I knew I was jinxing it…writing about the latest wedding company I had found in Hohhot and how it might be the one.
After I discovered the company I chose a consultant based on a vintage wedding she had previously done, which fit in with my theme. She promised to send me a proposal in a week, with the deadline on Tuesday. Tuesday came and went, and in the evening I sent a message asking about the proposal. She apologised and claimed she was not in the city but would be in the office the next day during the afternoon. The second day came and went, once again I sent a message asking about the proposal. Once again she apologised and said she had not yet returned after all; she would send it the next day.
On the third day in the morning I receive a message saying “We don’t have internet in the office, what now?” and two smirking smileys. Sometimes I get incredibly frustrated with smiley use in China, you will receive the most random smiley that does not seem to fit in with the message at all. Why are you smirking at your broken internet woman?! Or are you making fun of me?! After consultation with my dear colleague, who confirmed that this woman had obviously drunk too much Baijiu, for she was acting like a nutcase or a drunkard, she told me to ask the girl straight on whether the proposal was ready.
The answer I received almost tipped me over the edge. “Of course the proposal is ready, but you have to pay me 500 RMB now because I had to ‘use my brain’ (动脑子）to write it, then I will send it to you.”
Now, I understand that one should pay for the work put into this proposal, especially with corporate espionage. It is not uncommon for other companies to get a proposal written up just to use it to make business. But the fact that this woman not only did not tell me about the fee in advance but then is also three days late in sending the proposal is simply insolent. Not sure whether I was once again being taken for a fool, I asked Mr.Li to call the company and see what was going on.
As it turns out, the 500 RMB fee can be wavered if one goes to the company in person to pick up the proposal. This measure has been put in place by the company for clients who just get in touch via WeChat and online channels since chances are they are actually competitors. Now, that makes sense. So why did my consultant not tell me this?
Once again this is an example of how bad service in China can be. It used to be this terrible in Nanjing once, however service standards have risen exponentially since the Youth Olympic Games and now I am used to a much more professional tone and overall standard than is available in Hohhot, a third tier city. It is nerve-wrecking to say the least. I mean, is competent service really asking too much?
This is also another instance where I feel that no matter how long I have been in China I will never fully understand their way if doing business. I could not tell whether it is normal to ask for a proposal feel and I feel completely insecure and suspicious of anyone I do business with here because I am so used to be tricked and for fees to be purely conjured out of thin air just because I am an ignorant foreigner who doesn’t quite understand what is acceptable and what not.
MiL will go to the wedding company some time next week to pick up the proposal and demand that we change a consultant, I hope the next one will be a tad more tactful.
I have also through a rather lucky coincidence been in touch with a wonderful girl living in Beijing, originally from the States I believe, who married a local and they organised their entire wedding, and did not even have a host, which I think is a fabulous idea. She has been so kind to send me her documents for the wedding planning, I am unbelievably grateful to her for that generous gesture. I am also taking solace in the fact that it can only go uphill from here. And if not, well, then we have only Hohhot to blame.