Friday, January 05, 2018

As I was going from Montpellier to Paris: comparison of capitalist cultures

Last night, we took the train from Montpellier to Paris. About 50 kilometers from Lyon, we stopped. Somebody had been on the tracks and was hit. This meant that our train trip was extended about 3 hours, so we got to Paris around 1. Here's what SNCF did. 1. People went through the train while we waited finding people who had connecting tickets from Paris and found them hotels - which were complementary; 2. when we got to Paris, the company had set up a stand to give debarking passengers food and drink; 3. when we got home, they notified us by computer of a refund of our return ticket. Immediately. Now here's what happened when our Spirit airplane was a no show in Kansas City last year. 1. The announcement was made after an hour as the airport vendors closed down; 2. no information was given about what to do next; 3. the number of employees to handle the problems of about 500 people were precisely 2 in number. 3. After a three hour wait in the line, these people were instructed to offer you a big 50 dollar discount on your next Spirit flight.
The difference here is a sort of little sample of the differences in capitalist cultures. The capitalist culture in the U.S. pre-Reagan days was very affected by the countervailing forces of labor and an activist government. These two features have died, leaving corporations in the happy position of "regulating" themselves. Hence, the screw the customer ethos after the transaction has been completed, in contrast with the great customer service before the transaction is completed. In France, customer service before you buy things can be bad; but after you buy things, it is pretty superb. SNCF of course is partly, I believe, owned by the gov.
Travelling in the U.S. is either a cheap nightmare or a crap shoot. It doesn't have to be that way.

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