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Can You Please Speak English?

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posted on Aug, 14 2010 @ 01:08 AM
I am so frustrated it has forced me to write this thread. First of all, I am not a racist, I do not judge anyone by their skin color or nationality. That being said, I do have a problem with customer service these days, almost every customer service line out there is now being answered by persons who cannot speak english clearly enough to allow you to understand what they are saying. It is frustrating to say the least, to have to keep asking the rep to repeat themselves over and over until you get some idea of what they are saying, but today I was speaking with Equifax, a call I considered to be one of the most important of my life, and I could not understand the customer service rep to save my life. I finally apologized for what I was about to request, and proceeded to ask for someone who I could understand better, the rep told me she was speaking english clearly, maybe to herself she was, but to me, I couldn't even make out the address name she was giving me, I thought she kept saying 'pitch' so to be sure I spelled it back to her, no she wasn't saying that she said, and proceeded to use P as in Paul, E as in echo, ect, and I couldn't hardly even make that out, I finally got that she was saying peach st. But she refused to turn the call over to anyone else, and I wound up telling her that I just couldn't understand her, and I hung up and called back hoping to get another rep. I did. Another rep who couldn't speak english any better than the first one could.

Anyway this thread really might sound more like I am venting than anything, and I am venting, but the issue is real, what to do about it? You could say well learn spanish, but all the reps are not spanish, some are indian, japanese, you name it.

posted on Aug, 14 2010 @ 01:13 AM
Being the Devils advocate here, for just a moment...

I do find it preferable that the people of the world are all having to try and master English over the alternative!

In regard to the outsourcing issue, it could go the other way and we could all be answering the phones for Bejing!!!

Just my thoughts.

posted on Aug, 14 2010 @ 01:20 AM
reply to post by Hefficide

These people are located in the USA. I asked where the office she was in was located, and she stated Atlanta. Same for the cable company. Obviously this rep adapted english, but she just wasn't capable of proper pronunciation of it. Niether was the second rep.

I work in a hotel, being able to have short conversations with my guests is important, I keep translation tools available on the desktop and do my best to give correct directions,information, ect. But that is for people traveling to the USA. Those who live here should have a firm grasp on their english before taking a job that requires so much communication. Also the person or company responsible for filling those positions should take it into consideration.

posted on Aug, 14 2010 @ 01:24 AM
reply to post by space cadet

Now it's almost embarrasing to say that I live in Atlanta.

If that's the case then I cease my Devils advocacy about this. In a customer service / phone position one would think that a person with poor communication skills would not have been considered the most qualified applicant for the job!

posted on Aug, 14 2010 @ 01:31 AM
I hear you, I truly do; I live in Texas, or in Tejas, if you prefer. I am as gringo as they come, but I make an effort to learn their preferred language, espanol, because most of them are making an effort to learn mine, Texan. Maybe I used to get upset, but that was before I started trying to control my blood pressure, heart rate and general demeanor, at which point I became as cool as ice. Not sure I contributed, but hopefully you get where I am coming from. There are more important things to worry about.

posted on Aug, 14 2010 @ 01:38 AM
reply to post by DondeEsta?

Truly there are more important things to worry about for sure. I was stunned at the fact that these two people are employed however not only in this particular field, but the nature of the calls they recieve, are of utmost importance to the caller, not being able to understand correctly could cost you a lot. I was in the proccess of dispute over several medical bills that have wound up at Equifax, making it impossible for me to forge ahead with my credit record. I do not owe these bills, they were paid in April. That sounds pretty simple. I needed to know where to send a copy of the same bills marked as paid. I never understood enough from the call to even know that. I requested from the 2nd rep that the address be mailed to me.

posted on Aug, 14 2010 @ 03:53 AM
reply to post by space cadet

It sucks, for sure.

I'm glad my Polish grandma learned to speak English. Otherwise I would have been clusless as to what her intentions were when she hugged and kissed me.

Yep, change is difficult. Especially when YOU are the one who must change.

Damn me! I chose to learn French cuz of that hot French black woman from Africa who was teaching the class. I should have chosen that class that taught Spanish, the one with the dufas who had just come back from living in Venuezala for 3 years.

Nah. He wasn't exotic enough.

posted on Aug, 14 2010 @ 04:13 AM
Thank you for sharing your frustrations :-)
I guess many people here on ATS do not have english as their main language, I myself - coming from Denmark with a scandinavian language background - being one of these.
English language, as many have been tought in school or learned trough movies, seems to be the intermedia of communication that do the trick of understanding eachothers the best.
Understanding and communication is, in my humble opinion, like a dance - it demands that everyone tries their best, goes into it with a willingness to listen and to understand and a sense of humbleness (had to look that one up ;-) ) knowing that some have better abilities, and are able to express themselves better in english - especially if its a native language.
Well, then I could just join a site in Denmark, true enough, but I like to talk to, and to change opinions with people all over the world, both english speaking countries like USA and UK, both also every other country, so for me english is the only possibility.
That said, for a real understanding, the humbleness has to go both ways:
a) we not english-speaking people have to aknowledge that we don´t understand everything, and we have to be very carefull when we wish to express ourselves in a foreign language.
b)you who have been born with english, and speaks and understands it fluintly, have to do some effort to try to understand the meaning of something that might sound funny, in respect for that english is an international way of communicating

Just my humble opinion :-)

posted on Aug, 14 2010 @ 04:14 AM
reply to post by space cadet

I had a "big five" accountancy firm interview with an audit manager who was from scotland... His accent was so thick I had difficulty promptly understanding him. I did not get asecond interview.

It can cut both ways. I am told that I have an excellent BBC accent but was born overseas. I consider it a professional necessity to speak fluent english.

posted on Aug, 14 2010 @ 04:24 AM
I come from a country where there are four national languages. A vast majority of its citizens know all four languages. I barely know one. The reason for this is because I grew up in America, lived most of my life there. In America being bi lingual is unusual, anything above two languages is almost unheard of. So I never learned this essential skill as a child, the skill that a VAST majority of Europeans learn from early childhood on. ( I exclude the UK, their very much like America, which ironically is why have chosen to settle here).

I strongly believe one should make every effort to learn the language of the place where they have decided to settle. However, I also strongly believe that Americans would benefit from educating their children to be multi lingual, specifically Spanish, you do have a border with the country which is thousands of miles long.

posted on Aug, 14 2010 @ 04:36 AM
reply to post by Merigold

I agree with you... being able to speak with and to understand the people who lives on the other sides of your borders are a source to great joy.

Living in a very small country - as I am - with a language very few people across the world understands - makes it a necessity to learn other languages - that is, if you wants to understand the world you live in globally and not just local...

Maybe I should learn spanish or italian as the next :-D

posted on Aug, 14 2010 @ 04:50 AM
In Australia, we've been subjected to garbled English for well over a decade -- courtesy of money-hungry organisations who hire non-English speaking employees on contract for a fraction of the cost of the made-redundant Aussie employees. Many are also 3rd world call-centres/customer service jokes

I protest any time it frustrates or angers me

and yes, I am angry that our stinking, corrupt government uses big-name employers as a means of sneaking yet more thousands of 3rd worlders into Australia, under the guise .. the LIE .. of 'skills shortages'

that way, the government can tell the voting public that 'only 300,000 migrants entered Australia this year', meanwhile neglecting to add the tens of thousands brought into the country by major employers such as supermarkets, banks, insurance companies, call centres, etc. etc.

' Hewwo, you Mrs Smith. Mrs.Smith, garble garble every tenth word possibly comprehensible, garble blurble, nnnkn pfg'

and they state this in a tone of voice intended to convey ' I am an important voice on the phone, courtesy of my very important employer -- who in fact relies on your partonage, as do I, but I'm going to mouth off arrogantly anyway -- because in MY country, people who speak on the phone are more important than the postman, the goat-herder and the woman who sweeps away excrement from the open-air toilets - and anyway, you're just a female and I'm a man, so that means you must defer to me '

In response, on MY phone, in MY home, concerning MY money or MY purchase, I am polite as long as the caller is very polite and can render him/herself comprehensible. After all, they are supposed to be customer-service

If the voice cannot be understood or if the caller demonstrates some of the famous sub-continental 'I am a male, so bow to me' type arrogance -- I say once: ' I cannot understand you. Please repeat and slowly '

If they garble at me again, I ask to be connected to a fluent English speaker

If this does not solve the problem or if they adopt an attitude, I put down the receiver and write a letter of complaint to their employer .. snail male, formal

Very often I dispense with the services of the company concerned and if provided the slightest opportunity (such as if they enquire as to why I'm taking MY money out of THEIR hands or why I'm going to buy from their competitor ) I tell them very calmly that I prefer to deal with companies/organisations who employ English-speaking Australians, so many of whom are unemployed because of the cheap, contract, 3rd world labour the government has sneaked into the country (along with all the fake students, etc.)

My prerogative


[edit on 14-8-2010 by Dock9]

posted on Aug, 14 2010 @ 05:15 AM
Thank you all so much for your responses

I work with a family from India, and they speak at least 4 languages, I do admire them for this, I wanted to learn thier primary one so I could have conversations with the women of the family, the women for whatever reasons did not speak english as fluent as their husbands, they were so nice and I reallly wanted to learn even a small amount, when I brought it up to the owner he said flatly NO. In fact he asked me to try to help them along with their english instead, because he said it was thier intention to live in America, and become Americans, and would need the basic skill of speaking the language clearly. I still went on and learned some basics and am able to tell his parents, who speak no english, hello, good day, just a few things.

I was in Japan as a child, we lived there for several years, and my mother taught us to speak Japanese to the housekeeper, again just some basic statements, but it was very helpful to us and to her.

But I still feel that if a person is going to take a job that requires you to give or take information from it's clients, proper communication is essential. It made me feel really bad to have to say anything to either customer service rep, and the more I think about it, the more I say it is the employer's bad decision to place them that puts me and them in this situation. I should write to them and explain just that.

Thanks all of you for not making this a derogatory thread, that is not the direction I was wishing to take with this, I just wanted to ask what is the solution in your opinions.

posted on Aug, 14 2010 @ 05:30 AM
This is going to sound terribly un-politically correct, but it was hilarious and true nonetheless. One of our our Elderly Czech friends, who has lived here for decades, was trying to call tech support for his PC which happened to be in India. Both parties had such thick English accents that NEITHER could understand the other. I wish I could have Youtubed it, it was that funny. Truth be told, I had to tell "Josh" to escalate the service call, I couldn't understand his English either and told him I wanted someone in the States to talk to. Low and behold, I actually got through to someone who I could fully understand and sounded as if they were from the Midwest.

I absolutely hate trying to solve a consumer complaint/problem with someone who does not speak English as their primary language on the company end. It's simply a stupid business practice for an English speaking customer base. In fact I refuse to buy another product from one such company because my customer service problem was only exacerbated with such a non English speaking customer service person. They took a little problem that could have been eaisly solved, and because of their lack of understanding English beyond their customer service flowchart, they totally lost me as a customer. It's one of my major pet peeves.

posted on Aug, 14 2010 @ 05:36 AM

Originally posted by Tiger5
reply to post by space cadet

I had a "big five" accountancy firm interview with an audit manager who was from scotland... His accent was so thick I had difficulty promptly understanding him. I did not get asecond interview.

I understand, I once had a Scottish Buddhist Monk from Glasgow try to talk to me. Mind you, he was a native Scot, just also a Buddhist Monk. I swear he was speaking another language.....he fully understood my English, but I could not for the life of me understand his English. I actually though he was talking another foreign language when it was just his thick Scottish English. It was crazy.

posted on Aug, 14 2010 @ 05:53 AM
WHAT??? How DARE you ask that people be able to speak the English language in the USA!!!
What in the heck is the matter with you? Don't you know that it is your duty to learn everyone's else's language in your own country now??

I swear, some people really have some cajones not to placate every single immigrant, illegal or not, that comes to this country by not learning their language. Haven't you heard of the new bill now being passed that makes it a crime to speak English in America??? All Americans must learn Spanish as the first language now, or risk being a racist.

It is hereby demanded upon you mandatory self slapping to wake up into the new world of bending over, spreading them, and taking it throat-deep by every single immigrant, illegal or not. And don't even THINK about that 9mm. :shk:

posted on Aug, 14 2010 @ 06:06 AM
You should be happy that you got to talk to a human being.

I sense the next step in customer service is a totally automated system in which the prerecorded message speaks so very slowly and clearly that a 10 minute call trying to check on something takes a full hour because of the system.


[edit on 14-8-2010 by sticky]

posted on Aug, 14 2010 @ 06:11 AM
Can you please speak whatever language they're native to?
oh, you can't?

They've went to enough trouble to learn the English language and you nitpick on their pronounciation. Did you ever think of asking them to speak slower or for you to try focus on what they're saying more?

I work in a retail enviroment and serve a lot of muslims, greeks, americans, etc, regardless of accent I've never had a problem with understanding them via phone or in person.

Also keep in mind the jobs they're likely doing (customer service or whatever) is the only sort of job they're able to get. Without going back to the country they sought to leave for whatever reason, they're going to have to make money some how.

posted on Aug, 14 2010 @ 06:46 AM

Originally posted by pavil
I absolutely hate trying to solve a consumer complaint/problem with someone who does not speak English as their primary language on the company end.

I'm glad I found this thread and I agree with ya.
This is the main reason why I no longer buy .....
well I won't mention names ... but it rhymes with HP


I just got fed up getting my tech support calls routed
to India and even had 1 tech tell me that he spoke
better english than I did. And this is when I asked
him did he have any tech support people who spoke

and he didn't have a clue

posted on Aug, 14 2010 @ 06:50 AM

Originally posted by sticky
You should be happy that you got to talk to a human being.
I sense the next step in customer service is a totally automated system in which the prerecorded message speaks so very slowly and clearly that a 10 minute call trying to check on something takes a full hour because of the system.

my last support phone call to Century Link was
completely done by computer. no human.

when I activated a card by phone, it's all computer.

Now when the computer starts having an Indian
dialect on pronunciation .... then we have a major issue.

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