Thursday, June 23, 2005

Gopesh IS an American Name

So the past two weeks have been one giant experiment with customer service for me, as my DSL and phone service got unreliable after a storm a couple weeks ago. Unfortunately, and doubtless due to the large numbers of ABSOLUTE MORONS who call tech support and customer service, with problems like "My cupholder keeps retracting" and "I'm too stupid to understand what an on button is," I kept getting stuck with such helpful troubleshooting advice as "reboot your computer" and "reboot your modem" and "make sure your phone is plugged securely into the wall" and "remove your router."

I patiently explained over and over and over again that it was BOTH the phone, with static on the line and periodically just cutting out, AND the DSL, with repeated and random service outages. That I may not be a tech god, but I'm pretty damned sure I know how to be sure that my computer and modem are both on and plugged in, and that I know what "intermittent service" means when I say it, and that I checked all the wires BEFORE calling. Also that I wouldn't be calling the phone company if the problem wasn't with the PHONE LINES.

So anyway, my phone company customer support can't provide me with DSL support, so they kick me over to DSL support. DSL support kicks me back to phone support because it's not a DSL problem. We go on and on like this for days. One DSL tech was completely unable to understand the concept of "intermittent outages" - he said, "Your DSL is working now? So what's the problem?" The problem, moron, is that in five minutes it's going to cut out again and I won't at that point in time be able to use my phone to call you. I kept insisting it had to be the line coming into the house as it affected BOTH phone AND DSL service, created horrible static, and appeared to be wind-related. But duh, clearly I don't know NEARLY as much about what's wrong with my phone as people sitting in Bell County, Kentucky (call center capital of the USA), India, or other god-forsaken cubicle farms.

Which brings me to Gopesh. Or Rajiv. Or Dharanidhar. I really couldn't tell you what his name was, because when I finally got to a real person after talking to that really friggin' annoying female computer voice that makes you input your choices orally, half the time doesn't get them right, and always sounds really excited about it - and, aside, sounded very disapproving when she informed me that she detected no problem on my line but I still insisted on talking to a real person - when I finally got to him, he said, "Hello, my name is Mike. How can I help you today?"

I was so frustrated with cheery computer voice lady and her disapproval that I only very narrowly avoided insisting, "Your name is NOT MIKE."

I've been dealing mostly with Indian tech support this week, including tech support people allegedly named "Annie," "John," and "Mary," and I'd spent plenty of time on hold, so I'd had a lot of time to contemplate the oddities of outsourcing that put my local phone line problem in the lap of someone in India. It's not enough that they have the world's worst job, listening to Americans bitch and moan (everyone abuses customer support phone folks), and that they have to work weird hours conforming to AMERICAN hours halfway across the globe, but somebody's making them give up their names so they sound more American. I really don't think this is the best way to improve relations with our international friends and neighbors. I did a brief stint at customer support on the phones while working as a temp, and I have to say that after six hours I was ready to go and kill all my countrymen. I can only imagine what the thousands of Indians working the phones for American companies are ready to do to us. Customer support really exposes you to the darkest underbelly of America.

But anyway, my good friend "Mike" was the first tech who actually BELIEVED me and "escalated" my problem to the line-fixing people, who are now fixing my line so I can actually get the phone service I'm paying for. The first one who didn't try to tell me to turn my computer on before connecting to the internet. The first one who didn't make me reboot six things that didn't need rebooting. I love "Mike." I would send him cookies if they wouldn't get stale on the trip over.

(Now, Mike spoke darned good English, and as a monolingual American I have nothing but respect for that, but he had a pretty heavy accent and the cadences of Apu. It was all I could do not to crack up when he said something Apu-like. I really don't think we should be allowing our businesses to go to other countries and teach them that "escalated" is a verb unless someone is riding an actual escalator. Doesn't the English language get enough abuse? Must we introduce non-native speakers to the evils of business-speak? Couldn't we have them quote Shakespeare for tech support?)

Anyway, I was thinking how unfair it was for "Mike" - my savior whose brilliant act of "believing what I told him" is allowing me to post this blog entry now - to have to change his name for it to sound "American." I've read in the papers about all these companies running call centers who make their employees pick "American" names to make Americans more comfortable with their employees - and probably less suspicious and irate about the outsourcing.

The thing is, they don't really mean "American" names. They want their employees to pick WASP names, not American ones. Because Gopesh IS an American name. So's Rajiv. And Dharanidhar. And Seung-Cheol. And Antonio. And Muhammed, Chen, Omar, Pedro, Khairi, Knute, Yahto, Stanislaw, Liam, Ibeamaka, Vladimir, Ryuji, and - yes - Mike.

1 comment:

Desree MacFeegle said...

You know.. this reminds me of the time our phone and internet service were out at work for a week.

A truck backed into the building and I thought it would be a pretty easy fix("Hey send some people over a truck backed into our building and I can see that the wires have been RIPPED OUT") but no, alas, it was not to be.

"what kid of routeer do you have Ma'am?? [doesn't matter the wires are trailing uselessly on the ground]

"If you attempt to conect to the interent what does it do?" [...]

You have the patience of a saint to have dug your way through that. Eventually I callked up and lied to get ours fixed.