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What do you think of the level of service in shops, restaurants, airlines, banks, offices and so on in Japan?


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I think it's better than america.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Better than the UK, too.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Excellent but sometimes common sense does not exist. There is too much 'following the procedure manual'. I witnessed an eposide in McDonalds where a foreigner wanted an extra sauce pack with whatever it was he ordered (lets say nuggets to keep it simple)...the girl behind the counter insisted she couldn't do that. The manager also insisted that it couldn't be done. The foreigner then ordered an extra order of nuggets and told them to keep the nuggets because all he wanted was the sauce.......the manager looked at the girl puzzled before sucking air and letting out the dreaded words we all hate hearing......."muzukashii desu". Needless to say he didn't get the extra sauce.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Beats the hell out of Australia, that,s for sure....

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Like Ratpack says, if you follow "The Way," you will be the recipient of world-class service. Anything that is "different" or thought of as against the norm and you will meet with amazing resistance - especially at banks! They can be the worst, IMHO.

Having said that, the restaurant at my university upon hearing of visiting students/faculty who were Muslim, made a special batch of cooking oil simply for them, i.e. their food would not be cooked in oil that had been used with pork - a favorite staple here in Japan. I thought that was a very considerate thing to do!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

As others have mentioned, service is good in Japan, but sometimes it goes too far; the way you are immediately suggested any number of other styles/accessories/colours if you even so much as check a price tag in a clothes shop, or the way you are followed around a shop (always at a discreet, but somehow still un-nerving distance).

"Eigyou smile" Many of those people wouldn't give me the time of day in the street, but are somehow my new best friend if I enter into their shop.

Trying to return anything is subject to an inquisition.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Everything is neatly packed efficiently with a smile!

Except when something strays from the shop manual's "perfect customer" scenario, such as customer obviously being fluent in Japanese but unfortunately having a foreigner's face, etc. God forbid if there's a claim!!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I love Japan but have one service gripe.

Take my money first and give me my change. Then bag my goods and put the receipt in the bag.

Do not hand me a bag with my purchases while my wallet is in one hand, then have bills handed to me, small change put on top, and then the receipt on top of that. So inconvenient and they all do it. I refuse to take the bag, and tell them to put it down, and to put the receipt on the counter.

2 ( +2 / -1 )

The level of service would be better at banks if they were open like bank hours in the states.

I also do not need machines thanking me for buying something.

Story: One time I was up in Hokkaido and wanted crushed ice (Kakigori), but just the ice and not the flavor. 30 minutes later I finally got just that after everyone in the store questioned me why.

When I finished and went to pay, they said it was free. I insisted on paying, but they said no. When I asked for the reason, they said, "Because it is not on the menu!"

3 ( +3 / -0 )

No complaints here until you have a problem or a request. When that happen, it goes to being good to horrific. "The customer is always right" it not well known here. Things that break, are bad quality... have fun with getting that sorted.

I prefer the service abroad to be honest. I like the chitchat and actual communication. Here? They follow a script and it is very impersonal. Efficient? Yes. Personal? Def not.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

I prefer the service abroad to be honest. I like the chitchat and actual communication. Here? They follow a script and it is very impersonal. Efficient? Yes. Personal? Def not.

You do know most shop personnel are nice to you because they have to be? The chitchat you miss is artifical.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Service is great, in a repetitive robotic manner, with no sign of real life.

Ask a question that is not in their staff training course/manual and expect confusion at all levels.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Better than anywhere!

0 ( +2 / -1 )

ratpack....let me tell you my warm fuzzy McDonalds in Japan story...years ago...one day as I was driving along in my old (and often mistreated) Suzuki Alto the radiator overheated so I pulled into the drive through at Maccas and asked for a cup or two of water...the girl told me to wait, and I thought to myself 'oh no...bad move' but then out comes the manager, who insists I shouldn't put water in the radiator ...he dashes to his car, drives off to Autobacks , buys a bottle of coolant for me. (I paid for later)..comes back fills the radiator for me..my hero!! Now that is amazing service!!!

6 ( +6 / -1 )

What do you think of the level of service in shops, restaurants, airlines, banks, offices and so on in Japan?

Like so much of what happens in Japan, the answer can't be summed up in an over-generalized "Service here is great!" or "Service here really sucks!" type of statement. There are establishments with fantastic service but that's counterbalanced by establishments with horrible service.

I can confidently say one thing. If there's a cute girl on shift, she'll invariably be placed in front of the customer. Go Japan!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

ratpack, i think we could always pay for the extra sauce or whatever, i remember paying for an extra sweet chilli sauce or bbq sauce, couldnt remember if its McDonalds, KFC or Mos, its just 30 yen or something so its fine with me...when i get my fries Ill always ask for some ketchup sumimasen ketchappu kudasai...and the shop attendant will then ask nanko irimasu ka (how many would you like?) and i said two please and they`ll give me what i requested with a big smile, no charge...speaking some japanese sometimes take me a long way....

i think the level of service here in Japan is excellent, very polite and with good manner...i like the irasshaimasseeee, nice packaging or wrapping (sometimes its too much though), the deep bow and arigatou gozaimashitaaaaa when i leave, non existent back home..cant say the same for some government institution like immigration or hellowork though, always had a bad experience , too many of thoseganko oyajiwith their attitude, they think being akomuin(government employee) they can beijiwaru` towards gaijin, ちぇっ!:D

2 ( +2 / -0 )

My only complaint is towards Izakayas who hire only Chinese or Korean students who can't speak or understand Japanese very well. I've had to ask them to repeat what they said and I've been charged for things I didn't order. The store manager apparently didn't teach them how to smile either. Other than that, service is generally quite good. Can't argue against the "by the manual" bit though.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

You do know most shop personnel are nice to you because they have to be? The chitchat you miss is artifical. As someone who worked in the service industry home, I can personally tell you you're wrong. I loved chatting to customers. Helped pass the time and meet some very interesting people. Keep waving your Japanese flag and looking down on everyone not Japanese!

3 ( +8 / -5 )

Generally I think it is very good and shop clerks are trained to a high standard, very helpful, enthusiastic andd knowlegeble about the products. It is a world away from the UK where it has become the norm for the person serving you to continue talking (read chatting) to their colleague, hold out their hand for the cash and not utter a word of thanks let alone make eye contact with you. I hate being made to feel like a shop clerk is doing ME a favour by buying something from them. Shopping in Japan is a treat. Also reading about the assistants working 15 , 16 hours a day and having to eat their lunch in the toilets and STILL giving you service with a smile. I cant complain and I have actually come to accept that you don't "do" returns in Japan - just not worth the hassle.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

As someone who worked in the service industry home, I can personally tell you you're wrong. I loved chatting to customers. Helped pass the time and meet some very interesting people. Keep waving your Japanese flag and looking down on everyone not Japanese!

I'm not even Japanese, LOL. Not looking down on anyone either. Keep waving your Canadian flag and looking down on Japanese!

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Well most services are generally very good in Japan. One of the complaints I have is that sometimes Japanese services are too structured. If you want something not on the menu list, the employee has to always get permission from the superior who needs to gets permission from the head office and etc and ect. And often not the answer is no. LOL I used to miss the casual chit chats in stores in N.America when I came back to Japan but I found out that you can make chit chats in Japanese stores as well. It's how you approach them and it often takes a few trip to the store too.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

too robotic, too time consuming, too inflexible, too wasteful. other than that wonderful.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Overall the service is generally high--if you stay within set service parameters. The "have it your way" mentality is almost non-existent. Paraphrasing one JT poster some time back: good service, poor hospitality.

The service level has fallen considerably in the last 20 years or so. Back then Japan really did live up to its reputation for meticulous service. Now, I would just rate it good overall--sometimes fabulous, sometimes somewhat satisfactory, other times horrendous.

One of my many Japan inflexible service anecdotes (also at McDonalds): When my daughter was little I ordered an ice cream cone for her, but because the only size available was much too big for her, and would end up plopping off the cone, I asked the cashier (in Japanese) for less ice cream on the cone. She definitely understood my request, and could see my daughter. The cashier agreed to my request, gave me the McDonalds 0 yen smile, and came back with a normal size cone--after which the ice cream predictably plopped off the cone after just a few licks.

Moral of the story: if you want extra pickles on your burger in Japan, or no pickles at all, forget it. The manual says it comes with 2 pickles and 2 pickles is what you get.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

As someone who worked in the service industry home, I can personally tell you you're wrong. I loved chatting to customers. Helped pass the time and meet some very interesting people.

@tmarie I completely agree with you there. Where I am from the friendliness shown by service workers sometimes seems superficial, but more often than not I find it to be genuine. And I too know this from experience working in the service industry at home.

To be fair to service workers here, though, from the generally rude way I see customers treat service staff here, if I were in the service industry in Japan, I probably wouldn't be inclined to give friendly service either. They do put up with a lot here, especially from the oyaji/obatarian crowd.

Another anecdote: When I first came to Japan a good Japanese friend of mine who I had met back home took me to a restaurant in Tokyo. My friend had always seemed well-mannered and polite back in my country. Different story at the restaurant in Japan, though. He wanted a waitress to come to our table, so started shouting out "sumimasen" until one came. I was flabbergasted. That sort of behavior in my country would definitely translate to begrudging service with a bitter glare.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I love pulling into a gas station and have people run to your car to help.

However what I love the most is getting great service here without having to leave a tip!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I like using my hands, and yes I like to fix things. I find it not so nice that you cannot go to a store and buy a faucet to do it your self. It is easy. But here you have to call the maker, and get estimates which are usually way to high, and it takes 3-4 times to get a truthful estimate. Why ? Lots of lies to get the Yen. Not fair.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

The service that banks are offering here is really bad. All the other shops, organizations, institutions exceed by far the rest of the world.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

tmarie: you have a good point.

I bought a TV (HDMI) cable at Yodobashi Camera. It cost 3,000 yen.

After 4 weeks the cable stopped working. I took it back for a replacement with my receipt in hand. I have spent literally thousands of dollars at that store. The Yodobashi guy found me a new one but he expected me to pay for it again rather than get a free one! I refused point blank.

It took about 20 minutes arguing to get a free replacement. When I asked the assistants how they would feel if a product they had purchased broke after 4 weeks, I was met with blank stares. I had to point out that the this was unacceptable and the customer is always right.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I think japanese service is great . If you compare other's country service .

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Some good stories, Mabo you really nailed it with the way $$ is exchanged & goods, its totally WRONG LOL!!

I find service is good but too robotic or stale.

What I dream about having is better value for $$ & some common sense!

Last Nov went to LA for a bit & it was great, even tho I had to tip I totally enjoyed the banter with real people, and even around the street or almost getting creamed by a skate border on venice beach LOL, was very refreshing & really made Japan look so bland in that regard.

Japan, loosen up & be more real, the robots will be taking over soon enough!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Excellent service, and I don't get the "inflexible" vibe that some people complain about. My only real complaint is that the level of service comes at a price..literally, in terms of the extra salaries, making stuff rather expensive.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Uk, have had gap and Gucci here refuse to fix or replace poor quality. Like you, time spent arguing resulted in getting the results that should have been offered from the get go. I shouldn't have to argue with them about it, they should no better. I spoke to a few friends about it and half were shocked at the poor service while the other half were shocked I took something back. If I paid for it, it better do what it is supposed to! The same can be said at cafes and the like. If I ask for no ice, fill up the drink. If I ask for something to be taken off or out, don't run to the manager to ask if it is okay. Just do it.

Like I said, all is well until you have a problem or a request.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I will agree with whomever said that the staff gets treated like crap by the public. Yelling sumimasen doesn't bother me. It is the lack of thank yous that gets me. I want to smack the people I see who can't even be bothered to get off their phones, take out their earphones or stop talking to their friend when they pay a cashier. Of course, no nod nor a thanks for the service. It is just rude.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Polite? Sure, most of the time. But I've been treated like crap for being a foreigner on more than a few occasions. "Better" really depends on who and what we're talking about. I'd also prefer a friendly chat over a robotic script any day.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

If I ask for no ice, fill up the drink.

Fill up the cup, means extra product, that will cost more.

I can totally understand why they wouldnt fill up your cup.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

If I ask for no ice, fill up the drink

If you ask for a burger with no pickles, do you expect to get extra fries? More burger?

If you ask for a single whisky on the rocks but hold the rocks, do you expect to get a double scotch? If not, why expect more soft drink for the same price?

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Different business perspective. I ordered a glass of whatever, not half a glass. Single whiskey is a a presumed shot and the amount of the alcohol is a set standard. A glass of whatever isn't. They can afford the 1 yen extra it will cost to fill the glass up - it is good customer service to do so. Hence my point of not thinking the service here is always good.

If you can ask for extra napkins - which you can - why not ask for a full drink?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I ordered a glass of whatever, not half a glass.

Do you refuse to eat in posh restaurants where they serve little dollops of food on huge plates?

With or without ice, you're getting the same amount of drink as the next person. It's not good customer service to charge people the same for different amounts, which is what they'd be doing if customer A gets a glass full of ice with 200cc drink and customer B gets 300cc of the same drink for the same price.

If we're in the burger shop, an L-size drink costs more than an M-size drink. What you're demanding is an L-size drink for an M-size price. The napkins aren't specifically included in the price.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I don't go to posh restaurants often because I don't think they are worth the money. I'm not a foodie snob. I look good food, good service at a reasonable price.

Cleo, "hamburger" shops back home will fill it up for you. Here? They won't. Do you have any idea how much it costs to fill a glass up to the top? About one yen. 1 yen to make a customer happy. Worth the price I think. Feel free to disagree - no shockers there. You're being very "Japanese" with the "fair" talk. It is "fair" that someone gets extra napkins? I don't care. I don't care if the next guy over gets more or less. I would like a glass of whatever it is I ordered. Heck, I am saving them on the ice - eye roll!

And actually, nice places with good service that give you small serving will pretty much bend over backwards to make you happy - even here! The place with a sense of good customer service. Anyway, feel free to think such a request is too much and unfair. Life is unfair. I thought you of all people would know that by now.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Mom gets migraine headaches if the drink is too cold, so she always asks for no ice. Never been to a restaurant where that's a problem - they always fill up despite the lack of ice. A little monetary loss for a greater customer satisfaction is also part of good service. Any restaurant who would be so cheap as to deny that would not have our business - and expectedly many other people's business too.

Furthermore, any restaurant that puts so much ice in the cup (unless requested by the customer) that it's the difference between an L-size cup and an M-size cup is also cheaping out the customers - by advertising a sized cup but stuffing it with cheap ice instead of the drink. It's considered an underhanded way to save a buck. It's better just to have self-serve free refills - put as much whatever ya want, how often ya want.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

My worst personal problem with Japanese customer service, I was a member of a gym here in Sapporo. I had been a member for 9 months and I attended 3-4 times a week, every week during that time. In mid November of last year I got a real bad stomach virus and was forced to miss work for almost a week and even spent time in the hospital so of course I couldn't attend the gym at that time.

I told some of the gym staff I would not be attending in December as I was going back to the states and was told no problem and I wouldn't be required to pay for the month. Fast forward to December 10th, I got a phone call from the manager of the gym that I hadn't paid for December and I have to pay plus a fine for not paying on time. Now what made me the most angry was the fact that I attended the gym so much in those 9 months and when I went out sick they didn't call to see if everything was ok, didn't call to see if I was quitting or what have you, all they called about was money. Money that I was told I didn't have to pay as I was not going to be able to attend.

I flat out refused to pay and the manager told me if I don't pay I can find another gym, so I told him he can find another customer, and as I had helped with some English adverts for free I said I would like some back payment for them and he stuttered and mumbled something and said just forget about it. I was so angry I vowed to never give them another yen and have since moved to their rival gym and am now supporting them (which is also a cheaper gym).

Long story short...horrible, horrible customer service...at least in that gym.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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