Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Why Do they Doubt Me?

I frequently found myself asking this question in Korea, and yet, here I was asking this question way too early in the morning and before coffee. Coffee could have been had at home; however, I had run out of coffee, and so had opted for a glass of tea instead. Tea was fine, but not coffee. I needed coffee.

Being me, this can't be as easy as it sounds. I had lost my wallet last week in a freak chicken-wing accident, which I still had not recovered from. I was very unhappy about the loss of the wallet, because it contained so many irreplaceable things, like all my point cards from all the coffee shops I frequented all over Korea. Losing the wallet meant a week or so of replacing all my cards and would (eventually) require that I go to the police station and file a report. I just didn't feel like the hassle yet.

So here I stood (at 8:45 in the morning) at my coffee shop, where I had gotten a new point card for my coffee about four days ago after learning thatsince my last card wasn't registeredI couldn't get the points I had lost reloaded.


I ordered the usual: Americano with an extra shot. I was tired. And cranky.

They scanned my point card, I put my 4,900 on the counter and the kid behind the counter entered into a wild spiel. Even though it was mostly in Korean I got it: "Yoginin website logging hako discount. Upsize serbice," which roughly translated to, 'if you log in to our horribly designed Korean website and figure out how to use the horribly designed non-English interface that only works in Internet Explorer 7, not 8, no, never 8, and give it all your personal information including passport number and ID number in over an unsecured line, than you can get a free upgrade and only have to pay 3,900 for your coffee.'.

I smiled. I repeated my original order for coffee in Korean and pretended like I really didn't know what he was saying.

I get the spiel again. For some reason I decided to engage. I responded back in my Korean "Your website doesn't work and I don't feel like doing this; can I please just have my coffee?" To which they offered to help.

Why? Why must you question me? I already know this is going to be a pain in the ass and a waste of my valuable time and do I look like I really am in so much desperate need that you must, simply must, log in to the website so I can get my free upgrade? Apparently, yes, yes, I do.

Nice boy went over to one of the computers and spent over five minutes just trying to find the button on the website of his company that said membership. This was how badly designed the website was: it wasn't just the waygooks that couldn't use it, the Koreans had no idea what to do either. He finally managed to find the button and then after that I gave him all my personal private information.

He asked for a password and an ID, which I also give him. He clicked the button and the window crashed.

We do this four more times.

He looked at me and smiled sheepishly.

I had now been kept from my coffee for an extra fifteen minutes, playing a game I already knew I would lose. I was not amused.

"Kopinun jjigumm hasigoita?" Can I have my coffee now, please?

"Yes, yes, sorry, yes, so sorry." And he ran behind the counter where he consulted with the other Korean running the shop and they whispered quietly about how they would have to charge me more. I had already put an extra 1,000 won on the counter to cover the difference but this didn't stop the rushed hushed talking. Eventually I did manage to get the coffee. And after about five minutes and more hushed whispering, Korean Number 2 brought me my change and apologized profusely for the poorly designed website.

I smiled bitterly into my black-as-night drink and pocketed my change.

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