Sunday, 1 March 2015

Talk schmalk

I've sat on the sofa working all day today. On and on the arrangements of the Symphony for Yorkshire go. I'm bored rigid.

Nathan and I are plainly rather boring people. We never go out on a Saturday, in fact we rarely go out any night. A great deal of this is because Nathan so often works at the weekends, but it's also because we're both poor, neither of us drink that much and both of us hate noisy, crowded spaces! Perhaps we've become smug marrieds? I'm reminded of the Beautiful South song, We Are Each Other:

"There's no more little secrets we haven't yet disclosed,
We bore the living daylights of anyone too close,
And all our cards at Christmas are written to us both...
Count them up, who's got the most?"

I spent a great deal of time in the late afternoon talking to various people at Talk Talk about our intermittent wireless reception. First port of call was an utterly pointless series of conversations with call centres in New Delhi. It's impossible to say what I'm about to say without sounding ludicrously racist, but then again, we've been conditioned in the last twenty years into thinking that anything which remotely criticises practices involving ethnic minorities is bigoted.  But here's the deal. I think all call centres for British customers should be in the UK. There. I've said it.

Here's the main issue: People in Indian call centres are invariably not given the clout necessary to help customers with anything other than the most simplistic problems, regardless of how stressed the customer is getting. So there's always a limit to what can be achieved if you end up speaking to one...

There are also cultural differences. When someone in London talks to someone in Newcastle, they are likely to have shared points of reference, a shared sense of what is acceptable, and more capacity to bend the system in the process of standing up for their customers' rights.

There's also a formality to the language which some of the Indian call centre people employ, which can drive a caller up the wall. The bloke I spoke to today actually sounded like he was talking in riddles at one point. Why say it in one word when you can say it in nineteen? Today the chap actually said, "I humbly request," which might have been quite endearing had he not gone on to tell me that "the five fingers on one hand are not equal in size." I mean, what the hell does that mean?

Anyway. I had a little trump card up my sleeve, which is a number for an English office somewhere within Talk Talk which was given to me years ago when I brought an ombudsman in to complain about their appalling customer service. Whenever I call it, a bemused person asks how I got the number, but they always go out of their way to help...

So, when, after an hour of talking to New Delhi, I was still heading in ever-decreasing circles, I called the secret UK number, and, surprise surprise, within five minutes the problem had been escalated and, within half an hour, solved. Fairly ludicrous.

Nathan came home and we went for a walk around the block in the drizzle. We went through Queen's Wood, and gazed at the droplets of water hanging from the branches of the trees, backlit by lamplight. They looked like tiny LEDs behind a star cloth. Beautiful.

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