Saturday, February 6, 2010
Watchmaker has No Time for Language Police
Thank you Mitch for the suggestion.
I had already viewed the story on the local CTV news channel and at the time, nearly fell out of my chair when I recognized a face from the past.
I haven't seen Darryl Lesser in over fifteen years when we played hockey together in a weekly pickup game of hockey at the Bonaventure ice rink in Montreal.
I couldn't help remarking to my wife that Darryl had aged somewhat from the strapping young man that I remembered, a comment to which she rolled her eyes in a not so silent rebuke.
Back then Darryl was just getting into the watch business. He would regale the locker room with stories of his adventures scouring flea markets across the Townships in pursuit of discarded watches going for cheap. He proudly showed me his first genuine ROLEX watch that he picked up for a couple of bucks. I guess he has pursued things quite successfully, from the looks of things.
To small independent entrepreneurs and Anglos in particular, setting up a complementary web site in French is an expensive affair, especially when the business conducted targets an English or international clientèle. Aside from the initial cost, there's the pesky problem of translation, French being a particularly hard language to write, considering the male and female case. Translators are very expensive and the cost can run into thousands of dollars annually, a bitter pill, when there is no return.
Treating small entrepreneurs like large corporations is something the government is guilty of doing and while it makes eminent sense for large companies to have a bilingual web site, it is isn't always reasonable to demand the same from tiny enterprises, specialized and home-based businesses.
If you think that this issue affects only small Anglo companies and entrepreneurs you'd be wrong. I'm reminded of a conversation I had with a highly placed member of a non-profit group that offers roadside assistance to travellers. (Figure it out yourself.)
I suggested that with so many members consulting their web site to plan trips (especially to southern Florida), it would be a natural to offer hotel accommodations. I went on to tell him that they could save money by just creating a link to another web site that specializes in hotel bookings (and earn a royalty.)
Alas it was not to be, he explained. The hotel web site in the United States doesn't offer a French interface and as such they could not link up legally, since they'd be making money. They had already rejected the idea based on legal advice. Argghhh!!
Darryl the watchmaker has threatened to move if the harassment continues. He needn't bother.
He can just change his company's head office to another jurisdiction. It's a simple matter to incorporate a company federally and to use a post office box or a Mailbox store in Ontario as an official address. Mail can be forwarded right to your home in Quebec. You can file an Ontario tax return and you can do all your work in front of your keyboard in Quebec quite easily, completely legally. (After all, don't you sometimes talk to a service tech in India on behalf of a Canadian or American company?)
The same can be done in Plattsburgh and a US address is also a viable choice.
The OQLB is powerless in the face of modern technology and in the virtual world of the Internet, rules like mandatory French web sites are laughable and impossible to enforce when people use little creativity.
Posted by Editor on 2/06/2010 12:49:00 AM