Service standards in Spain

Old May 30th, 2007, 07:05 AM
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Nedsireland: "Most Spaniards don't like President George W. Bush because of the Iraq war. Some may even blame Bush for the Madrid train bombings in April, 2004. Their dislike for Bush could spill over to how they treat American tourists. This is not just for U.S. Tourists in Spain. The dislike for Bush extends throughout most of western Europe."

I'm not American, I'm Canadian. And there are many Brits and Australians who travel in Spain as well and other nationalities, like the Dutch and Germans, who are likely to speak English if they don't know Spanish. Sorry, your argument doesn't hold water with me.

As for my comment about indifference, I mean that some of the employees we encountered did not show the friendliness that we encounter in other countries. They would provide the service, but not even smile sometimes. Regardless of whether you encounter someone like at home or abroad, it's off-putting.
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Old May 30th, 2007, 07:08 AM
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We have moved to Spain - from Australia - in the last 6 months and are yet to find anyone at all who has been unhelpful or unfriendly - and most interaction has been in English /fractured spanish. Our experience is confined to southern spain so maybe it is different in the bigger cities - but isn't it always? I personally hate the over friendly, have a nice day, checking every 5 mins sort of service - or maybe am easy to please.
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Old May 30th, 2007, 07:40 AM
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I'm not so sure about the too many tourists in Spain bit. I mean, the vast majority of Spanish tourists just hit the Costa resorts with I suppose fewer venturing inland except perhaps on daytrips. I think all tourists are still welcome in Spain at least in theory! In fact, Spain is losing out on the package tourist market with many Brits, Germans etc heading to cheaper Greece, Turkey and other lower cost Mediterranean and East European beach desinations instead.
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Old May 30th, 2007, 03:30 PM
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To your list I would add "clueless" and "lazy."

Nonetheless, I ran into enough helpful and/or upbeat people working in hotels and restaurants that I would go back. Most of them seemed to be in towns where foreigners own condos or vacation for extended periods--Nerja and Marbella, for instance.

In some places (like Seville) service was particularly offensive--disdainful, I would say.

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Old May 30th, 2007, 07:21 PM
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Thanks, HappyTrails.... for the word DISDAINFUL. I coudn't have said it better.
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Old May 30th, 2007, 08:30 PM
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You're welcome.

I think we are dealing with people who haven't been properly trained, who haven't traveled far from home, and who may be a bit jealous. The disdain may be dished out as a cover to all this.

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Old May 31st, 2007, 12:20 AM
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Is this thread still going on?

Somebody has a bad experience and gets down on the poor working class. Some days are good, some days are bad. Time to let up a little.

I personally know a number of people, friends, working in the local tourist offices in various villages, towns and cities, and a whole lot of hotel staff, from three-star on up, and all of them are great to deal with and occasionally hang out with, when they have the time.

If you have a bad experience learn to live with it. If it keeps you from returning to Spain, then so be it. The country will survive, but will be somewhat less without you.
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Old May 31st, 2007, 03:05 AM
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Louanne, it could be a case of pure old fashioned culture shock. I hope it doesn't put you off going back to Spain. Think of it this way, the next time you go back you'll be prepared for grumpy service and it won't seem quite so upsetting for you.
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Old May 31st, 2007, 04:30 AM
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I like this subject . Must of the posts here are trying to explain or justify why some ,or many of the spaniards working in the tourism industry are unpolite or even rude with customers.
In my opinion it has nothing to do with Franco , solo woman, or more or less capacity in speaking spanish.
The main problem is lack of proper training and preparation for the job.
While people in the streets act just the way they are, generally nice.
Some employees don't know how to act and show their incapacity of solving a situation, "understanding a question"
"providing information" or whatever they are requested to do, by being rude or indiferent, in the hope that you will disapear or go somewhere else with your uncomfortable, for their poor understanding ,problem.
Regarding the hordes of tourist and the many millions that come to Spain, I think tourism industry in Spain has low standards of service because it has being traditionaly directed to cheap tourism.
Some posts mention that spain recieves over 50 million tourist per year, but you forget that Switzerland with just
6 million tourist per year earns more money from tourism than Spain or even France.
I like to imaging the amount of toilet flushes that Spain will avoid just with 6 million tourist and the same income.

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Old May 31st, 2007, 05:55 AM
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Car, Your post is based on impressions and the facts are wrong. Switzerland doesn't figure anywhere even in top ten so far as dollars from tourists. Here is a link:
Old May 31st, 2007, 06:15 AM
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The big surprise for me was how people "on the street" can be so nice and helpful, while those whose job it is to be nice and helpful, are generally not.
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Old May 31st, 2007, 06:28 AM
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I think tourism industry in Spain has low standards of service because it has being traditionaly directed to cheap tourism. Interesting. Perhaps it goes toward explaining those working in tourist offices but not, for instance, those working in Paradors and other four- and five-star hotels.
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Old May 31st, 2007, 07:01 AM
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You are trying to equate a US Disneyworld experience with your Spanish trial. Locals consider tourists intruders especially the 'economy group'. Few Europeans eat out so they have little experience with that environment. Did you have that perceived rude service in a three star restaurant or a four or five star hotel? Did you travel by taxi or bus? Good service is expensive to provide and it drives prices up. Consider McDonald's as a benchmark of customer service, was your experience better or worse?
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Old May 31st, 2007, 07:41 AM
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The "disdainful" (and at times, rude)service was received from taxi drivers AND city bus drivers; from parador employees AND 3-star hotel staff; upscale restaurants AND local tavernas; and MOST tourist offices. There were of course, exceptions when service was friendly and knowledgeable. But they were EXCEPTIONS.
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Old May 31st, 2007, 08:17 AM
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Please, louanne, post your itinerary.
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Old May 31st, 2007, 10:53 AM
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GSteed, Sorry politeness does not increase the cost of service, and it can be dished up at fast food joints as easily at at a five-star restaurant. HTTY
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Old May 31st, 2007, 11:09 AM
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We have been traveling to Spain since 1972 and just concluded a trip last week. This time we did not visit smnall towns but Madrid, Barcelona, and San Sebastian. What I found most curious was that fewer people who work in hotels, restaurants, etc. speak English than they did years ago. I can only assume that English speaking workers are needed for the expanding economy. I also noticed in many places fewer professional waitstaffers. This too I beieve is attributed to changing economy.

Very rarely have we found rude anybody in Spain. Of course, you run into a harried or indifferent character here or there but that is not a national trait.
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Old May 31st, 2007, 12:14 PM
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Here goes, Josele:
Madrid (5 nights) Hotel Preciados
Cuenca (2) Posada San Jose
Valencia (4) Melia Ingles
Palma de Mallorca (3) Palau Sa Font
Alicante (2) Hospes Amerigo
Almeria (2) Husa Catedral
Nerja (3) Parador de Nerja
Malaga (1) Sol Melies
(Of note, snotty service at the Parador; friendly and helpful service at the Amerigo - 2 upscale hotels)
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Old May 31st, 2007, 12:45 PM
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i think this OPīs opinions just need to be accepted and not re-analized over and over with a zillion details.

hey.. if this happened to you in almost every one of your stopovers in a country, it certainly would taint your opinion of where that country is going in the service field, whether you are right in that assumption or not.

louanne, i only hope your next trips are more encouraging.

as for the lack of good language skills, people who speak several languages can make GOBS more money in business industries than the tourist industries, and not have to deal with several demanding people all day, perhaps just one boss.

a shame for spain to have given this impression across the country practically. hopefully others will have better luck.
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Old May 31st, 2007, 01:15 PM
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louanne, I have read some, but not all of the responses. I have always dreamed of going to Spain. I finally got a chance for work - female, traveling solo for just 2 days in Madrid. I was SOOOO excited. I've been to several other European destinations and loved ALL of them (dusseldorf, vienna, london, scotland, japan, hong kong). I was so disappointed (maybe too high expectations?) due to the poor service.

I walked in to restaurants and shops and they were very friendly. As soon as they realized I didn't speak any Spanish, they turned off. Very noticible.

One restaurant even gave me a lesser wine and charged me the higher price. I can't speak Spanish, but I can surely read and figure stuff out. One of the waitresses felt bad for the waiter's misjudgement and gave me an extra piece of food - something small. i left her a huge tip! i walked out polite as ever, hoping they won't judge someone next time based on their looks or their ability to speak Spanish.

I never want to go back there again. There are so many other fabulous places out there.

After reading some of the other threads (sp?), Paris is sounding good! And I always heard that Paris is unfriendly. Apparantly I have to visit and see for myself.

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