Watch: Language police target American websites
MONTREAL — The Office Québécois de la langue Française has its sights on retails store’s English websites.
Several big american retail chains have found themselves in the OQLF’s crosshairs.
Companies that have a physical store in the province must have a French website and virtual store.
The Williams-Sonoma Inc. family, which includes the Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids and West Elm brands, told Global News that they’ve stopped Quebecers’ access to its websites due to provincial language laws.
“[We’ve] ceased e-commerce activities in Quebec in order to comply with Quebec’s language regulations.”
The company said it is working on a French site, but does not know when it will be operational.
“We apologize for any inconvenience the cessation of our e-commerce may cause to our Quebec customers.”
The OQLF said that it is not trying to police the internet, or discourage business in the province; only to maintain the law.
“We don’t lose business.”
“It’s better to have a French site because you expand your business by doing it French,” explained OQLF spokesperson, Jean-Pierre Leblanc.
“Eighty per cent of Quebecers are French-speaking, so you don’t want to lose those customers.”
Because the OQLF will only send a notice to a company to change their site after there’s been a complaint, there are many chains that have stores in Quebec and no French-language website, but are still running an English-only site.