Saturday, May 27, 2006


McDonald's on Móricz Zsigmond körtér (or why Hungary is a "gumi country")

Yesterday afternoon, I stopped at the McDonald's on Móricz Zsigmond körtér with the intention of getting a quick bite to eat.

Instead, I got to witness why this country is screwed up beyond belief (and quite possibly repair). Adam von Dioszeghy is absolutely correct; This, truly is a "gumi country".

Each of the open positions (cash registers) had relatively short lines. I was probably in the longest line, but no, this particular story wasn't about me. I merely mention the fact, so that you can appreciate that I was in a good position to see the incident I'll describe below.

In the line immediately to my right, at the counter was a young man conducting what appeared to be a highly complex financial transaction, because it took the attention of a manager as well as a line worker in order to figure things out over a seemingly inordinate amount of time. Immediately behind him was a young lady with unmistakably fire-red hair -- you, know the shade you simply can't miss, unless you are really colorblind.

After completing the insanely long financial transaction, as the young man steps away with his bag of food, a young girl about age 7 coming from nowhere (in fact, behind me) at near supersonic speed (I may have caught part of her sonic boom) cuts in front of the red haired young lady. The manager, now manning the cash register starts to take the 7 year old girl's order.

The red haired young lady, points out to the manager that she has been waiting patiently for him to conduct his previous transaction with the last customer and that she is next in line.

What happens next is beyond belief.

The manager tells her to get lost and says that he did not see her, which unless he has documented colorblindness is quite literally impossible.

She then gets tackled (almost physically) by the mother of the 7 year old girl, who likewise comes rushing from way, way behind me, who tells her off for "cutting in front of her daughter".

The red haired woman tells the manager that it is unthinkable that he speak to her in such a tone, as she is a customer.

He replies that he wouldn't, if she hadn't started arguing. (She wasn't -- she was simply mugged by everyone else.)

She gives up and leaves angrily.

In any real country, the manager's behavior would be cause for immediate termination of his employment.

[If someone from McDonald's reads this, you may wish to send some secret shoppers to your store on Móricz Zsigmond körtér, before this ass pisses off too many other customers.]

(I promptly went across the street to Subway and recommend that you do the same.)

In any real country, a mother would not be teaching her daughter to break the rules and to disrespect others to gain a clearly unfair (and minimal) advantage in a queue. She would have taken a moment to explain to the child why people stand in line, wait their turn and treat others as they would wish to be treated.

That child will grow up, thinking that her behavior was perfectly normal. Perfectly normal to cut someone off in a queue. Perfectly normal that her mother defended her behavior. Perfectly normal that Hungary is in many ways, simply a gumi country / an anarchy (see the above link to von Dioszeghy's piece).

If Hungarians cannot cooperate (or at least act in a civil fashion towards each other) in a queue at McDonald's, then what future does this country have?

I posit: not a real one, whatsoever.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


SZENTIVÁN-HÚS Kft. on Fény Utcai Piac

Just before the Easter Holidays, I went to the Fény Utcai Piac to stock up.

While there, I usually stop at the cheese stand on the second level. Though overpriced, their relatively wide selection of cheeses, olives and other fine foods makes them worthwhile. When I finished buying my Kalamata olives, I turned to the stand right next to them for cold cuts.

Their sign advertises "Friss Húsok - Finom Felvágottak". I asked for 30 dkg of Délhús Majorannás Májas (Liver Paté -- see picture below) and didn't pay too much attention to her as I was counting my change, getting ready to pay for my purchase.

Much to my surprise, once home I opened the package, I found that the last several centimeters of the paté was literally rotten. Not only was it discolored, it was rotten. The entire roll was completely unedible. I immediately threw it into the trash.

Now, this wasn't some honest mistake. No, the girl behind the counter had been saving up this particular roll to dump on someone. Instead of taking the loss and cutting open a new roll, she was simply looking for the right customer to screw over. The one who didn't pay attention at the particular moment that she pulled out the rotten roll.

I would have gone back and complained, but as they were closed by the time I opened the package and there was the Easter Holiday, there wasn't much of a point (they would have denied it anyway).

Regardless, I recommend that you avoid this establishment, because if they are going to screw me over, they'll much more easily do it to you.

So, after you buy your olives and cheeses (I know you do, because I keep hearing English and French while I wait in line behind you), don't get your meats and cold cuts next door.

An honorable mention for the Worst of Budapest goes to the folks that run the Fény Utcai Piac.

I tried to take a picture of the offending store today, but was stopped by a security guard who told me that photography was not permitted. However, in a Kafkaesque manner, while he was telling me to stop photographing, a television camera crew was doing a bit on one of the honey sellers right in front of us. My protestations that I was simply a tourist didn't cut it. So, the image I selected above comes from their own website (arrow mine).

I hope to go back and get a better image when the ratio of shoppers to security guards is in my favor.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Magyar Posta Rt.

Simply said: If it you'd like it to get there, you be well advised to pass on Magyar Posta Rt.'s services.

Friday, January 20, 2006


Nagyvárad Gyógyszertár (Pharmacy), and whatever parts of the Hungarian government which regulate pharmacies

As requested, we've got yet another candidate for this blog. This listing is a couple of weeks late, as the incident took place over the Holidays, but better late than never.

I had to get a prescription filled on a holiday in the afternoon and went to the nearest duty pharmacy, which was:

Nagyvárad Gyógyszertár
1091 Budapest, IX. kerület, Üllői út 121.

According to weborvos, it has duty for that district:

2004. októberétől 2005. márciusig ügyelő patikák:

Nagyvárad Gyógyszertár
1091. Üllői út. 121.

Regardless, it was the closest open one at hand.

So, I head off to it only to find a long line of people standing in the freezing rain (no exaggeration) handing in their prescriptions through a tiny window to the pharmacist. The pharmacist would then relay the order to her assistant who would find the desired medicament, ring it up and bring it to the window for payment.

Under cold weather conditions, let me tell you, this is inconvenient as hell. You are literally out in the cold, dark freezing rain.

Ok, but at least you get your prescription, right?

Nope, not in my case.

The pharmacist looks at the prescription and says: "I'm sorry, but the earliest I can fill this is tomorrow."

Me (jaw dropping): "What?"

Pharmacist: "I just don't have time to mix it."

Me: "I'm sorry, but I can't get it filled anywhere else. You've got a monopoly on medicaments at the moment."

Pharmacist (to next person in line): "I don't have time. Next person, please."

Me (stunned).

As I'm to understand it, one cannot just open a pharmacy wherever one wants. In addition to getting a doctorate in pharmacy, one needs to negotiate with the government to get a permit to open a pharmacy.

So, because of their monopoly grip on the retail pharmaceutical market, the average consumer is left out in the cold without any service whatsoever.

Lesson to be learned: In Hungary, get your medicaments ahead of time.

Experiences like this make me appreciate the super drugstores found in North America. The medical assistant will call ahead to the 24 hour pharmacy, which will have your prescription waiting for you. Oh, yeah, it is not cold and dark inside either.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


O'mas Custome Shop

It seems as though this business on Alsóerdősor u. has earned itself a listing here by literally leaving its customers in the rain. Read more at further ramblings.

Friday, December 16, 2005


Central Kávéház

Despite its inclusion in Pestiside's Top 33, we have received a disturbing report that its waiters are apparently a bit too entrepreneurial for their own and especially for their customer's good.

So, if you choose to ignore our advice, be prepared to very carefully check your bill and/or "slag off" the waiters in Hungarian.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


lite Andrássy

Well, after a short break in posting about the worst customer experiences in Bp., we are unfortunately obliged to report another one.

My significant other raved about this new "Western" style place where you could get fresh tossed salads and other stuff called "lite" on Váci utca. She also reported that she had great experiences at the store inside the Infopark.

So, one evening this week, she had a hankering for a "lite" fresh salad. I looked up their website, which listed the store hours (reproduced below, emphasis mine):

lite millenium
hétfő-péntek 7.45 - 18.00
1052 Bp. Váci u. 19-21.


lite Andrássy
hétfő-vasárnap: 8.00 - 21.00
1061 Bp. Andrássy út 2.

So, we hopped into the car and drove to Andrássy. The plan was for me to jump out of the car, while my significant other double-parked (finding a place to park at the beginning of Andrássy in the evening is a little like winning the lottery).

We arrived at about 19:00. To our surprise, the store was shuttered and the opening hours listed on the door were simply: "0800- "

Yes, there's something missing there.

So, we decided to have a McDonald's salad instead. This alone is enough to merit a listing on this blog.

Later this week, I decided to give the store another chance and inquire about their operating hours, as I happened to be in the neighborhood.

I walk into the store and look around. Apart from a group of French speaking tourists chowing down at a table and two clerks, one behind the salad and another behind the coffee bar respectively, the place is empty.

I approach the salad bar, say hello and look around. The clerk neither notices me, nor greets me. In fact, she doesn't move at all to acknowledge my existence.

I keep looking over the containers of salad ingredients, still nothing. I look at the prices to try and decipher the pricing structure... nothing.

A lady comes in, walks up to the counter and the girl behind the counter immediately starts making a salad for her, without ever bothering to acknowledge me.

I walk out and decide that I'm going to post this experience.

My significant other keeps telling me how fantastic the other stores are, but I'm an unhappy customer.

As there is no e-mail address listed on their website, I don't have the option to e-mail them about this post. Too bad for them.

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