Prague Hotel Service

Experience Prague

Category: Culture

Cheap airport wheelchairs

Institutional chairs for short-term transport actually have vastly different needs than those meant to help a person live her daily life as independently as possible. Airport wheelchairs should be designed to facilitate ease of access and use by their operators, who, for safety reasons, are almost never the people riding in them. They also need to take up a minimum of space and be resistant to theft.

Standard wheelchairs are designed to be folded up and put in the back of a car or a trunk so that the user may easily transport it from place to place. An airport wheelchair should not have these features. Even a very cheap wheelchair costs upwards of $100. If only one a day vanishes into thin air at any given locale, the costs add up.

Because of the high theft rate, airport wheelchairs are generally the cheapest available. Unfortunately, this means that those that aren’t stolen wear out quite rapidly due to transporting passengers miles and miles every day. The solution to this is a chair that costs more at the outset, which has features that pay for themselves more quickly than anyone might guess. Imagine a nestable chair. Just like the luggage carriers, not taking up much more space and is easily secured and easily located.

Imagine too that this chair is sturdy and has a number of features that allow for easy transport of the passenger. However, while the nesting allows for conservation of space, it is so constructed that it cannot be folded up and put in a trunk or transported by its occupant. What you are imagining is a chair that can last ten years without being replaced, rather than one, or less.

What is Customer Service Like in Prague and Other Czech Cities

Do you know what you should expect from employees in the Czech customer service industry, regardless of it being in Prague or any other city in the Czech Republic? The answer is very simple. Not much. It’s almost like plying Hide and Seek. Once in a while you will run into someone who may be pleasant and smiling while waiting on you. If and when you do, I highly recommend that you cherish those moments as they don’t come very often. Read my post about an absolutely delightful dining experience. Most of the time you will run into someone with that typical “sour face”, who will look bored and annoyed by your existence and who will make you wonder why you even bother spending your own money at their establishment.

 

I went to a TMobil store in Ostrava (Ostrava is about 3 hours from Prague) to find out how to disable one Internet feature from my phone. I walk in, the place is empty. I say Hello to a customer service representative sitting at the counter reading. He looks up, says Hello back to me and then asks me how he can help me. He looks back down while I am explaining my problem to him. Rude!  When I am done, he looks up again, hands me a TMobil brochure and says that everything I am asking about is explained in it. Hmmm, I pause, think, let my blood boil a bit and then proceed. “Thank you. That solution doesn’t really work for me!” I am a little bit more forceful the second time around and I point out to him that I didn’t just drive all this way to get a brochure. After repeating my problem to the rep again, he grabs my phone and types a text message to some special TMobil service number located in the brochure (and yes, he did make it very clear to me that this number was in the brochure). A few seconds later I get a text message from TMobil advising me that the Internet feature I was inquiring about has been disabled. I look at the rep, he looks at me with this smirk on his face. I could read the subtitles above his head… see dummy, just like I told you, just like it is described in the B-R-O-CH-U-R-E. I didn’t even dare asking him for additional help. I wanted to purchase a better, more expensive TMobil plan that would fit my needs. I actually wanted to spend more money at his store! Unfortunately I had a feeling that the direction I would get would sound something like this: ” It’s in the brochure!”. Defeated, I collected my belongings and my money and left the store. Now I have to spend more time driving around searching for another store that will offer advice and accept my money in return for a pleasant and customer friendly service. My TMobil hide and seek game has officially begun.

 

The weather was absolutely beautiful. My family and I decided to enjoy our Sunday lunch in a restaurant in the mountains near a beautiful new golf resort called Celadna. We have visited this restaurant several times in the past. The food is delicious, the wait staff including the restaurant manager have always been absolutely outstanding – smiling, welcoming, attentive to our individual needs, finding ways to keep my 4 year old nephew entertained. If you take all that and combine it with the breathtaking view of the mountains, you can only describe the experience as priceless. Our last visit was a little bit different though. My sister ordered a pasta dish with shrimp that had no flavor. When our waiter came by to ask how everything was, we did mention to him that her dish was lacking flavor. The waiter shrug his shoulders and told my sister that she must have made a bad decision ordering the food, that the food just didn’t work for her. Really?? Since we were hungry, we decided to tackle this problem with some humor and positive approach. We asked the waiter for additional spice and butter. When he brought it over, we mixed it all together and added it to the penne pasta. And you know what? It actually turned into something quite delicious! The waiter watched us following the entire cooking process. He seemed to quite enjoy the fact that we were so resourceful. I am not sure what the other customers thought though… When I asked the waiter if it was a common practice to serve food that customers have to finish cooking at their table, he quickly replied: “Well, at least they will like what they eat!”. So, there you have it! You don’t like your food? Don’t worry! Ask for some ingredients and cook it yourself, at your table. Don’t expect an apology. The phrase “I am sorry” may not exist in the Czech customer service dictionary. By the way, didn’t Kramer have the same idea in one of the episodes of Seinfeld?

One really has to make the best of poor customer service in Prague or any other Czech city as the concept of western hospitality has not yet arrived or been introduced to most of the industry. Humor and low expectations may be our best defense for now until things start to improve. How can they improve? More competition and more consumer knowledge. The more we grow the private sector and the more consumers learn to value their money and precious time the quicker we wead out those that have no business being in the customer service industry.  Consumers have to become more educated about how they should be treated and that it is OK to speak up when their expectations are not met. Business owners have to learn to value their customers and appreciate their business. After all, it is the customer who pays their bills. It is the customer’s word-of-mouth that drives repeat business.

 

My plea…let’s continue raising the bar pointing out these simple and basic rules of good customer service to everyone out there hoping that it will bring some well needed and deserved change.

Pickpocketing is Prague’s most common crime

Did you know that pickpocketing and stealing are Prague’s most common crimes? This is a known fact to the locals, but not to the tourists. Most crimes occur during daylight, when you would least expect it. It is also a very common knowledge that there is one ethnic group in particular that prays on innocent tourists. They usually work in groups to create distractions. You walk down the street, all of the sudden you see a commotion around you, i.e. a couple arguing, you lose situational awareness and a few seconds later, your wallet is gone. Sadly, often it is their children who are trained to do the dirty work of actually stealing your money, while the adults work the area around you. When the locals see them coming, they cross the street or stay out of their way. My mom was personally attacked as she was getting on a bus. She was pushed in by a few females who were trying to get her out of balance. Luckily, my mom knew exactly what was happening. She immediately reached for her purse only to find out one of the women had already been unzipping it. My Mom pushed her out of the bus and started screaming “thief, thief”. Today, I am laughing as I am writing the story, because I know my Mom was safe and nothing was taken. It is, however, a very real story that may happen to anyone who is not educated about these kind of things and doesn’t see them coming.

Because this is a very sensitive issue in the Czech Republic and nobody wants to admit it or talk about it, I reached out to my friends and asked them if they ever experienced anything bad happening to them while in Prague. I wanted to make sure I provide you with the most unbiased story. One of them just recently visited Prague and wrote me back with a familiar story. He wrote: ” I have a lot to tell you…  First of all beware of this group in the train station.  They will steal bags right out of your hand.  Their kids are the worst, you don’t even see them coming.” Then he continued :”Watch for pickpockets on the subways or buses.  They are usually older men who don’t look like they would be pick pockets, but they’re pros.”

Prague’s pickpockets are highly skilled professionals and the only way you can prevent being robbed is being a few steps ahead of them. Czech police probably won’t do much to help you if you’re robbed (nothing uncommon around the world) so prevention is your best protection.

Here are some tips to help you avoid becoming a victim of a pickpocket.

  • Be smart. Don’t open your wallet in public so that everyone around you can see what’s in it, or how much is in it.
  • Don’t put your money and important documents in your fanny bags. It’s an open invitation.
  • Don’t put your money and important documents in small purses you carry over your shoulder. It can be snatched and you won’t even register it.
  • Hide your cash, passport and any other important documents in the inside pockets of your jacket.
  • Make copies of all your travel documents, carry your passport only, leave the rest in the hotel safe.
  • If you have to take out money, find an ATM that is located inside a bank.
  • Don’t ever leave your personal belongings unattended. Always make sure somebody in your party is watching them.

Knowledge and situational awareness is absolutely the key to avoid a possibly stressful end to your vacation. Prague is an amazing city that has a lot of offer! Make the best of it and be smarter than them!

A Few Czech Phrases For Your Trip To Prague

Since Prague is one of the most sought after tourist destinations in the world, most locals speak English, German or French. If you are planning a trip to Prague, the language barrier shouldn’t really be of a concern. Learning to speak Czech isn’t easy as Czech language is very difficult, complex and I find it hard on the ears. However, with that said, if you make it a point to learn a few Czech words and phrases, you will find it much easier to start conversations, build relationships and ask for help. Czech people are quite reserved and suspicious. Your sincere effort to start a conversation in Czech can work as an excellent ice-breaker. So, don’t delay the proces and Czech it out!

Czech is spoken pretty much the same way as it’s written. The Czech alphabet is the same as the English one except for a few exemptions. This means that once you’ve learned the basic pronunciation rules, you should have a pretty good idea of how any word sounds.

Czech Alphabet and Pronunciation

  Letter  Pronunciation
 a like u in cup but clearer
Á á a lengthened as in mama
B b same as in English
C c ts as in cats
Č č ch as in Czech
D d same as in English
Ď ď like dy in duty
E e e as in set
É é e lengthened; something like the a   in care
Ě ě y before e; when after m an n is   inserted before e
F f same as in English
G g g as in good
H h h as in hand
Ch like German ch as in Bach
I i i as in pit; same as y
Í í i lengthened as in meet;   same as ý
J j y as in yes
K k same as in English
L l same as in English
M m same as in English
N n same as in English
Ň ň y after n; like ny in new
O o o as in lost
Ó ó o lengthened as in lawn or   call
P p same as in English
Q q another rare letter found only in   borrowed words
R r rolled a bit, but don’t overdo it!
Ř ř pronounced sort of like an r with   ž; this is the most difficult sound in Czech
S s same as in English
Š š sh as in shell
T t same as in English
Ť ť like ty in Tuesday
U u oo as in book put
Ů ů u lengthened; oo as in school
Ú ú same as ů; usually used only at   the beginning of a word
V v same as in English
W w same as in English, but this   letter is only found in borrowed foreign words
X x Another rare letter found only in   foreign words
Y y same as i; i as in sit
Ý ý y lengthened; same as í

Helpful Czech Phrases

GREETINGS

  • Hello – Dobrý den
  • Hello (informal) – Ahoj
  • Good Bye – Na shledanou
  • Good Evening – Dobry večer
  • Good Night – Dobrou noc

CONVERSATIONS

  • Yes  – Ano
  • Yes (informal) – Jo or No
  • No – Ne
  • My name is… – Jmenuji se…
  • What is your name? – Jaké je vaše jméno?
  • Nice to meet you. – Těší mě.
  • How are you? – Jak se máte?
  • I’m fine, thank you. – Mám se dobře, děkuji.
  • Excuse me – S dvolením
  • Sorry! – Promintě!
  • Thank you! – Dekuji!
  • Please/You’re welcome – Prosím (The word “Prosim” has both meanings. The meaning is easily recognized based on the context of the conversation)
  • Can I help you? – Máte přání?
  • I understand – Rozumím
  • I don’t understand – Nerozumím
  • Do you speak English? – Mluvíte anglicky?
  • I don’t speak Czech. – Nemluvím česky.
  • Please speak slowly – Mluvte pomalu, prosím
  • I don’t speak Czech – Nemluvím Česky
  • How much is it? – Kolík to stoji?
  • Can you help me? – Můžete mi pomoct?
  • Entrance – Vchod
  • Exit – Východ

DINING OUT

  • Is this seat taken? – Je tady volno?
  • I would like… – Ja sí dam…
  • Enjoy! – Dobrou chuť!
  • Cheers – Na zdraví
  • One beer, please – Jedno pivo, prosím
  • Two beers, please – Dvě piva, prosím
  • Where is the toilet? – Kde je záchod?
  • Check, please! – Zaplatíme!
  • Together or separately? – Dohromady nebo zvlášť?

TRANSPORTATION

  • Where is the bus station / bus stop? – Kde je autobusové nádraží / autobusová zastávka?
  • Where is the train station? – Kde je vlakové nádraží?
  • Where is the subway station? – Kde je stanice metra?
  • Next stop… – Příští zastávka….
  • Finish boarding and deplaning, the doors are closing. – Ukončete výstup a nástup, dveře se zavírají!

DIRECTIONS

  • Excuse me, where is the ….? – Prosím vás, kde je …..?
  • Turn right / left. – Zahněte doprava / doleva.
  • Straight. – Rovně.

EMERGENCY

  • Fire! – Hoří!
  • Help! – Pomoct!
  • Thief! – Zloděj!
  • I’m not feeling well. – Není mi dobře.
  • Call an ambulance / a doctor! – Zavolejte sanitku / lékaře!
  • Call the police! – Zavolejte policii!
  • Where is the police station? – Kde je policejní stanice?

NUMBERS

  • 0 – nula
  • 1 – jeden
  • 2 – dva
  • 3 – tři
  • 4 – čtyři
  • 5 – pět
  • 6 – šest
  • 7 – sedm
  • 8 – osm
  •  9 – devět
  • 10 – deset

If you’d like to learn more Czech words and phrases for your trip to Prague, check out this Czech website – Local Lingo. It is pretty cool!

Krasnou dovolenou v Praze preje Prague At First Sight! – Prague At First Sight wishes you a wonderful vacation in Prague!