LET me tell you a story about the Malaysian service industry. With the Visit Malaysia Year around the corner, and with business more competitive than ever, one would expect the operators of the industry to be more prepared than ever.
Alas, this is not so. At least not at the two outlets I visited recently.
One is a photo studio, quite well known and has been around for many years. It has branches all over the city and one can notice them quite clearly as one zooms past. I went there to ask for my photograph to be taken. I wanted them fast, real fast.
The counter girl said it takes 30 minutes for eight passport size prints, and cost RM15. I wasn't happy because it takes so long. I walked down the block of shops and spotted another photo studio. I asked for the same thing. I got what I wanted - 4 prints within five minutes at RM12.
After five minutes and after taking the prints, I went back to the first studio and told the counter girl that I got better service from the other shop. "Sorry lah, our policy on developing prints is 30 minutes. Our Boss won't allow us to print pictures for less than half an hour."
What kind of crap is that? I argued with her for a while. But it was getting nowhere and I could feel my BP going up. I left and made a mental note of not going back to that shop ever.
I then stopped at a car wash for just that purpose. I left the car and came back after about an hour. It happened again. The car was washed but some parts of the interior weren't properly vacuumed. I asked why and the attendant said: Sorry lah bang, lupa (Sorry Bro, I forgot).."
I murmured something about being unhappy with the service, The young man shot back: "Tak apa bang, kalau you tak suka tak payah bayar. Dan lain kali, tak payah datang sini lagi" Ayoyo, what an attitude! I took his advice and never sent my car to be washed there ever again.
At one international hotel in the city, the waiter have trouble smiling. He must have some personal problems, I thought. No doubt he brings the tea, take away your plates, bring a glass of water - but he left his smile at home.
My point is simple - some people will remain small, not improve and forever stay at the lower end of the food chain. These kind of people are everywhere. They don't care, have no passion for whatever they are doing, and is an embarassment to all of us.
There are exceptions of course. Plenty actually.
You must have come across similar situations, I'm sure. Do share them with me. As we go through everyday life, such unacceptable behaviour and service surface from time to time to provide us with a reality check on how much we're lagging behind other economies in the region.
Are we really losing the edge - that's all I'm asking!!