Friday, June 5, 2015

I AM DONE WITH CUSTOMER SERVICE REPS IN INDIA

Dear Othello . . . and Iago,

I suppose someone will call me a bigoted bitch today, so go ahead: Get it out of your system.

Janie, you are a bigoted bitch.

But am I? Are you sure?

When a number of American companies moved their customer service call centers to India, I felt concerned about the loss of jobs in the U.S. They weren't usually high paying jobs, but sometimes making a bit is a whole heck of a lot better than making nothing.

Call center employees in India usually earn $2,400 A YEAR.
Employees in the U.S. make $20,000-$40,000.
Information from ABC News.


Today, I had to call Norton, the company that's supposed to protect my computer. As soon as I heard the voice of the customer service representative, I knew the person was Indian. Are you from the U.S. and working in the United States? I asked.

He admitted he wasn't, but requested repeatedly that I give him a chance to solve my problem. I requested repeatedly that I be assisted by a rep from the U.S. who works in the U.S.

What's my problem?

As I age, my sight and hearing diminish. Although many Indians know English grammar better than people in the U.S., their voices tend to be somewhat high pitched. They talk in the singsong manner of a person reciting memorized scripts, or of a person who is Indian but speaking English.

I am tired of saying, Pardon me? Please say that again. I can't understand you. I can't hear you. You have not solved my problem. It's clear to me that you don't comprehend my problem.

While it's true that a rep working in the U.S. might not solve my problem, at least I understand what the person says. When I call Amazon, I'm told which city in the U.S. I'm reaching.

I knew today that I was done with call center reps in India. I also tried online chat. The rep spelled my name "Jain." Few names in the U.S. are simpler than Jane. If he couldn't read and then type "Jane," then how could he help me? I called again and spoke to a woman on the telephone. Are you a U.S. citizen working in the U.S.? I asked.

No, but I can help you, she said.

I told her what was wrong. She didn't understand. I had difficulty understanding the questions she asked me. Finally, I said--yet again--I want to talk to a citizen of the United States who works in the United States. She tried again to get me to change my mind, and then reluctantly gave me a different phone number.

I called. I understood the man. He understood me. He asked me to forward some emails to him. He will figure out what's wrong.

Even if he can't figure it out, at least when he tells me, I'll know what he says.

From now on when I hear a foreign voice on the telephone when I need customer service, I shall demand that I be allowed to speak to someone from the U.S. who works in the U.S. I read an ABC news story that said some call centers have departed India to return to the U.S. because it takes multiple, frustrating calls to an Indian center to resolve a problem. If you feel the way I do, then I hope you'll insist on speaking to a U.S. citizen who is in the U.S. Let's bring those jobs back to our country. Let's bring those voices we understand back to our ears.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

48 comments:

  1. Hey, I'm neither bigoted or prejudiced or wish anyone ill will...but the purpose of the phone call is to communicate and if that's not happening, then their solution is failing. That's really the only issue for me.

    I can't understand a good deal of the oversees call center reps, either. I guess that's fair. They usually don't understand me.

    But now - JANIE???? Oh, it's ON........

    ReplyDelete
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    1. What's on? Did I forget to turn off the light in the kitchen? If my father were alive, he's be so upset. He's probably upset anyway.

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  2. AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    1. Sing it with me, brothers and sisters: Aaaaa-men. Aaaaaaa-men. Aa-men, aa-men, aa-men.

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  3. No Problem ! I am right with you.
    I can never understand what they say. Like you I keep having to say "pardon I don't understand you" I hung up called the company and said come pick up your equipment. I can't get it to work and your customer service people, each one worst that the first one, spoke awful English. I could not understand them. Blah blah blah and 2 supervisors later, I canceled my equipment and they came and pick it up.
    Just thinking about this one I can feel my blood pressure rising !

    When ever this happens I hang up call the company and cancel.
    This out sourcing is just plan stupid.
    I had to call about my service bill on a water heater, the lady on the phone had a charming southern accent and said she was in Kentucky. Not my flat voice but I understood every words she said. And my problem was cleared up in the 5 days she said it would take.

    I am with you all the way.
    cheers, parsnip

    p.s. I think everyone think I am a bigot because I am against legalizing all the millions illegals and the latest stunt pulled by Obma and Clinton to try and pull in more Hispanic votes.
    I live in a border state and city and the wasteful government spending to grab as many votes as possible while my state is having to cut our budget (especially schools) because we are broke.... Yep ! not buying it.


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    1. I have spoken to reps with southern accents and understood them.

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  4. Communication is important, and this is one of the global problems with contracting out to another country. Business makes these decisions as a cost factor issue. Life can be a bitch, not you, Janie.

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  5. My bank, here in the UK, switched to an I ndian call-centre a few years ago. Before that, you could have a quick chat with a nice-sounding lady ('what's the weather like there on the coast today?') living within a few hundred miles of yourself as she deftly sorted out your problem. Then the switch to India and it took me 35 minutes of rising panic on the part of the call-centre woman, and rising irritation on mine, as neither of us could understand the other. I did as you suggest - asked for a UK number... This I called, the problem was fixed in 5 minutes and I threatened to take my business elsewhere if I had to use the Indian call-centre again, which apparently thousands of other customers also did. The experiment didn't last for long, and now the calls are taken by UK people....
    I do sympathise with the need for jobs in India, but we need jobs too - and we certainly don't need that hassle!!

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    1. I wonder if the frustration is worse than the loss of jobs in our countries. Yes, Indians need jobs. But they need jobs they can do properly. We should not be punished because they need jobs.

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  6. I feel badly for them because I know they need the jobs and all that, but I have such a hard time understanding them and they have a hard time understanding me. I didn't even know I could ask to speak to a US citizen working in the US. That is so good to know! Thanks, Janie! :)

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    1. I heard a while back that if you demand to speak to someone in the U.S. that they must transfer you.

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  7. This seems like it was written in frustration, without giving it time to simmer. I've never had a problem understanding the Indian call center people, except when they try to adopt some cockamamy Anglicized name. Let's assume this strange pseudo-patriotic plan of your works and these minimum wage jobs come back to the US, wouldn't it be safe to assume that these call centers would be located in the cheapest markets possible? What if that's the deep South, with a real grinding Appalachian accent? I live around those accents, they are much more difficult to understand than an Indian with a mouth full of marbles. That's why, and it hurts me to say this, your sentiment here is bigoted because you're assuming that any US speaker will be easier to understand than any Indian speaker, or that any US worker would have a greater comprehension of your IT problem than an Indian. I'm not saying it's great that these jobs are farmed out to sub-minimum wage countries, that's some b.s. corporate shenanigans, but to presume that your service would be better handled by some slack-jawed high school drop-out from the US is preposterous.

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    1. True: written in frustration. Simmer: simmering and coming to a boil for a long time. If you can understand the call center people, then please place my calls for me. I have yet to be unable to understand a U.S. speaker in a call center. Once I did speak to a woman who said that something had been tooken somewhere. Tooken? I asked. Tooken? Tooken? I was a record stuck on tooken. She apologized. I let it go. I would be surprised if call centers opened in Appalachia. They weren't in Appalachia--as far as I know--before the jobs went to India. When I call Amazon, I think I get Phoenix. Don't feel hurt because you think my sentiment is bigoted. It's okay to disagree with me. I love you no matter what. Disagreement can help us improve the world. Out of disagreement, we often reach compromise.

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  8. Good morning, Janie Junebug!

    You wrote:

    << Janie, you are a bigoted bitch. >>

    ...and I am a dickwad. Pleased to meetcha!

    You wrote:

    << The rep spelled my name "Jain." Few names in the U.S. are simpler than Jane. >>

    I used the Google translation tool. "Jain" means "Jane" in India.

    I share your frustration, dear friend. The other night I wasted good money on a phone sex hotline chatting with an Indian male. I couldn't understand a frickin' word he said. Talk about a buzzkill!

    Happy Friday, dear friend Janie (aka Jainie)!

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    1. Ah, good information. I still think he should have made the effort to spell my name the way I spell it. I am so sorry about your phone sex disappointment. I will talk to you about anything you want--pretty much--for $100 a minute. Call when Willy Dunne Wooters is not here. I hope you have a pleasant weekend.

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  9. Here, here! Good for you. I called for customer service yesterday and got the foreign voice on a credit card call. He kept trying to repeat what he was saying for me to understand. Finally he said, "We have a bad connection, so you need to hang up and call again." Really? He was my bad connection! I have no idea where he was. But I have had some good service from probably foreign connections.

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  10. I've had exactly the same experience, right up to demanding and American to work with, and getting the secret phone number to the real help desk. Any accent in this country is easier to understand than Indian.
    On the same note, I called the PayPay help line once and knew the technician was foreign, with such a beautiful lilt. Toward the end of the call I broke my code of honor a little, and asked where she was working. Ireland. I was sorry I didn't have more problems for her to solve.

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    1. I have never gotten to talk to anyone in Ireland. How nice.

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  11. I've written about this one too, I think it's a lost cause...:something about bottom line and profit margins.
    If we have an option, we buy American even if it's a little expensive.

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    1. But it doesn't have to be a lost cause. We all have to insist on talking to a person from the U.S. who works in the U.S. Enough demands, and we'll get more call centers back in the U.S.

      Delete
  12. I'm with you on this. Once I had this situation on a tech call with Linksys and I was transferred to someone in the U.S. no problem. I appreciate it when the Indian call staff tell me they are in India. What annoys me is when these people call me for some reason and when I ask where they are calling from they'll say something like Florida, New York, or California. That's when I start chatting with them asking about the weather where they are or something about their geographical location--they usually hang up when I do that.

    Something that has really disturbed me is that when I call the Los Angeles Times in regard to my account and I'm connected to someone in the Philippines. I never realized it at first as they usually speak better English than someone local might and they are very professional and informed. I've heard that many articles in American newspapers are now actually written by cheap labor in the Philippines who are emailed the story details and then turn them into stories.

    Our corporations are destroying the hands that feed them, but maybe they figure the customers of the future will be the ones they are using for outsourcing. Screw all of us who built this country in the first place.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Road trippin' with A to Z
    Tossing It Out

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    1. I didn't know that about the Philippines. Interesting. I don't think I've ever had Indians tell me they are in Florida.

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  13. I read your entire post with an Indian accent. It was very fun. Good day.

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  14. As God as my witness, whenever I have occasion to call an Indian call center, I want to sound like Apu from The Simpsons.
    I'm a bad man.
    Thank you. Come again.

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    1. I know you won't believe this, but I've never seen The Simpsons.

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  15. But, to be fair, maybe there's some expatriate South Carolinians driving taxis in Mumbasa.
    "Hah, my name is Bubba. May I hep you?"

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  16. OMG SO TRUE! We had to deal with Comcast (cable) when we moved...we kept getting overseas reps who pretended to solve our problem. "We'll have someone out by noon." Nobody would show up. Finally my husband demanded a local number and the woman explained that it looked like the overseas reps had just been telling us someone would be out...no one ever showed up. I'm going to have to try the U.S. thing next time. I'd heard that they'll transfer you if you demand it.

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    1. I had heard it too--about the transfer--and it worked. By the way, the guy in the U.S. solved my problem quickly.

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    2. That is comcast for you the very worst.
      I waited all day for the repairman to come, at 5 pm that day
      I called and asked when the repair man would be coming ?

      She said "oh he didn't have time to get to you"
      I ask why didn't he call to say he was not coming.
      " if he didn't show that means he can't come"
      Well when will he come tomorrow ?
      "tomorrow is filled you have to make a new appointment"
      Ummmm I have to make a new appointment because he missed it ?
      What about my appointment for today ?
      "you will have to make a new appointment"
      Why ? he missed my appointment, I was here!
      "you have to make a new appointment"
      But why ?
      "because he he wasn't able to get to your house"
      "the next time open is 2 weeks from today"
      "is that ok"
      OH HELL NO !

      Right now our internet is really awful, seems I didn't want to buy the new latest gadget ! I said no. 2 days later our internet is really slow and has trouble connecting.

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    3. That's horrible. I'm so sorry for you.

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  17. Replies
    1. Long time no write. How are you? How's your graphic novel?

      Delete
  18. I agree with you, and I don't think you're being racist at all. There is nothing wrong with wanted to be served by people who understand you and vice versa.....or for wanting to help ensure your fellow citizens have jobs. I shall follow your lead! :)

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  19. I don't think you're being racist either, Jane. And from several articles I've read that were written by Indians, I think they'd say you've identified a problem they're working on by hiring more American/British teachers to get rid of that sing-song accent so difficult to understand.

    And Big Applause for you for speaking out about bringing American jobs home!! Like you said, the pay may not be much, but it could be enough to put better food on the table! I'm sick of this overseas out-sourcing!

    Thank you, dear heart, for understanding about snakes! Icky critters I can do without. But a previous event I'll post about soon made me especially paranoid.

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    1. I was shocked that someone was surprised you called for help because of a garter snake. I would press the panic button on my alarm system.

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  20. When my last big boss called me in her office and told me that I was going to be in charge of setting up a group in India my reply was "I will do it, but I won't like it". I did it. I succeeded with my challenge. Then my big boss kept asking me what the problem was when India didn't reach their quota's etc. That was when I kind of lost it. They learn the English language but they don't truly understand it. They took ASAP to mean, whenever they could get to it. So not only did they learn our jobs but they had to be taught English even more. I could go on and on but needless to say, we downsized 3 times before I left to move south. I knew it was only a matter of time. Within that year the company went from 150 employees down to about 20. Last time I heard anything, India bought out the company, so now the few remaining are actually working for India. Grrrr. Such a screw up! Am I prejudiced? No. I just remember having to tell people that they no longer had jobs and watched the tears, anger and shock of good, honest, hard-working Americans.

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  21. I am from India. I fully agree with you that US jobs should not be given to Indians. But unfortunately, the salary levels are so high in US that companies are forced to get assistance from call centres in India because these companies want to make profit at the end of the financial year or face closure. I won't be surprised if many US companies go to China soon because the labor costs are even less. Many well known companies like Sony, Philips etc. in the manufacturing sector have relocated their factories in China.

    Ultimately all companies will have to think of their profit or become extinct in which case more people will lose jobs in US.

    My eldest son is working in New York and staying there with his family. Earlier he was in Boston. My second son is in Singapore with his family. They can speak English as good as any American.

    It is not that all Indians don't speak good English and call centres in India give them adequate training generally to communicate with the American clients.

    It is good to have the nationalistic spirit but at same time we have to be practical.

    Times are changing and we have to change with the times.

    Best wishes

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    1. The salary levels in call centers are not high for Americans. I have never earned as much as the average pay in an American call center.

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  22. I've been frustrated myself with call centers so I agree. It does suck for the job loss here, and sure they may need jobs too, but that shouldn't be on us to suffer when needing to deal with customer service. I mean, some of them really are difficult to understand.

    That being said, even U.S. citizens can have accents, so remind me to never call you lol. We shall communicate in written form, I won't frustrate you and you won't hurt my feelings ;)

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    1. Maybe I'm the one who can't be understood.

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  23. Ok I am not American as you know but I feel your pain, we also have so many call centres in India as well and it is so bloody frustrating what pisses me off is that they will tell you they are in Melbourne of Brisbane yes they right out lie..............I get that it is cheaper for companies to have their call centre in a foreign country but it is so frustrating when you cannot get the person to understand what you are saying and you can't understand them either

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  24. We recently had a issue with the call centers from India as well. After 4 months, going back and forth (ATT) we finally cancelled the father-in-laws account and switched his landline phone to Pre-Paid Verizon. Frustrating. Oh and they always choose names like Bob, or Bill.

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