Something in your household has just broken. You've tried fixing it yourself to no avail, and it's too new to throw away, but not so new that you can just take it back to the store. Helpless, you find yourself having to bravely enter the fifth circle of hell in the hopes of finding a solution: by calling tech support.
Now, let's put aside the misery of having to take orders from a pushy robot (press 4 to be put on hold!), and listening to 10 minutes of a smooth jazz cover of Metallica (which is 9 more minutes than anyone should have to listen to smooth jazz OR Metallica). Once you're put through to a real live person, you're quickly reminded that you might have just been better off talking to a robot.
Yeah... but "John" sure has quite the accent, doesn't he?
Yes, that's right, if you haven't guessed it, today's post is about the joy that is Indian tech support. Now, we have nothing against Indian people. We just find it particularly hilarious that the Indian men and women that get selected to walk us through extremely technical troubleshooting are often the ones who can't really speak a lot of English.
Which is great, because on top of having to describe a process that's very complex, this has to be done through a second language. Over the phone.
And it doesn't help that they always start by having you do the most basic, inane things for the first half hour. Is it plugged in? Have you tried turning it on? I know you've just reset it 20 times, but would you reset it once more and let me know what happens? Oh, that didn't work. Okay, well can I put you on hold?
Putting you on hold, by the way, is the magic code phrase that means "I have no idea what I'm doing. Let me Google this."
But we will say one thing, though. These Indian tech support folks are always exceptionally friendly, which is a miracle for anyone working in a cramped call center. Sometimes they're too friendly. Like, they go out of their way to thank and praise you for every single thing you comply with.
It's a great strategy, though. It's hard to be a dick to someone when they've just thanked you profusely for answering the question "what is your name?"
Perhaps worst, though, is when you get someone who really doesn't know what he's doing, something that all the friendliness in the world can't make up for. Recently Bryan helped design the cover for his blog friend Robyn's new book, and found that when uploading the PDF file online, he couldn't be the one to position it. No, some member of Indian tech support did that, and then e-mailed afterwards to ask if it was okay (it very much was not). We know this was Indian tech support because his name was Abu-Dhabi Shakin-Bake (or something of the sort) and he responded with English that was every bit as terrible as his placement of the file.
And it was the most furiously absurd way to place a file, if only because he stretched it, skewed it, and essentially broke it until it didn't look anything like a cover at all.
So imagine dealing with Indian tech support on something artistic, like carefully placing an image. And trying to speak to someone who not only doesn't understand art, but also doesn't understand the English language.
It only took a week and a half of e-mailing back and forth, but the cover was finally placed correctly. As they say, the twenty-seventh time is the charm. If you want to check it out (and Robyn's awesome book about her life, which we both have read and recommend), click here. If you can't reach the link, please call Indian tech support and then bang your head against the keyboard until your face melts off.
And just remember, it won't always be this way. Not because our tech companies will stop outsourcing call center jobs to India, but because telephones are so 1990. Now everything's going the way of the customer support chat. And if you've used one recently... you know that they're also supported by those who speak English as a second, third, maybe even fourth language.
Cheers and stay classy, friends,
Beer: Lagunitas IPA (Indian Pale Ale - drink the needful)
Music: Clarinetallica (the smooth jazz Metallica cover band)