Andy T.

If our shocking expose of bad Budapest customer service (Miserable People in Shops) were a television series, it would be a very unsatisfying one. Episodes rock up only when we remember to make them. And they're never that interesting - in fact, by now we'd have been well and truly cancelled.

But we'll soldier on with this rubbish until we decide to pull the plug. My latest encounter with a Miserable Person happened in the Manna ABC on Friday night. It's on the corner of Bajcsy Zsilinsky utca. Of all Les Miserables, this woman takes the cake. And keeps it. All for herself. Which is exactly what she tried to do with my change.

What makes this particular incident doubly sad is that a very nice Real used to occupy the building next door but has recently closed down, presumably because it couldn't compete with the shiny Manna ABC 0-24 that barged its way into the neighbourhood. The man who ran Real was a creepily pleasant chap who spoke English very well. One night, he gave me a ham and cheese croissant free of charge. 'We're closing' he said, 'and I'll just throw it out. Take it. Have it for breakfast.' I couldn't imagine Manna ABC giving me a free croissant. If they did, they'd probably throw it at my head.


What happened exactly?
It was about one in the morning and I fancied taking a stroll around Parliament. I'm leaving Budapest in a week and was feeling nostalgic enough to get out of my bedroom for a walk on some deserted streets. To help me, I needed a) a bag of peanuts, b) a can of beer and c) some milk for the morning.

This is shaping up to be as interesting as the last Miserable People in etc.
Thanks. Anyway, I got to the counter and laid my three items out. 585 ft. Disaster! Digging into my pockets I realised I only had 400 ft.

Go on. Please.
I will. It was time for an executive decision, so I left the counter and stood by the fruit and veg for a bit in order to concentrate. Peanuts were essential, as was beer. Milk? I could get up in the morning and get some, or just skip breakfast.

What happened next?
Well, me changing my mind was a disaster of epic proportions. The financial crisis? Dwarfed. Global warming? Dwarfed. She'd already scanned the items! And once the items have been scanned, there's no going back. Never. Ever. The member of staff, a sour looking oldish woman who looked like she'd put her make up on in the dark, stood staring at me. Chewing. Like a cow.

It's a disaster once the items have been scanned. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to un-scan items? Do you? No, you don't. Why didn't you get on your knees and beg a thousand pardons?
I should have, I know. Instead I paid for my items and waited for the change (30 forint).

It didn't arrive. So I looked at her, pointed at the till, and mouthed ineptly in Hungarian that I should have some change. At which point she picked up the beer, slammed it down on the desk then picked up the peanuts and slammed them down on the beer! Slam! Slam! Slam!

It was. But knowing I was right, I started to flap my arms about a bit. I pointed at the price tags, and stood there till she gave me my money.

How did it end?
She realised her mistake and slammed the money on the counter. I slammed my beer into a pocket. She slammed a basket onto the floor. I slammed the door. Slam! Slam! Slam! Slam! Slam!

You won't be going back there then.
No. And neither should you.

Andy T.

Here are some pictures of Sunday mornings in my area. Always a horrible minefield of broken glass, sick, wee wee and litter. This is an interactive post - I've included some hymn lyrics, to make up for the fact that most people out boozing/weeing/vomiting near my house last night won't have managed to get up in time for church. All together now.

The purple headed mountains,

The river running by,

The sunset and the morning, that brightens up the sky.

The cold wind in the winter,

The pleasant summer sun,

The ripe fruits in the garden, He made them every one.

Andy T.

Who is Gloria Jean, exactly? I picture her as a huge, hugely successful woman, the ageing head of a global coffee empire who sits around in her Beverly Hills mansion, eating crackers, while ogling the pool guy. Her coffee shop is a recent addition to the city - there are branches in Hősök tere, Mammut and on the körút, near Nyugati.

Forget my first question. A more pertinent one would be, who exactly does Gloria Jean think she is? I was walking past the Hősök tere branch the other day when I was forced to do a double take.

Guess how much a kicsi cappuccino costs. Go on, guess. Wrong. Try again. No, still wrong. One more chance. Okay, you’re rubbish at this, I'll tell you. A small cappuccino at Gloria Jean’s would set you back 615 ft. Six hundred and fifteen ft. What is this - Dubai? Why, for that much, I could buy a, a, a… dinosaur! Even the California Coffee Company opts for a less ballsy 490 ft.

615 ft is a ridiculous price, made even more ridiculous by the fact that the minimum wage here is 69,000 ft per month. If that’s net, which it isn’t, the average minimum wage employee working 22 days a month would earn 3136 ft per day. Now then, let’s say that on their way to their job, said worker stops in for a morning coffee every day at Gloria Jean’s. In a single month they’d spend 13,530 ft on coffee. Which leaves them just 55,470 ft to pay for such luxuries as food, a travel pass and rent.

But of course, it isn’t aimed at the average Hungarian, it’s aimed at the decidedly average tourist. As a Hungarian friend of mine pointed out (after having been duped into paying an arm and a leg for a coffee and a sandwich in Gloria's), at the very least it solves the problem of tourists not being able to get a hot drink in Hősök tere. No, it’s much better now - they can visit one of Hungary’s most striking monuments and wonder at the fact that a cappuccino costs more than double what you would pay in a New York Starbucks. Truly amazing. Glory be!

Andy T.


Copyright 2006| Blogger Templates by GeckoandFly modified and converted to Blogger Beta by Blogcrowds.
No part of the content or the blog may be reproduced without prior written permission.