The Boy noticed we got a bill for our phone, with no details attached. In other words, France T�l�com said, "You owe us lots of money" without showing which calls cost how much. Do they think we're going to blindly pay them 260 euros? (it's been a pricey two months)
Disturbed, The Boy tried to call France T�l�com this afternoon. He got a voice message saying call back later. But he didn't understand the message. Why? Because the message was in English.
When I got home, I gave the number a ring. The recorded message on the other end sounded like an Indian man, telling me that the lines were busy. Then I called again. That time, it was an Indian woman saying that I could try calling a different number because all of the customer service reps were busy. At the end of the message, in English, she says, "If you would like to access this service in French, please call..." I found myself wondering how a non-English-speaking French person deals with his phone bill in his own country. Finally, I called again, and I finally got the voice of a pleasant man named Sergio (!).
We discussed the details of my bill, and he's sending me a copy. At the end of the conversation, I asked him, "Why is everything at France T�l�com suddenly in English?"
It just didn't make any sense to me. How could a French company, owned in large part by the French state, possibly have decided to have all services be in English? What's a Frenchie to do?
"Oh, well, everybody with a foreign last name is given this customer help number on their bill so they just access the English service directly. It's just easier that way."
We looked on the Boy's bill, and sure enough, he has the same number as I do. But the difference is that, while, sure, one could argue that Cornelius is a semi-anglophone-sounding name, I'm pretty sure Nkou isn't. And although I'm not an expert, I would extend that to people living in France with last names like Huang or Rodriguez, who are also probably considered to have "foreign" last names. No matter, though: they're all getting sent directly to the English-speaking operators because apparently that's "easier" than sending them to the French-speaking ones. This brings up all kinds of issues.
1. What's a foreign-sounding last name by France T�l�com's standards?
2. Why do they assume that foreign people speak English better than they speak French? Especially knowing that they have a fixed phone in France?
3. Has English really taken over that much?
An interesting turnaround, at any rate. They must have made the decision sometime in the last six months, because I called just awhile back and everything was still in French at the time.