Friday, June 28, 2013

Service here is for the dogs - São Paulo

This is my dog Caju. He is getting helped out of his limousine by one of his vets (he has three--rather a high-maintenance fellow) named Daniela who owns the clinic Pet Help. Caju is a 13-year old labrador who has terrible arthritis and possibly a partially-torn ligament in his leg. He is no longer a candidate for surgery but that does not mean he has given up. Not in the least. What it means is that he is no longer mobile enough to get in my high SUV and go for a bath after getting back from the fazenda--and yes he goes to the spa now since he can't get in a tub at home, and cold water doesn't feel so great on arthritic bones.

So every couple of weeks, Daniela comes by and picks up Caju and his adopted sister Haifa for a 5-minute ride to the clinic. There they hang out with the cat, get all beautified and get lots of attention. Then they get brought home. It is one of my favorite services in São Paulo--part doggie day care and part salon, and all for less than US$40 for the two dogs. The added benefit is that it is a vet clinic as well--Daniela has found things that I hadn't yet noticed on the dogs and we get things fixed up quickly.

I have gotten into many a discussion/argument with Brazilians and foreigners alike about whether or not service is good in Brazil. That is far too general an argument of course--in some places service is great and some places have terrible (or pessimo, one of my favorite Portuguese words--you can really exaggerate the PESS part and it comes out as a hiss...PESSSSSimo...) service. Same as the US. There are not too many government agencies in the US that have great service (okay, the service at the Illinois Dept. of Motor Vehicles is fantastic. Connecticut was, and possibly still is, pessimo. So it depends). There is one government-contracted agency in Brazil that has excellent service--Controlar, the pollution-checking guys. I have a blog post somewhere in here about my love for Controlar.

In the private sector, it also depends. The cell phone companies lead the complaints--not much different from the US. Banks are across-the-board hated. While I would rather stab myself than go into a bank branch in São Paulo (the easy joke would be that most likely I would be stabbed going out), I love it here in suburban Illinois. The bank branch in Hinsdale gives me lollipops. There's never any one in there. Not  one person. Except the branch manager and a single counter staff person. Who is not behind bullet-proof glass. There is no security guard with an Uzi. I feel like I should hang out and chat so the staff has something to do. No chance that bin of lollipops will run out. Who knew the power of Dum-Dums? I advise Bradesco to look into it.

On the other hand, there are many small luxuries of service in Brazil. My husband's bulletproof car is serviced by a lovely company that comes and picks up the car wherever you are, fixes it and then brings it back. No extra charge. Dry-cleaning comes to you. No extra charge. I get organic food delivery, seafood from the municipal market and x-rays from the hospital--all arrive by motoboy, which of course provides me with free delivery and also fodder for the next day's blog. Especially when said macho motoboy arrives wearing a pink helmet with a powerpuff girls sticker on it. True story.

The customer service I do not like but friends do: the salesgirls in stores. When I go into a store to look at clothes (a rarity in overpriced Brazil), I do not want the lady following two steps behind me and telling me that the shirt I picked up is also available in pink and there are trousers that go with it or just simply shadowing me.  I am likely to leave quickly. In the US, I browsed in a store yesterday for an hour and one sales person breezed by and asked if we needed anything, and then breezed onwards. Perfect for me.

But, and there is always a "but", my friend Brazilian friend Pri is a pro at the Brazilian store customer service. I am usually found in her wake, jaw dropped, as she gets the place scurrying. She usually sends the first girl scurrying to find some other color or size, then gets a second one involved in a mission to give her options of blouses in blue or in size 36 or whatever, and finally, the store owner starts offering her coffee or water, and a VIP card that involves frequent flier points and foot massages (okay, I exaggerate. Slightly.) Brazilian customer service is made for Pri. I am in awe.

My feeling is that the smaller the store or business, the better service you will get. That is true the world over (okay, yeah, there's always Target where I can return things I haven't even bought there, and a year later...I exaggerate again...90 days later).  In other words, this is a ringing endorsement of shopping at mom & pop shops, which are of course the majority of Brazilian stores. And give Dra. Daniela a call if you are in São Paulo. Service just doesn't get any better than the doggie van.

1 comment:

  1. Ownnn I Love You Guys! <3 Thanks for the support, you know how much we work to have a small shop here! And by the way, Im going to see Haifa right now!