Customer Service and Turkish Driving

Driving across Turkey we have stopped three times so far for petrol. We have used the same petrol chain (PO) each time. The first time a man operated the pump and cleaned our windshield with a mop-like device. The charge was 98 Turkish Lira (TL); I rounded to a 2 TL tip. The second time a crew set upon the car while one man operated the pump. They washed the car completely and served us tea while we sat in the car! As we were a bit lower in fuel at that point, the charge was 115 TL; I rounded to a 5 TL tip which was accepted with pleasure. The third time, the man operated the pump, but did not even clean the windshield. The charge was 110 TL; I left no tip. In the first two stops, the restrooms were spotless and well equipped. In the third one, the restrooms were reasonably clean, but no paper (always take tissue with you when on the road!).

We’re accustomed to North American driving where we pump our own gas and clean our windshields, and hope that the restrooms are functional. Having any customer service at all is something of an oddity. Some stations still offer full service for a few cents more per gallon (or liter if you’re in Canada) that will include a windshield cleaning. But there is certainly not the range of service offered in Turkey.

An important distinction between the two markets is that in the USA gas is $3.50 per gallon; in Canada it’s $4.50, and in Turkey it’s $9.00 per gallon. That extra price leaves room for additional labor costs.

What is so surprising for a North American is the contrast with an increasingly do-it-yourself service world. The appeal is a marginally lower price, which is certainly an appealing motivation. But it is a strategy that gives a world with a lot of people out of work. It is a world that also lacks some delightful touches.

One more point great experience was with Pinar Pide and Pizza in Selcuk. The master baker, pictured here, continually worked dough to make excellent bread that was served fresh, warm from the oven with a meal. It was great to watch him work and to enjoy the outcome. With the customers right in front of him, he was clearly in touch with the impact of his work.

1 Comment

  1. We get this even within the scope of Canada – I recall being struck the first time I was in Ontario, by the absence of the careful attention and ‘folksy warmth’ of the Valley: Walking up to a counter expecting ‘Yes dear, what would you like?’, and seeing the staff glance at me, turn and walk away from the service area. Did they come back?
    I’ll never know, because I didn’t.

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