Target, a major American retailer that has made a recent and highly publicized foray into the Canadian market, has become the object of one shopper’s ire over the lack of English at the self-service checkout.
"I rang through my items and then changed my mind. I said, 'Nevermind. I'll purchase these somewhere else.'" - Anne-Marie Legault, angry Target shopper
When Anne-Marie Legault took a trip to the new Target at the Place Alexis-Nihon shopping centre in downtown Montreal two weeks ago, she was confused when the self-service checkout machine only offered her the option to purchase her items in French.
"I went to pay for some items with the self-service kiosk and I went to find the English button — even though I’m perfectly bilingual, it’s just the language I prefer to do business in — and there was none,"she explained on Daybreak Monday morning.
"The attendant came over as I had pressed the question mark button expecting to find the English panel there, and she said, 'Well, we don’t offer it in English.'"
"I rang through my items and then changed my mind. I said, 'Nevermind. I'll purchase these somewhere else,'" she continued.
'Canada is a bilingual country'
After some reflection, she wrote a complaint to Target. She was unsatisfied with the store’s response, and wrote a second email to that effect.
She said she was told, “We have to make a choice about our language.”
“Canada is a bilingual country so I thought, if they really knew their target demographic, then they should have realized that Montreal is not just a unilingual French environment,” Legault, who is fully bilingual, said.
Target Canada public relations manager Sebastien Bouchard says the issue is a technological one, and not a matter of language politics.
“That’s across the country (that) they are not bilingual and that’s a technology issues that we are working to fix,” he said.
Target opened its first stores in Quebec in mid-September, and Bouchard said the company plans to have bilingual self-service checkout kiosks by next spring.
Legault said she hopes that will be a Canada-wide policy.
“If you can offer bilingual in Montreal, then you can also offer bilingual elsewhere in Canada,” she said.
“There’s plenty of francophones that travel out west that would be happy to have a Target kiosk in French,” she added.