By Enrique Tessieri
Below is an incident that happened at the offices of insurance company OP-Pohola-Group in Kangasniemi, a small town located between Mikkeli and Jyväskylä. The letter, published on the www.kangasniemi.info website, is a complaint to the company for refusing to offer service to a man because he did not speak Finnish or Swedish.
Writes Lucien den Arend: “Well… you can make your own decision. They don’t want to do business a family of five with many objects to insure, because, although the father speaks English, Dutch, German, French, Spanish and a little Russian, he speaks no Swedish or Finnish yet.”
Below is the letter sent to OP-Pohjola-Group by the couple:
Dear Mr. Karhinen,
We are writing you because we have not been able to get past your sub leaders (personel). It is about the fact that the members of our family of five are all Finnish except me. And that your representative in Kangasniemi let us leave her office after she told us that it is company policy not to speak English – only Finnish and Swedish. We had been invited to come and listen to OP Pohjola Group’s offer for insurance for our Kartano, island, five cars and art collection. My wife gave her information in Finnish and when it was my turn (I do not speak Finnish) the woman/girl, your representative, said (in Finnish to my wife) that she does speak English but refuses to because it is company policy to only speak Finnish and Swedish.
So last week we had a very active discussion about this on the facebook group IESAF – or International English Speakers’ Association of Finland. In more than sixty posts we discussed this problem.
How can it be that your company name is in English; and your website has English pages, but it is its policy not to converse with a customer who cannot speak Finnish or Swedish?
And why do I get no answer to my question about this serous problem – posted on your site’s form last week Monday. And why does my wife not get a response to her question, in Finnish, posted one day later?
Lucien den Arend and Marjo Heikkinen
*Thank you Sheri Mylene Chang for the heads up!