E-mail and the Internet may be the quickest ways to get customer service, but the back-and-forth of e-mails doesn't always resolve the issue quickly.

A telephone call -- if someone answers the call and you don't end up on hold forever -- is often the best solution and can lead to immediate answers instead of waiting a day or more for an e-mail to be answered.

But what if the operator is too busy to answer, as they were last year at the California Employment Development Department, where callers heard a recorded message about unemployment benefits because its call centers were so swamped with calls?

Rudy McComb has an answer: Call the line for Vietnamese speakers.




The logic of calling a little-used number is simple. Fewer people speak Vietnamese, and the operators are at least bilingual, so an English speaker should be able to get through faster on the line reserved for Vietnamese speakers and get their questions answered.

This may not be good news for the Vietnamese people seeking unemployment benefit help, but it should help anyone else greeted by a recorded message offering them basic benefit information and a suggestion to seek more help on line.

California's EDD office offers customer service representatives through individual toll-free lines for speakers of English, Spanish, Chinese and Vietnamese. There are two phone lines for Chinese speakers to call. There are also automated self-service lines for English and Spanish speakers.

Of the 1.2 million Vietnamese Americans living in the United States, one in three lives in California, so toll-free help lines in that language may not be as common in other states.

This tactic should work at any call service that provides lines for non-English speakers, although government agencies are more likely to have them than others.

A map by the Modern Language Association shows that 18% of residents in mainland United States speak a language other than English, and less than 1% speak Vietnamese.

If you live in an area with a large population of non-English speakers, then chances are government agencies in your area have phone numbers for them to call for assistance. Call the number and see if you get help faster than you would on the English line. The worst thing the operator could do to you is tell you to call the English number. Or to go on line for an answer.

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Banking Services 101

Understand your bank's services, and how to get the most from them

View Course »

Goal Setting

Want to succeed? Then you need goals!

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum