Quebec language police target English retail websites

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.

Pottery Barn, Anthropologie and Club Monaco are just some of the stores that have recently blocked access to their English sites in Quebec until they can comply with the law.

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.”

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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.

“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.

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