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
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
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
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
How did you deal with it?