Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Another Example of Why the French Are So Popular Throughout the World

This company only employs really evil, nasty, hateful people. Beware!

I was kind of bummed today because I didn’t have any plans for Halloween and it is my favorite holiday. I decided to cheer myself up by grocery shopping at one of the major, cheap supermarkets in France, Carrefour. It is quite a trek and I thought it would keep my mind off of not celebrating Halloween. I wanted make an afternoon/night of it and actually look at everything in the store, thinking tonight would be a convenient time as it was Halloween and most people would be out drinking because tomorrow is a holiday.

I am into serious price checking these days because Christmas is coming up, and well, because I am not rich, so I took my time, comparing prices and looking at everything. By the time I was ready to leave it was already 8:00 p.m. I took my checkbook because I lost my a.t.m. card about a week ago (kind of taken care of, just have to wait about 5 thousand days for a new one). Writing a check is difficult for me because while I know how to pronounce all the numbers in French, I sometimes don’t know how to spell them correctly. I am always a little anxious when I know I am going to use a check in a busy store because the cashiers aren’t always the most patient people in the world.

Enter bad experience number 9,567. Wait, before I go on my tirade, let me explain a little something about supermarkets in France. The queues are unbelievable. You know how in the States if there more than 5 people are waiting to check out, a new cashier will come and open another aisle? Never happens in France. As a matter of fact, when there are 5 or 6 people queuing, at least four cashiers will go on break. No lie, no exaggeration, I have seen it happen every time I go shopping. See what I am getting at? Horrible ending experience to your shopping no matter how you slice it.

Tonight, I changed queues twice. I wasn’t sure about the first one I was in; I thought maybe I was in a 10 items or less aisle (not that anyone EVER pays attention to that), so I moved to another line. After I queued for about 10 minutes, the cashier decided it was high time for a break. I moved to the next queue and read over everything about the types of accepted payment to ensure I was in the correct queue. Credit cards, bank cards, checks over 15 euros, and cash. Ok, everything was good to go; I read the small print, I was in the correct queue and I was pretty pleased with the bargains I had found.

When it was my turn, I told the woman my French was bad, but that I wanted to write a check. Immediately she started yelling at me, telling me it was the wrong queue and that I wasn’t allowed to write a check in that particular queue. This is after I told her my French wasn’t so great. Yelling at me! I had a ton of stuff and she wanted me to pick everything up and go wait for another cashier! I just looked at her blankly, mainly because I have never been yelled at by an employee at an establishment where I was a paying customer, but also because I couldn’t follow all of her French. I wasn’t really sure whether to laugh, leave all my stuff there and exit the store, or to slap the silly cow.

Finally, she quit yelling and started ringing up my purchases, throughout which she muttered stuff about stupid foreigners and how we should all be sent home while she threw my stuff around. To my utter horror, the man next to me in line agreed with her and turned around and started telling his wife/girlfriend that “stupid American foreigners” should go on holiday to England where they speak they same language.?!

When she finished and told me the amount, I painfully wrote out the check. She saw me and jerked, JERKED, the check away from me and told me the machine printed the checks. She stuck it in the machine and after it had printed, she slapped it down in front of me and told me to sign it. I had already signed it, and told her so, but she insisted I sign it again. So I signed my check twice. I sure my bank is going to think I am a straight moron. But, amazingly nothing major happened. The aisle didn’t open up and swallow her or anything, so I fail to see why it was such a big deal that I used a check.

It’s Halloween and I guess maybe since this woman couldn’t dress up, she decided to embody her costume. I am sure you all can guess what she was trying to be. And let me tell you, in my book she really, really pulled the costume off! I am/was torn between wanting to curse her or waiting for her after work with my pepper spray……But I think I will just wish and pray really hard that she always works at Carrefour and that every hour of everyday somebody comes through her aisle and uses a check. Meanwhile, I am banning Carrefour for life. I don’t care what anyone says, Wal-Mart is waaaayyy better.

You know why people are allowed to act like this in France? It is because they cannot be fired once they are hired. Well, they can, but it is awfully hard to get rid of an employee after they have a permanent contract. Basically, they can be rude, unhelpful, and just a downright horrible employee and have no fear of ever losing their job. Remarkable, isn’t it?


SeanPKennedy said...

You are so right! I have given up going to Carrefour (Les Ulis, near Paris) because I can't stand the number of people to begin with, and waiting for 30 minutes to checkout. When I first arrived in France I thought it was a cool idea that the cashiers could sit, but now I understand that it is all part of the unionized system that protects the laziness and rude behavior.

hellomelissa said...

i know a few people who are truly happier being unhappy if you catch my drift. unfortunately, it seems as though youmay be living in a country FULL of them! again, i'm sorry, and i applaud your tenacity.

blueVicar said...

A sad story from Carrefour, to be sure. Too bad it happened on Halloween when you were looking for a lift, not a jolt.

Life is different here...I hope it goes better for you most days.

Today I'm out reading Halloween related posts by expatriate bloggers...and putting the links to them on my blog.

Meilleurs vœux!

Diamond Lil said...

It only takes one rude person to ruin a perfectly good shopping experience! I'm sorry that happened to you.

Dirty Dingus said...

Carrefour sucks. Really sucks. The zoo that is the Antibes Carrefour is one that I have avoided for almost 5 years. Other hypermaches are better and IMO so are the French the further away they are from the Eiffel Tower. In fact sometime around mid August my French neighbours and I have the "how (and when) can we best destroy Paris to ensure the deaths of the greatest number of Parisian scumabgs" conversation.

angela said...

I might have been tempted to leave the stuff on the belt and walk away. Just a pity you wouldn't be able to see their faces.
So sorry it was such a bad experience but French people everywhere hate Parisians. I really think you should move somewhere nicer like the South for instance...

Julie said...

Do you think she rode her broomstick home after her shift ended?

Pardon My French said...

Yeah, the Carrefour cashiers can be in a class of their own. I've had one (two? who knows how many) of these kinds of experiences, too, at our local Carrefour, but they involved me putting the CB in the wrong place or at the wrong time, and the cashier yanking it out of my hands with a sigh and doing it for me. I really didn't appreciate that and am sorry this whole business happened, especially when you were trying to be nice and let her know before she rang up everything.

Lotus Reads said...

Wow, Angela, I cannot believe there are actually people who behave this way and get away with it! Guess I'm easily shocked because Canada is one of the most polite countries in the world, but I've travelled a lot and apart from Hongkong, I haven't seen people in customer service behave this badly before and even Hongkong is not a patch on what you've described here. Goodness, you must have a ton of patience and tenacity to live in that city. Thanks for sharing your experiences - what an eye-opener!

Expat Traveler said...

oh I think you should have remarked right back to that stupid guy in English and told him off... He would have starred blankly or understood.. and that's what he gets for being rude!

By the way, I never liked going to that store - seems it's always way too crowded!

D said...

What a witch indeed! You handled the situation very well though. If it had been me, I think she would have heard quite a few English expletives!

I agree with you about the stores being overly crowded, and the lines being extremely long. Drives me crazy!

Anonymous said...

Even if they don't speak English a simple F*ck you goes a long way - they all understand that