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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Few consumer hotlines in English

By Dong Zhen (Shanghai Daily)

13:43, March 19, 2012

HALF of Shanghai's main government-backed hotlines to address complaints and consumer disputes do not provide English service, indicating expatriates are largely disadvantaged when trying to get help on such matters.

Shanghai Daily investigated 26 public service hotlines, which the government publicizes on its website, and found 13 do not serve English-speaking callers.

At the other 13 hotlines, English speakers may struggle to get through to an operator. The reporter found up to five of these hotlines don't offer English instructions on their automatic navigation menu. Although English-speaking operators are available, callers will have to navigate through the Chinese instruction system before they are connected.

The non-English platforms include the 12331 and 962727 food and drug safety hotlines. Food safety is one of the top concerns among the foreign community. The public can call either of the two hotlines to report suspected food and drug safety issues, such as unsanitary food practices. A hotline worker said there is no plan to add an English service.

Most of the hotline workers advised foreigners to ask Chinese friends to make inquiries or complaints.

"You have to speak Chinese to use our hotline," said an operator for the 96877 hotline, which responds to household cable TV problems. "But we will ask for someone who can speak English to call back if foreigners ask their Chinese friends to leave their contact information."

The operators said they don't have English service because it's quite rare that English-speaking people call them, making them reluctant to add or expand the English availability on their platforms.

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