Customer care in Colombia

Hello everyone,

The way customer services are handled can greatly affect your views on certain brands, products, companies or stores. As a consumer, it is important to get familiar with local practices regarding client assistance in Colombia and try to understand how things work in the country.

How would you describe your customer service experiences in Colombia?

Do you feel welcome when you enter a store? Do you get useful tips and advice?

Are after-sales services available in Colombia?

Thanks for sharing your experience,


I checked into the Dann Carlton Hotel Medellin at Parque la Presidenta last night.  I had stayed there once before, earlier this year.

I had a friendly exchange with the men at the reception desk at 12:30 a.m.  One receptionist complimented me on my Spanish.

The bellhop took me up to my standard room.  The phone was ringing as we entered.  It was the front desk.  Andres at Reception was calling to offer me an upgrade to a suite.

So now I have a living area that’s four times the size of the standard room I saw, at no increase in price.

That’s what I call customer service !

cccmedia, from a suite at the Dann Carlton Medellin in Medellin, Colombia

The customer service is good when someone is trying to sell you something because they want your money ..
If you buy something from a vender on the street they will always try to charge you more $$$$$ because if you are a invader in there country and 80% of the people live in poverty so all they care about is $$$$$$  *****

Trustful people are hard to find in Colombia


Moderated by Christine last year
Reason : inappropriate content [Unsubstantiated claims]

In Colombia people are incredibly friendly, also when you are trying to purchase a product they know more about it then the maker. I never had an issue when I had to return an item, they do tell you, you must have the receipt, if you lose it, you can't return it without it, so hold on to that receipt if the item is expensive. Over all customer service in Colombia is far better than most places outside. My advice to most folks coming down to Colombia is expect that Colombians have trust issues, after years and years of being victims of con artists and thieves, is a country that is rebuilding it self and its image, they have a guard up and it may take a bit longer to open up because of it. If you compare customer service in Colombia to that of the US it in many cases better and most of the time the same.

I'm not going to sound very diplomatic here, but when I read customer care in Colombia, I snorted beer through my nose. Asking for customer service in Colombia is like expecting an ice machine in hell.

Ask some gringo expats how they feel about customer service in Colombia. They will chuckle.

I’ve been generally pleased with the service I’ve gotten at businesses and hotels in Colombia.

So a negative experience I had at a casino in Medellín last Saturday night stands out....

Having both played and worked at casinos in the United States (1989-2013), I am well aware of the importance placed on customer service in U.S. casinos.  It’s a smart strategy:  attempting to please people enough -- while usually taking their money -- that they will consider returning to your gambling hall going forward.

At many U.S. casinos, dealers are specifically trained to be friendly .. and often encouraged to be entertaining.  The payoff is the tips and tokes that constitute the main portion of their income in a country where tipping is commonplace and casino base wages are low.

“Cage” workers (cashiers) in U.S. casinos are expected to be attentive and cordial.


At the Colombia Coffee Axis on this trip, I got to know a friendly pit crew while playing blackjack over several weeks at Casino Ventura in Armenia.  The dealers and other workers at Ventura liked to joke with a Gringo player and find other ways to be friendly too.  On my first night there, at midnight, a pit boss whose shift was ending even walked me from the third-floor casino to the elevator and then to a taxi outside.  He knew I was concerned about safety leaving a casino in a Colombian city that was new to me.

It’s not the same friendly atmosphere at the Medellín casinos in my experience.

Sure, somebody will offer you a complimentary beverage when you sit down at the 21 table.

But the dealers typically just mumble a few words without eye contact as they tap onto a game, and most don’t even acknowledge a new player who is entering a game .. except to laconically change his cash for chips.

You get used to that, though.

What I objected to on Saturday night at the casino in Medellín was a cashier who couldn’t be bothered even to give me eye contact when I walked up to her window.  She was the only cashier on duty.  I had chips to cash out.  She was talking on the phone.

I waited for her to complete the call.  I didn’t want her distracted while counting and changing my casino chips with their fancy peso denominations into Colombian currency.

It was obvious from the way she was giggling that the call was a personal call.  I figured she’d hang up soon to pay me some attention and do her job.  I kept waiting, but she didn’t look up.  Not even once.

After a few minutes, I moved a short distance away to a bank of slot machines.  She still didn’t look over or get off the phone.  There were no other cage customers the whole time.

When I walked back to the cage, I simply dumped the 40 or so chips into the metal chip tray in front of the cashier window.  I normally would place the chips onto the tray politely.  This move made a noisy metallic racket for a couple of seconds -- my only attempt at showing displeasure at being ignored.

Still, she didn’t look up or acknowledge me.  She kept the phone to her ear as she cashed out my chips....


Before leaving the cage, I looked over the Colombian billetes she had given me. 

The change was correct.

Her customer ‘service’ attitude was not.

  -- cccmedia from Medellín

An earlier version of this post incorrectly said this incident occurred at the San Remo casino in Medellin. -- cccmedia

During my two visits to Colombia I had enjoyed good customer-service at the Carulla supermarket chain, which I judged to be the best chain I have seen in South America.

At the Calle 10 store in Medellín, you normally can get wonderful fresh breads and fresh salmon plus certain products I have been unable to find in three years in Ecuador -- Muenster cheese, Philadelphia-brand cream cheese and Tropicana fruit juices, as examples.

But when things went sideways last night at a checkout counter at Calle 10 sucursal, a glaring instance of sub-par customer-service was revealed.

When I got to checkout counter 2, I noticed that a 70-year-old man at the head of the line was just starting to laboriously empty a filled-to-the-top shopping cart.  So I expected things would go slowly.

Surprisingly, the man got checked-out on his items without incident.  But when the young ponytailed shopper behind him tried to check out her few items, things spiraled out of control.

It’s unclear what the problems were, but soon a second cashier was at the station .. and then a supervisor joined the cashiers.

They were all staring at a screen and the supervisor -- on and off -- was furiously typing into a permanent keyboard at the checkout counter.

After a while, the cashiers suddenly pulled millions of Colombian pesos in 50,000-peso notes from the cashier drawer.  These bills were counted and put in a clear bag.  They these millions were taken out and re-counted!

The various delays were not explained.  The jovencita in front of me who was ostensibly being checked-out started to make facial expressions as if confused and frustrated.

What disturbed me about the situation was the total lack of attention the Carulla team was paying to those of us who had been patiently waiting in line.

Based on my experience in the U.S. over decades, it seems to me that the supervisor -- or someone -- would mention a reason for the delays .. or apologize for the delays .. or at least say something along the lines of “We’re fixing the situation and we appreciate you folks’ patience.”

But at Carulla we were just taken for granted.  No explanation.  No apology.  No timeline.  Not even eye contact.

Finally, as it appeared they were making no real progress at the counter and I judged that the delays would go on indefinitely, I did something I had never done before at a supermarket checkout counter....

Without a word or a gesture and with at least 15 of my items still sitting on the checkout counter waiting to be rung up, I unceremoniously walked right out of the store.


I will be going back to a Carulla in the next couple of days to buy items such as the ones I abandoned -- I like the selection.  But I won’t be going back this time to the Carulla on Calle 10.

cccmedia from Medellín

The Colombian shopkeeps aren't great at math. If I the total is 11,500 pesos and I give them 15,000 pesos, they have to pull out the calculator to tally my change.

There's a reason Colombia doesn't have a space program.

PriceMart seems this far to be the best at the checkout counter.  At least one person is packaging your purchase.  Exito, is the worse at the checkout.  It seems like it takes forever to purchase your items.  I finally had enough and told my wife that we will not shop there.

I've noticed on the seldom occassions eating out that service is lacking.  They'll take and deliver your order and that will be the last time you see your waiter.

Texas Bred :

I've noticed on the seldom occassions eating out that service is lacking.  They'll take and deliver your order and that will be the last time you see your waiter.

When I go out to eat in Colombia I always order at least three beers. And I say I want them all at once.

The waitress/waiter will give me and odd look, and what I don't say is, "I know I'm not going to see you again for at least 30 minutes."

The only Colombians at a restaurant I've ever seen with any concept of customer service were at gringo places where the owner had taught them. There's a gringo higher-end burger joint in San Gil where the service is stellar. There's another place in Salento that the service is great.

Anywhere else in Colombia, you're just S.O.L. for service. They have no concept of it.

I agree customer service when making a purchase is good but not when you had a problem.
Eben the taxis try to take you in round about ways to increase the fare by as much as 25 -40%, it is all about taking your $$$, good luck lol.

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