Perhaps this was the summer of our [national] discontent. Perhaps unemployment rates have dipped to the point where employers (including those in the service and hospitality industries) can no longer afford to apply meaningful criteria in the hiring process. Perhaps the practice of importing large numbers of English-speaking, foreign-born temporary "help" sight-unseen to fill seasonal jobs has brought customer service to the level acceptable in the developing world. Perhaps I'm used to spending my vacations in the far north, where there's less opportunity to interact with the public (and those who serve them). Whatever the cause, I noticed a considerable (and alarming) indifference on the part of customer service staff while on holiday this year.
Surly counter staff were legion. Yes, language and cultural differences can be a challenge, but that can't be an excuse for poor service. I suspect "management" is as much to blame as the employee. Managers that can't manage to correctly spell the county of origin of their employees (Jamaicia and Mexica, for example), may have the same lack of attention to detail when it comes to training and leadership.