Monday, September 14, 2009

I speak English; thank you very much.

I have to share a bit about the, uh, little "disagreement" I've been having with AT&T over the last year or so....

Imagine my surprise when I received a letter from AT&T. Oh, but this letter was not just the average, annoying junk mail letter or those sneaky deals and marketing ploys that show up every other week in the mailbox. This letter was different... because THIS piece of literature (which was clearly addressed to me) was in Spanish!

Just so you know, I do NOT speak Spanish. I am not from Mexico nor from any Spanish-speaking country. In fact, I was born in Des Moines, Iowa, of my Brooklyn-born father and my mother, who immigrated to the U.S.A. legally from Norway more than 50 years ago.

So, why did I get a letter from AT&T in Spanish? (Actually, the question is: why have I gotten many, many letters from AT&T in Spanish?)

It's my last name: Alcazar.
And it looks to me like AT&T is profiling. (Dun-dun-duuuunnnnnnnn!)

Apparently, my last name must have popped up on their list of "possible Latinos/Latinas." SO, the brilliant advertising gurus at AT&T thought they would be so amazingly clever and write to me in my assumed native language. They were wrong. So VERY wrong. And they messed with the wrong American. Upon receiving the third letter in Spanish, addressed directly to me, I called up AT&T and demanded that they stop sending any literature of any kind in Spanish. I also reminded the AT&T representative that this is America, and we speak English!

Well, the Spanish letters continued. In fact, I received the most recent one a few months ago. And, frankly, I am pretty darn upset that AT&T continues to discriminate against me because of my last name! It's outrageous! My friends and family members who are AT&T customers do not receive Spanish marketing crap. So, I called them up again and told yet another AT&T representative that I was not at all happy that the company would target me because of my last name or that that they would just assume I spoke Spanish. Are they sending German letters to my friends with German-sounding last names? French-language literature to my pals with French names? No way! I mean... What's next? Are they going to look at my blond hair, decide I must be the typical "dumb blond" and start sending out "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Junkmail?" How about "Marketing Ploys For Blonds"?!?! ;)

It's discriminatory!

During my last phone call, AT&T promised to stop sending letters. Any letters (Spanish OR English)! And supposedly they contacted a man named Jose Espinel who is sending these stupid letters to me. (Hmmm... is he Spanish?) Jose stated that it will take 4-6 weeks to "get things cleared up."

Oh, on that note... I got a very similar piece of mail a few days ago from Direct TV, advertising -- both in English and in Spanish -- that my household can now enjoy the best Spanish-language TV channels. How exciting for me, a non-Mexican, non-Spanish-speaking American. Right?! (So it's not just AT&T!?!?!) I contacted this company by phone as well. Let's just say Direct TV will no longer be sending me marketing material...of any kind. ;) Heh-heh.

I just hope that Jose at AT&T and the folks at Direct TV get this clear: I am an American. I live in America. And I speak English. I should not have to "press 1" for English. I should not have to listen to any other language when I call an American company. I should not get marketing materials here in the U.S.A. that are written in ANY language other than English... and I should not be discriminated against because of my last name.

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Kate Spike and Her KatS said...

I understand your frustration at getting junk mail, but I'm wondering why you think you're being discriminated "against" by receiving junk mail in Spanish? Unfortunately, when a huge number of Americans speak English as a second language (or more unfortunately, not at all), the companies aren't going to leave any stone unturned to get those dollars. Hopefully AT&T will be able to halto dos letteros . . .

Beth said...

Well... since you ask: My personal opinion is that no one should look at my name (first, last or otherwise) and assume anything! "Discrimination" toward or against a person (or a group) is treatment or consideration based on class or category rather than on individual merit. I realize the big companies are looking for any way to get their dollars (that's part of my frustration), but choosing to look at my and assume what language I speak is NOT ok with me! ;) I should dig up some old advertising strategies that show only women doing laundry, ironing, cooking, etc., etc. Those are great examples, too!! Ha-ha!