My accidental Chinese language partner the telemarketer

expatlingo telemarketing comic

Hong Kong telemarketers are like The Terminator: tell them you don’t understand Cantonese (in Cantonese) and they seamlessly apologize and switch instantly to Mandarin!

The first time it happened I wasn’t sure I could believe my ears, but sure enough that sing-song-y Cantonese switched immediately to crisp, sharp Mandarin and the sales pitch marched forward: an unstoppable marketing machine.

While the chance to “pass” as Chinese for a minute is amusing, the entertainment value is wearing thin. Does Hong Kong have a “do not call” list?

19 responses to “My accidental Chinese language partner the telemarketer

  1. Your post with the cartoon pictures made me laugh. Is cold calling a big problem in Hong Kong? It certainly would be interesting to know if they do have a “Do not call” list!

    • They are worse here than in either the US or UK….especially since they call mobile phone numbers and interrupt you when you’re out and about! A “do not call” list would be a godsend, but I have a sneaking suspicion that such a thing does not exist….

  2. I used to get random text messages–all in Chinese, of course–advertising one thing or another. *Really* annoying when I was standing in front of my class and my phone would go off. Got a few wrong numbers, though. I always just said (in English), “Sorry, I don’t speak Chinese!” and they’d usually get the point. “Oh, oh. Sorry.” Click. :D

    • Oh right, I forgot about all of those annoying text-message-ads in China! You’re right that I should just say “I don’t understand” in English and just hang up. My pride has gotten in the way of the easiest solution…

    • Cool, thanks for this. sounds like it only covers pre-recorded and SMS to mobile. is there one that covers the actual telemarketers as well?

      • @Jim
        “…is there one that covers the actual telemarketers as well?…”

        It doesn’t look good for live telemarketer call.

        Excerpt from UEMO (Unsolicited Electronic Message Ordinance) Public Guide PDF (180KB)

        “…Other Types of Unsolicited Electronic Messages Person-to-person telemarketing calls not included
        24. – At this stage, the UEMO does not regulate person-to-person telemarketing calls….”

        http://www.ofca.gov.hk/filemanager/ofca/common/uemo/uemo_public_guide_e.pdf

      • @Jim, Good luck,.

        http://www.ofca.gov.hk/mobile/en/consumer_focus/education_corner/alerts/person/scheme/

        How to Make an Unsubscribe Request

        If you do not want to receive person-to-person marketing calls from a particular telecommunications operator, you may -

        make an unsubscribe request direct to the operator during the person-to-person marketing call; or
        make an unsubscribe request on your own initiative through ringing up the customer service hotline of the operator or the contact number provided in its code of practice.
        How to Make a Complaint

        If a participating telecommunications operator fails to implement its code of practice (such as failure in honouring your unsubscribe request), you may -

        lodge a complaint to the operator direct and request follow-up action;
        contact the Communications Authority (CA) to refer the case to the operator for follow-up action. The contact details of CA are as follows:
        Tel: 2961 6333
        Fax: 2803 5110
        Email: webmaster@ofca.gov.hk

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