As an oleh, one of the challenges with living in Israel is to not be a freier. It is very easy to get taken advantage of by people. Speaking a foreign language (even if you are pretty fluent) makes it easier to become intimidated, and one is often nervous about not knowing the right way to do things. Often, the right way around here = bulldozing ahead, being assertive, and making sure to speak up for yourself. From a customer service perspective, this can also come in the form of speaking to the customer as if they do not know what they are talking about, telling the customer what they have to do (when really that is just what the customer rep wants you to do – what you have to do could be something entirely different).
As I said, it can be a struggle. Which makes my conversation today so sweet (worth coming out of blog dormancy for). We have an appliance policy with a company that has the initials GM. We paid them a sum of money up front, in exchange for 5 years of warranty on some of our already used appliances (I insured the US appliances ones that we brought with us when we made aliyah: GE Oven, Maytag Washer and Drier). The policy guarantees that they will respond with a service call within 72 hours, a charge of 58 NIS for unlimited service calls per appliance per quarter, and they will fix any issues with the appliance, or replace it if it cant be fixed.
While doing the wash a few nights ago, after the water was almost all in on a large load, the washing machine quit. The water stopper, but it did not proceed to the next step in the cycle (normally it shakes around for a while, drains out the dirty water, rinse, repeat). I only discovered this the next day, when I went to put the clean load into the drier and instead found a full load full of dirty water. So we called in GM on Tuesday morning (also ended up rinsing out everything from the load in the bathtub and then drying through a variety of methods). They scheduled a service call for today (within 72 hours), for sometime between 10-1. So far, so good.
11:30am, I get a call from GM:
GM: We are sorry, but the service guy isn’t going to be able to make it today. Can we please reschedule for Sunday?
Me: Well, if you are going to reschedule for Sunday, then that means that you wont be making the service call within 72 hours, right?
GM: Right, but these things happen. He is just a person and these things happen.
Me: True, these things happen. But you are obligated through your contract with us to provide service within 72 hours, and now you are saying that you cannot do so.
GM: Correct. But he just can’t make it. These things happen.
Me: Ok. Well then please tell me what type of compensation you would like to offer us because you are not going to hold up your end.
GM: What? [friendliness disappearing from voice]. We can’t give you anything. We would just like to reschedule for Sunday.
Me: That is not ok. Isn’t there a service fee that we would need to pay?
GM: Yes, 58 NIS.
Me: Ok. Well then I think that we should not have to pay this fee.
GM: What? Why not?
Me: Because you are not fulfilling what you agreed to in the contract.
GM: Well, I can’t approve that on my own.
Me: I’ll wait.
[Put on hold for 5 minutes]
GM: [talking very fast] In the end we can have someone come by today. Good bye.
A small, albeit very satisfying victory (I normally lose these types of things).