Saturday, July 10, 2010

Window on Eurasia: Russians Still Wait in Line Longer than Any Other European Nation Does

Paul Goble

Staunton, July 10 – Russians spend an average of 27 minutes in every line they join, nearly twice as long as Italians do and nearly ten times longer than do British or Swedish citizens in lines in their countries, an indication that the infamous Soviet-era contempt for customers has not entirely disappeared.
Yesterday, “Novyye izvestiya” reported that an 18-country survey conducted using the techniques of the Mystery Shopping network had found that “Russian lines up to now are the longer and slowest in Europe,” a pattern little changed from the notorious situation that often obtained in Soviet times (
To do this survey, “independent ‘customers’ went to stores, banks, post offices and drugs stores in 18 countries of Europe,” the paper reported. The survey found that “on average,” Russians wait 27 minutes “until they are served. Italy was in second place with waits averaging 14 minutes, and Swedes and English people waited least, two to three minutes on average.
Across the 18 countries, consumers waited longest at banks – some 19.5 minutes each – and slightly less at post offices – 19.3 minutes. At commercial businesses, in contrast, the survey found, people in these countries “stood in lines [an average of] 10.8 minutes.” While Russia has the worst average over all, it had shorter lines in each of these cases.
Mariya Sviridova, a lawyer for the Russian Consumer Rights Defense Society, told the paper that “unfortunately people [in the Russian Federation] are accustomed to lines, and entrepreneurs take this as a given and use it.” But the worst lines are not those in businesses and banks but in government offices.
Especially bad are the end of the month lines at the Moscow metro – that’s when people have to buy passes – and at the post office. There, Sviridova said, “the entire system requires reworking,” including not least of all the replacement of many employees. “Elderly people who work in the post,” she said, “are not capable of quickly dealing with the technology.”
But there are some lines in Russia that people may have more positive feelings about. Those are the lines at Russian border points. Last weekend, at the Vaalimaa border crossing point in Finland, trucks carrying goods into Russia was 16 km long, and at one nearby, the line extended 4 km (
Finnish officials said that “there are no specific reasons” why the lines were so long this particular region, but Barents Observer committed that such lines as unpleasant as they may be for those who have to wait in them are “at least a sign that the economic downturn in Russia is coming to an end.”

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