Monday, November 14, 2005


Fővárosi Vízművek (The Water Works of Budapest)

It didn't take long for us to post our second bad customer experience since starting this blog. This morning, as we woke, we found that dreaded sound after we turn the water tap... You know, the sound of air escaping the pipes. Our water had been turned off.

Well, we had expected that, as there had been a notice from the Fővárosi Vízművek (The Water Works of Budapest) that the water was going to be turned off between 16:00 and 19:00 (see picture of the notice at the right). Not at 09:00.

So, we called the customer service folks, who finally picked up the phone after about five minutes of letting it ring. They had little to say except according to their records the water outage was to last from 08:00 to 16:00. They suggested that we send them a fascimile of the image so that they could look into the mix-up.


UPDATE: Apparently someone other than us decided to complain as well. Maybe it was the neighborhood hair salon or the baker. Regardless, it seems that the bastards have restored the water service for the time being.

UPDATE II: We received a reply to the e-mail we sent to the water works regarding the outage. In it they confirm that there was a planned outage from 16:00 to 19:00 (which is taking place at the moment), but amazingly deny that they shut off the supply in the morning.

No, it was due to...

an unforeseen water mains break!

In addition, the water works claim not to have had that information at time of the phone call.

Well, this a great example of lying to the customer. I cannot help but think that their public relations department was trained in disinformation by the past regime.

Fortunately, it is very easy to uncover this lie.

1) On the phone, the "customer service" person clearly said that the outage was planned from 08:00 to 16:00 and that they would not turn on the water simply because we requested it.

2) Once the water service returned mid-day, the water was crystal clear. No dirt etc.. coming from the pipes. This makes it highly unlikely that there was a water mains break.

All this points to is that they screwed up and when caught with their pants down (probably by one or more local businesses that screamed their heads off) they resort to lying to the customer.

I'd love to recommend that you no longer do business with them, but as a government regulated monopoly you and I are stuck with them unless we are willing to spend an unrealistic amount of money to install our own water supply. That is, unless someone has any better ideas.

Friday, November 11, 2005


Our first profile in bad customer service: SONAX car wash at MOM park

Trying to take advantage of the convenience offered by the Sonax carwash in the underground parking garage at MOM park, I dropped off my car for a carwash. While my car was being washed and cleaned, I went upstairs to pay some bills at the posta and do some Christmas window shopping.

I returned about 1 1/2 hours later as I was promised that the car would be done by them. It wasn't. I waited another 45 minutes until it was done. Superficially, it looked like the crew working on the car had done a decent job. (I forgave them for their tardiness and gave them a 10% tip.)

So, I thought that all was in order until my significant other took the car for a drive. She asked me if I had broken her driver's back support/cushion. I hadn't. She told me that the cushion itself was missing, but that the attached sandbag had been opened and thrown behind one of the seats. (Imagine a cushion attached by a long strap to a sandbag so that it can be adjusted.)

The item in question isn't expensive, but it was very obviously destroyed (perhaps even accidentally by the industrial strength vaccum cleaner that might have sucked up its strap).

Worse, the employees at the carwash knew that they had ruined it, but did not let me know and apologize as a normal business would.

Such carelessness speaks volumes about this business. I recommend that you take your car somewhere else to be washed/cleaned.

[Financial disclosure: I do not have any financial interest in companies in the carwash/carcare market segment in Hungary or abroad. I did once help an ex-girlfriend at charity carwash many years ago. We did a damn better job than the Sonax clowns.]



After yet another disappointing consumer experience, I've decided to start this blog chronicling the Worst of Budapest businesses. I don't know how much good it will do, but perhaps it will allow me to keep my sanity and avoid becoming an alcoholic like many of Hungary's denizens.

So, instead of heading down to my neighborhood kocsma and doing damage to my liver, I hope to do some damage to the bottomlines of the scumbag companies and organizations that rip-off the Budapest consumer.

I'd like to credit to Erik D'Amato of Pestiside who created the original Worst of Budapest. I hope that you don't mind me uhmm... "borrowing" the name.

Please feel free to contribute your own horror stories.

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