Monday, August 4, 2008

Hello India

I must make a disclaimer before I start this. I like all the people I've personally met from India. I just have a hard time understanding what they are trying to tell me at times. I need to be looking at them while we are talking, and even then I find it necessary to have them repeat some of the things they say before I get the gist of their meaning. They are speaking English, but their syntax and tonal inflections get in the way of my already established synaptic pathways. It was similar to the month I spent in Long Island, New York. The natives there often asked me to repeat what I had just said, and even then they were not familiar with my regional constructions. However, when you are trying to conduct business, or get technical advice it is very important to be on the same linguistic page as the person who is trying to help you. I have had numerous hair pulling experiences with computer problems where the call centers for U. S. companies were located in India. I'm sure the operators were operating from scripts or manuals, and as long as you didn't ask any questions, they could read to you the answers from their books. However, if you asked a question, you likely had to start the process over from the lead in greeting, "Hehlu, my naem ys Marek."

Now in defense of India, we have similar problems here in the U.S. with some call centers located at our borders. Our cable company has a call center in El Paso, Texas. Many of the people who work there are said to be bilingual. It is my experience, having lived in these areas, that most of those so designated are really quasi-lingual. They neither speak English or Spanish very well. They speak a crude grammatically incorrect form of Spanish, and an equally crude and grammatically incorrect from of English. However, they work for less than their Union counterparts in other areas of the country. They should never advertise "Service" as part of their name, even though most are designated as "Customer Service". Our cable company has never been on time for a service appointment yet. I can't call our local business office and talk to anyone locally. When you challenge them for arriving two weeks after a promised service date, they claim the "Service Center" didn't get it right. I use the example from India, because they are so far from the actual problems they are dealing with. I don't like to get angry with people from other countries who are trying to make a living, but I can't speak with those U. S. companies who made the junk I'm trying to get fixed. I usually can't even speak to a supervisor in these large call centers. I just had a problem with a payment for an interest free credit deal for some Intra-Lasik eye surgery. The late payment center for this company was in India. After my wife and daughter spent thirty minutes talking to some people who seemed very rude, because they could not communicate properly, they called the big guy in from his yard work. I not only got the late fee dropped, but also got a promise that any future calls from this company would come from the U.S.A. I am going to personally boycott any company who I find has a service center located outside the U. S. It is important for every country to have an established language, and to use that language for all business transactions. I don't expect other countries to speak English unless they choose to do so, but I do expect U. S. companies to keep their service centers here and to staff them with people who are fluent in English and capable of at least understanding the problem to the degree necessary to get me the help I need. I am going to use this blog, newspapers, word of mouth, calls to the people who employ these out of country and near out of country services, to get people motivated not to accept this level of service.

Ability will never catch up with the demand for it. - Malcolm Forbes