Ukraine has only had capitalism for 25 years, and unlike in Poland, its development was severely stunted by rent seeking, subsidies, and inertia. Everything is getting better, and it’s been a thrill to watch — from the breadth of goods and services offered, to the quality of customer service, to the reliability of deliveries (I love you, Nova Poshta).
Though you still have the feeling that if the market was more accessible, western businessmen would run circles around the local competition.
You can often tell whether a business is Ukrainian owned or Russian owned.
The UKRAINIAN OWNED businesses tend to be like incompetent families.
– Things don’t happen on time. — There are no processes — instead of one competent staff person helping you, the entire office will get involved in something that you can’t imagine isn’t a standardized, daily task. — They may try to hike prices for westerners. (They assume all westerners are millionaires.) — Customers are asked to accommodate the personal travails of the staff — they have to go next door to get change, they haven’t had time to update the prices on the menu, can they pay you later because they paid for their uncle’s dental surgery.
RUSSIAN OWNED businesses tend to be like the mafia. Everything revolves around rules and status. — The staff will demonstrate their authority by ignoring you. — There can never be enough vulgar attempts at sophistication: pleated curtains, lights, rhinestones, and Russian pop music. This, I think is byzantine style. More is better. There is no efficiency or functionality. Perhaps the mentality goes: everything sucks, so more is better. More wins. — There are rules. Forget the fact that all but one table in the entire place is empty. They are all reserved. The staff will flex their authority by telling you the table you sat beside is reserved, then watch you go to the next one so that they can get another status boost and doing it again. It’s not their fault, they insist. Those are the rules. — Authority trumps usability. Forget the fact this is the obviously the door to use. It may be the only door, and it won’t have any signs or barriers indicating any restriction. It will only have a grave, suited man standing beside it (not in front of it, but beside it), who say in a guff, irritated manner, as if it’s obvious, that the door is closed. Those are the rules.