Denny’s Daily Zinger: Sochi’s Customer Care Catastrophe

Although Peggy spent 20 years as an official in world curling, we opted out of Sochi. Good thing. Why?

  • Expensive: Sochi cost many Americans $7,000 to $14,000 pp per week.

Russia’s Paranoia
We were in Moscow for a curling event two years ago. Virtually no one spoke English. Signs were in Cyrillic script. An inveterate American traveler called Russia the most unfriendly tourist venue he had ever visited.

Okay, Russia’s paranoia is logical. Ten million Russian military were killed in the war, along with 10 million civilians.

The Jimmy Carter Hobgoblin
A small ugly creature in children’s stories who harms or tricks people. —Macmillan Dictionary

In 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. As retribution, President Jimmy Carter (D-GA) called for the boycott of the 1980 summer Olympics, with 65 countries participating in the boycott. The dreams of American athletes were trashed by a politically motivated Georgia peanut farmer.

At the time, Russia was truly nasty. All hotel rooms for foreigners were bugged. Guards were on every hotel floor. When a foreign tourist left the room, it was searched.

Restaurants routinely ran out of food. Russian help were sullen.

Had gazillion athletes, groupies and media descended on Moscow in 1980, the place would have imploded. The Russian bear would have been exposed as a paper tiger.

By boycotting the Olympics, I believe Jimmy Carter prolonged the Cold War by 10 years.

And the current Sochi silliness never would have happened.

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His next book will be “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at or contact him at

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at

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  • Dave Cearley

    Denny, you my be a good writer, but this "article" is a POS rant with no actual information about anything, Worse, it has zip to do with direct mail, marketing, or business. Do you guys have editors? BTW, do you really think a political message to the USSR for invading another country was wrong? Please. Hobgoblin? Peanut farmer? Did you forget Nuclear Physicist? I’m no fan of democrats, but Carter was a blessing compared to the present occupant of the White House.

  • Mary Alice LaPoint

    They ONLY spoke Russian, in RUSSIA? OUTRAGEOUS! And to boot, everything was written in the Russian ALPHABET? Alert the international community. How could that have been allowed, particularly knowing that Americans might visit? After all, we all speak Russian in the USA and use their alphabet as well as our own on signs and road posts.

  • UK1

    I completely understand Denny Hatch’s comments on Sochi – it is unfortunate that a black cloud is hanging over the Olympics. However, I do think his comment about his visit to Moscow – that ‘virtually no one spoke English’ is completely ridiculous. Moscow is in Russia – they speak Russian in Russia. I hardly think that a Russian travelling to the US would expect everyone to speak Russian!

  • Celeste

    Jimmy Carter did the right thing in 1980 and we should have boycotted the games again this year because of Russia’s human rights violations. Since when do the dreams of athletes trump thousands of people who are being beaten, imprisoned and tortured because of Putin’s anti-gay policies? Russia has only itself to blame for its shoddy treatment of guests at Sochi.

  • Denny Hatch

    Hey all, thanks for taking the time to write.

    Это кириллица. Все признаки находятся в Москве в этом кириллице. Вы понятия не имеете, где вы находитесь.

    Translation of the above: “This is Cyrillic script. All signs are in Moscow are in this Cyrillic script.”

    Street signs, subway stops, hotel names, banks, everything. You have no idea where you are. Wanna get really lost—and scared? Go to Moscow. Get in a taxi and tell the driver your hotel, you’ll be looked at like you’re an ET. If you go to Moscow on your own—not with a tour group—beware. It’s fascinating, but the most tourist unfriendly place we have ever been. And we’ve been in a lot of places.


    Denny Hatch,

  • Charles Prescott

    Yes, being in a place where you are illiterate is tough, and challenges one’s interpersonal skills. I’ve been totally lost on metro systems world-wide, the worst being Moscow, where if you go wrong you are REALLY wrong, and each time someone, generally a motherly lady, literally takes me by the hand and gets me where I want to go. No, I’m not that cute. They’re just being helpful. This has happened to me in Korea and Japan and Taiwan and Madrid (less problem for me there, to be sure). Even in London, where for mysterious and unannounced reasons the line you want is just declared to be non-operating. I love having students offer to help; they want to practice their English and they have great energy. Even had a terrific conversation in Taiwan about Phish! Took me a long time to get back on the train.