of those places.”

Man: “Why the h*** not?!”

Me:” I’m from Oregon…”

Related:
The Oregon Fail, Part 2
From NotAlwaysRelated:
The Oregon Fail

Lost On The Train And In Translation

| England, UK | Language & Words, Tourists/Travel, Transportation

(I work in the ticket office at a train station. One night a customer with very poor English comes up to me.)

Customer: “Cawidge.”

Me: “I’m sorry, where are you headed?”

Customer: “Cawidge.”

Me: “Cambridge?”

Customer: “No, I go Cawidge.”

Me: “Can you write that for me?” *I hand him a piece of paper and a pen.*

Customer: *shouts something in a foreign language to someone on the other side of the station, who comes running up.*

Customer’s Friend: “He go Cawidge.”

Me: “Yes, can you write that for me please?”

Customer’s Friend: “Uh… Cawidge. Brummum?”

Me: “Birmingham?”

Customer’s Friend: *excitedly* “Yeah, yeah! Brummum! Brummum Cawidge!”

*it suddenly clicks*

Me: “Oh, University of Birmingham?”

Customer: “Yeah, cawidge!”

Me: “Sure, that’ll be [price]. In future though, don’t ask for the College, ask for University of Birmingham. Okay?”

Customer: “Yew… nee… verse… Brummum!”

Me: “… Yeah, that’ll do.”

This Customer Is A Train-Wreck

| Wales, UK | Bad Behavior, Family & Kids, Technology, Tourists/Travel

(A woman comes in with her daughter.)

Customer: “Hi, I’d like to collect some pre-booked tickets.”

Me: “Sure! Have you got the booking reference printout?”

Customer: “No.”

Me: “Oh, well, never mind! If you have it written down in another format or maybe saved in your phone, I should still be able to find it.”

Customer: “No. I don’t have it. The girl who served me last time didn’t ask for it. I just put my card in the machine.”

Me: “I’m sure you must have misunderstood. We cannot issue tickets without some type of secondary reference. Do you know the postcode associated with the billing address, and could I have your surname?”

Customer: “I don’t see why I need to give you those details. Look, I just want to print my daughter’s tickets and go back to work. You’re costing me money here.”

Me: “I’m sorry, but unless you can give me more details such as name, postcode, and destination, I can’t print your tickets. Look—” *swivels computer screen so the customer can see* “—here are the search fields I have for when there is no collection reference number available. Unless I can fill in two of these, I cannot print your tickets.”

Customer: *turning to daughter* “WHY DIDN’T YOU SAVE THE REFERENCE NUMBER?”

Customer’s Daughter: “Sorry, mum, you said I shouldn’t waste paper and the ticket people didn’t need it.”

Customer: “Well, clearly they do. YOU’RE ALL COSTING ME MONEY HERE!”

Me: “I’m sorry, but one of the terms is that you provide a reference for collection. Could you please let me try and help you with some of your other details?”

Customer: *snappily* “FINE! It’s [Surname] and [postcode].”

Me: “I’m sorry; nothing’s come up.” *shifts screen around again so she can see* “See? Could you have used a different postcode?”

Customer: “No. Look, this really isn’t good enough. Why won’t the destination work on its own?”

Me: “I’m sorry, but hundreds of people travel every day from [Our Station] to [Major London Station]. I’m just thinking: whose email did you put in? Since it’s quiet in here, I could let you around the back to use one of the staff computers to log in and find me the reference number. I should tell you though, that this is against company policy and that I am doing this at my own risk. I could face disciplinary action.”

Customer: “It’s [Daughter]’s email. Can she just do it? Can I go? I need to get back to work.”

Me: “If yours was the payment card, then I am afraid you will need to wait until your daughter has accessed her emails since the reference number is useless without the payment card and vice versa.”

Customer: “Fine. [Daughter], go in the back with this idiot and see if you can’t find this bleeding reference number between your half-a-brain-cell each.”

(The daughter nips around to my side of the booth, accesses her email, and within 30 seconds I have the tickets up. The woman inserts her card and collects her tickets, and before she leaves decides to have one more dig at me for how slow I was to get her tickets up on the system.)

Me: “I’m sorry it took so long to resolve your issue, but perhaps next time you might consider writing the reference number down? You needn’t print it; in fact [Train Company] offers to send a free SMS containing the details to your phone. It would save an awful lot of problems.”

Customer: “Or, you know, they could just hire competent staff who don’t need reference numbers!” *to Daughter* “Look at all the money you’ve cost me! I’m selling your Xbox when I get home!”

(She stormed out. Fortunately I haven’t seen her since, although the daughter stopped by on her return journey to thank me for helping her.)

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