I thought that I would use this opportunity to contrast the differences between common services that are provided to the paying customer in the United States and in Europe, and show why I prefer the services in the United States over the services in Europe.
One of the first things that anyone does when they move into a new apartment is call the telephone company to get service. After all, it’s very difficult to do anything without a telephone. In Boston, it took roughly a half hour conversation with a telephone company customer service representative who asked a few very basic questions to obtain a local phone number. After answering 4 to 5 billing questions I had an estimated time for connection of the service. Within 5 hours of my one and only phone call to the telephone company, I had working phone service. In Europe this same procedure would take three to four phone calls to a customer service representative, and I would have to answer anywhere between 10 and 15 questions that would range from billing information to what where my career goals over the next 5 years before I had a local number. In order for me to have actual working service to that number it would be anywhere from 4 to 5 business days, and that’s being optimistic. This process very rarely works on the first attempt.
The second major difference that I have noticed is in the promptness and politeness of the service provider. I experienced a disruption in my cable television service in Boston. I quickly called the cable company to report the disruption. After 3 voice prompts, I had a very courteous customer service representative on the phone who told me that the company was aware of the problem, and would fix it within the hour. The customer service representative was very apologetic and seemed very sympatric to my problem. This same phone call in Europe would be fielded by a less-than-enthusiastic customer service representative who most certainly would be unaware of any problem in my area. I would have to describe in detail the problem I was experiencing, and after a lengthy conversation, I would be no closer to having an answer as to when my cable would be restored than when I started. My cable interruption could last anywhere from 5 hours to 5 days, and no apologies would be made for my inconvenience.
The third difference would be the cost of the service provided. In the United States, the relative cost of services is a little higher than in Europe. Specifically, I found that in order to get the same cable channels in the United States that would be provided to me in Europe, I had to upgrade my cable. Many channels that are considered basic in Europe are considered premium channels in the United States. The premium channel packages in the United States can run anywhere from $30.00 to $100.00 a month just depending on how much free time you want to devote to sitting in front a television during the day. Monthly cable in Spain for instance can cost anywhere from $30.00 to $60.00 U.S dollars. I may not get in Spain 10 home shopping channels, but basic informational channels would be very similar, and I would have many channels to choose from in varying languages.
In conclusion I have found that the overall quality of service in the United States is far superior than in Europe. While it may cost a little more to get the same product, the quality of the services and the ease of interacting with service providers outweigh the additional cost. I think anyone would be willing to pay a little more for being treated in a more polite and courteous manner while receiving such a high quality of service. After all isn’t life all about quality not quantity?