Attempt to curtail customer rudeness comes off as incredibly rude.

Japanese convenience stores are known for being wonderful havens, where you can get everything from cat breads to pancake steamed buns at any time of the day or night.

With such glowing reputations attached to them, it came as a bit of a shock to find one convenience store that wasn’t so amiable to its customers.

Twitter user @CHANGHAENG was visiting the convenience store, a branch of Lawson located in Osaka, when they came across a sign posted on the steamed bun display case at the counter.

The sign, despite being written entirely in Japanese, is addressed to foreigners, and reads:

“To foreign customers,
‘Kore’ is prohibited. Say “nikuman kudasai’.”

To explain, “kore” means “this” and “nikuman kudasai” means “Can I have a steamed bun please”.

Reading between the lines, it appears that staff had had enough of “foreign customers” saying “kore”, and presumably pointing to the display case while doing so, as indicated by the illustration of a pointing finger (assuming that’s an index finger and not a middle finger). The tone of the message is remarkably curt, with the absence of “please” making it read as a command rather than a request, and far removed from the usual level of politeness expected in a customer service environment in Japan.

There are a lot of things wrong with a sign like this, and commenters online pointed them out, saying:

“I don’t think the word ‘foreigner’ should be used here.”
“If it’s a message for foreigners, shouldn’t it be written in English?”
“Does that mean Japanese people can say ‘kore’?”
“Well, they shouldn’t give their steamed buns such long names like ‘pizza bun with melty cheese and tomato’.”
“They should give the buns numbers instead [given there are so many].”
“It’s hard for staff to see which one people are pointing at from the other side of the counter.”

While it might be true that pointing at a small display case can make things difficult for staff to work out which item is being requested, it’s also true that convenience stores pack a wide variety of different steamed buns into those display cases, so simply saying “nikuman kudasai” isn’t necessarily going to solve the problem.

Of course, pointing the finger at “foreigners” and prohibiting them from saying “kore” when ordering is also problematic, given that a number of Japanese people themselves said they might use the point-and-request system. In any case, a sign written entirely in Japanese isn’t the best way to get your message across to people who might not read the language, so perhaps it’s time for convenience store chains to think about implementing a numbering system for the hot items sold in display cases.

As for the sign itself, it was taken down after people who’d seen it online contacted Lawson headquarters to lodge their complaints. Lawson said staff told them the sign was put up after a number of customers ended up receiving the wrong bun. The company has since apologised for the sign and its wording, saying they aim to be a store where all customers can shop comfortably.

Source: Twitter/@CHANGHAENG via Net Lab 
Top image: Pakutaso
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