Poor and Unfriendly Service the Rule and Not the Exception

C.E.R Caulaincourt Paris

Or, The definition of Abusive Service in the Parisienne Style

You know you have been in a place for too long, when you expect to be abused and treated like a plague victim and even the most remote possibility of being treated with a semblance of courtesy seems like a far fetched fairy tale. Well, it happened again to a very close friend of mine in my company, when we went to a driving school in Paris, specifically a place called C.E.R Caulincourt Driving School.

Now I will not cite the company as a whole for this abusive behavior,as they are an independently run franchise thus the reason for my specific distinction. I am not sure if all of their franchises  are  run in this manner, i.e. giving the kind of treatment one might expect from a prison guard when requesting a glass of water. So here is hoping that the other C.E.R franchises have a different  modus operandi when it comes to customer service.

My friend had called a week earlier to ask for her 70 euro deposit back, as she decided not to take on the course with this school. She did however dispense with 50 euros which was a drivers assessment test that deals with reaction time, vision, hearing etc. That is a non-refundable one time fee.

On entering the school, we were greeted by an extremely unfriendly sort of person, who made zero eye contact and waited impatiently for the query. Upon explaining why she was there, the person said again without making any eye contact and with a frown, “the dossier looks used”, even though it was quite pristine and none of the instruction books within the box had ever been read or opened.  Now to add insult to injury, when my friend had called about a week before, she was told that the deposit check would not be returned immediately as it was with their head office.

The woman at the school  implied that under the conditions and due to the state of the box that contained the driver’s manuals that the deposit check may not be returned.  Upon hearing that and due to her rather unfriendly demeanor, a rather loud verbal altercation ensued, where the woman said, “this is what service is like in France, this is not Canada…” where I want on to say that if you were in North America, your business would go bankrupt in a week. Conveniently, her hand went in to a drawer and miraculously the €70 deposit check appeared.  I thought, what a lying sack of “s–t!”  The check was supposed to be at the head office and would not be available immediately.  But there it was none the less, when push came to shove, figuratively speaking of course. Again, the driving school mafia of France had spoken and loudly indeed.

What amazes me is that they can get away with this kind of behavior, because in order to get your drivers license in France you MUST go through their system.  The cost generally is around €1300 per person to get a permit regardless of how well you can or cannot drive!

Anyhow, I was aghast again by how poorly one can be treated in France by commercial enterprises because the French public don’t know any better.  Cruelty and a demeaning attitude towards clientele is the norm and not the exception.  So if you are living in France and are in the process of getting your drivers permit, avoid C.E.R Caulaincourt Driving School at all costs.

So, if you want to know the definition of bad service, look no further, it would have to be the above…

About Benjamin Kanarek
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Fashion and Beauty Photographer. Some of the magazines I have shot for include: VOGUE (China, Portugal, Brazil, Italia, Paris and South America & Mexico editions), RG VOGUE Brazil, Harper’s BAZAAR (China, en Español & Latin America, Hong Kong, Italy editions), L’Officiel Paris, ELLE (Spain, Portugal and Greece editions), Madame Figaro (France), Cosmopolitan (France and Italy editions), Glamour (France), Votre Beauté, Jardin des Modes, Dépêche Mode, New York Daily News, Fashion District News, New York Times Magazine, W (British edition), WWD, Fashion Magazine (Canada), Flare (Canada), Oyster, Tank, WestEast…

  • Anne

    This is not habitual behaviour. I would say Paris is very different from the rest of the country, and you get many people – not originally from Paris – who think that treating customers like plague victims makes them Parisians.

  • JackAllTog

    To echo your opening statement ”
    You know you have been in a place for too long, when you expect to be abused and treated like a plague victim” .
    You also know a company has been in business to long, or an individual employed too long when they think that you are doing them a service.Let other’s see this and start a competing business with the customer at the centre. Let vote with out feet and leave companies that abuse us.