Saturday, May 26, 2007

Take action: Jazztel

While in Shanghai this week, I continued to keep in touch, as usual, with what happens in my dear Catalonia. I read in e-noticies a piece of news that described the policies of the telecommunication company Jazztel. Apparently this company only accepts communications in Spanish even though is sells products and services in the Catalan speaking territories of Spain where Catalan is the official language.I am not surprised that Jazztel tries to get away with it. Companies hate diversity, “one size fits all” is the best methodology to reduce cost. Customization and localization cost money even if you have embedded DFD (design for diversity) in your design process. But market forces are able to counterbalance the natural tendency of companies to avoid diversity. My biggest issue is the reaction of some people to Jazztel arrogant position. The worst attitude is the ‘botifleristic” approach. One guy was saying, if by having Catalan customer service I will have to pay more, forget about it. These are the kind of people who have made us lose all battles since the Trastamaras, people who would not move a finger to support their country and that would sell it for personal gain, like Mas with the Estatut (Catalan Constitution), like Carod-Rovira and Montilla with TV3 in Valencia and so on.
Let me tell you, if the vast majority of Catalans wanted products and services in Catalan we would have them, the applicable techniques: solidarity, perseveration and market economy.
Let me explain you how this would work for Jazztel. All Catalans or at least the 60%-70% who care about their language, should stop using Jazztel and switch to a carrier where service is offered in Catalan (preferably in Catalan, Spanish and English, my trilingual dream), even if it is more expensive. After a few weeks, the market share of Jazztel in Catalonia, the most affluent area in the country, would be so low that they would put together a taskforce to try to reverse the trend. After analyzing the exit interviews, they would conclude that the solution was an aggressive marketing campaign in Catalan with attractive prices and the set-up of a call center in Catalonia to serve the customers in Catalan.In order to maintain the margins in Spain, they would be forced to go for a second round of outsourcing and move more jobs from Spain to Argentina. A few months ago, Jazztel shut down the call center in Galicia and moved it to Argentina (que bueno que chamaste), read it here and here.
Conclusion, in a few months, we would have Jazztel in Catalan, we would have created jobs in Catalonia (pretty difficult to outsource, maybe to Valencia, Andorra or L’Alguer) and it would have cost us close to nothing.

In a larger scale, the solution is even easier. Let’s assume that we declare the months of October 2007 and February 2008 as the months of Catalan in labeling and services with the support of all society, consumer associations, political parties (except PP), etc. It should be a non political exercise, not a boycott, but an exercise of consumer preferences. During the month of October, only products and services that would offer labeling and customer support also in Catalan (I am not saying only in Catalan) would be chosen. We may suffer a little bit, we may have to pay more for some products, we may even have to narrow our selection, maybe have only lettuce and onions for a couple of days, but it will be worth while. In November, after having given our warning signal, we would go back to our normal consumption habits, while all the companies that got the message would start to address the Catalan market seriously developing labeling, graphic interfaces, directions for use and service centers in Catalan. When in February, the campaign would reinitiate, the choice of products would be much wider, the price differential insignificant and those manufacturers who chose to ignore the customer requirement would be definitely out of the Catalan landscape.
There is only one aspect that worries me and it is collusion. I have the feeling that it already exists today and we need to bring it to the open. I am afraid that many companies have agreed on certain rules of the game to avoid that one of them goes full speed with Catalan and the others are forced to follow. The solution is called “whistleblower”, someone needs to produce an internal document or trail of emails to prove it and the justice system will do its job. Collusion and price fixing are illegal practices.

Note: The videoclip is an edited version of an original Motorola ad. The company SardanaTel only exists in my imagination, maybe now in yours too.


Johnny Tastavins said...

Iamn, try to put your feet on the floor. Your idea is as good as no practical. You should make a short opinion poll to "catalan" people about that. They would lie to you answering that they agree with your purpose. In practice, people would follow with their usual practices, and no boycot would success. That might sound harsh but it's the reality. Why do you think that we are in the hands of so low level politicians such as Mas, Montilla and Carod?

ian llorens said...

I understand Johnny. You are a Jazztel customer and do not want to switch.
From now onwards, I will use smoke signals to call you. Go to the balcony now.

Rhys Wynne said...

Am I right in thinking that there are laws in Catalonia which state that companies 'must' provide a service in Catalan?

Activists in Wales are pressing for this, but the government and the Welsh langugae Board say 'encouragement' is the best way.

One argument against it, is that it will drive businesses out of Wales and cost jobs. But companies already operate globally, and even if they don't package bilingually or whatever, they still have to obide by various national legislation. If there's money to be made, a company will stay and adapt. I can't see coca-col not selling an of their drink in Wales (which wouldn't be a bad thing!) if they had to change labeling.

At the moments the Banks are the leading sector in providing bilingual service volunterally. I bank with HSBC and they offer telephone banking in Welsh which gives an excellent service. This is based in Swansea, south Wales, and the operators obviously answer calls in English as well. With so many call-centre jobs in Britain being lost to India, making forcing companies to provide a Welsh service would in a way force call-centres to be based in Wales, therefore protecting Welsh/British jobs*, even those of non-Welsh speakers.

*Ok, call-centre jobs are not great, but they are jobs at the end of the day.

A sign of how weak the Welsh Language Act (1993) is in Wales, is that Arriva, the train company have their call-centre located abroad, even thought privatised utilites and services are supposed to offer bilingual services.

(PS, why do you have nasty pop-ups on your blog, it even manages to evade my firefox browser?)

Vacío said...

Pido disculpas por usar el español sabiendo que mi comentario será leído por menos gente, pero mi inglés escrito es, todavía, bastante malo (y mi catalán lo tengo algo abandonado).

La verdad es que es muy jodido que tantos buenos principios, como la gente dice tener se vayan a la mierda en cuanto se saque el tema del dinero. Y que luego sean estas mismas personas, la de moral de papelera las que sean las primeras en agarrar pancartas para lucir palmito en cada manifestación.

Suerte con tu idea, me parece muy buena, a fin de cuentas es lo único que se puede hacer como consumidor.

Garci said...


In my opinion, encouragement, and not punishments, are indeed the best way. I was born in the Basque Country, and lived in Catalonia and now in Wales, and am amazed about the fact that many Welsh people consider the Basque Country a sister nation (and probably Catalunya). I always tell them there is no such sisterhood at all. Economically Wales is objective 1 region, only comparable in Spain to Extremadura, Andalucia, Galicia or Asturias. Also the Asturians and galicians are celtic people too, so you should in fact look to northwest Spain to find similarities. Wales don't have the money Euskadi or Catalonia have, and I have the feeling that any kind of imposition like the one you propose would be an unbearable burden for such a poor area. Right now the Welsh government is taking an approach much more gentle and democratic that that of the Catalan government: encouraging Welsh learning and subsidizing it. This is good, but sanctions of punishments may go too far the way.

Johnny Tastavins said...

Ian, as you please, we can use smoke or even better whistle signals. Balcony will be good for both options :-) I'm not a Jazztel customer, only a realistic catalan.

Garci, do you mean that being Catalonia a more rich nationality than Wales, imposition would success? I'm sure you don't.

Johnny Tastavins said...

By the way, do you know what happens with your hated/beloved blog Sempre Primavera of the amazing Ale? I tried to access it but now it is necessary an invitation. And I see that you have removed the link form your blog.