Customer Service East of the Rhine….

I love living in the Czech Republic I really do. It is beautiful, relatively inexpensive (outside of Prague), full of very nice people and has great beer and food. One thing it lacks however is an understanding of what customer service is.

When you live somewhere like the Czech Republic you really do begin to yearn for the American customer service experience. I say American because to be honest, British customer service isn’t all that great either…. but, its not this bad!

Let me give you a small example. In an earlier post, I mentioned a bill for natural gas. The company in question is RWE, a major German energy company. You would think then that customer service would be high on the agenda of a company supplying energy to customers right?


For the last 4 months, our apartment in Brno has been empty. Apart from a couple of nights when we have stayed there in sleeping bags, the heating is set to minimum. What this means is that it only comes on at close to freezing temperatures. Now, I would say that this winter that may have occurred for a month or so – not much more as it has been a remarkably warm winter – today March 12th, it is 14C! So, you can imagine my shock and consternation when I got a bill for three-months for more than $500 equivalent right?

The first thing I did was call RWE. There was an English language option that dumped you into voicemail. I left 2 or 3 voicemails over the last few days and no one has yet called me back. I also sent an email to the email address provided asking how could this be?

After 2-days I got a short email back saying that we should check the meter reading ourselves and that we could also, for a fee, have the meter’s accuracy checked. Super! How? Well, it didn’t say. So I replied. I asked a few additional questions such as what tariff are we on? How long is the contract? Could it be possible that the gas is also being used by someone else in our building? Would RWE be able to offer us some efficiency advice? Two days later, I got the reply….

1. We are on a standard tariff. If you want a different one, visit the RWE shop in Prague and deal with them,
2. RWE is not a gas service company so if you want to check if others are using the gas you should look in the phone book and call someone,
3. No, RWE does not offer any advice on energy efficiency.

By the way, at no point was I given any phone number or contact person so … I wrote back saying, please call me.

I got a call surprisingly quickly.

She asked me what I needed. I explained the issue. So what do you want, she asked. I would like someone to check the meter and by the way, the hall always has a gas smell, says I. Oh, you should contact our emergency service, in fact, I will put you through…… she was gone!

Emergency services answer…. Do you speak English, says I? No. OK, here is the address in Brno…… Wait, he says (in English), this is Prague, we don’t cover Brno. You need to call them. click!

I don’t know what to say……… but where is the customer service in any of this? RWE plainly could care less.

Luckily, there are other providers here and I am looking up their numbers now.

2 thoughts on “Customer Service East of the Rhine….

    • It would certainly appear so in the Czech Republic….. Funnily enough, I am told it wasn’t communism that caused this but the earlier Austrian-Hungarian empire, which is also responsible for the Czech’s love of stamps (not for mailing but for stamping things with)!

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