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Needs A More Accented Approach

, , , , , | Right | January 11, 2022

I get an email from a coworker.

Coworker: “Can you please call [phone number] and ask him what he needed help with? I tried calling him myself, but for some reason, he said that my English was terrible and he couldn’t understand barely a word I was saying. I’m guessing it’s because he’s a native English speaker and my accent is different? I’m very confused.”

This particular coworker is from Colombia, and although she does have an accent, no one has ever had any trouble communicating with her. In fact, one of the requirements to even get a job here is to be able to speak English.

When I dial the number, the software advises me that the number is in the Czech Republic. The conversation — heavily condensed — is as follows.

Me: “Hello, this is [My Name] from [Company].”

Customer: *In a thick accent* “Thanskyoucallingmebackinmiddleofmeetingyousetanothertime…”

Me: “I’m sorry, can you say that that slower?”


Me: “Yes, sir, I am from the US. I just need—”

Customer: “Nooo… it’s very bad English, like you start learning two months.”

Me: “Sir, if you are going to be abusive, I’m going to terminate this call. Now, you contacted us asking for assistance, and we are trying to help you.”

Customer: “WhatIsayIwasinmeetingyougivemeanotherforcallisverycomplicated—”

Me: “Sir… slower!

This goes on for a solid five minutes until I am finally able to gather that he can’t talk to me because he was in an important meeting and wants to set up a time for a call-back to discuss the issue in detail.

After getting off the phone with him, I leave my coworker an email.

Me: “First of all, this customer isn’t even remotely anywhere near any level of fluency in English, let alone native. It took me five minutes to understand that he was trying to tell me that I needed to call him back at another time. Then, it took a good two minutes to communicate a new time to call. Unfortunately, you have people out there who think that since they can speak a comprehensible amount of a foreign language at a level where others can understand them, they feel that by ‘stepping on the gas’ and talking fast, they’ll sound like a native. And when the other person has difficulties understanding them (and vice versa), they try to flip it around and say your English is bad. Don’t worry about Donald Duck here; there is absolutely nothing wrong with your English whatsoever. I actually wish my fluency in German was as fluent as your English!”

And she was able to perk back up and confidently continue on with her shift.

Arrivederci To This Caller

, , , , | Right | December 31, 2021

Me: “Thank you for calling [Business]. This is [My Name]. How can I help you today?”

Caller: *Five-second pause* “Why do you answer the phone in English?”

Me: “Uh… because this is the English department?”

Caller: “I want to speak Italian!”

Me: “Okay, then you will need to hang up, redial, and push three for Italian. It appears you pushed two and got the English department.”

Caller: “But I will have to wait again! I waited for twenty minutes!”

Me: “I’m sorry that happened, but I’m not sure what else to tell you. Press three for the Italian department when you redial.”

Caller: “Connect me to the Italian department!”

Our internal telephone system isn’t that simple; it would involve me looking through a directory of many employees from six different language markets, trying to remember which one of them speaks Italian, and then checking their work status to see if they are available to take calls. My system is telling me that there are three people on hold waiting to talk to me.

Me: “I’m not able to do that from here. You will need to hang up and redial.”

Caller: “No, you will speak Italian with me! This is Italy! Speak Italian!”

Me: “Sir, we’re actually located in Germany. I don’t speak a drop of Italian. Please hang up and—”

Caller: *Speaking Italian*

Me: “Sir, I don’t understand you. Please hang up and redial—”

Caller: *Continuing in Italian*

Me: “I’m sorry, sir, but I have to end this call.” *Hanging up*

If You Have Zero Respect They Have Zero Tolerance

, , , , | Right | December 23, 2021

While traveling through Europe, I witness firsthand how Germans have a low tolerance for belligerent customers.

In a hostel lobby, I am sitting on a couch and looking through my phone when a man near me makes a sharp whistle at a cleaning lady who is cleaning a window. She turns her head with an irritated look.

Guest: “Get me a paper towel.”

She simply points to the men’s restroom.

Cleaning Lady: “We have plenty in there. Take as many as you need.”

She turns her attention back to the window she is cleaning.

Later on, he’s at the service desk and begins yelling about something and slapping his hand on the countertop.

Staff Member: “No, we’re not going to have that here. If you don’t like what we have available to offer you, leave! It’s as simple as that! Do you want the room, yes or no?”

Magically, the jerk decided to become civil after that. Had I not been a tourist, I would have applied for a job there!

Selfies And Thumbs-Up And Thongs, Oh My

, , , | Right | December 15, 2021

You would be amazed at the number of times I have to send this response letter to a customer inquiry.

Letter: “Thank you for your interest in [Security Service] for your vehicle. Unfortunately, we cannot accept a selfie photo as identification, nor can we accept a photo of yourself sitting inside the vehicle giving a thumbs-up as proof of ownership. Please submit a government-issued identification card or a passport along with the vehicle registration and/or bill of sale.”

Other geniuses have applied with simply a blurry picture of the vehicle and zero vehicle information. The one that really took the cake was a group photo with three cars in the background

The runner-up was an inquiry my middle-aged female coworker received of a girl in thongs suggestively posing inside the vehicle in question. That one made her EXTREMELY angry and she wasn’t afraid to let the customer know.

You Gotta Prioritize, Dude

, , , , , | Working | August 21, 2021

I booked a trip to Mallorca, Spain; however, it was cancelled at the last minute for obvious reasons during the current health crisis. I had spent a long, depressing year cooped up in my apartment, had been laid off from my job of eight years as my employer was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, my birthday was coming up… I really wanted an escape!

I returned to the same travel agency from where I had booked my previous excursion and patiently waited nearly a half an hour while the only available agent was with another customer. When it was finally my turn, the agent and I discussed visiting the Canary Islands. He showed me an attractive package.

Me: “I’ll take it!”

And whipped out my credit card.

Suddenly, a fairly attractive older woman looking to be somewhere in her forties appeared in the doorway. She was sporting a plastic-foil-tight leopard-spotted dress that extended just below her butt and no further, and she was wearing more makeup than Marilyn Manson.

Agent: *To me* “Could you excuse me for just two minutes? This lady here had something booked, and she’s going to pay, sign some papers, and be right out of here. Two minutes, tops.”

Internally annoyed at being bumped back into the waiting queue even though it was clearly MY turn — not to mention that I literally had my credit card out and ready to do business — I said that would be okay, and I went back into the waiting room.

Two minutes turned into five, five minutes turned into ten, and ten turned into fifteen. I went and looked into an adjacent window to the office and observed both of them sitting at the desk, leaning forward across so close that their heads were only inches apart, and the agent had this dreamy smile on his face.

I’m sure he had that same dreamy smile on his face when he went out to the waiting room to find it empty.

He later emailed me and apologized for the “unexpected delay,” not that it benefited him at all.