Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Welcome to *****. How can I help you?

"We have 24 hour helpline over the phone ma'am" a refrain that makes me VERY angry these days. Sure, it was exciting a couple of years ago when they said it. Wow, I don't have to go to the bank at all you know I just have to pick up the phone and express my wishes and they shall be fulfilled, I told my techphobic Mom. Today, she has the last laugh. She does not have unexplained figures withdrawn from her bank account nor does she have to yell at some moron sitting on the other end of the phone, who has been trained only to say "ma'am your complaint has been registered and will be looked into it." Ask him / her why it has not been looked into that last six times I called, the answer would be "Ma'am we have registered a complaint." Moronic enough to make me want to throw the very instrument I am holding at her.

By the virtue of being cosmopolitan, tech savvy and very lazy person myself I've had the fortune to talk to the call centre employees of all companies, products and services one needs to live a normal life in the 21st century. I've spent many pulses on talking to Telephone Company, mobile company, Washing Machine Company, Credit Card Company, Banks, stove repair company, gas agencies, internet service provider, Home delivery guys, Apartment builders, home loan banks and countless other "service providers." And I can tell the number of times I've had an sensible conversation, let alone intelligent and got my work done in less than two calls.

You think I am exaggerating? Let me give you the latest examples. I've shifted my residence from TN to Karnataka recently so just before moving, very diligently in a very unpadma way I sent letters to all the service providers a letter requesting to change my contact address. Almost all of them took notice of them except standard chartered, whose credit card I hold. 45 days after I sent the change of address letter I called to check why the hell the address has not been changed? I had to select from the few million options the automated response system asked to me to choose from, enter all kinds of numbers from my credit card number to date of birth and finally the line goes dead. No "How may I help you?" just silence. I borrow some patience and try again. Same rigmarole of keying in numbers and this time a very pleasant sounding youngman with an accent from an unidentifiable phareen land answers my call. The conversation was heading towards disaster right from the start, when he said "How can I help you Mr. Ravi?" Read the full name damn it. But the remaining patience kicked in and in a very sober voice I tell him my problem. He listens to the entire story with utmost attention and then says "Ma'am we have received your letter but do not make the changes unless you call." By then a weird sense of calm prevails over me and I ask "can I do it now or should I call back in a better muhurtham" My sarcasm totally lost on the phareen accented guy. He then makes the changes and tells me they can send my statement on email too just incase the snail mail doesn't reach on time. I, ever sucker for technology agree. Then just before hanging up, very politely he asked me "ma'am do you need personal loans? we give it on very low interest rates" No thanks!

So much for customer service. And BTW very next day, my statement arrived on an email. But then I couldn't open it and so I wrote back to the customer service and they have now asked me for a fresh set of details only after which I can see my statement.

And yesterday to add insult to injury I found out that that I cannot take these guys to the consumer court for not keeping their promise :-(

"Customer is always right" Yeah right!!!


S. said...

Lol!! Totally sympathise with you, but can't help laughing!! blame the system; the morons at the other end of the line have been turned into morons by the system.

RS said...

"a very pleasant sounding youngman with an accent from an unidentifiable phareen land answers my call"

ROFLMAO... The number of times Indians have been blamed for being at the call center and speaking in a weird, incomprehensible accent... :-)