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Tbilisi wall of shame - why customer service is so bad and 5 other things that may annoy you

Updated: May 31, 2023

Tbilisi expats

1. Customer service in Tbilisi (or lack of) in old communist style corner shops

I visit my local corner shop and hand in 10 GEL note to pay for my groceries that totals 2.5 GEL, the cashier goes into a meltdown over change, she shrugs her shoulders in disappointment and says can not give me the change... After a few words back and forth, she sighs and reluctantly hands me over 7.5 Lari in change...

Annoyingly, it is not uncommon to come across cashiers like her in most corner shops.

In fact, the lack of customer service is not exclusive to the corner shops, gyms, and public places, pretty much where reception exists it appears that everyone could do with some customer service training. But luckily it’s not all bad and things are certainly improving so I hope by the time you read this post will have become redundant, fingers crossed.

Other issues that may annoy you as an expat in Tbilisi....

2. Jumping the queue - who cares

People will jump the queues everywhere, right in front of you when you are about to order your cup of coffee, when you are about to pay for a loaf of bread or pretty much anywhere else where payment and queuing is required... Such behaviour has it's origins though. In Soviet Georgia (and anywhere else in the Soviet Union), the Communist government deliberately kept creating shortages of pretty much everything, which meant everything was sold on a first come first served basis, so if you were late, and did not forcefully jump the queue you simply did not get your share of allocated butter and milk! True! I guess it takes more than one generation to unroot the habit, all I can say is, communism you bastard! In the meantime, do not despair, if anyone tries to jump the line in front of you, do what I do, have a micro fight and force your way forward, nobody will mind. :)

3. Taxi drivers - in old cars

All I can say is avoid old cabs at all costs unless you don’t mind a driver smoking. You can avoid problems by using public transport like Metro, or better walk!

4. Smoking - even though the smoking in Tbilisi is banned in public places it’s still overwhelming to see how many people will smoke in your face in the streets, it’s pretty awful but at least you can find shelter inside the cafes and public places, that's a great step forward.

5. Plumbing, handymen, and all that building work.

It’s really hard to get a good handyman or a plumber when things go wrong in the apartment and need fixing leaking taps, You may require patience. Also, what’s up with all the building works? Just remember following the stagnant decades the entire city of Tbilisi is going through reconstruction and renovation hence the building works are taking place in every corner of the neighborhood, just ignore the best you can and hopefully the place you’ll choose to stay will be in a quieter spot.

Above all, remember everything is part of the experience so enjoy, once you get the hang of things Tbilisi is actually a really cool place to be. 😉

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