SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


How do you like talking to Bombay?
By Mark Neckameyer


August 07, 2007

There is a Customer Service, no make that a Customer DIS-SERVICE phenomenon sweeping the nation. All the big companies and some small company too are setting up "Dial 800" help lines and information lines answered by people in Third World countries who don't speak English, not American English anyway. This practice is maddening! Manufacturing has been out-sourced offshore to save money and I love the fact that can go to a WallMart, Target or Costco and buy DVD players and Microwave ovens for around $29.00. PCs and TVs are all made in China or Malaysia now and if those prices get any lower the big retailers will be paying us to take the stuff home. Former factory workers here in the States have had to learn other skills or retire early but the place of manufacture doesn't really impact consumers Not being able to understand the person on the phone line from Customer Service or the Sales Rep who is supposed to take my order is awful!

I called Circuit City's 800 line recently to buy a small computer, a gift for my daughter. The clerk on the other side of the conversation called himself "Chuck" or "Bob", I forget which but they always have these so American sounding names although we know, it is obvious that these nickname aren't really their names because we probably couldn't pronounce their real names. Now I am no xenophobe, not a foreign person hater or anything but I couldn't understand much of what Bob or Chuck was telling me about computers for sale. After struggling on the phone for half an hour, I asked him where he was and he answered Bombay, India. I eventually gave up, went to a local store and likely paid a few bucks more but at least I understood what I was buying.

I called Monster.Com to place a help wanted ad for my employer this week and ended up in a long complicated conversation with a non-English Customer Service clerk talking to me from the Philippines. Just yesterday I called TransUnion, the credit bureau company to sign up for their services for my employer. I phoned their #800 number listed on their website and ended up talking to Bob or Chuck again, sounded like him anyway, back in good old Bombay. I gave up and will look for another credit bureau whose employees I can communicate with in English. The real surprise was when I recently asked my family physician for a letter I needed for my insurance company. When he gave it to me it uncharacteristically contained many errors and "typos". He apologized, offered to do it again explaining that when he dictates letters and reports, the transcription is actually done overnight in India (by Bob's or Chuck's sister?) and is sent back to be printed here the next morning.

All this off-shore stuff likely save lots of money as Bob and Chuck and their sister who types probably work for much less than our Yankee minimum wage. Maybe it keeps prices down. It doesn't work for me. I have had it! Companies and services, even doctors and clinics that can't speak to me in English I can understand won't get MY business anymore or ever!

Mark Neckameyer
Irvine, CA

Received August 03, 2007 - Published August 07, 2007


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Ketchikan, Alaska