I mentioned the other day how it takes an entire month of waiting to get DSL installed in Japan, due to control of the local loop remaining entirely with the former government monopoly telecom NTT, while service can be provided by a variety of competitors. One of the interesting side effects of this is that no matter who your provider is, the physical line installation at the home is still performed by NTT. And because installation will be performed not by my service provider KDDI, instead of having the installer bring along the modem and accessories, they mail it in advance. I am not sure if this is because NTT refuses to cooperate and deliver the modem for another company’s service, despite being legally obligated to perform the local loop installation required for service connection, or if KDDI (I think Softbank does the same thing, but I forget) has merely decided that it is logistically simpler to send modems through the package delivery infrastructure.
And speaking of the package delivery infrastructure, I was very impressed by Kuroneko Takkyubin’s service. When I got home last night at around 8:30 there was one of those failed delivery notification notices in my mailbox. Oddly, the time written on it was 10 o’clock, which makes not sense at all, since I was at home until around 11am, and it was still well before 10pm. Regardless, the notice had the standard information on how to contact either the automated phone system, the internet website, or a live switchboard operator to schedule redelivery- but also had a somewhat astonishing fourth option: the cell phone number of the delivery truck driver who had attempted delivery that day. Since it said he was reachable until 9pm, I called up, the call was answered instantly, and once I told him my name and address, he said to stay and wait for him. I assumed I would be waiting for several minute, but there was a knock on my door, literally, at most two minutes later!
And thus is customer service in Japan-a melange of impenetrable bureaucracy and inflexible, pointless rules for some things, but in other areas some of the most helpful and convenient services found anywhere.