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To think expressing regret is often appropriate

(50 Posts)
WorkingBling Sun 25-May-14 19:35:57

I am not from this country so I am not sure if this is a cultural thing but I have noticed that people very seldom express regret or any sympathy in many situations. Eg I was looking for asparagus I a store today and asked a shop assistant. "If it's not on the shelf we don t have it" she said. Perfectly pleasantly and polite but no regret or apologies. In doctors office elderly lady was asking for a follow up appointment. Receptionist was explaining there's nothing available for two weeks. Again, polite, but nothing like a "I'm sorry, we don't have anything." I don't expect apologies in the form of "we screwed up" but where i come from it's considered polite to express regret or sympathy for someone asking you for something you can't deliver.

Is it just me?

DesertRose1958 Sun 25-May-14 19:40:53

No, its not just you. smile

I live in a society where people are very polite, they also soften things when conveying something isn't possible. It can be a real eye opener when it does happen other places I go and Im quite often left thinking - jesus, how rude. But really, were they?

JassyRadlett Sun 25-May-14 19:42:16

Very much agree - I've lived here 10 years and it still strikes me.

CoffeeTea103 Sun 25-May-14 19:43:13

It's just you, why should the shop worker regret not finding you an asparagus, that's silly. Sometimes it's called for but most often not.

kirako Sun 25-May-14 19:44:54

It depends where you go. The service in ships varies wildly. The asparagus one sounds like Aldi, where staff are more brusque than in other places. In other supermarkets staff would spend time checking the back store etc and would say "sorry". The doctor's receptionist.... Err they're not known for being apologetic. In some cases maybe they find that saying sorry is an admission of fault and invites people to respond "well that's not good enough!"

LineRunner Sun 25-May-14 19:47:10

And when someone in my local asda says 'sorry' they might as well be saying 'fuck off' anyway.

'No if it's not on the shelf shelf there aren't any. Sorry. ' <staff member turns back to continue chatting about their weekend to best mate>

Monmouth Sun 25-May-14 19:51:17


I work in a hospital and spend my life apologising for problems that are, for most of the time, beyond my control.

squoosh Sun 25-May-14 19:51:40

Next time I can't find any mange tout at the supermarket I shall hope to see a single, melancholy tear trickle down the shelf stacker's cheek.

That will offer some comfort to my mange tout-less stirfry.

SociallyAcceptableCookie Sun 25-May-14 19:52:43

It's not just you. I am also not british and also unsure if it's cultural but I feel the same way. It feels rude and uncaring to me.

CrazySexyCool123 Sun 25-May-14 19:53:18

I find that "I'm afraid" covers this issue for me. I hate saying I'm sorry for something I can't do anything about or was not my fault.

sarinka Sun 25-May-14 19:55:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WorraLiberty Sun 25-May-14 19:55:50

Well I am from this country and as long as someone has told me they don't have the item and they'll be likely to get it in by X date, that's all I need to know.

Telling me they're sorry about it, would be as false as someone telling me to 'have a nice day' when they serve me a Big Mac.

CoffeeTea103 Sun 25-May-14 19:56:13

Squoosh grin

sarinka Sun 25-May-14 19:57:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LineRunner Sun 25-May-14 19:58:13

Tbh, I am used to Mrs-Doyle-scale sobbing over a slightly defective cup of tea, so it is probably cultural context, yes.

Ibizatime Sun 25-May-14 19:58:38

Well I think the problem is that you're expecting a probably minimum wage 0 hour worker to give a fuck about your asparagus, when I can guarantee you they don't.

WorraLiberty Sun 25-May-14 19:58:48

Squoosh grin

WorkingBling Sun 25-May-14 20:01:32

Definitely cultural then! grin The two examples I gave I thought the women were perfectly polite. Just weird to my ears.

Not American. South African.

ExitPursuedByABear Sun 25-May-14 20:02:40

Seriously? You want someone to apologise for a lack of asparagus?

I think we apologise too much.

There is no asparagus. It does not matter.

ExitPursuedByABear Sun 25-May-14 20:03:32


South African.


kukeslala Sun 25-May-14 20:07:59

This is funny, as my husband who is not from England says English people apoligise loads.
Someone walks into me, I apoligise etc etc.
Dont go to his Country you would really be shocked grin

Nancy54 Sun 25-May-14 20:08:12

I'm quite surprised by this actually.

I live in the north of France (but am British) and often find people here (in shops, hospitals, etc) vvvv rude.

It was a breath of fresh air to be back in the uk a month ago as I found everyone so nice and friendly!!! My son was hospitalized while there and the staff were just amazing, it was a stark contrast to how we had been treated on a previous hospitalization in France. Same with taking the children for shoe fittings etc, just found everyone lovely! Must be a cultural thing. The french prob don't think they're rude either!

LightNC Sun 25-May-14 20:10:04

I am from this country, and can assure you it used to be perfectly normal to express regret if something was unavailable or could not be done. 'I'm so sorry, we seem to be out of stock/have nothing till next week' was a normal interaction.

If anything, it was a running national joke that British people apologised too much - 'Sorry, could you pass the salt?'

If I was speaking to you in a customer service environment, I would still consider this normal good manners. Everyone might not share my view though - and notice I use the expression 'used to'.

ExitPursuedByABear Sun 25-May-14 20:13:45

I agree. I apologise all the fucking time.

JassyRadlett Sun 25-May-14 21:09:28

Sarinka, not American either. But what a predictable assumption.

To be honest, there are pockets where people are lovely, recognise they're representing a shop that doesn't have what you'd hoped for (or whatever) and say what I would have said when I worked in customer service: 'I'm sorry, we don't have that one in stock, I can check at x branch/you could try Other Shop/whatever'.

But much, much more of the other reaction than in other countries.

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