February 4th, 2008

happy girl

the recurring theme of this blog.

I just sent this email to Eng Wah:

To whom it may concern:

"I write in regards to a shockingly unprofessional and unpleasant cinematic experience I had on Saturday, February 2, 2008. I watched the 2.20 p.m. screening of "Atonement" at Eng Wah West Mall, during which there was a loud, jarring noise blaring from the speakers for the first five minutes. This noise drowned out the sound from the movie and needless to say, it was extremely distracting and unpleasant. One member of the audience informed a staff member about the problem, which was seemingly fixed a few minutes later. I was well prepared to let this matter go - until the noise came back again intermittently for a few seconds throughout the rest of the movie.

One does not pay $9.50 to watch a movie expecting something of this nature to happen. A movie's sound is as integral to its effectiveness and success as its images. The very notion that the sound from the movie was drowned out for the first five minutes due to some technical problem that was entirely the fault of your cinema is utterly ridiculous. If I had known that this was the standard to be expected from Eng Wah West Mall, I would have travelled to Orchard Cineleisure or The Cathay where I would have paid the same amount for the movie and watched it without such a horrendous interference to my enjoyment of the movie. To add insult to injury, no one from the management bothered to offer any sort of compensation or made any effort to make up and/or apologise for what happened. Was it because no one complained about it? But shouldn't the management, whose interest I am sure is to retain customers and keep business going, take the initiative to make up for the interference and unpleasantness caused by the technical problem instead of taking action or apologising only after someone has complained, and not in a kind manner too I am willing to wager?

It is an implied term of the contract between the cineplex and the customer that the movie for which the customer paid is of 'satisfactory quality' (s. 14(2) of the Sale of Goods Act). I would hardly characterise my movie experience on Saturday as 'satisfactory'. It has therefore left a very sour aftertaste and I am very unimpressed and unhappy with the manner in which the matter was handled. I suggest some much-needed upkeeping of the West Mall cineplex, or if that is too much trouble, shut it down entirely. I definitely will not miss it if the latter course of action were to be taken up.

[Yelen] (Miss)"

I was very tempted to find someone to scold after the movie, but I went back and saw an old auntie and some young dude manning the ticketing counter. Obviously there was nothing to be achieved by letting these people have the full extent of my wrath, so I walked away, thinking that I would let it go. But the more I think about it, the more I just cannot stand the thought of letting this go without at least an email of rebuke. I paid $9.50 to watch the movie. I paid it in full expectation that it will not be disturbed by some retarded technical problem. The technical glitch was so not my problem and I don't see why I paid $9.50 to suffer through the cinema's technical problem.

I think now I would much rather squeeze with the whole of Singapore on a bus to town to catch a movie than to be driven to West Mall and back home to engage in the same activity. I was this close to demanding my money back, but aiyah, it's $9.50 and it seemed too unreasonable. I would have been quite pacified if someone had bothered coming in after the movie ended to apologise - but obviously that did not happen.

While we're on the subject of the inherent crappiness of the service industry, on Sunday my mom and I went to Esprit Wisma where we bought clothes and used a 25% off voucher for discounts. So we paid and everything, my mom signed against the amount, and on the way back to our car which was at Ngee Ann City my mom kept looking at the receipt, thinking that something wasn't quite right. Eventually she asked me to calculate the after-discount price of the items - and we found out that the cashier only gave us a 10% off.

We were already at the basement car park of Ngee Ann City where our car was parked, and prior to that we were waiting in Esprit for close to half an hour for our items (my mom - new pieces; me - I wanted this top in XS for this other colour that wasn't on the rack). Naturally, my mom was pissed as hell. She stormed back to Esprit so quickly that I couldn't catch up. Granted, my limbs were aching from the swim I had the previous day, but usually I'm the one walking far ahead of my mom and I've laughed at her for walking slowly on many, many occasions.

So we went back to Esprit. When I reached, my mom was already at the cashier and had already explained the situation. She was there, waiting, and I was all, Why are you waiting? The girl who processed our transaction was processing another customer's stuff, which was fine, nothing to bitch about because obviously she had to finish that first. But when she was done, she just acted like we weren't there, like it was OUR FAULT that she fucking stupid enough to press the 10% button instead of the 25%.

It wasn't so much the mistake that really pissed me off. I hadn't reached the stage of being so pissed off that I would scream at someone. But the girl's attitude, her complete nonchalance and utter lack of apologies for her bone-headed mistake which wasted our time and made us walk back to Wisma when we were about to leave - it was just utterly, horribly, and completely off-putting. She didn't apologise, and when my mom demonstrated very clearly that she was very annoyed, the girl just ignored her. Seriously - who the fuck does that? If you're not interested in serving customers, why the hell are you working as a salesgirl? Oh wait, I know - you weren't smart enough to get into university and therefore cannot find a better-paying job. THAT must be it.

But how the hell is that remotely my bloody problem? I didn't wake up at 9.30 a.m. to go shopping just to get completely pissed off by stupid sales people who seemingly have no idea whatsoever what their job description entails. If you can't do your job properly, get the hell out of the industry.

Esprit Wisma actually had really good service before. But I noticed on Sunday that a lot of the sales people were new - yes, I've been there enough times to recognise sales people, so sue me. And there's another observation that I've made which isn't politically correct at all so I'm not going to say it here. It's an empirical observation that is, yes, generalising, but very difficult to resist, given the amount of bad experience I've had with stupid sales people in this country. I swear, I don't even encounter 0.000000001% (you get the idea) of the kind of shit we try to pass off as "service" here in Taipei.

Remember when I mentioned in some old entry that bitching about the non-existent service standards of this country is so totally a recurring theme of my blog? I've just proven myself right.

Anyway, I have make-up Islamic Law at 12 tomorrow and I haven't read a single article since I came home two hours ago. Which reminds me - when I went to my car after class to go home, I discovered about ten million ants crawling all over my car. I parked at the car park with the porch, very close to some plant vegetation tree whatever of sorts. And the weather has been very wet and cold lately.

I'M NEVER PARKING THERE EVER AGAIN. I detoured to Shell to wash my car but the car wash was closed, and I spent fifteen minutes after parking trying to wash the ants off the car with my 500 ml water bottle. Ugh. I'm disgusted.

I need to shower. And do my readings. I love the Islamic Law prof, this American guy from I can't remember which university (Washington?). He's so funny and passionate. Whenever someone answers a question uncertainly, he'd say, "Every mujtahid is right. We're all mujtahids."

A mujtahid is a classical Islamic jurist who was specially qualified and trained to engage in the practice of ijtihad, which is a process - a very complicated process - of deriving rules from the four sources of Islamic law, namely the Qu'ran, hadith literature (stories about the exemplary conduct of the Prophet), scholarly consensus (Arabic: 'ijma, which I still don't understand) and juristic logic (Arabic: qiyas, something to do with analogising a rule from a fixed rule). Way back then, if I remember correctly, not everyone could engage in ijtihad and so being a mujtahid was a damn big deal.

How sweet of the prof to say we're all mujtahids

Except...it was way back then, and to cut a long story short, things changed and it stopped being that big of a deal at a certain period. and when I say 'certain' and 'way back then', it's because I don't remember when.

Still, he totally rocks. He gives us very easy quizzes for which I can't do half the questions at the beginning of every class. When people started pointing out his many typos, he asked us to guess the number of typos in the questions and to write it next to our names. I thought that was really funny. Today, at the top right hand corner of the quiz, I saw: "Typos? __________ "

Okay, I have to shower and do my readings. Two articles, one of which is damn long. I'm gonna die.