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Language problems and anger


johanson

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I dropped by the Ajijic Telmex office a few days ago to make some changes to my internet connection. I speak some Mexican street Spanish and between their limited English and my limited Spanish I always get great service. Oh sure, I want faster internet, and yes they wish they could give it to me. But they can not do so. So, no big deal.

As I was leaving the Telmex office a lady supervisor called me over and asked if I still wrote technical articles for the Guadalajara Reporter, because she had a problem. I said no, I retired 4 or 5 years ago. But how can I help you?

She said we have a problem sometimes here at the office. Upon occasion this English speaking client will come into the office and start demanding in an angry manner to speak to someone here at Telmex who can respond in excellent English. We try to help her as much as we can and when one of our employees who speaks some English is available we send that person over. But nothing seems to work. She just gets angrier and angrier if she can not immediately communicate well with us in English,. And sometimes just goes stomping out of the office. We want to help her. But what do we do? This is Mexico and our first language is Mexican Spanish. And Telmex can not provide a large staff of truly bilingual employees to help all of the Expat community

I answered, let me post what you just told me in the Chapala forum, hoping that someone on the forum will have a suggestion of what you might do to make things less tense when folks come in demanding that they get immediate service in a language other than Spanish.

What caught my interest was that this supervisor, really wanted to help and was hoping that maybe one of us might know this lady who I wrote about above and might be able to help solve her problems by coming with her to the Telmex office. The supervisor of course could not give me the clients name,

Thanks in advance for any suggestions you might make that I could take to the office

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As usual, the Mexican lady was being polite----- a very Mexican trait. And she was 100% correct -- SPANISH is the language of this country, and one has no right to expect anything else and should be grateful when English (or whatever) is an option.

That said, this truly ignorant and insensitive snob should make her choice: 

(1) bring a translator with her when she needs to go for service , Telmex or anywhere else, or

(2) go back where they speak only English so she can stop berating people who don't deserve same.

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Pete:

All the Bozos are not in the circus.... It certainly would be helpful if Telmex had a Gringo on call to explain to the subject that they are in a foreign country as a GUEST and should conduct themselves accordingly.. If one does not like the service than go home! No problem...

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 I feel sorry for all the Telmex workers, we have been in there many times and seen terrible behavior from many foreigners, I apologized to the guy once and he said she comes here often and is always angry and never happy, I said not all of us are like that and was happy when I left.

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Evidently the person that parked her broom at the curb and gave a ration to the poor Telmex person has not lived out of the US... We all have an option, accept what  is offered or go home... Mexico is a great place to live if you understand that all of the services we take for granted in the US may or may not  be available....

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When i originally saw the op i knew it would open a can of worms and was waiting for the backlash..surprisingly the majority of the responses are not what i expected but am pleased to read them. We are not guests here. We decided to come to mexico . no one invited us .They try as much as they can to help those who dont speak spanish but many expats just dont want to or havent the brains.you can live here without but isnt it rude not to even try and be at least courteous in a host country?

And dont give the too old excuse. Been done to death and i dont accept it.

I suppose when the boots on the other foot you expect mexicans to speak english in an english speaking country. So why should things be different for a few rude grumpy gringos in mexico?

 

 

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Some of us that lived NOB think that just because our country provides all the services free(translators, applications, etc.) to anyone that could not speak English, that it would be reciprocal in most other countries. Some though, continue to exclaim: "if you don't learn English and don't make a sincere effort to fit in with our way of life, then go home". Mexico makes no apology for having everything transacted in its predominant language. I like that. Other countries should do as the Mexicans do more often in some things.They take pride in their predominate language, and rightly so. This is their country, and they built it.  If it's not the way you like it, then fit in or go home.

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I'm going to say it" what about the millions of Mexicans in the United States that don't speak nada English"? Is there something I am missing?  Is there such a thing as  a level playing field or a two way street? Or is it just a bunch of grumpy rude gringos with no manners in Mexico but just about ten million Mexican doing what they want??

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Mexico will always protect their resources and way of life from intrusion. No level playing field or two way street when it comes to Mexico and the USA. The Mexican government would not and does not tolerate those things that the USA does. Remember, Viva Mexico !

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bigd at least where I lived 10 years ago north of Seattle, most all of the Mexicans I ran across spoke much better English in the greater Mount Vernon area than we speak Spanish down here, What contact did I have? Each summer I would make contact at the local Catholic church where they had Spanish mass as well as in English and I would hire Mexicans to come to my/our summer home/cottage to help me with my many maintenance tasks. My goal was to better learn Spanish. And I was very surprised how almost all of those who I had contact with, were learning English much faster than I an most of my friends down here are learning Spanish

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This woman is rude and entitled. She is also a bully. But, we are not going to be able to do anything about that. She is what she is.

The woman is not obligated to learn Spanish but Mexicans living in their own country are not obligated to learn English or any other language. Since she has chosen to live in a country where she does not speak the language it is her responsibility to bring a translator. TelMex owes her good service for her telecommunication needs but they do not owe her having someone on hand who fluently speaks her language. 

Pete, perhaps you can print out on an index card in English whatever it is the supervisor wants this woman to know. On that card tell her politely that it is to her benefit to bring a translator with her next time so that she may receive the excellent service TelMex wants to provide her with. 

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Are we talking about the TelMex office that is on the mountain side of the carretera in central Ajijic? If so, I remember that about a year ago I was in there, took a number and sat on the left side, and was directed to someone on the left end of the that area. I had rehearsed what I was going to say in Spanish. The person who was directing people as their numbers came up noted the blond hair, pale skin and lousy Spanish (I try but am not fluent) and directed me to someone who spoke English. I seem to recall that there has been a turnover in staff, so perhaps that explains why there are no bilingual staff members there now. I never assume that I will be spoken to in English, and I always start out in Spanish and rehearse what I need to say (sometimes with a translation in hand). I find that beginning by speaking Spanish is always appreciated, even when the person to whom you speak is bilingual. Of course, being polite and keeping a smile on your face is important everywhere! It appears to me that the TelMex client in question does not have both oars in the water, but possibly she is just old and cranky--a lot of that going around!

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We are not guests here. We are not guests here. (We're guests when we visit a friend's home; we're guests at the Hilton, if we can pay for the room.) We have the Mexican government's stamp of approval if we qualify by their rules of residency, and we pay for it. We all do, or we're not here legally.

That said, the rude woman in the Telmex office has to be some kind of crazy. She was probably just as much a problem to the businesses she frequented wherever she comes from. Natasha makes a great point: This woman needs to bring a translator with her wherever it's needed. Or she could brush up on her Emily Post, learn some manners, and be glad the Mexicans are so much more polite than she'll ever be.

Many of us have tried to be better with our Spanish, but we just didn't make it. I'm one of them. I'm tired of hearing criticisms of those of us who didn't achieve fluency, or even close to it from the smug twits who did learn Spanish. And I appreciate the businesses who try to accommodate us and add English-speaking personnel to their staffs.

However I also have to note that we bring a lot to this economy by living here. It often occurs to me that big businesses like Telmex can or should be able to afford the English-speaking help that some foreign customers need in order to negotiate their accounts.

Lexy

 

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I noticed some new faces, but a week earlier when I was there, I did run into a younger female employee at one of the help desks that I had not seen at Telmex before speaking pretty good English. The problem that was explained to me a few days ago was the person who came in and did not wait until the English speaking person was available and I guess expected most everyone to speak the language to her right away.

We are spoiled here. I have US friends who live in Guadalajara, where they are a much smaller % of many many folks there who pretty well had to earn Spanish, and having had to, did so. I wish there were fewer English speaking Mexicans here so that I would have been forced to learn better Spanish faster. Well on second thought, I'm glad we are spoiled here :)

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I am a bit surprised by the discussion. There are a couple of service guys who speak quite good English I think one is named Oscar and the other a slightly built person..They have both been around a number of years

Many years ago there was a group at LCS called LINK with a guy called Ed White. He was the go to person when help was need at the Telmex office...where is the next Ed.. maybe a Pete???

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This person may be suffering with Dementia which may explain the repeated returns. That said, no employee should put up with abuse. Any abusive patron should be given the choice of leaving or explaining it to the police.

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I don't recall the OP saying anything about her being abusive. If that was the case, I doubt that Telmex would be wanting to help this person. They seem eager to help her, so doubt that she has been offensive to them. Mad and offensive do not mean the same thing to me. But I try not to judge too quickly, and when I do, I try to remember that I am neither judge, nor jury.

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46 minutes ago, Hud said:

I don't recall the OP saying anything about her being abusive.....

The OP said, " this English speaking client will come into the office and start demanding in an angry manner to speak to someone here at Telmex who can respond in excellent English".

In my books, that is being abusive. The definition I see is: "

"abusive language"

Seems like she hit a few of the synonyms in my book.

But the biggest story here for me is that the TelMex folks, even after having this person continue to hurl insulting language at them, still want and are looking for a way to better serve this lady. That should be commended!

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I don't see where the OP said she used abusive language. Some of us have a problem with reading comprehension, no? If there was anything serious, Telmex (based upon my Mexican wife's comments) would not be interested in helping at all, and would have no problem seeking her removal permanently.  I trust her, since she has worked over 30 years in businesses in Mexico and knows the "games".

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A smart phone with a translate app is my best buddy anymore.  My maid thinks it is the greatest thing ever.  

It will translate both ways and even figure out which language is being spoken.

I went by Steren yesterday and there is a "help wanted" sign in the window.  They are looking for someone that is bilingual, so they do their best to accommodate us.  

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I have always found Telmex to make a great effort to communicate with me.  Never not been able to speak at least Spanglish with someone.  Had same experience at Telcel store in Mall.  I commend Telmex for trying and a great idea talking to Pete and trying to figure it out a solution to the situation.  What happens here in Mexico has nothing to do with USA. Different cultures.  Comparing learning a language at 30 is very different than learning it at 60+ but we should try for sure.  I admit I speak Spanglish.

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12 hours ago, JayBearII said:

Are we talking about the TelMex office that is on the mountain side of the carretera in central Ajijic? If so, I remember that about a year ago I was in there, took a number and sat on the left side, and was directed to someone on the left end of the that area. I had rehearsed what I was going to say in Spanish. The person who was directing people as their numbers came up noted the blond hair, pale skin and lousy Spanish (I try but am not fluent) and directed me to someone who spoke English. I seem to recall that there has been a turnover in staff, so perhaps that explains why there are no bilingual staff members there now. I never assume that I will be spoken to in English, and I always start out in Spanish and rehearse what I need to say (sometimes with a translation in hand). I find that beginning by speaking Spanish is always appreciated, even when the person to whom you speak is bilingual. Of course, being polite and keeping a smile on your face is important everywhere! It appears to me that the TelMex client in question does not have both oars in the water, but possibly she is just old and cranky--a lot of that going around!

When we were trying to get our new phone line we had time to chat, 1 guy said he worked there for 17 years Ricardo I think and we said you must be the longest working employee at this office and he said the other lady had been here almost 20 years, not no, there is not much turnover there.

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