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American English, Please!

Someone recently told me — as several of us were complaining about having our support phone calls sent to countries where English is not the primary language of the support person — that if you request to have the call handled by an American-English-speaking person, they have to transfer you.

Today I got to put that to a test while trying to make a balance transfer with Capital One. When I called their help line, the gentleman who answered the phone had such a strong accent that I was literally having to ask him to repeat every sentence that had 5 or more words in it, and so the transfer-to-America request came to mind.

I asked him, “Excuse me, but where are you located?”

“I am having
a difficult time
“In the Philippines, Sir,” was his reply.

“I’d like to ask that you transfer me to an agent in America, please.”

“May I ask why?” he asked.

“Yes, it’s because I am having a difficult time understanding you, and therefore I am also uncertain as to whether you can understand me fully.”

He began laughing. “Oh, I see…” He chuckled again. “You’re having trouble understanding me,” he repeated, somewhat condescendingly. When I confirmed that that’s what I had said, he said, “Okay, I will transfer you to an American-speaking assistant. I hope you could understand that.”

LongStoryShort: I was transferred, but not without some grief.

I did however report it to Marissa, my ‘American-speaking assistant,’ who, as it turns out, was working in Canada when we spoke. She assured me that she would make a note ‘a-boat’ my difficulties with the man in the Philippines. The rest of the call went as smoothly as the best American customer assistance I have grown to expect.

At the end of the call, I asked to be transferred to her supervisor to whom I complimented her excellent, friendly and patient service.


  1. Similar phone situation with me with regard to personal banking. I wanted to clarify some issues with a few accounts with my bank – whose headquarters is only 20 miles away from me in Pasadena, California. Instead I received someone with an Indian dialect (not Native American mind you). My nervousness grew when he couldn’t even get my account numbers correct. After much pent-up frustration, I requested someone in the United States. Phone customer service is a crap-shoot nowadays. I try to be “PC” and tolerant, but it’s becoming more difficult.

  2. Of course, this is the kind of thing we are up against! πŸ™‚

  3. Not terribly long ago I went to a Jack in the Box and asked for an Extreme Sausage Sandwich.

    A voice shrieked from the other side “Aieegg and Chize Sandwich.”

    “No,” I said ” I want an Extreme Sausage Sandwich.”

    “Ag & Cheeeez?”

    “Extreme Sausage Sandwich”

    “EEEEgg Chiezeik”

    “No, just an Extreme Sausage Sandwich”


    “Extreme Sausage Sandwich”


    “Extreme Sausage Sandwich”

    “Please pull up to the next window, sir.”

    When I got there I was given 5 Extreme Sausage Sandwiches.

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