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Having to contact company call centres

(15 Posts)
boheminan Thu 24-May-18 10:04:20

Today I had to make an enquiry call to a well known business establishment.

After a considerable wait I was connected to an operator and immediately felt flummoxed because I honestly could not work out what they were saying to me. We struggled politely with a conversation for a couple of minutes, during which time I was in panic mode because I fear if I resort to asking them to speak slower because I can't understand what they're saying, they'll perceive me as being racist.
Previously I've had calls terminated because it was obvious from both sides the conversation was going nowhere.

I have a hearing problem, which leaves it hard for me to unravel some spoken words (even with my hearing aid in).

The original urgent problem has not been resolved and I'm loath to phone again.

Does anyone else have this problem? If so, how do you overcome it?

Besstwishes Thu 24-May-18 10:32:20

Send an email and ask if they will answer your query by email as well.

Blinko Thu 24-May-18 10:37:23

I must admit to the same difficulty with accents on occasion, not necessarily with people from Asia but nearer home, Northern Ireland confused

If you tell them you have a hearing problem and ask them to speak more slowly, surely that can't be perceived as racist?

Alima Thu 24-May-18 10:42:10

I know what you mean bohemian, I generally start to get stressed at the thought of phoning a call centre. Add to that my not too good ears and a strong accent it can be a recipe for disaster. Just a thought, if you go to the website of the place you need to contact, is there a facility to “chat” to them via messaging? In my experience conversing that way with them is slower but clearer than speaking. Good luck.

Bathsheba Thu 24-May-18 10:44:52

It can be tricky sometimes to understand foreign or regional accents over the phone - much easier in person, face to face. I too struggle with some regional UK accents, not so much Northern Ireland, but some (not all) Scots accents are difficult to follow for southerners like me!
Blinko's right surely - if you explain that you have a hearing problem they couldn't possibly take offence.

boheminan Thu 24-May-18 11:10:38

Thanks for your replies/suggestions.

There is a facility to email but mails can take up to 10 days for a response, and as my query is fairly urgent, 10 days is too long. I've tried asking them to speak slower but it's turned into a farce because even spoken slowed down it's still hard to understand the accent (this was the occasion I got cut offhmm).

There's no chat line.

jusnoneed Thu 24-May-18 11:53:59

If you use it can you see if they have a Facebook page? I have had more success getting in touch with some businesses via their FB than other routes.

Luckygirl Thu 24-May-18 12:05:30

Is there a live chat option on the company's website? - you can then hold alive conversation by email.

Or you could ring back, and if you get the same problem simply say that you have a hearing problem and you need to ask them to speak very slowly.

Nanabilly Thu 24-May-18 12:26:42

I have the same problem and it is very frustrating at times .I once asked a man to slow down his speech as I was deaf and he took it to the extreme and spoke soooo slow I burst out laughing and said "I'm deaf not stupid"
It broke the ice and we carried on the conversation and he kept checking if I'd heard him well enough.
If you really need to make that call then try to stay calm and just remain polite and keep asking them to slow down and speak clearly . Is it a call centre in another country or a regional UK centre. Look at their website and see if it says anything about alternative ways of making contact and if it's an 0800 number go on the " say no to 0800" website then type in the 0800 number and you will get an alternative number to call , it's all legitimate I use it often , and you may get someone who speaks clearer or without accent.I

SpanielNanny Thu 24-May-18 12:39:17

Without wishing to pry too much, does the establishment have a physical premises you could visit?

I had a similar problem, after placing an online order from a high street reatailer. My emails weren’t answered, and honestly myself and the customer service representatives on the phone may as well have been speaking different languages - neither could understand the other!
I eventually popped into the shop, spoke to a lovely young woman, and explained my problem. She phoned them on my behalf. It was slightly time consuming, as it was effectively a 3 way conversation, and I did have to answer a couple of security questions, but my problem was solved. The member of staff actually said that she often does it for other customers too. I hope that helps. Good luck!

Willow500 Thu 24-May-18 13:15:34

I know this problem only too well trying to have conference calls with people from other countries - some are worse than others and I have sometimes come off the call not having understood a word of what was being discussed! I've found the only way to deal with it is to e-mail asking for a breakdown of a) b) & c). This also helps my memory as I'm not good at retaining information from a call. I did have an online chat with someone from BT last week which worked well.

I would ring back and ask about your problem - chances are you won't get through to the same person anyway.

seacliff Thu 24-May-18 13:31:50

It's worth looking on this site for an alternative number for the company.

Sometimes you can get through to a UK person.

Once I had been on the phone to India trying to sort out an urgent problem for my son who was abroad in a remote place. He had designated me as a person the bank could speak to after security checks, but I was getting nowhere. Eventually in desperation I asked to be put through to someone in the UK who could help. They did this, and I got it sorted.

seacliff Thu 24-May-18 13:32:46

Sorry Nannabilly - only just seen your post. Great minds!

cornergran Thu 24-May-18 19:33:47

I do understand, it’s difficult and stressful and no, certainly not racist to be simply unable to understand. I find using the speakerphone facility is often helpful as is having someone else listen in to the call. Sometimes a different time of day will get a different call centre, but as others have said be brave, call back and you may well get a different person and communication will be easier. Good luck, better to do it than worry because it isn’t done maybe.

Charleygirl Thu 24-May-18 20:08:18

My bugbear also. I find India and the Philippine accents the most difficult to understand because they speak so quickly and if the connection is not good, it is horrendous.

I have not been considered racist, stupid yes but I can live with that because they do not know me.