DEAR MISS MANNERS: It has become increasingly common, in attempting to avail oneself of customer service by phone, to find the lines staffed by people whose first language is not English. It’s not uncommon for me to have difficulty understanding these men and women through their accents, and too frequently I find that they aren’t fluent enough in English to actually converse, as opposed to responding by means of a rather limited script.
It’s maddening when I need to ask a multipart question and the only reply is, “We are sorry you had this problem. Our return policy is ...” when that’s not the information I need.
What is a polite way to ask to speak to someone who has less of an accent and/or speaks fluent English? This is not a case of xenophobia, and I don’t want to insult the person. I have no objection to talking to someone from another country, provided they are capable of performing the duties of their job. Shouldn’t this be a baseline requirement to hold a customer service position in any field?
GENTLE READER: The polite solution to your problem is to accept -- perhaps incorrectly -- that the person you are speaking with is performing their stated duties properly, but that their duties do not include your more complicated situation. In this case, it is only natural for you to request to speak with a supervisor, whom Miss Manners hopes will be more intelligible.