Social Question

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Why "Press 1 for English"?

Asked by Neizvestnaya (22642points) January 9th, 2011

Isn’t English the default language for Americans doing business in America?

It seems whether I call local utilities, retailers or service providers then I spend frustration barking into my phone or stabbing at my number keys to pick English.

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22 Answers

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I’m starting to think that I am the only American that isn’t the least bit bothered by this. We don’t have an official language, and not all of the customers speak English. Even those that do, may have a better time understanding information or questions given in their native language. I don’t see a problem with that.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie: I never thought it was a big deal either until I had to set up several new cell phone accounts at once.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Neizvestnaya isn’t the entire process of going through anything customer service related irritating and frustrating, though? Choosing a language must only be one of several factors that make it an unpleasant experience. I have to assume, anyhow, that is always how I feel.

marinelife's avatar

I think it is to give equal time to Spanish speakers.

tinyfaery's avatar

Should it be press #2? @TheOnlyNeffie I couldn’t care less about it, either.

Mamradpivo's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie You’re not the only one who isn’t the least bit bothered by this. In most countries, there are several languages in which people conduct business. In the US, there is a primary one (English), but there are millions upon millions of people who are more comfortable doing complicated tasks in another language (be it Spanish, Chinese, Arabic or anything else). Providing services in several languages helps make your business more competitive and thus more likely to succeed.

zenvelo's avatar

(and why is espanol marquez ocho? Why isn’t it dos or tres?)

I think the frustration you are feeling is in being in voicemail hell, not at pressing a single number once. If pressing a single number took you right to an operator, you’d be happy as a clam. it’s the 45 numbers later to get you to a voicemail box or a twenty minute hold time that makes you crazy.

Companies offer alternative languages to keep paying customers, it’s not about being politically correct. It’s always about the money.

Seelix's avatar

In Canada, it’s press 1 for service in English, poussez 2 pour service en francais. I don’t know what happens if you don’t press anything, but having to press for English doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

janbb's avatar

It doesn’t bother me at all.

MissAnthrope's avatar

It doesn’t bother me, either, but I also think it’s a better, streamlined design when the phone system gives you the option of pressing ‘2’ for Spanish and then, when you don’t press anything, you automatically get English.

We are a huge country with a large Spanish-speaking population. When you get to places like San Francisco, you get even more options sometimes.. for Chinese or Korean or whatever. Anyway, I don’t mind it because I can’t stand the whole ‘This is Amurka, speak English!’ mindset. I think it’s sensitive toward people who speak English as a second language (and if you’ve ever been in a foreign country trying to negotiate things on the phone, you will appreciate what a godsend it is when you can do things in your native tongue) and frankly, it’s much smarter business sense to cater to all of your customer base.

Axemusica's avatar

I have the answer!

Every phone shall be equipped with a Statue of Liberty button, on their phones. If you don’t speak the native language of the company you’re calling you will have to choose the Liberty button and then a list of worldly popular languages would be listed off. Just choose the language you feel most comfortable speaking and continue on with your previous intended phone call.

Blackberry's avatar

There’s more than one race/ethnicity in the country? You struggle to press/say one?

blueiiznh's avatar

pressing a number for a language does not bother me at all. What bothers me is the terrible voice recognition systems that some companies utilize.

Not_the_CIA's avatar

I usually press “2” for Spanish. 99% of the time they speak English and the wait times are a lot less.

ccrow's avatar

@blueiiznh LOL! “I think you said, ’(something completely nonsensical)’, is that correct?”

crazyivan's avatar

I might be bothered by it if English was buried deep in the list somewhere. Seems odd to me to be bothered by it despite speaking the language for which the set up is least inconvenient. I suppose the alternative is to trade this occasional 2 second inconvenience for yourself to a significantly greater inconvenience to those thousands upon thousands of Americans who don’t speak English as a first language (or those from outside America that are phoning those numbers).

SavoirFaire's avatar

Most of the service lines I call don’t make me press anything at all for English. They give a greeting in English, a quick statement saying what to press for Spanish, and then proceed in English if nothing else is pressed. But the locals still complain that they even have to hear about the Spanish option. Because if people want to complain about those “damn Mexicans,” nothing is going to stop them.

Helping others, after all, is simply not worth it if it causes even an extremely minor inconvenience to oneself, right? ~

bob_'s avatar

If it makes anybody feel any better, here in Mexico plenty of places also have that “Press whatever for English” thing.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

@bob_ hmmn… is Cinco De Mayo celebrated there?

bob_'s avatar

@Neizvestnaya No.

<—at work

Dutchess_III's avatar

(Press 1 for English. Press 2 for Spanish…... Oh boy. Did you screw up!) Bueno, el Cinco de Mayo es seguro celebra aquí! Fui a una tienda de conveniencia local el 5 de mayo, donde varios de los empleados hablan español / son de México (y siempre me dan una mierda por alguna razón) y con orgullo les dije que iba a Taco Bell en honor del Cinco de Mayo! Ellos movieron la cabeza y empezó a gritar y de mí porque lo pronunció mal. Pfffffffft!

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