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The twilight zone

Posted in Life & Love

unitaskingWednesday. I don’t have internet, tv or phone service and I live in an area where there is no cell phone coverage, unless enabled by WiFi. So I drive five miles to call Frontier Communications who, recently, took over from Verizon, my original provider. Let’s just sum up my hour-long attempt to solve this problem with the following snippet of conversation:

“I need you to be at home with a phone in order for me to help you” the unhelpful lady in Bangalore says.

“Well, I just told you I have no phone connection at home and my cell phone won’t work.

“Then I can’t help you.”

I am not proud of the series of epithets that poured forth from my mouth but, in my defense, I had a long day at work and now I was dealing with a series of underpaid Indian workers who might have not deserved my anger but seemed rather dim-witted. My tirade makes the Bangalore lady regain her senses although she feels compelled to say that, while willing to open a ticket and send a technician to my house 4 days from now, she can’t understand why my cell phone won’t work.

During the hour I spent on the phone, staring at the yoga studio outside which I was parked, about to pee in my pants, determined to speak to a supervisor Bangalore lady was just as determined not to put me through to, I realized the following:

  • India must have a much better cell phone coverage than the US, if this girl can’t fathom a corner of the mighty USA where cell phones cannot be accessed.
  • I constantly make fun of Italy for not being service oriented but the behemoths that dominate certain industries are not faring much better here.
  • I had to embrace the role of the ugly American, the one who complains, whines, threatens and curses to get something done. I am mortified I yelled at a woman who doesn’t get paid enough to take my insults as graciously as she did: she stuck to the script of repeating my name every four words and thanking me profusely no matter what I said. It didn’t help.
  • I have become so American that four days without tv, internet or phone sound utterly unreasonable. I think there is a law buried somewhere that a provider cannot leave you without a landline for over 24 hours – in fairness, if I had an emergency I would have to run up and down a hill trying to rouse my neighbors.
  • It seems crazy I had to sit on the phone with India for an hour in order for a message to be sent to a technician who lives 10 miles from me. I think this pretty much sums up the state of the global economy: we might be all connected but we are running in wider and wider circles.

In the end, three days with no sales calls, a glance at emails in passing, when I was out of the house, and the choice of curling up with a book after dinner (ok, I watched Sense and Sensibility on video again and it was delightful) were rather welcome. What an excellent excuse to work less and not speak to anyone.

Now I feel compelled to call the lady in Bangalore and offer my deepest apologies: her incompetence was rather a gift. If only I could remember her name.

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13 Comments

  1. It seems this is the same wherever we are… With the possible exceptions of outsourcing work in non-English speaking countries (how many Indians are there speaking Portuguese?) the average quality of work is bad. I worked in a call-centre for a month and I can guarantee it’s a soul sucking experience – for both the frustrated customer and the employee.

    When I need to call customer services, I always try to remember what it was like to be on the other side of the call, but sometimes I do have to resort to being a little nasty to get my voice heard. It’s sad how it’s obvious no one is enjoying the exchange, yet we need these types of services…

    Question: do you get endless automated speeches before being put through to a human being? It maddens me how that’s the norm now over here. I’ve even had cases where my issue wasn’t in the menu, and because I didn’t make a choice (expecting to be sent to a real person and explain my predicament) the voice just said, “You haven’t made a choice. Goodbye.” No rerun of said choices, no asking me if I wanted to speak to someone. Argh.

    June 22, 2016
    |Reply
    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      Yes, we do get endless automated choices here too and I think most call centers have figured out that we figured out that by staying on the phone we would get a human. So they took the option away, which is disconcerting. I must admit I have had very pleasant call center experiences with mid-size companies or publications, that maybe won’t save that much by outsourcing the work outside the US. But, yes, I always try to keep in mind I am talking to another human being who is just trying to do her job, and possibly a very boring one at that.

      June 23, 2016
      |Reply
  2. silvia
    silvia

    It is somehow comfortable to hear that this can happen in the US. It’s true Vodafone is doing a fantastic job out here. So far, and I’ve been with them approximately 20 years, they never disappointed me or let me down

    June 21, 2016
    |Reply
    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      Man! you are a faithful customer!

      June 22, 2016
      |Reply
  3. Maurits Kalff
    Maurits Kalff

    Sounds like you were in withdrawal.

    June 21, 2016
    |Reply
    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      Possibly. That crazed uh?

      June 22, 2016
      |Reply
  4. Okay. I’m sorry maybe it’s because I live in Italy now but think it’s outrageous that American (and maybe other English speaking countries) outsource emergency tech calls to India! Come one. That is ridiculous. So they save how much money doing this? I had to deal with Amazon (USA) and wanted to throw my phone out of the window it was so frustrating.

    You know it’s bad when dealing with Vodafone, Italia seems great in comparison. Okay, actually Vodafone has been excellent lately.

    June 21, 2016
    |Reply
    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      You people should be featured in a Vodafone ad! What I find hysterical is talking to people on the other side of the world who are forced to Americanize their names: Salman becomes Jack. I spoke to a Patrick who couldn’t have sounded less of a Patrick if he tried…

      June 22, 2016
      |Reply
  5. I think that your last point is really important. We can’t find anybody in our own country to do this work?

    June 21, 2016
    |Reply
    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      I think a lot of companies are bringing call centers back. Labor in India is not as cheap as it used to be. Many have migrated to the Philippines too but it is not so easy to train employees in speaking a different language with little accent. I had a very pleasant interaction with the Netflix call center today. Maybe there is hope.

      June 21, 2016
      |Reply
  6. Sounds like a cathartic experience 😉 Let’s hope you won’t have to repeat this one anytime soon.

    June 21, 2016
    |Reply
    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      I wish I could force myself to disconnect more often. But, left to my own devices, I know I won’t.

      June 21, 2016
      |Reply

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