Horrible experience in Sim Lim Square

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saidean
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Post by saidean » Mon, 09 Jul 2007 1:03 am

Stayed half my life in the UK so I know what you mean. I think there's a difference in the mentality of the police forces though - UK police tend not act on criminal activities for fear of endangering their lives, particularly in certain parts of a city (not so much in towns I suspect, much less villages lol).

Singapore police tend to not act on criminal activities because of apathy more than anything else... the preference not to chalk up more paperwork, and more importantly, chalk up more crime statistics everytime something gets reported. So they dissuade people from lodging a report and unless you know the law very well, you're likely to be persuaded by the police officers for fear that they might 'retaliate' (eg cry wolf syndrome - call them the next time and they might choose to take their time etc). I've heard of plenty of such complaints by locals, largely over minor crimes (thefts, break ins, nuisances etc). Bear in mind, the police here are armed compared to the UK equivalent, which means they're less likely to be afraid of gangsters or drunks.

And of course if a complaint becomes a civil case, it no longer marks as a criminal statistic, hence keeping the perception of the country as relatively crime-free...

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Post by sundaymorningstaple » Mon, 09 Jul 2007 9:23 am

saidean wrote:
And of course if a complaint becomes a civil case, it no longer marks as a criminal statistic, hence keeping the perception of the country as relatively crime-free...
Never though about that possible correlation. Very astute observation and probably very accurate as well. So, "low crime doesn't mean no crime" has a double meaning. It's would appear that it's only the tip of the iceberg.

:-|
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Post by German_Expat » Tue, 10 Jul 2007 1:45 pm

Hi ksl, did you live in Brixton by any chance?

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Post by ksl » Tue, 10 Jul 2007 7:18 pm

German_Expat wrote:Hi ksl, did you live in Brixton by any chance?
No but I have friends there too, so I do know the area very well, having visited friends there many times, and i must admit, the local pub scene and music at lunch times, was quite an eye opener, a little like East Enders soap on TV, a very close community. Although at night time I would be careful!

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Post by taikoo » Tue, 17 Jul 2007 3:38 pm

Just an update from me on the episode.

- wrote a complaint letter to the Chairman of SLS

- within hours got a call from Ms. Stella Lau promising to revert to me with the action taken

- revert she did, with an offer that the manager of the sales guy would give me a written apology.

- I flatly refused the offer and asked for a face to face apology from the sales guy infront of my wife and kids

- till now despite reminders to Aaron/Stella, apparently the office managers of Chairman of SLS, I am yet to hear from them.

- Funny part is they are not parting with the contact details of the Manager of Royal Plus who they spoke with

- couple of weeks ago, I informed both Aaron that if I don't hear from them soon, I will take my story to the press

- Waiting for their response.....

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Post by saidean » Wed, 18 Jul 2007 3:29 am

hmm I think you're not on firm ground if you do take it to the press. SLS management offered a face-saving gesture on both parties - yours and theirs - when they compelled the shop manager to offer a written apology to you. But you turned that down and insisted on a gesture that would cause humiliation on their part. You'll get a lot of flak from the Chinese people because it is a matter of losing face now.

I won't be surprised if the SLS management ignores your subsequent contacts as they'll probably construe you as being unreasonable and even arrogant. After all, if you DID write to the press, what do you hope to gain, aside from a WRITTEN apology (which was what they offered)?

Bearing in mind the incident is based on hearsay (your word against theirs, unless you have a recording of the incident), a written apology is a socially acceptable form of reconciliation; a face-to-face apology in front of family and kids may be perceived to be vindictive with the intent to publicly humiliate.

That's just my 2 cents as a Chinese.

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Post by taikoo » Wed, 18 Jul 2007 4:50 pm

saidean

I don't understand why you need to bring races into picture here....

Perhaps if you were in my position with my two grown up sons and this happens outside your country, you will understand my humiliation....believe me this would not have happened to me in my country as we don't have rogues like the one I encountered in Royal Plus in SLS

In any case, if I take my story to the press, please understand that I am not looking for a written apology, but to inform the general public (foreigners) like me to avoid such shops in SLS and not to get humiliated

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Post by jpatokal » Thu, 19 Jul 2007 12:28 am

taikoo wrote:Perhaps if you were in my position with my two grown up sons and this happens outside your country, you will understand my humiliation....believe me this would not have happened to me in my country as we don't have rogues like the one I encountered in Royal Plus in SLS
Sorry, I don't really understand why you're so "humiliated" by this "traumatic experience" here. You went to a store, you told off a sales person for not knowing his products, he lost his temper and told you to get out. Rude, yes, unprofessional, yes, a very stupid way to treat a potential customer, yes, but -- that's it. He didn't touch you, you've lost no money, no laws were broken. I don't see what angle the press could possibly use to make this into a story: "Customer asked to leave store?" :roll:
Vaguely heretical thoughts on travel technology at Gyrovague

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Post by saidean » Thu, 19 Jul 2007 1:40 am

taikoo wrote:saidean

I don't understand why you need to bring races into picture here....

Perhaps if you were in my position with my two grown up sons and this happens outside your country, you will understand my humiliation....believe me this would not have happened to me in my country as we don't have rogues like the one I encountered in Royal Plus in SLS

In any case, if I take my story to the press, please understand that I am not looking for a written apology, but to inform the general public (foreigners) like me to avoid such shops in SLS and not to get humiliated
It's not 'race' per se but cultural differences that's the point here. As you pointed out, you never had this happen to you before in your country before. There's 2 possibilities to this :

1. Your country is full of extremely courteous and knowledgeable sales staff.
2. Your country is full of people similar to you, and all of them have certain cultural expectations of what counts as a sale encounter.

I've lived in the West and the Far East for equal lengths of my life, so I'm very familiar with cross-cultural encounters, racism and even the subject of bigotry. In the UK for example, (1) is not true for all places (try going to PC World where you have a range of staff from the very helpful to staff who just couldn't be arsed to help you at all because it's their ciggie break). However, the sales staff have expectations of a sale encounter - you can ask them many questions which they may or may not be able to answer for you. In other words, you assume that the sale staff is more knowledgeable than you. Staff are trained in technical aspects of their products (well, some are), and are socialised into being patient and courteous when a chap comes to you with a ton of queries about a product. Try going to Tottenham Court Rd's electronic shops in London and do that, and you'll get a very cold (and rude) treatment.

Sales staff here are not expected to be knowledgeable; that's a value added service. Go to John 3:16 camera shop in Funan and you'll encounter camera staff who are themselves shutterbugs and familiar with the different camera types, pros/cons etc. Their prices are higher than other places, but people go there especially if they don't know which cameras to get and want an informed opinion. Local people who are into cameras know of this shop. Not all camera shops are like this and some shutterbugs go to a shop in Ang Mo Kio where the prices are VERY cheap but the customer service is crap (don't expect to get any technical queries answered). The point is in most cases, in a sale encounter, a local person is EXPECTED to be more knowledgeable than the sales staff.

What happened in your case, is you did the foreigner thing where you enter a shop looking for a product, but are not sure with the technical or sometimes basic stuff, and need help in making your decision. You then asked more questions than usual, which infuriated a sale person who has his priority in the following decreasing order: (a) secure sale (b) answer questions from someone who may or may not buy product. In other words, if two customers are in front of a sales chap, with one ready to buy a product and one asking away a number of questions, you can be assured the chap will ignore the latter person. Locals know this priority in a typical sale encounter, but foreigners often don't.

When foreigners expect to be treated similarly like in their own country, that's cultural difference naivety in action. One should not impose their expectations on a foreign culture. Neither should they expect that customer service is a universal right or value. Neither should they demand a form of apology that is not culturally acceptable. It works both ways - Chinese people behaving like they're in their own country when they're in a foreign one, going into shops, behaving 'rudely' to shop staff (ie not being polite, displacing clothes inappropriately, opening up sealed products etc).

I think you need to consider why you're going all out to exact a pound of flesh from this shop. If it is public awareness, as you say, to alert the general community of its bad service, your original posting has done that. Reporting them to CASE will do that. But you seem to go beyond that by rejecting a written apology and demanding instead a humiliating act, one which is locally rarely practiced and often unheard of. The tabloids here might pick it up but do you really trust them not to twist your tale into one which portrays you as the ugly foreigner? (Bearing in mind that unlike countries like the UK, interviewees rarely get to see the draft before it goes into print, which opens up all sorts of misinterpretation.)

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Post by Leone Fabre » Mon, 23 Jul 2007 12:55 pm

We have had rude behaviour also from other stores when we ask for help .......... even asking for them to explain such and such does not go down well at all.

I find a lot of sales staff either do not care about their job or just do not want to deal with expats. Or should I say Westerners???

I have had them walk off on me when I go up to them for something. If I ask where such and such is all they do is shrug and walk away.... I find their behaviour rude and intolerable too. Go to pay with cash and the change is just dropped regardless of if your hand is held out or not. By card they just point to where you sign, no comments, no please, no thank you...nothing!!!

Even getting a cab, they tell me they are not going in my direction, many times this happens.

But I wonder what is going to happen when I hear that the Singapore Government is wanting to increase the population by over 2 million people over the next few years ........ no-one will even want to come here at all if the 'locals ' are going to continue being rude to us.

We are the ones that had to leave our friends and our families and the good lives we had led "back home" to come and work here because there is no-one local that is capable of doing this particular job. We are the ones that are disadvantaged not them!

So rudeness to the Westerners is not necessary or warranted at all.

Cheers, leone !!
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Post by Splatted » Mon, 23 Jul 2007 2:16 pm

Leone Fabre wrote: I have had them walk off on me when I go up to them for something. If I ask where such and such is all they do is shrug and walk away.... I find their behaviour rude and intolerable too. Go to pay with cash and the change is just dropped regardless of if your hand is held out or not. By card they just point to where you sign, no comments, no please, no thank you...nothing!!!
Leone, if by chance you ever have the opportunity to visit Tokyo (perhaps you already have?), your jaw will just drop at the contrast between Sg & Jp.

My first encounter purchasing razor blades in some corner store, the elderly gentleman serving me gave a full 90degree bow after the transaction was completed. I nearly fainted then and there in shock as I was used to Singapore customer "service" !

At the train stations, people courteously queue up in line in front of where the train doors are expected to open. Noone pushes in or rushes the door before people inside have a chance to alight.

Once we got lost looking for the Pokemon centre which was supposed to be next to the train station, but was in actual fact 4 blocks away. We asked a lady in the street who didn't speak a word of english, but understood "Pokemon Centre".. she offered to take us there! She walked us the 4 blocks down the street (in the opposite direction she was headed).

Back to Singapore, I don't think it's deliberately rudeness targetted at "westerners". My wife is Chinese and a local and experiences the exact same level of service and rudeness. Don't take it personally.

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Post by sundaymorningstaple » Mon, 23 Jul 2007 6:46 pm

Leone Fabre wrote:But I wonder what is going to happen when I hear that the Singapore Government is wanting to increase the population by over 2 million people over the next few years ........ no-one will even want to come here at all if the 'locals ' are going to continue being rude to us.

We are the ones that had to leave our friends and our families and the good lives we had led "back home" to come and work here because there is no-one local that is capable of doing this particular job. We are the ones that are disadvantaged not them!

So rudeness to the Westerners is not necessary or warranted at all.

Cheers, leone !!
Sure don't want to be the one to burst your bubble but when I got here the population was only 2.8 million and everybody was just as rude as they are now. Additionally, they are generally rude to almost everybody as it is just their way (I don't like it either but facts are facts and you cannot make a silk purse out of a sows ear). Hasn't stopped any expats from coming here yet. Don't think it will in the future either.

But Pluuuuleeeessss, spare us the BS hard luck story that you HAD to leave your friends (had has nothing to do with it at all). And if life was soooo good back home why did you pack up to come here? To make life better cause of money which WASN'T coming back home. As far as the thing nobody can do it here, maybe, for a little while only. As soon as someone is found from a third world country that can do your job - you're history. Also, you are not disadvantaged at all. The standard of living here is higher than where you are from I would almost bet, truth be known.

The Colonialist days are gone, the sooner you get rid of that attitude the better off you will be. Oh, I'm a westerner as well before you get on your highhorse. One with a quarter of a century of being an expatriate.
SOME PEOPLE TRY TO TURN BACK THEIR ODOMETERS. NOT ME. I WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW WHY I LOOK THIS WAY. I'VE TRAVELED A LONG WAY, AND SOME OF THE ROADS WEREN'T PAVED. ~ Will Rogers

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Post by saidean » Mon, 23 Jul 2007 9:19 pm

Leone Fabre wrote:We have had rude behaviour also from other stores when we ask for help .......... even asking for them to explain such and such does not go down well at all.

I find a lot of sales staff either do not care about their job or just do not want to deal with expats. Or should I say Westerners???
I don't think it's directed at Westerners or expats only. As a Chinese local/expat (having lived equal parts of my life in the UK/Singapore), i'm likewise treated the same way. Oddly, I find that the behaviours you've just described to be what I'd encounter in central London too. Move outside of London, to the smaller cities/villages and it's a different story altogether.

The government here tried to impose 'courtesy' on everyone via their social engineering campaigns. It didn't work. They tried to give incentives (often financial) for courteous people; no luck there. Maybe it's a cultural thing, maybe it's generational and maybe it'll take generations to change. But it's certainly not something that can change overnight, and certainly not by imposition.

Look at it from the perspective of locals - foreign expats are perceived to be taking over jobs that locals would otherwise be eligible for, hence the covert/overt enmity. Then again, in countries like Australia, the locals there are very concerned about the influx of migrants (especially Chinese) who are taking over their jobs. It goes both ways and nothing is black and white.

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Post by Leone Fabre » Mon, 23 Jul 2007 9:56 pm

I don't think it's directed at Westerners or expats only. As a Chinese local/expat (having lived equal parts of my life in the UK/Singapore), i'm likewise treated the same way. Oddly, I find that the behaviours you've just described to be what I'd encounter in central London too. Move outside of London, to the smaller cities/villages and it's a different story altogether.

You are right, I don't really think 'rude behaviour' is just aimed at westerners or Expats ..... sometimes it just feels one is victimized. I have lived in a few other countries too and there is good and bad where ever you travel or live...one has to make the best of it at the time, does not mean you have to like it, but you do have to compromise. At least it allows all of us to go back to our own home country with a better understanding and hopefully, more tolerance to our own "newly arrived expats"!

Look at it from the perspective of locals - foreign expats are perceived to be taking over jobs that locals would otherwise be eligible for, hence the covert/overt enmity. Then again, in countries like Australia, the locals there are very concerned about the influx of migrants (especially Chinese) who are taking over their jobs. It goes both ways and nothing is black and white.[/quote]

I can see where anyone in any country would think that the 'new arrivals' are to take away the local jobs, this happens in the US too. Totally wrong of course because the Employment pass would not be issued if a local was available to do the job in question........But it is unfair to be abused for it. Just this week my friend was verbally abused for her husband coming here and taking a locals job. Her reply at the time was that there is no-one here in Singapore that can do his job and this is the reason they had to move here. She has reached the point of no longer trying and the family are booked to return to the US next month.

So all I am saying is that we are all trying to do what we have to do, in any country that we live, and we have to try and live in harmony somehow.

But I also think you are right...it is probably a "city thing" (regardless of country) and everyone anywhere is in too much of a hurry to be considerate of others..... it works both ways and there is no Black and white. We (as in expats) are the 'visitors' and have to be aware at all times of the cultural differences. Some just find it more difficult than others without family and friends close by.

Thanx for your comments though, have certainly taken them on board!

Leone
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