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Customer care in Ecuador

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 Ecuador and try to understand how things work in the country.

How would you describe your customer service experiences in Ecuador?

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

Are after-sales services available in Ecuador?

Thanks for sharing your experience,

Priscilla

Living in Ambato now for a year has been great. I really like the Centro City, and the customer service in the stores has been a very positive experience. Most of the better restaurants also have great staff. My Spanish is still kind of awful, but I seem to always find what I am looking for in the stores and I am able to read the menus in the restaurants a little better. Sometimes, the waiters will cater to my special wishes, and will go out of their way to get me what I want. Like Chicken Lasagna, which was Not on the Menu. Or a special pizza, with the toppings exchanged, for what I like.  So far, this is my favourite city of the ones I have seen in Ecuador. The weather is usually fantastic and the only thing I miss, is a Mr. Books store with novels in English.

Right down my alley ! The difference in attitude between Ecuadorians and more or less anywhere else I
have been is striking. If it was just one place or another where I got ignored, snubbed or "verbally shortchanged" I would hardly get too upset. But this attitude is surprisingly widespread to the point that I have to consider it part of the national character. Sorry.
It started with a Dr. appointment. Although I came about 15 min early, I waited an hour and a half until I had to leave. I came back the following day only to wait 1 hour - until I left ! No excuses or convincing explanations.
I may be a little slow, but eventually I found out that apparently several patients had the same 4 pm appt.  Keeps the paperwork simple I guess ! I should also mention that this was not the only doctors office apparently employing this appointment routine.

Admittedly my Spanish is probably not quite where it should be after 3 years, but I do expect a little more patience and understanding when I deal with sales people. Not infrequently, sensing an extranjero they just overlook me in favor of a local who came in after me - choosing the path of least resistance. On other occasions, having difficulty getting what I was after or making themselves understood,  they just wander off leaving me to find somebody else.

         Service people may or may not show up for work.  If they do, it's not usually at the time you expected - few seem to know the meaning of "appointment". If they don't show up, they typically don't bother to call. But they may surprise you the next day  - or whenever you least expect it.
I find this obvious and general lack of competitive customer service rather surprising.  Ecuador is supposedly a poor country with low wages, so why this nonchalant attitude? It's like they are doing you a favor when they sell you something.
Looking forward to a good explanation for this phenomenon (and otherwise quite content)
Jubilado en Cuenca

See if you can be more pro-active when you run across sales personnel who may not know how to serve a Gringo or may be shy about the language difference.

Hazme caso*, anfitrión / anfitriona.  Listen up, host / hostess.
(The first word is pronounced OZ-may.)

Ayúdame, tendero / vendedor.  Help me out, grocer guy / salesman.

Me agradaría un poco de atención.  I’d appreciate a bit of attention.

¿Quién puede atenderme ?  Who can assist me ?

Quisiera (X)....  I would like (X)....

  --- cccmedia

* This is a form of the idiomatic root expression hacerse caso or hacer caso a both meaning pay attention (to). 
Also: haznos caso -- pay attention to us.  Caso means case, so the idiom defies exact literal translation.

I have the opposite experience as hjrinec. Customer service for me so far has been excellent and I don't rate anything that high. You however have to engage them if you want prompt service. But if you look like an alien and you don't communicate then you'll be placed on a back burner.

As a gringa friend of mine who is fluent in Spanish told me you can simply use the verb and not conjugated form to express yourself.  Ecuadorean people are very accommodating when they at least know what you are talking about and want. Make that effort, and greet people if you don't, and in the same manner that Ecuadorean do.

These are people who start the day with morning, afternoon and evening greetings. I love the service, there's no issues, my only complaint is a damn black and decker rice cooker than just stopped working a week or 2 after I bought it, didn't take it for repair or replacement at the time because my Spanish sucked back in January and now not interested because we know how to cook perfect rice at this altitude using stove.

Right off, I noticed that you live in Cuenca. When I first came to Ecuador, I only came for a visit and stayed with a lovely young couple outside of Guayaquil near the Via Samborondon. I really liked it, almost everybody I met spoke English, so I wasn't too worried about not speaking Spanish. People were nice and I had no problems, so I came back to retire in Ecuador. I had an apartment waiting for me on the same street as my friends and found a part-time job teaching English. Now, I am like you, almost 3 years in Ecuador and my Spanish is still terribly bad, I speak English at home and with my lady friends. There are many, who do speak English, like my landlady and my neighbours. I heard a lot of negative things about Cuenca and there was some unrest or disagreement with the City Government about American Ex-pats, who expect everyone to speak English and don't even try to learn Spanish.  I find it very hard at my age [now 71] to learn Spanish, but at least I try my best, even though, I have not managed the correct grammatical terms. I get around well, when shopping, and I have had only a few people ignore me. I am a guest in this country, so I behave accordingly. Some people are pushy, and don't believe in waiting in line. I have started to say something, when it was getting ridiculous. I live in Ambato now, great weather and very peaceful. Very affordable living. So far, so good.  There are still a few things, I have to get used to. Like loud barking dogs on the roof, dogs in the streets [I saw two of them get run over by a truck and mangled], garbage, noise, stray cats which ate all the birds in our garden, Taxi drivers, who want to argue over fares, and people with the finger up their nose. I still get odd looks, because I kind of stick out a little around here, with my white-blonde hair and green eyes, and very white skin, but I don't let that bother me. I am German/Canadian and I can't change my looks now. We were considering moving to Cuenca, but I am hesitating after reading about your experiences there and the tensions in the recent past . Kind regards.

THree years about the point when the vocabulary you have built up from listening and living in the culture starts to come out in your communication.  So you are right on target!  Consider that a child who is pre verbal doesn´t strt talking as to be understood prior to about three and you will realize you aren´t in any way behind, you are just frustrated and want to talk already!

...this is the time to sit back, and have an alcoholic beverage...relax ...and just let it happen.

When you realize you have been using Spanish in your dreams, the connections have been made, the rest is learning to speak like a grown up :)

By the way, at least here on the coast, if you want the vendors attention just call out AVER!  (basically Attention to me!) and they will come over to help you.  Until then they will usually leave you alone being too concerned to not cramp your looking and browsing... or much too interested in today´s episode of the telenovela.  Because, that´s  good drama there! no really...stop laughing.....  ;)

Thanks for letting me know, that after 3 years, I am doing o.k. with Spanish. Made sense. I still have a long way to go. They wanted $20 an hr. at a language school in Guayaquil and I politely declined. Then, I just did not feel like going to school. I might yet do it, if I find one, which might be affordable. At 71, one starts to forget stuff. The short-memory is no longer the best, but I can remember back to when I was 4 years old. Not speaking Spanish at home does not help the situation either, and every Ecuadorian gal pal I have, speaks English.  I don't seem to have too much of a problem, since I am rather outgoing and friendly. I smile and I usually get a smile back, and good service in stores and restaurants. I even get along with the rather unusual next door neighbour lady, who lived in Australia for 20 years, and understands and speaks some English.  I actually had Spanish lessons, before I came to Ecuador. Twice a week for 2 hrs. each. The dude was a young man from Quito. From Tuesday to Thursday, I could Not remember anything, and he said, that I was the worst student ever. LOL  I knew a lot of words, but I could not make a decent sentence. I will look for some grade one or two exercise books, where I just have to fill in the words in a sentence. That might help. Hope, I can find something like that. I understand a lot more, than I can speak.   But, the main thing is, that I am at least trying my best. I was already able to make people laugh [in Spanish] by saying, that at least I can give directions to where I live. That's good to know. Kind regards, Amber

Hi,

The computer program DuoLingo might help you a lot.  It can start you at your apparent level of expertise and you do all the lessons .  Some lessons are very repetitive, but that is what learning is all about in a language.  Good luck!
HP

Could you ask the gal pals to speak Spanish with you, maybe on alternate days? Or you speak Spanish to them, asking for help and correction, and let them speak English to you? (But I have more trouble understanding than speaking.)

One of the questions I get from my fellow gringos is..

"How did you learn to speak Spanish so good?"

... Why I learned on the Calles de Anconcito!

"Really... where is that and what did you pay???"

... so I give them directions to the bus stop and tell them that lunch at the Puerto is excellent and to tell everyone the Gringa de Anconcito sent them ;)  Best fish on the coast I think...  :top:

Just get out there, speak, smile, wave, use mime, laugh at the jokes...and you´ll get it.  It is part of the adventurea nd should be part of the fun too.  And it´s the JOURNEY of our lives, not the final arrival that matters, right?

hjrinec
Hmm, not my experience at all.  So far, and in most cases, the people providing service in Ecuador have been extremely patient with my poor Spanish, going out of their way to help me.  Other customers in the same que or area - not so much.
I always try to maintain a good attitude keeping in mind that I am the one prevailing upon them for help, not the other way around.
Doctor's offices in the US have their own set of nightmares.  So I can be a bit forgiving for the excellent medical care they have here in Ecuador.

Susan in Ecuador - now this is the attitude we should all aspire to.  After all isn't it why we are here?

In comparison to North American standard, the quality of customer service isn't comparable. I've had both great service and absolutely terrible service, especially in restaurants. My Spanish is near-fluent, and I usually go out with my Venezuelan girlfriend (who does not speak any english). I have a severe peanut and nut allergy (which can be a huge problem in Ecuador) and have had some restaurants go above and beyond, explain what's in the ingredients and take precaution with my allergy. I've also had servers/managers tell me there is no peanuts in the dish and have my girlfriend taste it first to discover there actually was nuts in the dish to which the response was a confused "would you like your money back?". My experience in stores has been the same, very mixed. You get some people who are extremely helpful, and some who make you wonder. I was looking for after-sun lotion, or aloe. After asking a few people in a nearby pharmacy, they kept on giving me burn cream, the type you'd use from a burn from touching a hot pan. In terms of "being on time" with appointments, it appears most people mean they will be there half an hour after they say. if your appointment is at 8AM, expect them to arrive/be ready for you by 8:30/8:45.

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