Your call is important to us... because we are charging you suckers $1 a minute to wait till we bother to answer


Do I bother trying to track down customer service? Nearly all consumer product company websites are designed to keep the customer service email and call centre numbers harder to find than spotting ‘Where’s Waldo’. If I do find the telephone number in the haystack of info, rise early and call in the first seconds of opening time, I always seem so unlucky! As if by magic, that very day it appears everyone else is doing the same thing. “Due to a high volume of calls...” Translate that into: “Due to lack of us staffing this place with enough people to bat away the volley of complaints raining down on us like arrows in the battle of Agincourt, we will at least make money out of you suckers by increasing call capacity to 1,000 idiots at $1 per minute so we can make $60,000 an hour doing nothing but reading the papers.” To add insult to injury these customer call centres are usually located in Nowheresville Uzbekistan, Mongolia or possibly Scranton. Get through and you might as well talk to an aardvark as all you get is a script with no room for nuance or common sense. In addition I am sure most of the call centre staff would have more chance, blindfolded, pinning the tail on a donkey, than into a map to identify where I am calling from.

...and another thing

There is an extra twist with a cherry on the top living in Malta. Despite its pivotal role in the history of Europe, let alone being a country that recently assumed the role as President of the EU, many company call centre’s have no idea where I am calling from. Result? They suggest a warranty is invalid as Malta is not on the list they have of EU countries, they do not service this area etc. I point out this is a bit of a mystery as they clearly received payment and shipped to this fictional land!

...and another thing

If I am honest, I have a sneaking respect for these people. All day long they get frustrated clients venting at the hopeless service or product of some far away company who have exported these complaints to some concrete bunker in Bangalore. The call handlers usually seem quite cheery and although hardly ever actually deal with a complaint, listen to our mewling as to how the hairdryer has electrocuted the cat or the blender has removed a forefinger with utter calm.

I asked a dear friend of mine who was directly involved in setting up call centres in far flung corners of the globe and asked why anyone would spend the day being yelled at…

“Simple. In many parts of the world they make more than doctors”!

So there you have it. A career for people in third world countries listening to first world problems is worth more than healing people!

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