Wednesday, October 7, 2009


The Germans (imho) are world class experts in the art of complaining.

Perhaps I notice it more because, being British, it's not really something we do very often, we don't like to do it, it makes us uncomfortable.

I think the reason the Brits don't complain is because we see it as rude, not very polite.
The problem with complaining is that the person you speak to about the problem is going to get upset, there's no 2 ways about it, they take it personally, even if they're just the go-between. Take it from one with experience in this, it's personal.

One of my paid occupations was working for Severn Trent Water in the customer service department. What this entailed was answering the phone, non-stop for the 7.4 hours of the working day to customers. Now people don't ring a water company phone line to say 'thanks for the water (that I pay for) it's delicious'.
Oh no, they ring to rant, their bill is more than their neighbours, they can't pay, the charges have increased, there's no water, there's brown water and so on. And on the receiving end was me, and trust me, you do take it personally, especially when they swear at you or accuse you of incompetance.

But even with that in mind, I don't think the Brits like to complain, we don't like to hurt people's feelings, we don't want to be embarassed or embarass someone else, we like an easy, smooth life, so if there's a little problem we're more likely to take it on the chin & let it go.

Not the Germans.

There is no issue, too small that they wont stick their neck out about. Here are my examples and then see if you agree with me that they are the kings of complaining:

  • at New Year it is traditional to eat doughnuts (the round, ball-like ones, and these ones, at New Year come with every filling imaginable - champagne, advocat, jam of different flavours, Baileys, chocolate, apple, plum - it's a shame the tradition doesn't last longer than the period between Xmas & New Year because I never get to try them all...) Last January I was at the bakers and the lady in front of me was complaining that one of her doughnuts had had no filling. Quite what she expected the poor baker to do I don't know...
  • at a market stall a lady spotted that the sunflowers were more expensive than when she'd bought them from the same stall the previous week, the reason was quite simple, she'd bought them at the end of the market day and the stall holder had wanted to get rid of the flowers - but she wasn't happy.
  • at another market stall a lady brought back the small cardboard carton (carefully bagged up) of raspberries that she'd bought 3 days previously (market is only twice a week) when she'd opened the raspberries she'd found a ball of ants inside. So she'd kept the whole thing in her fridge for 3 days to bring back to complain about.
  • my friend had her dog in the garden for a couple of hours in autumn as she had guests who didn't like dogs (he's a boisterous dog). It rained a little, but he has a kennel. A neighbour anonymously sent her a letter telling her that she shouldn't be allowed to keep animals and that if it happened again she would report her.
  • our neighbour was having garden work done, it was a friday bridging day after a bank holiday and late lunchtime, the neighbour on the otherside came out to rant at the gardners that they were ruining his 'Ruhetag' (quiet day).
So, what do you think? If complaining was an Olympic sport would the Germans win gold, silver and bronze?

You know they'd only complain if they didn't!!

No comments: