Sunday, June 15, 2014

How Swedish People Lie On The Phone - And How To Stop It.

Its been a while since Ive posted anything but this particular post is something that I think that many people whom have moved to Sweden from an english speaking country would really appreciate.

There is no doubt about it that swedes speak english very well.  A combination of exposure to english early on in school along with the fact that there is pretty much always something in english with swedish subtitles on television.  

English is everywhere in Sweden but its important to take into account that this is generally something that helps the current generation of Swedes.  I would say anyone born in the 80s or later have no problem conversing in english however for those older then this, speaking english may be uncomfortable or inconvenient for a Swede and as such you may run into problems when calling technical support or any services you access via your telephone.

Its important to remember to be polite when first coming into contact with someone on the line and ask them in clear english if its ok to speak in english.  Normally navigating the phone menus in swedish (if there is no option to hear them in english) will generally get you to someone faster but the chance you take there is that the person picking up at the other end is expecting to speak to you in Swedish.   When you start speaking english, it can startle the person on the other line and can also lead to the result that this whole article is about: 


In a world of mobile phones, its easy to fake a bad connection, even though the service in central Stockholm couldn't be better.  Typically what happens is that you will connect to someone, ask them if you can speak in english, and then they will start repeating the world 'Hello' or 'Hej' or 'Hör du mig' continually until they hang up on you.  

It is ridiculously frustrating when you realize whats going on.  Instead of just transferring you, they hang up on you.  As a customer you're polite enough to ask if its ok to speak english, they can be polite enough to politely say no and transfer you to someone that can.


firstly, whenever you call a technical support line the person at the other end should say hello and tell you whom your speaking with.  Of course in the repetitive monotony of the job, they might say this incredibly and unintelligibly  fast.  The key here is to get their name and then repeat their name back to them so that they understand that you know who they are.  

Now if they do say their name too fast for you to understand what they said, the key is to ask them again whom you are talking to but do this in Swedish.

'Ursäkta Vem Prata Jag Med?' or 'Vad heter du?'

Either phrase should trigger them to repeat their names and these are not that hard to remember or say.  

Then repeat back their name to them when you ask in english if its ok if you can speak in english or if you want to ask that in Swedish as well:

'Går det bra om jag prata engelska?' is one way to get them to Switch if you want to speak english.  

If your still hung up on after this, well at least at that point you have a name and can call back and ask to speak to a manager.  Swedes are always so horny to speak english with you if you show even the slightest hesitance in Swedish or perhaps make a simple grammar mistake but then they hang up on you when you politely ask to speak in english, talk about a double standard.

The Word of the day is: kundtjänst which means customer service, something severely lacking in this country.