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The Page At The Beginning

Saigon LightsHalong SunsetHoan Kiem

A Strange world Becomes Familiar

The World is a funny place. I’ts way too big to walk from one side to the other, populated by people with a myriad of perceptions on what is normal…… But unified by a common theme, “Maybe this will be my lucky day!”

I will not worry about the little things

How often do our problems start out small?
Big problems usually grow from the small ones we create
Communication errors always seems to be the cause of problems.
Language seems a small thing and as easy as a few new words.
But what can you do when someone gives you good advice, you understand all the words, but the words don’t make sense?

Let me tell you a story.

I like to maintain electronics.
When I try to maintain electronics, they are usually completely broken before I finish.
But, for a long time, I wanted to buy a soldering iron.

So I went on a shopping expedition.

The shops on Hang Bai Street in Ha Noi sell many kinds of electronics
But the stores on Hang Bai street are only good if you want to buy new batteries or an MP3 player.
They do not sell soldering irons or equipment for repairing electronics.
But I thought they could tell me where I could buy those things.
In one shop they told me I could buy them at Vin Com.
Vin Com is a large modern store about 1km from my house.
But I have never seen equipment for repairing electronics there.

So I thought the sales person was giving me bad advice.
In another store the sales lady told me I could buy a soldering iron at the Hoa Binh Markets.
Hoa Binh is a city about 50km from Ha Noi. Hoa Binh has a huge statue of Uncle Ho and is famous for selling clay jars of a sweet local herb wine.
So I felt that the advice was not good and that the lady just wanted to get rid of me.

You might ask why I am writing such a sad story about bad customer service in Ha Noi?
I am not trying to find bad things to say about Ha Noi. This story is about a lesson I leaned through my own mistake.
This week I was discussing the problem of finding a soldering iron with work colleagues.
They told me that I might be able to find one at “Trời” market
But I did not know that market, so they showed me on the map of Ha Noi
I was surprised to see that on the map the name of the market was “Hoa Binh Market”.
Hoa Binh market is near to Vin Com.

So  the sales people in the shops on Hang Bai street were giving me the best advice they could.
But when I received the advice, it did not make sense, although I understood all of the words.
I was sure the sales people were trying to play a joke on me, and I was quite angry.
But now I am a little embarrassed because I was wrong.

This made me think about why I always seem to assume the worst as my first choice?

I know that this is the wrong way to think, but I know why it happens.
Stores in the centre of Ha Noi have many foreign tourists as customers.
Because most sales people will only see these people once there is no real need for them to think about future sales.
When people travel as tourists they often don’t know the correct local price for goods and are easily confused by different currency.
So it seems easy for sales people to get more money by selling at prices that are too high, with little chance of losing future sales.
Some stores have different prices for foreigners and Vietnamese people, some don’t.
Because of this it difficult for customers to know when a store is being honest.
I think it is always easier for people to assume the worst because they have opportunity to protect themselves.
Recently I was trying to buy business cards and prices varied from one million Dong for one box to eighty thousand. The shop I bought from even returned money when they could do the job for less money than they originally told me.
So while I will continue to be careful, and not accept bad behaviour. I will try harder to understand and allow people the opportunity to do the right thing.

But I need your assistance.

I need you to tell shops the ways they can improve service. Please don’t accept poor quality.

I need you to expect good manners from other customers. If you accept bad manners, they will only get worse.

I need you to understand that when I complain it is because I know Vietnam has the potential to be great.


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