TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

Corporations abusing my name when I call them or they call me. Making fun of my name in a demeaning manner.

Do you think it is appropriate for someone to make fun of my name? Especially if that someone happens to be a person who is taking my order for a new phone service or answering questions about a bill that I will soon be paying?
I am getting sick and tired of help desk personnel saying things like “I can never say that name,” or “I don’t even want to try to say that name,” “is there a shorter version of your name that I can call you by, or just laughing outright at my name.
A customer, who is calling or being called to discuss business should not have to put up with his or her name being insulted by a culturally ignorant help desk employee.
Corporations should train their employees to correctly pronounce the names of customers from different cultures. Instead of laughing at their names, the customer service representative should learn how to pronounce names that sound different from their own names.
I had given up. I thought I had no choice but to put up with such humiliating behavior, because I need a telephone, I need electricity, and other essentials.
Not anymore. From now on, when someone laughs at or makes fun of my name, I will ask to speak to their supervisors. I will politely explain to the supervisor that they should not be making fun of my name, and if any of their representatives do it again, I will discontinue the service that I have with them, and retain an attorney and sue them for treating me in a demeaning manner.
In fact I think the CEOs of major corporations owe me an apology for not preventing their employees from abusing my name and treating me with disrespect.
They can start apologizing by submitting comments.

Share:
  • thumb
    Feb 24 2014: M.O., With all due respect what is the real issue and important here. Yes, your name is long and is confusing to many people. But who are these people? Are they friends, relatives, loved ones, etc .. do they really matter in the big picture? My name is Winner ... it gets beat up all of the time ... it is not a hard name ... but yet it happens. If I want their product I buy it ... if not .. I don't. If I want their service I overlook the small things and get the service.

    Here is the thing. You are letting other people run your emotions and life by allowing them to get to you. They are wrong and rude granted. But do not let them run your life.

    No one can make you feel bad without your permission.

    The problem my friend is as much yours as theirs. When they screw it up ... just say call me Ty and have a laugh WITH them and move on to business.

    I wish you well. Bob.
    • Feb 24 2014: I completely disagree with you. I do not want people to call me "Ty."

      Imagine what the response might be when someone introduces himself as "John" and I laugh in his face and say "Oh, you mean like the toilet," or something even worse that I wish not to bring up here.

      If people have good intentions and are truly not able to pronounce a difficult name, they should ask the other person politely, "Sir, I am not familiar with such a name. Please pronounce it for me so I can also pronounce it correctly."

      I am not letting others "run your emotions and life," but at the same time I would like assert myself and make sure that others pronounce my name the right way.

      Deliberately mispronouncing a name and / or laughing about is very disrespectful.

      P.S. Because I do not want to disrespect you, I made a choice not to address you using a slightly modified version of your name.
  • Feb 26 2014: What's in a name? That which we call a Warren by any other name would smell as sour. I can imagine its frustrating, but if someone mispronouncing your name is the biggest problem in your life, consider yourself lucky. Put it in perspective with the hardships and attrocities that happen everyday all around the world. Take the energy you are spending on anger and wasting on trying to convince people to be more sensitive and direct it somewhere that you can actually make a difference. All you'll ever get from someones supervisor is an apology, maybe even a sincere one, but what then? Have you won some battle over the forces of inconsiderateness or have you wasted more of your time on hold with an uncaring corporation?
    • Feb 26 2014: All the atrocities that happen in the world is partly due to the fact that people do not respect each other enough to treat each other as human beings. If everyone starts respecting each other, then there will probably be lesser atrocities in the world. And the first step in starting to respect each other is to stop making fun of each other’s names.
      When you make fun of someone’s name, then you are not only demeaning the other person but also his or her culture. Once you demean someone’s culture then the next step is to start committing atrocities against people who belong to that culture.
      Respecting each other as individuals, no matter what their names are, is probably the much neglected first step in cohabiting peacefully on this planet.
      With all due respects, I think I am spending my time well and my effort in the right direction. Even if one person stops making fun of another person’s unique name, my time and effort will have been well spent and well directed.
  • Feb 25 2014: I have the same problem - just have to live with it.
    • Feb 25 2014: I think too many of us have decided to just "live with it."

      That is why the problem will never go away and that is also one of the reasons why I decided to start this conversation.

      .
  • thumb
    Feb 22 2014: You have gotten advice below confirming your option to ask for a supervisor or to withhold your business. It is important, though, to recognize when people are trying to say your name and are laughing at themselves for getting tongue-twisted rather than laughing at your name. Like you, I have an uncommon name, which I know confuses people.
    • Feb 22 2014: It is hard to withhold business especially if only a very few corporations provide the goods and services that I need.

      On the other hand, talking to a supervisor is something I can do the next time my name is insulted.
  • thumb
    Feb 22 2014: I would get their billing address. Then I would send them a bill (from a P.O. Box) for "editorial corrections" and "representative supervision services." Or better yet, "Linguistic training services in transnational linguistic and diplomatic courtesy!" This is your Name we are talking about here! We are all quite attached to our names. So we need to be willing to ensure that we get names correct! That is, if and when we use names at all!

    If they call and they can't get your name correct, then make them pay for it. At least someone will have to think before they speak your name next time they call (if they call at all).

    Send them a bill for half an hour (minimum) of your services for every time they call. Do an invoice in a good word processor and/or page layout program. Good Lawyers generally charge $600 or €600 per hour for their services, so your services in this regard should be worth at least that. And a half-hour charge is reasonable.

    After all, they called you. So they must have required your services (however you may define them or provide them) when they called you in the first place. Send them a bill! After all, don't telephone solicitors send us all bills all the time?

    It isn't illegal to charge for your time on the telephone. And you can always charge/invoice for your time! Just don't pretend to be something you are not (like a physician or lawyer or other licensed individual whose profession is regulated by law in your jurisdiction). Also, do not assert that you did anything other than offer "corrective services." Since this is your name we are talking about, no one can say that this is not within your area of expertise.

    If you have to correct them, then those to whom you so kindly offer correction should be grateful for your time and/also they should pay you for it! At least that's what I think!
    • Feb 22 2014: I will try this the next time something like this happens. However, I am concerned that lawyers who represent the corporation might get involved and if that happens I will have to hire lawyers to represent me.

      I am not yet ready to go to court over this. But that could happen if corporate employees keep insulting my name.
      • thumb
        Feb 22 2014: "Here, pay my bill for taking my time!" When they call you and take your valuable time, why shouldn't they be the ones to pay! But there are always legalities to consider.

        It depends upon the law in your jurisdiction. If the legal issues disturb you at all -- and you still want to give the plan I suggest a try, there is a simple solution. Go see a lawyer for legal help first.

        First, make up a short, 2 or 3 sentence speech to read on the telephone. Your lawyer needs to approve this before you use in on the telephone. Write the statement you will read and ask the lawyer about the legality of the language first . . .

        Something like, "I am legally obligated to inform you that your misuse of language (and mispronunciation of my name) is completely appalling. But for a fee I am willing to assist you at this time. Please give me your billing address and we will bill you soon. Also understand that continuing this call at this time constitutes consent to a fee-for-my-services arrangement. Please make sure that your supervisor is aware as you will be receiving my bill for these services!"

        If they don't get it, say calmly and directly: "Sir/Ma'am, you are grossly mispronouncing my name." And then re-read the above statement.

        Second, make up a billing invoice for 1/2 hour of your time. Make the bill for something specific like: "telephone linguistic, pronunciation, and annunciation services; and supervision services." Note the exact time, date, and a detailed description of everything that was said. Use as much detail as you possibly can. If legal, record the conversation and reference the recording in the text of the invoice. Bill for something like $600 U.S. for your services. 1/2 hour minimum charge.

        Show your speech and your invoice to a lawyer you trust and make sure you demonstrate what you plan to do for the benefit of the lawyer. I doubt they will ever pay your bill. But your lawyer might have something to say about that to the other party.
  • thumb
    Feb 22 2014: have you tried already asking for a supervisor? What happened?

    I think your position is reasonable. To some people it wouldn't matter so much, to you it matters, it's reasonable.