The Crazy Newt Customer Illegibility Scale:

Gah.  Indecipherable/heavily-accented/mentally-handicapped customers.  Gotta love 'em.  I've found that when referring to such customers, some sort of "indecipherability scale" needs to be in place.  And so, during a few slow minutes at work, a co-worker and I put together the "Crazy Newt Customer Illegibility Scale". 

Note that this scale only measures communication problems.  Someone could be very easy to speak to (a rating of "0") and yet be an absolute moron with nothing to say.    Which, unfortunately, is often the case.


Easy Communication (Rating = 0)
  • Customer speaks fluent English.  While there may be a slight accent, it is barely noticeable. 
  • Customer is able to understand what you are saying, and is able to articulate a response. 
  • Example"Hi.  My name is Matt, and there seems to be a problem with my account at your store location.  I was hoping I could talk to someone to, um, clear it all up.  Thank you."
Slightly Strained (Rating = 1)
  • Customer speaks English, but may forget, misuse, or mispronounce a few words.  There may be an accent, but it does not impair understanding what is being said.
  • Customer understands what you are saying, almost perfectly.
  • Example"Hello?  My name is, er, Mattias.  There is a.... er.... problem?... with my account at your store.  Can we fix it?  Thanks you."
Strained (Rating = 2)
  • Customer speaks English, but likes to pepper his speech with "colloquialisms" from back home.  He also may have difficulty speaking the language, and probably mumbles or cannot pronounce certain vowels.  Customer will often use the same words, and may use the same phrase again and again, simply to "beef up" his sentences, even if the phrase has no import on the subject at hand.
  • Customer often has difficulty understanding what you're saying, and will often misunderstand and give you completely useless information (when you ask him where he is calling from, he'll say something like "A cell phone" or "Vancouver", rather than a street or something like that).
  • Example"Er, hi.  *mumble mumble mumble* I tell you this, *mumble mumble* store... money!  No working.  *mumble mumble mumble* Fix this, I tell you this!  *mumble mumble* many thank yous!  I tell you this, Many thank yous!"
Very Strained (Rating = 3) 
  • Customer can barely speak English.  In fact, it sounds less like English, and more like someone who has never spoken English doing an impersonation of an English speaker.   Hand motions almost always accompany the speaker - even when they are talking on the phone, which has its own difficulties.  The customer will speak in a very loud voice, and use only a few words, hoping that if he says "money" enough, you'll realize there's a bill jam at an ATM he is using. 
  • Customer will completely misunderstand what you're saying at least once every other sentence.  Often, this will be followed with "I no understand" or the customer just repeating their previous sentence.  Sometimes, you get the customer that says "yeah" or "I understand", simply because they don't want you to realize that they know about as much about your language as you know about theirs.
  • Example"*foreign language speaking rapidly* Money!  Money... store!  *children screaming in the background in pakistani* Yes.  Hello?  Money.  Store.  I use... store.  *more rapid speaking in foreign language... it sounds like someone is selling shrimp in the background*.  Fix!  *customer puts phone down to yell at his screaming children.  Guy selling shrimp picks up phone, and you can hear him getting attacked by your original speaker.  Phone disconnects*
...What the Fuck?  (Rating = 4)
  • Customer is not speaking English.  In fact, you are pretty sure it isn't any language at all.  Not only can your client not speak English very well, but he cannot speak his OWN language very well.  You may as well attempt communication through morse code.  When the customer does speak English, it is only through words that may or not even be tangetially related to the subject at hand. 
  • Customer does not understand you.  But, in almost every case, the customer is very angry with you.  On the plus side, you can call him whatever dirty name you like - he has no idea what you're saying.  On the downside, while he can't speak English... he does know how to dial your number.  And he will.
  • Example*loud screaming over the phone* BLARESH!  Fish!  Fish!  Ia!  Ia!  Cthulu Ftaghn!" 

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