UK'S Poor Customer Service is Biggest Bugbear for International Students

15/10/2012 12:21 BST | Updated 15/12/2012 10:12 GMT

Every year thousands of international students arrive on British soil ready to embark on what is, for most, an exciting rite of passage.

Studying abroad is a massive learning experience for those who are brave enough to take up the challenge. It should be a year to remember for ever, yet for many a seemingly small issue has become a huge hurdle.

Of course you'd expect students to experience home sickness and even culture shock during their time in the UK, but alarmingly one of the biggest problems international students have when studying in Britain is battling with the country's notoriously bad customer service industry.

We, at Only Student Concierge, recently conducted a survey into the bugbears of international students and got some interesting feedback.

It turns out that foreign students find it so hard to deal with snooty shop assistants and surly call centre staff that more than 60 per cent rate it as the most daunting aspect of studying overseas.

This is an extremely worrying statistic. In fact, not only did 63 per cent of international students say poor customer service made studying in the UK much harder than they had expected, a staggering 81% said they have experienced bad customer service while studying in the UK.

Call centre staff came up top of the faults chart with more than a third saying they had been treated badly by call centre employees.

Most common gripes included staff not smiling, being hung up on and being patronised.

Around 78 per cent of those surveyed said the customer service they received in the UK was worse than in their home country.

International students in London are the most likely to experience poor customer service, with two out of three in the capital complaining about the treatment they have received.

While these statistics are depressing, it's hardly surprising to hear that many of the UK's 500,000 international students are struggling to cope with Britain's poor customer service.

If you look at America's 'Have a nice day' culture, or the courtesy and politeness engrained in nations such as Malaysia and Singapore it's easy to see why international students may find customer service in the UK somewhat lacking.

Those working in the service industries are often the first point of contact for these new arrivals to Britain, and therefore often shape their opinion of the UK. While for many this may only go as far as having a phone put down on them for others it can be far more serious. I've heard horror stories of students being left out of pocket by unscrupulous landlords and salespeople.

When students go abroad to study, it is often the first time that they have been away from their parents and it can be a very stressful and worrying time so the last thing they need is the extra stress of being treated badly by shop assistants and call centre workers.

That's where services such as ours can assist, helping with everything from setting up a bank account to picking up the weekly shop. Our bespoke offering gives piece of mind and allows students to focus on getting the most out of life in the UK.

At the end of the day studying abroad should be an experience of a life time - for all the right reasons, not the wrong ones.