Americans simply love to hate Indian call centers, and I think I want to agree with them. All that talk of ‘a nation with better command over English than China’ and ‘skilled workforce’ (LMAO!!!) is all bullcrap. One thing is common to all these – they all call their nincompoops ‘executives’. Most of these are not at all competent to handle tech loaded queries, and simply parrot out standard lines. Here are a few call centers ‘reviews’ that I want to share.
Airtel: This is one I keep on calling a lot, because their service SUCKS. Better than Idea and Hutch, yes, but nowhere NEAR the ‘world-class’ standards Bharti keeps on talking about. Today for example, it gave me a funny error while sending SMSes – ‘Message sending failed. Network does not support messaging’. Well, I was trying to sending to Rach’s number, so I thought maybe even the SMS dreads going to him. I tried others, same error. I then went through the usual rebooting-reloading (SIM card) routine to no avail.
The unique thing about Airtel’s customer care line is that there’s no option to speak to real person directly – you NEED to select one bloody suboption before it even gives you the choice to speak to one; and no, try entering the option earlier and a stern voice will scold you ‘invalid option’.
When an ‘exec’ picks up, you’ll wonder why the bother with the choose language option, because these folk can’t stammer out English even if their lives depended on it anyway. For example, in today’s case, he put me on hold when I mentioned the problem. When he came back, here’s how the conversation went. Note that I made the exec’s speech into proper English, or you’d have tough time getting it.
Call Center Exec – May I have your good name please? (What? I’ve a ‘bad’ version of my name too? Sheesh, can’t they teach them to chuck this Indianised ‘English’ away?)
GQ – Sure. Ankur Banerjee.
CCE – Ok Mr Pankaj, may I know how I can…
GQ – It’s ANKUR, you [censored] [censored]!
(A few sentences later)
CCE – Sir there’s no problem in our network, I think it’s a problem with your settings, the message centre number (GQ accesses that option on phone) might have been changed. So if you can go to Menu…
GQ – The number for message centre currently is 9810051914.
CCE (puzzled) – …er, with a +91 before that?
GQ – Of course you moron.
CCE – I think you didn’t get my name, it’s Mukul. Well, as I told you earlier, there’s a problem in our network, so wait for 24 hours before trying to send a message. If it still doesn’t work, please contact us again and we’ll forward this to our technical team (standard answer ends here).
Then there was another time when I’d called up to know the new roaming rates. This guy did NOT know English AT ALL…
CCE – …you can call these ‘Galaf’ countries …and those little little islands near the sea…
‘Little little islands near the sea’? I thought islands ARE generally near the sea. I checked Airtel’s site later, he meant Micronesia and that stuff.
To Airtel’s credit though, the waiting time is real less before they connect you to a speak to a person – but what’s the point when it’s simply irritating when they can’t speak English?
Sify: Try figuring out the southie accent on the IVRS first – ‘Please dial dhree to proceed’. Dial? I thought rotary phones dials went out of fashion long ago! When you get through, it’ll seem as if you’re speaking to a person underwater, the connection quality would be so bad. Then, after noting down Mr Ungur’s (or, if it’s my lucky day, Mr Yangur’s) user ID, they’ll tell you ‘Click on Start, then go to Programs…’. At this point, rude that I am, I butt in saying ‘Yeah wahdev. Look, the cable’s connected, and gateway is not pinging. Now shut up and register a complaint’. Poor chaps, still not convinced, sometimes try to still walk me through it ‘But sir, go to Start…’. I generally lose it then, and scream out [censored] or [censored] or [censored] or [censored]. I’m put on hold, and then they come back to give me a complaint ID. They generally do ask before signing off whether the customer wants anything else, even Sify does generally, but that’s a step they skip in my case.
Tata Indicom: Please do tell me IF (and HOW) you got through to customer care. You should also send them a 10 foot thank you card if the pick your call up in less than 15 minutes waiting time. No point even TRYING English here, because you’ll be lucky if you can even make him understand Hindi.
Nokia: Wish you luck, because while waiting, they’ll make you listen to the same Nokia ad for 10 minutes before connecting, and then, the only thing the exec will say is ‘Please take your phone to the nearest Nokia Care Center. Is there anything else I can help you with?’, and the answer for that is also the same. They can seriously save a lot of money if they simply record and play out this message, at which point any sane person will chuck the cell out of the window. Good for Nokia, because they don’t have a section called ‘Damages caused due to chucking cellphones out of windows’ in their warranty. After your call ends, they’ll sweetly ask you to fill up a survey about your ‘experience’ so that you can have fun wasting more time. That is, if you haven’t thrown your phone out by then.
HCL: It’s a goddamn office that picks the phone up, it’s not even a call center. They also don’t want to believe that there are sane computer users anywhere, instead thinking the customer as a jerk who needs to be told where the power button is.
To be fair though, yes, in most cases the standard answers are all that most people need. Yes, in most cases people need to be guided through the steps. Yes, the model suits most people. But what I DON’T agree with is huge waiting times, and exasperating more tech-savvy users. Maybe they should add a new option to all IVRS menus after asking the language – ‘For answers in geek speak, press one; for plain English, press two’.
Had YOUR share of bad experiences with call centres? Please post it as a comment here!