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I came for dental work. Language/cultural problem in communicating in Poland

24 Jun 2009 /  #1
I came to Poland for dental work because they have excellent dentists and I cannot afford it in the U.S. I like the dentist very much but we have had some major communication problems that are costing me money. The first visit we discussed the work, implants and crowns, that were to be done and he said the implant crowns could be put on in two months after the implants; I received an estimate. The implants were put in. We scheduled appointments for two months ahead and I left. Several weeks later I confirmed the dates and times before I made my travel arrangements (hotel, rental car, airplane ticket). A week before I was to leave I got a cryptic email telling me that my appointments were cancelled, except for the first one on a monday. we emailed back and forth and I told them point blank that, AS I HAD TOLD THEM, my visa was running out and ALL work had to be completed in this next visit as he had told me. AFTER I got there the bottom line was that the dentist had reviewed my file and decided that he wanted to wait two more months for the implants to integrate. Fine, but he never aid one word about this in the several emails beforehand. AND I reminded them about the visa expiration. So, I arrive and I've spent over 1,000 usd just to go back and have some work done that could have waited. And now I have to travel from the U.S. in the spring and stay in Krakow for 2.5 weeks. The dentist said he "thought" I had more time. Even if I did, it's isn't cheap to travel back and forth for nothing. My problem lies with the emails we exchanged where the last one said "I just wanted to be sure that all work, all crowns and implant crowns, will be completed next week." or "my visa is expiring." what is not clear about that? I frankly don't understand what happened? Can the office be that disorganized that they don't put important facts in the patient file? I am at a loss. they seem to be in a different time reality frankly, where calendar time doesn't quite have the same significance as it does to me. Weird.

Also, the company that hooked us up was paying a small part of my hotel bill. They did not make the transfer to the hotel account in time so I paid the bill with the understanding that they would credit my credit card when it arrived. Then I got an email saying that they refused the transfer because I had paid the entire bill. And this was after the travel company called me and assured me that everything was fine and that everything was taken care of and not to wory about anything. and then when the hotel called them when the transfer didn't arrive the guy said he knew nothing about a transfer. Another disconnect too many.

In both cases there was a subordinate that I was communicating with. Is there some cultural thing between bosses and their subordinates where they have to defer in some way that impedes clear communication? Is it impolite to say "yes, he will" or "no, he will not" ..put on the implant crowns"? And what is this time problem? I ran into this in Lithuania where I ended up waiting at a bus stop in the dark of night, alone, because my friend was late, 'AS USUAL, and then came driving up, all smiles, a half hour late, as if it was all okay. Is there someting going on here when someone says "Yes, I will do this on this date, or at this time" that I don't know about? What do they really mean? Now I'm afraid that my next dental visit will end in another expensive disaster. the clerk has promised me that she will delineate every procedure and the appointments and times before I come. Is it better to say "are you going to do this?" yes or no?

Another problem is that there seem to be "men" that hang out in front of grocery stores and god knows what they are doing. some of them wander in and out at times. Two days ago I was in Kauflands and spoke in English to the clerk and when I left this young man came out fast and was talking to another guy and I heard the word "American". Then I was afraid they were targeting me. I was attacked at an ATM a couple of months ago by several men and even punched so now I'm afraid if I see them in groups. Is there another reason they are there and is my imagination just running wild?

Does anyone have any suggestions as to how I can be sure that I have a commitment to have my dental work completed on my next visit? what will they say if they really mean to complete it? What words will they use? The prosthodontist says she needs 2.5 weeks but this last visit I was there for10 days and the work was done in 3 days, so there I sat with a non-refundable plane ticket and rental car and hotel for nothing. I was thinking about asking the company who provided the dentist to contact them and make sure. Would the dentist be affonted?
wildrover 98 | 4,451  
24 Jun 2009 /  #2
There are cultural differences between Polish people and are finding them out the hard way....

All that you have spoken about does seem to be common in Poland , and people seem to accept it , of course its much more of a problem for somebody with limited time due to a visa , i think you need somebody who speaks fluent Polish to deal with this on your behalf....

I should not worry too much about people hanging around outside shops , its something people tend to do , and the exitement of discovering you are American may be just due to the fact they have never met one before...

Of course you need to be carefull , as you have discovered , there are people who won,t think twice about punching you and taking your money , but i would say you are a lot safer here than in the USA , there are bad people everywhere , especially in cities...

Where i live in Poland women seem to feel quite safe walking around alone at night , not something they would feel safe doing back in the city where i lived in the UK....

My advice is to get somebody Polish to do some shouting on your behalf , and no you should not worry about making sure its all ok before you come over , even if it offends somebody....
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
24 Jun 2009 /  #3
You need some written guarantees from them. To them, you are likely just another service user and they don't see your predicament. Many Polish people aren't renowned for their sympathy in some places. I'm lucky, I encounter really good folks here but that doesn't mean I put the blinkers on.

You need assurances simply. I don't want to generalise about time. Many in the Balkans, especially in Montenegro, are amazingly loose this way. Manjana, manjana (sorry, my Spanish sucks). The Poles were unhappy with this. However, everything is relative. Many here are so frickin slow in shops and service provision. They won't break sweat for you. In Scotland, the job centre is like this but everywhere else is somewhat more efficient and expeditious.

So, be clear and defend your corner!

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