Saturday, August 07, 2010

Knowing What You Say

Usually when we buy something we prefer to talk to Filipino salesmen. Not only do we assume an element of trust co-existing between “kabayan”, it also saves us in spending some of that precious and sometimes limited English vocabulary.

Ah ah ah, don’t start accusing me now of trashing our ability to speak “English”. I’m basing my observation specifically on some of our professionals here in the Middle East. I heard Pinoy nurses talked in our adapted tongue but can’t differentiate a particle from a preposition and when to use “to”, “for” and “from” in a sentence. I squirmed when reading reports coming from Pinoy field engineers. Yes, in all capacity, we are good in our job. But communication, logging daily task and submitting progress reports are also part of it. We should also be effective in this area. The reason why I’m sometimes dismayed and reluctant to claim English as our second language. If you think my remarks are incorrect, how come a recent report in TFC encourages our “professionals” to join the Toast Master’s Club in the Kingdom? But we’re going astray here. This is not about our grammatically incorrect English but about some incidents regarding some salesmen who don’t know what they are saying.

Interacting with customers in supermarket is easier. Usually, customers either asked only for an item’s price or where it is located. But if you’re working in an electronic or car accessories department, you should know your product as well or you’ll get in trouble if the customer is a “tech-savvy” himself.

Recently, a colleague went to SACO to buy a carburetor cleaner for his “vintage” car and his conversation with the salesman goes like this:

Colleague: Kabayan, meron ba kayong carburetor cleaner?
Salesman : Anong klase po ang kotse nyo, 4-engine ba?
Colleague: Oo (assuming he meant “4-stroke-cycle-engine”).
Salesman: Ito po ang maire-recommend ko sa inyo. Magaling po na panlinis yan.
Colleague: Pag ito ba ang ginamit ko, lilipad ang kotse ko?

(Airplanes and sea vessels may have multiple engines but I never seen a car to have more than one.)

Two days ago, I went to Jareer Bookstore to scout for a modem stick. Unlike other modem stick that comes with a “built-in” SIM card, I’m looking for one which is interchangeable. This way I have an option of replacing it and can still use the modem even in the Philippines. I approach one Filipino salesman and without blinking an eye, he began his litany of BS about what the product can do. Since I got nowhere else to go, I pretend to be an ignoramus on the subject and indulge him:

Me : Kabayan, ano ba ang specification sa pag gamit nito?
Salesman : Meron na hong laman yan na 1 gig. Pag na ubos na, bumili lang kayo ng pre-paid card. 100 riyals po ang halaga.
Me : So, allowed akong mag download up to 1 gigabyte na data?
Salesman : Hinde 1 gigabyte, 1 gigahertz po. Hinde rin po kayo mag da-download. Meron na pong laman yan at nauubos yan habang gumagamit kayo ng “web”.
Me : 1 gigahertz ang “speed” ng modem na ‘to?
Salesman : Hindi po, yan ang laman ng SIM card. (Looking at me like I’m a hopeless case, he gave me a documentation of the product). Para mas maintindihan nyo, basahin nyo po ito.

It stated that I’m allowed 1GB of data download or 1 month of use, which ever comes first, before re-charging using a pre-paid card that I can buy in any Mobily outlet.

He was right. A pre-paid card cost 100 riyals.