Expat Argentina

In Preparation for the Customer Service Special on BA Cast


I am floored, absolutely flabbergasted. Get ready because this is going to be a rant. I am going to attempt to not use foul language or be unfair, but the lack of common sense in customer service in this country is ASTOUNDING. If you want to hear a truly well balanced, in depth analysis of the culture of service in Argentina, plus which nationalities do the best service and make the best customers, listen to my podcast in Buenos Aires, The Buenos Aires Podcast in about 30 days, when we will be uploading a documentary on this subject replete with interviews, chamullos, songs and skits.

Yesterday I went by Las Cortaderas in Las Canitas, which is basically the only good place that has pies and cheesecakes, to see what they had for my wife’s birthday. I spoke with the owner, who told me I could get a lemon pie if I come by in the morning and that it cost 80 pesos. Expensive, but what the heck.

What is astounding is that I call this morning, because I know that in Argentina it can’t just be as easy as “come by and its all good”, so I call. I tell the person who answers the phone that I had come by, that the owner told me that a small lemon pie costs 80 pesos, and ask them to confirm that they had it there, ready to go. Here is the dialogue that followed:

Him: Did you want the big or the small?

Me: The owner told me it cost 80 pesos, whichever that one is.

Oh I don’t know which one that is.

How many different ones do you have?

Large and a small. For how many people is it for?

What do the large and small each cost?

How many people is it for?

It does not matter, I want the one that costs 80 pesos. Which one is that?

Hang on let me ask the kitchen if we can make one. Do you need it today?


Would you like me to check to see if we can make one today? (WHAAAAT!!!?!?)

Of course!

(5 minutes later) We can have one for you after 2pm.

I need it before 3pm though. Can you make sure it’s done by 3pm?

Let me check…. (5 more minutes)… You can come by after 2pm.

But WILL IT BE DONE BY 3pm!!!???

Yes, I think so. Now did you want the small or the large?

I want the one that costs 80 pesos. I don’t understand what is so hard about this. I spoke with the owner yesterday and he told me that the pie I looked at cost 80 pesos. Which one is that?

How many people is it for?

OH MY GOD!!! I thought, how can this person seriously not understand how stupid they are being. But this happens over and over and over again! Why? I am sure at this point that it only has to do with the fact that Argentines get used to this at such a young age. When you are disappointed over and over again, repeatedly, and recognize that your institutions fail you constantly, you get numb to it. So when there is a little bad customer service like the above, you don’t sweat it as much as we  Americans do.