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To think that when booking something over the phone the person doing it should have a more than reasonable grasp of English language?

(37 Posts)
katkitya Thu 21-Jul-11 17:49:21

I know some will call the racist card but I'm prepared for that. At this moment in time I think I will flatten anyone that looks at me the wrong way!!! Trainline website down so ring the booking line. I had to talk to the computer tell them when and where I was going what time etc. I had it all infront of me so there was no messing. Shouldn't that have been it? Oh no, I then get the booking agent who asks the same questions again and then instead of Newquay insists I'm going to New St station Birmingham! And so it goes on. Four times i spelt Newquay. Then when we got there and I told her the train times she repeated them back to me fine but, then she summarized them and if it wasn't one journey she'd booked wrong it was the other. I can't even get into the part where I had to repeat my post code seven times. I could feel my blood pressure going through the roof. I would open the Shiraz but I'm at keep fit in an hour. Does this happen to anyone else? It's my first time as I usually book everything by the computer.

LDNmummy Thu 21-Jul-11 18:01:28

So to clarify.. you knew the other person was foreign I am assuming by an accent or some other give away sign??

You mentioned 'the racist card' so just asking.

mumblechum1 Thu 21-Jul-11 18:02:46

YANBU. The person answering your query should have a good grasp of English.

Eglu Thu 21-Jul-11 18:05:06

I had this once when I called tax credits and I was not convinced the person was taking the correct details at all. I ended up calling again to check everything.

Andrewofgg Thu 21-Jul-11 18:08:12

Agree. Not racist at all to expect people to be qualified to do the job. There are no blind chauffeurs and no steeplejacks with vertigo.

katkitya Thu 21-Jul-11 18:18:21

I'm assuming it was in Mumbai. Infact I know it is as I've just rang them to complain I explained that I was ringing as my phone call had taken so long as the person couldn't understand me and her reply? "and what time
would you like to book your journey for madam?" I give up.

LDNmummy Thu 21-Jul-11 18:22:58

Ah yes, this has happened to me plenty of times. From what I understand they have elocution training in call centre's like those abroad in Mumbai.

It is down to the company and not the individual so wouldn't get irate at the person on the other end of the line (though it is frustrating).

I don't think you are being racist, it should be a given that someone dealing with the British public on a daily basis should be able to speak a relatievly good level of English.

katkitya Thu 21-Jul-11 18:33:58

Do all companies use call centres abroad? My bank doesn't seem too

aquashiv Thu 21-Jul-11 18:36:00

YADNBU I had a sales persoon swear at us on the phone yeterday as we could not understand a word they said and asked them to repeat themselves. They said ah Fcuk off clear as day.

Itsjustafleshwound Thu 21-Jul-11 18:39:00

I love the cold calling ones who are reading (badly) from a script somewhere in Mumbai and then call themselves 'Dave' ....

I actively avoid speaking to people on the phone - it isn't customer service and when you go 'off-scrip' the phone-call inexplicably ends or we get 'cut-off'

Rhinestone Thu 21-Jul-11 18:46:06

YANBU. i cancelled my BARCLAYCARD as they have Indian call centres and the people are very very difficult to understand and had trouble understanding me.

It is not the fault of the individual however.

somethingwitty82 Thu 21-Jul-11 18:50:33

has anyone contacted one of those centre where the staff sound like SoCal robots but are in fact based in the philliphines?

I thought it was a machine talking so i didnt respond at first, was stunned when i heard where she was from, her accent was sooooooo american, v.good, i approve

catgirl1976 Thu 21-Jul-11 19:01:58

YANBU or racist. Good verbal communication skills and an ability to understand customers are pre-requisites of a telephone based job. It would not matter if you are English or not- you need to be able to understand and make yourself understood.

redexpat Thu 21-Jul-11 19:20:47

I never realised how hard it is to hear certain things over the phone until I started temping, particularly in an estate agents office and had to take lots of names and addresses! But the company should have provided them with the police alphabet (you know the one alpha bravo charlie delta) which is actually really useful both at work and at home. i have a copy in my phone book now for such occasions.

33goingon64 Thu 21-Jul-11 19:46:54

Jesus Christ, you only have to walk down the street or watch reality tv to know that a great many people who have English as their first language have a worse command of it than those for whom it is a second or third or fourth language. Get a grip.

katkitya Thu 21-Jul-11 19:47:37

I just hope I dont end up at the other end of the country!! smile

Andrewofgg Thu 21-Jul-11 20:02:15

Yes, 33, but speaking for myself I'd have the same with the inarticulate types you mean staffing the phone as I do with the people OP mentions. It's not whether English is your first language; it's whether you speak and understand it well enough to communicate with English-speaking customers - including incidentally the less educated among us who themselves don't speak English well. The worse the customer's English is, the better the seller's needs to be.

golemmings Thu 21-Jul-11 22:36:16

I'm with you on that one. Sometimes its accent, sometimes it's just the way folk speak.
I have to confess I have had 2 calls recently regarding upgrading my mobile phone.

The first was by a guy who was so 'dahn wiv the kids' that I counldn't understand anything he said. It was like a verbal conversation in txt spik. I hung up on him.

Then I was called by a lady with a very strong indian accent which I found largely unintelligible. By the time I'd asked her to repeat (twice) her first four sentences, I hung up on her as well.

katkitya Sat 23-Jul-11 12:56:32

Im so frustrated. I dont know what to do. Ive received my confirmation and its telling me to pick up the tickets from the machine at the station. This is not what I asked for. She specifically asked for my address to post them. I have been booked standard class coming back when I asked for first class (it was only £10 more so, I thought why not?) Im furious. I rang them but its the same thing the lady could not understand me, she sounded like she could but her words meant nothing. She just asked me if I wanted to book another ticket for someone else!! I just feel like the more I complain, the more it is going to get cocked up. There is no UK number that I can see.

SiamoFottuti Sat 23-Jul-11 13:33:48

33going, they shouldn't be working in call centres either though should they?

Although I have problems sometimes calling Sky in Glasgow, I couldn't understand a word the last woman said. She was like RabCNesbit on acid. And helium.

omnishambles Sat 23-Jul-11 13:49:17

thetrainline is one of the worst offenders as is the last time I used them - galling when its travel stuff that absolutely has to be perfect. OP I would cancel the tickets over the phone and explain that they are wrong and then rebook with the train company them selves - thats whay we had to do last time when it all went pearshaped - good luck.

manchestermummy Sat 23-Jul-11 15:01:36


These days, if I have any difficulties being understood or understanding, I ask to be put through to the UK. And more often than not I am.

Reminds me of my grandmother who lived in Canada, who once questioned the lady to whom she was speaking when she was complaining about a bill or something; she couldn't place the accent. Turns out the lady was in Montreal. Cue a very, very long discussion about Quebec, French and French-Canadians...

katkitya Sat 23-Jul-11 16:12:41

You are right. Travel arrangements have to be perfect, it's so easy to get ripped off with train fares. I had it all written down, I just thought first class would be a treat. India has the biggest and most complicate railwaybin the world. I've been to friends weddings both in Mumbai and Delhi. The system runs like clockwork from the minute you book it!!! Ours should be simple in comparison. The staff are just not being trained properly and the communication is not there. And it's imperative I meet my family on that train. I'm dreading it!

charleneanne Sat 23-Jul-11 16:15:40

dont get me started fucking foreign twats trying to get my router to work had to call the helpline at almost £2.00 a minute had to cut call short because after almost £30.00 worth of call i had got no where because the foreign twat onnthe other end didnt understand what i was saying grrrrrrrr

katkitya Sat 23-Jul-11 16:29:20

excuse my iphone spelling mistakes!

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