We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Australian Customs rude behaviour.

Melbourne
Level Contributor
17 posts
21 reviews
Save Topic
Australian Customs rude behaviour.

I have always thought Australian Customs officers were a bit rude in the past but never as bad as returning to Melbourne Airport recently. it was a jolt to the system after experiencing helpful, welcoming and polite service from customs in China, Laos and Vietnam. It was a busy time of the morning and all traveler's had endured long overnight flights. Nearly all the customs officials were rude, heavy handed and bellowing smart allec remarks as they moved passengers along like cattle. In particular they were very abrupt and rude to foreign visitors, yelling at them in fast colloquial English which would have been difficult or impossible for anyone who did not speak very good English to understand. They showed absolutely no sensitivity or graciousness to foreign visitors in marked contrast to how Australians are received by customs in Asia. No wonder Australia gets a bad press in Asia. The customs officers behaviour and lack of respect confirms all the negative perceptions they read about this country. Why can't they be a little more sensitive and welcoming especially when first impressions count for so much? I and other travelers were disgusted by their behaviour.

South Pacific
Destination Expert
for Hobart, Tasmania
Level Contributor
26,492 posts
75 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Australian Customs rude behaviour.

Vulture, This isn't my experience. I find that immigration officials can be quite distant and reticent - probably because they are usually very busy - but I have never had any problems with customs officials. I think they are scrupulously polite unless you try to con them. I'm surpised by your post.

And I'm certain that Asian perceptions of Australians are caused by our megaphone diplomacy, military adventurism and boorish behavious as tourists - not by customs officers.

Luigi

Perth, Australia
Level Contributor
6,704 posts
48 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Australian Customs rude behaviour.

Actually Luigi, I agree with Vulture. I experienced almost exactly the same behaviour when recently (July)having to fly in to Melbourne rather than Perth after a recent overseas trip. I have never experienced anything less than courtesy from both Customs and Immigration Personnel when exiting through Perth Int Airport, even when 3 large flights arrive almost simultaneously,(Perth Airport is very small ☺) but Melbourne was a real eye opener. It costs nothing to be polite and the over officiousness and sarcastic remarks, (largely to ESL travellers) I heard where unwarranted and uncalled for IMO.Not nice and not a good first impression for OS visitors.

Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
1,187 posts
57 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Australian Customs rude behaviour.

I'm hearing you Vulture! My husband is Japanese and often travels overseas for business. He often comments on borderline discriminatory and generally rude behaviour from customs staff. I've seen it plenty of pretty ordinary behaviour from Sydney customs staff as well - exactly as you say, barking at people in English, and just barking louder when people who speak little or no English show signs of not understanding.

Immigration staff are usually just bored, occasionally friendly.

Yes they all have a job to do and are busy (and if you belieive those ridiculous tabloid TV programs, every criminal in the world is trying to slip into the country), but they're still in a frontline service role so a smile, and maybe a couple of select phrases in Mandarin, Japanese, Arabic and Spanish would go a long way.

Brisbane, Australia
Level Contributor
4,133 posts
91 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Australian Customs rude behaviour.

I mostly agree too. Does depend on the day and the shift etc..

As some of you know my husband is of Greek heritage ( 2nd generation - born in Brisbane) they continually hand him pamphlets in Arabic at Brisbane airport and consistently treat him VERY differently to me. Some of the situations have been unbelievable - and only in Australia :(

East Gippsland
Level Contributor
3,967 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Australian Customs rude behaviour.

Perhaps something to be taken up with Victorian Tourism or the customs department itself.

Perhaps as we all go through customs on one of our return trips we should hand out Smiley badges??

South Pole
Level Contributor
15,381 posts
36 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Australian Customs rude behaviour.

i agree too. i am continually amazed at the lack of empathy our customs officers sometimes have for foreign visitors esp at sydney airport (and i come thru there quite frequently). they belong to the old school of "if they dont understand, say the same thing louder....then louder again"

it is obviously a lack of training. i had a bit of a confrontation with a young customs lady a few months ago. she was obviously just out of customs school and enjoying the perceived power the uniform gave her. i eventually refused to deal with her and called for a supervisor who duly arrived and well and truly put her in her place. having said that we dont have the worst in the world but we can do better.

San Jose, California
Level Contributor
107 posts
268 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Australian Customs rude behaviour.

They are learning from the Americans.

Sydney, Australia
Destination Expert
for Sydney, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Airlie Beach, Whitsunday Islands
Level Contributor
19,044 posts
188 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Australian Customs rude behaviour.

LOL Atalanta, that was my thought too.

Our worst ever experiences have been in LAX, when upon arrival the immi guy was yelling at my 7yo..Birthday...and she kept telling him the date but not the year..when I intervened he yelled at me..and that was only the start of the experience

I've mostly found the Sydney Guys to be OK but my entire family is WASP

Mission Viejo...
Level Contributor
1,887 posts
47 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Australian Customs rude behaviour.

Atlanta- You bet me to it. LAX is a national embarassment and I suggest friends and relatives coming from overseas to connect through a different US hub to Orange County (SNA) if the fare is the same.

US Customs is seems more enlightened than their Aussie counterparts. Our agents are trained to treat everyone equally regardless of race, citizenship, sexual orientation, age, etc. Everyone is treated uniformly rude. Once I was given the 3rd degree by an agent at LAX to prove I lived in the LA area. It quickly became apparent I knew more about LA than he did! I didn't mind the scrutiny (I feel American borders are too porous)...it was the attitude I didn't appreciate.

We took our first trip to Oz in June/July. We are Asian background but native-born Americans. I didn't preceive we were treated any better or worse than others at MEL, CNS, AYQ, or SYD. Maybe because we were obviously American and native English speakers.

One of the most blatantly racist airports where Immigration is concerned is NRT (Tokyo). They treat Koreans very badly to the point that we avoid lines with a lot of Koreans...we know that will be the sloooow line.

Darwin, Australia
Destination Expert
for Darwin, Kakadu National Park
Level Contributor
2,802 posts
189 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Australian Customs rude behaviour.

Perhaps the attitude differs between centres but at darwin I have always found them to be courteous and visitors from overseas have been impressed with their behavior. There was recently a compliment from a muslim lady with a baby as to how well they assisted her in getting through Customs in a strange country. As customs xray all bags now of those who claim to have nothing to declare perhaps some people do not like that -- last trip a passenger was upset about it but Customs did find than some items of interest. On the other hand the last 3 trips through KL LCCT I have found their Customs to be invisible. Just walk through the 6 very bored looking customs people.