A Lovely Reminder That Racism Is Alive And Well

, , | Right | March 4, 2021

I am dealing with cancelling a contract for a customer over the phone. Everything goes perfectly and the customer is very polite. 

Me: “Well, sir, the contract is cancelled. I can email you the cancellation letter, or would you rather have it through post?”

Customer: “Email, please.”

Me: “All right, let’s check if we have your email on file.”

I notice that the email address contains one of the most common surnames in the Netherlands. The customer I have on the phone has an Arabic surname.

Me: “Sir, do we have the right email address on file? It says it’s [address].”

The customer becomes silent for a second. He sounds a bit… sad or embarrassed; I can’t be sure. 

Customer: “Eh, yes, that email address is correct. I’ve had it for ten years now. It’s just… whenever I emailed a company with my real last name, I never got invited for an interview. Since I started using this email address, I’ve gotten invited to several interviews and landed a good-paying job.”

I swallow the words I actually want to say. 

Me: “I completely understand, sir; no need to explain. I just sent the letter.”

I heard a “ding” through the line and the customer said he’d received the proof. We ended the conversation. I had heard before that a lot of companies won’t invite people with a foreign name, but this was the first time I’d met someone who’d had this happen to him. My first response would have been outrage — not to the customer, but to society as a whole.

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