Hudson merchant warned towatch itwith English-onlywebsite
‘Little guy’ standing up to O.L.F
Darryl A. Lesser says his is a “one man operation” that is not going to give in to demands from the Office de la langue française to change wording on his website fromEnglish to French.
The fully bilingual resident who’s lived in Hudson for the past 10 years says respecting Quebec’s French language and culture has nothing to do with his refusal.
“I love our province,” Lesser said. “I’m fluent in French and English and my wife and son speak four languages.” But, adds Lesser, a watchmaker and restorer, “I’m a little guy standing up for his rights.”
Lesser and his business came to theO.L.F’s attention last month after the provincial language police received a complaint about his web based watch repair business.
Lesser says he’s operated from his home office for the past 12 years.
He does not have customers fromQuebec, nor does he have a store, as all of his work comes via the internet.
“My clients are from England, the States, Australia, Norway, places like that,” he said, adding he’s sold just one watch within Quebec in the last five years and none at all in the past year.
“I do not advertise in newspapers, I don’t send flyers or pamphlets and I don’t do trade shows here or anywhere else,” he noted.
Letter demanded change
Lesser says he received a letter on Jan. 27 from the O.L.F. demanding that he change all of his webpage content to French “or else.”
“If I did that, can you imagine what guy from Texas would do if he clicked on my website and found it all in French?”
The heart of his argument, says Lesser, is that the provincial agency charged with protecting French in Quebec “does not control the worldwideweb.”
Lesser says he’s been in touch with the O.L.F., who indicated they may be willing to give him a break.
“I told them less than 1 percent of my annual sales were from Canada and that I had not sold anything in Quebec in the past year.”
If he can prove that, theO.L.F. may let the issue drop, he noted. If not, he says he’s mad enough to take his business and his taxes and go elsewhere.
“Do I lose exposure to three billion (web) customers by giving in to them...They are threatening my livelihood.”
Lesser says he has until the end of the month to comply with the O.L.F., though he says he’s been in touch with the agency which may except him from the ruling if he can prove he does not have sales within Quebec.
Lesser is prepared to show the O.L.F his sales receipts as long as he can block out his clients’ names and addresses.
He said he expects to meetwith the O.L.F next month.