Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Kaizen my b***s!

Back when I started to work, ages ago in 1996, I worked for a big automotive company (whose founder said "you can have the car in any colour as long as it's black") There was a lot of hoo-ha about the Japanese efficency maximising methods, I believe it's called "kaizen" or such. Anyway, today I am wondering if there is any concept that can be called "the reverse of kaizen" (I couldn't find it in Wikipedia) because today.......

......was one of those days....

Yesterday afternoon, I was giving Bibu his bath when I heard my cell phone ring. Thinking it would be Mr M reporting from the battlefield (a.k.a. Shangai) where he is all week on a business trip, I took the trouble of taking Bibu fast out of the water and I run to the kitchen to take the call, but, alas, too late. I checked the number to call Mr M back but saw that it was a local Tokyo number. Funny how the first thought on my mind was: "this cannot be the idiots from Nearby Posh Gym AGAIN".

Surely enought, IT WAS.

Lady from Nearby Posh Gym leaving message in barely understandable Engrish (fair enough, I am the one who doesn't speak the native tongue) said that August and September had not been paid yet and could I pay them in cash next time I go to gym? Of course, darling, although wasn't it the idea that after filling my direct debit form FOR THE FOURTH TIME in two months these amounts would debit themselves automatically each month?

My first reaction upon hearing the message was to find out how could I cancel my membership, go there, pay the  pending months and tell them to (EXPLETIVE OF THE THIRD KIND). Upon talking with the ever chilled out Mr M this morning, he said something along the lines of "don't do it, it's conveniently located, you like the ballet classes, etc". Damn, he had a point. Grr........ so I today decided to put my very best "meek and with Gandhi-like patience gaijin" impersonation and pay Nearby Posh Gym a visit.

After checking in and nobody at the front desk telling me anything, I went to my hippo-ballet class as usual. Afterwards, feeling all saintly and fresh from the nice shower (they do have the nicest bathroom and locker area, these Nearby Posh Gym dorks) I grinned and waited for the best. Surely enough, the problem was the one it always is: bank says signature on the debit form does not match signature registered on the bank. The last time we had to fill in the form, Mr M himself went there to fill it in (our bank account here is on his name) and still there is a problem.

First girl at front desk who tried to help me did not get a single word from English. Second girl apparently did, but still could not give me a clear explanation of what the problem is and how it can be fixed. When she presented me with the FIFTH direct debit form to be filled in, I had to restrain myself from attacking her with an ax. Luckily, there was a Hungarian lady there who spoke perfect Japanese and offered to do the translation.

In the end, after more looking into papers and realising that there is a differnce between asking to "write your name" and "sign" (maybe because there is no such difference in Japanese?) girl said they were still waiting for confirmation from the bank that the form we had filled last time was approved. WTF??

I wonder, people of Nearby Posh Gym, wouldn't it be better, if you know that these particular bank is so anal about checking signatures, that you ask your customers to go DIRECTLY to the bank, sort the form out and then RETURN to the gym? Or maybe that's too revolutionary a thought.........mmmmmmm

In the end, I paid August and September in cash and left with the promise that from October onwards, each installment will be debited from my account.

I bet all my life savings that in a few weeks I'll receive another call from nearby Posh Gym asking me please to come fill in the form again. Betting in Japan is illegal, so there you go.

Kaizen, schmitzen.

1 comment:

  1. Throw them a fishbone diagram to sort out the problem.

    Did you know that at first the "poka-soke" methods (error free), were called "baka-soke"? (dumb-free).

    A toast to Ishikawa then!.