Third world Belgium

1 Oct
You thought Belgium was in Europe?

You thought Belgium was in Europe?

Big sigh,… I have my moments of fighting the system… Sometimes Belgium just looks as if it were a ‘third world’ (developing) country. When travelling through Asia, I saw many things more developed than in Brussels…

Some examples:

The origin of my frustration lies in the Mediamarkt ‘Serice’ counter and the Acer ‘Service’ centre, which actually don’t give the customer any service at all. They only sell, in the most customer-unfriendly way! Quite a difference with Bangkok.

Mediamarkt no-service desk...

Mediamarkt no-service desk...


The screen of my little netbook has been suffering from all the travelling and a little nip turned into a screen wide scratch, with the green liquid crystals trying to escape…  I started feeling pity for my faithful travel companion, and took it to the Mediamarkt ‘Service’ counter. I tried to find out how much a new screen would cost, but the technician only wanted to sell me a ‘repair-quote’ for 30€: sending it in to their repair service who then would let me know how much it would cost – without it even being fixed!

My poor overused screen

My poor overused screen

After insisting quite a bit, appealing to the well hidden human side of the technician, he finally suggested to call Acer Belgium directly (then at least he would be rid of me). I phoned the Acer ‘Service’ centre:

  • “for Dutch press 1, for French etc”… It was one of those numbers!
  • and systematically the system would hang up if you would choose Dutch.
  • Phoning in French did get me through to the usual annoying waiting music for a quarter of an hour, and eventually to an operator.
  • But he was no use either. “I’m a technician, I don’t know any prices”, but when I asked to speak to someone that knew prices, he refused.
  • Great, Acer that doesn’t even know how much a computer screen of their own costs!

Real service - Acer Bangkok

Real service - Acer Bangkok

In Bangkok, when I needed to take my computer to hospital, the lovely Acer-lady fixed my problem in no time, and even gave me her private email address and phone number in case the issue would repeat itself.

So I sent a pic of my screen and the explanation of the screen problem to Bangkok, and 3 hours later I had a quote, detailing not only the price of the screen, but also of the labour and the duration (the quote costs precisely one email and zero baht, nor dollar! That’s Service!). In Bangkok, she apologised, I would need to bring in my computer 2 days… but Mediamarkt would take at least 2 weeks!

So which is the developing country?

In Cambodia, they come and pick you up in your hotel to bring you to the bus going across country. In Belgium you can make your own way to the station or bus stop.

Litterally, 1 2 and you're calling

Litterally, 1 2 and you're calling

I had so many problems with Mobistar, my mobile phone operator. They did not seem to get their bills right. It took me 4 months and finally changing operator to sort out the problem. In South-East Asia, you walk in a shop and come out with a fully functioning local SIM card and phone number after 4 minutes!

When you need to get your ID card in Brussels, you need to bring a passport picture (which half of the time they consider unsuitable), and wait hours in line amidst 4th world and agitated customers. When I visited the Angkor Wat temples in Cambodia, they just asked me to smile at the camera, and my personalised entrance ticket with picture rolled out of the printer – no sweat.

Massage in all its shapes and forms

Massage in all its shapes and forms

I had loads of massages in different styles and different countries during my Asia trip. You could virtually ask anything: mix Khmer and oil massage, neck and feet, etc. Everything is possible (as long as you pay). When in Portugal, they refused 2 hour massage, because they didn’t know how to (and gave the excuse that my body would not cope… yeah right)…

  • So I guess this indicates that I’m ready to travel to South East Asia again!
  • And I booked my ticket: Departing 26 November – coming back 28 December – huray.
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2 Responses to “Third world Belgium”

  1. miriel 9 October 2009 at 17:05 #

    Have a nice trip! :)

  2. chris 25 October 2009 at 12:24 #

    the bloody capitalists here! I had quite a few similar experiences in Belgium. sometimes i just got tough and refused to make any compromise.

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