The Soapbox Archives:
For those who haven't heard this before, I'm from the Canadian province of Québec; as a matter of fact, I was born *in* Québec City itself (living at 3345 Avenue du Coliseé for many years). Every time I think of Québec, I don't think of Bonhomme Carnival or the Winter Carnival (i.e., Mardi Gras...in snow). Rather, I think of the place that legislates its language, the requirement that French comes first in a country where English predominates with French coming in a close second. It's not all that different from the USA where English rules with Spanish catching up fast.
I think that something has to be wrong if you have to legislate the propagation of a specific language. Do people fear the disappearance of their own language? Do people not like people who aren't exactly like themselves? I think that people should be encouraged to learn the native language of the country to which they're moving. However, the question is, should that "encouragement" consist of a stick or a carrot?
I got woken up by a phone call from my dad who was on his way into Chinatown. He had gotten a phone call from a friend who had fallen on some stairs and needed help. There wasn't anyone in the building who knew enough English to call for an ambulance. He called my dad because my dad had some understanding of English. Let's walk through this scenario:
That was 80 minutes from the time the guy hurt himself to the time we delivered him to the emergency room (I think he only had a bad sprain), all because he didn't how to call for emergency services. Imagine how much better off he would have been if he could call for an ambulance himself?
Instead of the continuing rhetoric from English-first proponents, perhaps we should be concentrating on education. Not education in terms of English classes, but an information marketing plan that demonstrates the benefits of being conversant in the English language and making it easier for them to get the training they need. No one likes to be forced to do anything; perhaps it's time to try encouragement instead. Sure, this information is out there already, but it's clearly not *reaching* the right people.
One more note. As a kid, I was always mocked by my parents' friends for not being able to speak Chinese because I was "suppose to" be able to speak my native language. It's kinda hard to learn Chinese when all my Chinese friends spoke English. It also took me years to figure out that some people have a hard time learning and retaining multiple languages, particularly if they don't use them. I should know how to speak English, Cantonese/Chinese, French, German, and Latin. Those who have spoken English all their lives should consider how hard it really is to learn English; no other language has so many exceptions to the rules. Let's cut these immigrants some slack and help them instead of yelling at them.
"All of our customer representatives are busy helping other customers. Your call is important so please wait on the line and we'll help you as soon as we can".I'm thinking that, if we're really that important, perhaps they should think about getting more customer representatives.
For the first time in my life, I'm not a customer of AT&T, Bell Telephone, Bell New England, Bell Atlantic, or Verizon. It's sort of strange particularly since I went out of my way to stay a customer.
I remember the first time I tried to get DSL at my house after all the advertisements I got with my Bell Atlantic bill. I kept calling them up and was told that they didn't cover my area. I finally called up Covad who told me that I was 11,000 feet from the (Bell Atlantic) Central Office (barely made it). Now, who came over to install the copper wire to my house for my Covad DSL service? A Bell Atlantic technician.
Recently, after some stressful contemplation, I switched from Verizon FIOS service after 5 loyal years. A Comcast salesman came by several times to talk me into switching services. The deal was VERY good (Verizon was about to raise the rental fee on the analog set box that cost about $240 and I had already paid $300 in rental fees).
I called up Verizon several times to see if they could come close to the Comcast deal and they refused every time. Their best deal would still cost me at least $120 a year more than Comcast (about $480 year if I had never called them). After switching, I returned all the equipment to their Framingham store (how come they didn't tell me I could do that at their Waltham store?) and I saw a flyer for the exact deal that would have kept me a Verizon customer. The catch? I had to be a new customer.
What the hell? Why is a 5-year customer less desireable than a new customer? They've already made their profit on me and they'd rather lose me for two years than give me the *same* deal as a new customer. Don't they value existing customers? (Rhetorical question; no, they don't.)
Apparently the business model of the cable companies assume that everyone switches services every two years and everyone who doesn't is a sucker. After I switched to Comcast, the people at Verizon were more than happy to offer me a deal as a new customer. Does it make for happy customers to switch services and then switch back? Or should the cable companies just come up with a flexible offering to keep their existing customers? It's hard enough to get new customers; they should work harder to keep their existing customers.
I was offended when all the Verizon people I talked to would say bad things about Comcast. That's just FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Deception). I've been satisfied with my new Comcast service and I hear good things from friends with the service.
My personal recommendation? When your service contract ends (probably in two-year increments), call up the competing services and ask them what they're going to do for you. Don't feel bad about switching services. They're not going to feel any loyalty to you; they're just interested in new customers. They're not interested in retaining old customers.
One of my friends did this: When her contract ended and they jacked up her prices, she discontinued her service and then signed up for a (new) same service under her daughter's married name. The cable companies know this happens and they'd rather let it happen than do something nice for their customers who want to stay with their service.