‘All Comments Must Be Written in English:’ English Only Policy at Popular VarageSale App?

Toronto-based VarageSale is one of the hotter apps around, earning the 2014 Startup of the Year award in Canadian tech circles. According to its own marketing copy, the app is “the fun way to buy and sell in your trusted local community.” Think virtual garage sales, with local pages run by local administrators and you have VarageSale.

Last week, Christina Espinosa, one of our Facebook fans posted several VarageSale community images from her phone. This was the first image she sent:

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We asked Christina for more context, and she said that the image she shared came from the VarageSale community page based in Brenham, Texas. She also shared several images of a conversation she had with the community’s admin, Hope Reumke:

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According to VarageSale’s site, creating local communities requires acknowledgment and approval from the company. As it says at VarageSale’s help section:

How do I start a VarageSale community in my area?
Please email  [email protected] for more information on how to start a community.You can see a list of our existing communities when you login and visit: http://bit.ly/1A6yncF

The VarageSale section also lists reasons why a member might be denied from a local community. While most of the reasons have to do with location issues (meaning that a member doesn’t live close enough to a local community page), VarageSale also states that admins have a say in approving or denying someone:

Sorry

The help section does not include any specific information about language or language policies that we could find.

On February 13, our founder sent an email to VarageSale asking if they would comment about concerns from “some of your members that comments cannot be made only in Spanish.”

The next day, we received this response from a VarageSale representative: “VarageSale is a platform that houses buy and sell communities that are run buy local administrators. Can you let me know which community is telling members that they cannot comment in Spanish? I’d like to understand both sides of the issue.”

Two follow-up emails from our founder shared that a Hope Reumke was talking about an English only policy and that Latino Rebels had “two [now four] screen grabs from members and administrators saying that VarageSale has an English only policy.” Our founder also offered to share those images with the company, with the understanding that the company comment about the admin’s remarks.

As of tonight, the VarageSale employee alerted our founder to say that due to the holiday weekend, it would be difficult to connect with staff, but that a response would be sent “by the end of the week.”

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