The not so loveable bit about living in Hobart

The not so loveable bit about living in Hobart

As much as I love this beautiful town in our beautiful state, we have a few deficits that can get in the way. 

We do have a tendency towards parochialism, poor customer service and well, some of the white folk about town are more than a little challenged by the increasingly culturally diverse community we live in.  The latter is not something new.
Okay, so I was down at Moonah Post Office the other day. I don’t know about you. I don’t know what it is.  But I just try not to go into a Post Office, unless I really have to. 

So there was the tall male Customer Service Officer and the short female Customer Service Officer, the couple in front of me and me.  Picture this.

The woman in the couple stands back. The male Customer Service Officer calls, the man in the couple goes forward, starts his question, gets referred to some forms ‘over there’, attempts to continue his question and the female Customer Service Officer interjects across the counter.  It goes a bit like this:
Raised voice, ‘You need to fill in the form!’
‘Just go over there. And fill. In. The. Form!’
‘You need to fill in the form because we need it for the computer!’

Somehow the man managed to persevere and have his question answered by his Customer Service Officer.

Then she called me. ‘How can I help you?’

Thought bubble, ‘Well you could start by apologising for being rude and patronizing…’ In reality it went like this:
Actually I need to tell you that behaviour was inappropriate.  That man just wanted to ask his question’.

She responded ‘I take your point’ and then ‘It’s alright!’

To which I replied, ‘Actually, it’s not alright.  That was awful to watch’.

Then the clanger, ‘They’re all like that'.

‘Um’, I said, ‘No, he just wanted a question answered’.

So like I said to the Australia Post Customer Complaints Officer, what do you think she meant by ‘They’re all like that?’  Those damn pesky customers all want information, or as I suspected, did it have had something to do with him being African?  

There was nothing inappropriate in his approach. In fact, it was extremely polite. The fact that she treated him in a way that was patronising, rude and inappropriate, and then tagged the conversation as she did, left me with the uneasy belief it was just old fashioned racism.

I heard a bit of his conversation. They’d saved money up to send home. It was $5000.  A pretty significant sum. The Customer Service Officer exclaimed when he converted the sum, ‘Oh that’s over a million…’

What an amazing day for that couple.  What a great gift to make to someone back home.  What a contribution. How pleased and proud and relieved they must have felt to have been in a position to do it.  Imagine what it might have taken them to get to that position. Imagine having to face an unhappy bigot with attitude at the end of the line.

So I have a reference number and I’ve asked Australia Post to call me back with the outcome. Like I said to them. No one deserves such poor behaviour and Australia Post doesn’t need a discrimination complaint.

It's not the first time I've seen bad customer service and racism go hand in hand, although this was the most explicit. If we speak up against it, hopefully it will soon be a thing of the past. It would be great to be proud of Tasmania as an inclusive state.

Have you witnessed less than inclusive service or other behaviour?
How did you deal with it?

Skye xxx