A warning to anyone using a moving company in Japan. 

Our reporter Yuuichiro Wasai reckons about 90 percent of our readers, Japanese or otherwise, will be left gobsmacked at the story he’s about to tell. Heck, even he was gobsmacked when this series of events happened to him, and he’s still not quite over it yet, but he thinks it’s an important experience to share with anyone who’s thinking of using a moving company in Japan.

You see, Yuuichiro moved apartments recently, so a few months ago he began the search for a good moving company to suit his limited budget. In Japan, that involves making time for a removal company representative to visit your house to discuss a quote, so he rang around and arranged a number of appointments, as is the norm in Japan.

▼ Yuuichiro’s old place, pictured here after he moved, was the scene for this series of events.

After seeing a few reps, the doorbell rang yet again, and this time Yuuichiro opened the door to a man who looked to be in his early 20s, wearing a neat suit that accentuated his stiff, tense-looking shoulders.

By the time this particular man arrived, Yuuichiro had already welcomed a previous rep into his home who offered a much cheaper quote than expected, so he had a viable option already, but he still decided to give this guy and his company a chance.

However, the quote given to Yuuichiro by this man — let’s call him Tense Shoulders-san — was quite high compared to other companies. With a few reps yet to visit and make a quote, Yuuichiro decided to usher the man to the door, politely telling him that he would think about it and contact him again if he decided to enlist the help of his company.

At this point in the bargaining process, the rep might offer a slightly cheaper quote, but rather than do this, Tense Shoulders-san did something totally unexpected instead.

He dropped to his knees and performed a “dogeza”, the deepest bow in Japanese society and one that’s usually reserved for matters of dire consequence.

▼ Yuuichiro re-enacting the rep’s actions to show us exactly how it looked from his angle.

While Japanese companies are known for their polite customer service, staff performing dogeza is on a whole other level, and it’s not something you’re likely to see outside of leaving a fancy traditional restaurant or accommodation, and even then it’s a bit of a novelty.

Heck, even company reps apologising at press conferences for misconduct only go so far as bowing at the waist, so when Yuuichiro saw Tense Shoulders-san prostrate himself at his feet, he gasped in astonishment.

However, this unexpected sight wasn’t the most astonishing aspect of the situation — it was the words that came out of the rep’s mouth:

“If you don’t sign here, I can’t go back to the office! Please help me!!”

Yuuichiro was speechless. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing or hearing. You could’ve heard a pin drop in the silence that followed, and though Yuuichiro expected Tense Shoulders-san to pull himself back up from the floor to a kneeling position after prostrating himself, he remained parallel to the floor.

At this point, Yuuichiro knew one thing — he definitely wasn’t going to be enlisting the services of this company for his move. However, he now had the problem of figuring out a way to get this man out of his house, so he decided to reason with him calmly and quietly, saying:

“I’ll contact you later if I decide to go with your company, so would you mind leaving for today?”

Tense Shoulders-san immediately replied with:

“I can’t return until I get a good answer from you.”

The situation appeared to be going from bad to worse, and Yuuichiro’s initial shock now turned to frustration. This was his place of residence, and yet it was now being controlled by the rep, who had become a very unwelcome visitor.

Tense Shoulders-san, however, remained steadfast, with his forehead on the floor, and though Yuuichiro reasoned with him a number of times, he wouldn’t budge.

▼ Even this stock photo of a man performing dogeza isn’t quite as low as the one that took place in Yuuichiro’s apartment.

Yuuichiro was at his wit’s end by this stage, so he eventually told him: “If you don’t leave, I’ll call the police“.

With those magic words, Tense Shoulders-san quietly stood up and turned to put his shiny shoes back on at the entrance, with his face on the verge of tears.

Yuuichiro opened the front door and silently guided him outside. He didn’t know what to say, so he simply whispered “Bye” before slamming the door shut.

Relieved to finally have him out of the house, yet puzzled as to what had happened, Yuuichiro remains unnerved about it all to this day. He’d seen around 10 companies for estimates, but none of the other reps had prostrated themselves, so he figured it wasn’t a new sales strategy being adopted across the board.

He couldn’t deny, though, that it did seem to be a sales strategy, and according to Yuuichiro, the impact of seeing someone prostrate themselves in front of you is so strong that some people might crack and end up signing with them.

However, parking the fact that it’s unfair tactics and downright dirty, it’s a pretty risky sales strategy to adopt. Surely there would be many people like Yuuichiro who would only end up being more resolute to never use that company ever again in future. In fact, he’d go so far as to say nobody would be happy to see someone prostrate themselves like this over a moving quote.

▼ Even this would be a less awkward way to plea for someone’s custom.

In the days that followed, Yuuichiro couldn’t help but wonder whether the rep’s story about the company pressuring him to get the job was actually true or not. Either he was a great actor, in which case Yuuichiro was glad to have got rid of him, or his superiors and company conditions really are the worst, in which case Yuuichiro can’t help but feel a little sorry for him.

Either way, it was an experience that left a bad taste in Yuuichiro’s mouth, and he hopes by telling it, it will help others know what to do if they ever find themselves in a similar situation. Moving is stressful enough at the best of times, without having to deal with a man who won’t leave the floor of your apartment.

Featured image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Pakutaso (1, 2), ©Soranews24

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[ Read in Japanese ]