Sometimes living in Hong Kong is a total breeze. Other times? It’s like you’re being pummeled by complacency and bureaucracy at every turn, even when you’re just trying to accomplish the world’s simplest things. Here are the worst offenders that we can’t seem to escape.
You’re trying to open an account? Sure, no problem. Our internet guy will show up sometime in the next 72 hours. No, we can’t tell you when. We don’t have that capability to plan a schedule so that you can live your life, sorry.
The next morning at 9am: We’re here to install your internet. Great, let me just leave work and come let you in. Because this is what convenience looks like.
Two months later: Your Wi-Fi connection is dying a slow, tragic death and this abysmal shit is not what you signed up for. However you’ve “signed” a “verbal” “contract” over the phone, so you’re chained to this sorry excuse for a service. You spend hours on the phone with a rep who can’t mutter anything except for “cannot” and calls you back at odd hours to update you that there is “no update,” you suspect just for fun.
Try this: If you’ve actually been roped into a service that doesn’t meet expectations, get in touch with the Communications Authority, who probably won’t help you but might forward your complaint on to PCCW and get you out of that contract. It has worked at least one time that we know of.
The other day we were in HSBC, standing in line for 25 minutes, and someone in front of us just lost. their. shit. Yelling, shouting, literally pointing fingers — the whole shebang. We have been there, man. The only thing that HSBC seems to do well is piss people off or leave them reaching over the counter to grab the computer and do things themselves.
Don’t get us started on the regulations. Your signature is a tiny bit irregular? Good luck withdrawing money. You want to open a bank account? Good luck with that paperwork. You want to transfer money online? Better not lose that damn security device. That is, if you can even figure out how to navigate the website.
Try this: Email your complaints instead of calling. It doesn’t seem like it would work, but somehow HSBC will have an uncharacteristically sympathetic person respond to your message, call you on the phone, patiently listen and then (at least try) to solve your problem.
If navigating the gaggles of teenage couples wasn’t enough, you really can’t leave IKEA without feeling exhausted/seething after speaking with one of the customer reps. You pull a number from the machine and watch the numbers creep up over the course of an hour while cradling your new shower caddy, rocking back and forth in agony.
It’s finally your turn. The clerk can’t seem to locate your apartment. Are you sure it exists? Yes, it exists. It’s not in the computer. It’s there, I promise. OK, found it. Assembly or no assembly? Assembly, obviously.
The assembly service isn’t available for three weeks. Sleep on the mattress or do it yourself? You whinge to the apathetic checkout attendee, but it does not move any assembly mountains. How bad can it be?
Try this: Do not wait ’til the very end of the IKEA labyrinth to check out. Find one of the check-out counters along the way and do it before you hit the kitchen area. It’ll save you at least 10 minutes, which you can then spend waiting in line for Swedish meatballs. Alternatively, start shopping online instead!
Aaaand just when you think you’ve finally snagged a taxi, the same scene plays out. The driver rolls down the window, leans out, asks you where to, and speeds away. Taxi drivers always seem to get hella picky whenever you’re running late. It’s impossible to figure out the logic. You say Admiralty… No? Too far? Too close? Too much traffic? Too boring? What is it exactly that you have against poor old Admiralty?
Try this: Don’t tell the driver where you are going when he rolls down the window. If the driver lets you get in, slide into the seat, wait until he/she starts driving, act like you’re searching your map for directions, and then confess that you’re only going to SoHo — or worse, down to Shek O. This doesn’t work every time, but you’ve got about a 50-50 chance. If he kicks you out, snap a photo of the license plate and go out of your way to report it. Then call an Uber.
We gush when we’ve found a unicorn in Hong Kong: Gasp! A restaurant with good service! Whether you’re at an upscale spot or a down-to-earth cha chaan teng, it’s a common complaint — servers pretend you’re not there, bring you a coffee so late that it’s cold, leave your empty dirty plates to rot, or ask you to leave before you’ve actually finished eating. Perhaps it’s low wages, minimal tips, or a genuine disdain for the sight of your face. Whatever the case, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth before, during, and after a meal.
Try this: You can try tipping really well, but only if you plan to frequent the location regularly. Spend your money at restaurants that care about your experience, or start cooking up a storm at home — and then invite us over for dinner!