Thursday, July 24, 2008

Et Ain't Jest Dem Furriners

Too many Americans are familiar with the frustration of talking to Customer Service or Technical Support agents who are located in other countries and don't speak American English well. I'm here to tell you that communication isn't a problem only because of outsourcing overseas.

In May and June, I went to Ft. Worth to see a couple of operas and on my way back, I stopped in another town to eat at a favorite restaurant of mine.

The first evening, I got turned around trying to get back to the Interstate and drove too far out of my way. The second evening, I asked the hostess standing outside if I could exit the shopping center's parking lot at the north exit and turn left onto Kemp through the break in the center medial strip, pointing to the exit and what I thought was the break to allow crossovers.

She said, "No."

Me: "Okay, what's the best way for me to get onto Kemp going east?"

She: "Where do you want to go?"

I told her the town.

She: "It's been several years since I've gone to Oklahoma. I think you'll want to take Kemp to Kell, then get on the Interstate and go north."

Me (again pointing to the north exit): "Yes, I know the route. My question is how do I get onto Kemp going toward the Interstate. Can I exit there and turn left?"

She (pointing to Kemp, the street nearest us, the street that the north exit is on): "That's Kemp. What you'll have to do is get on Kell and it'll take you right to the Interstate."

Me: "Okay. How do I get onto Kemp going east since I can't turn left when I exit the parking lot? If I go out the south exit, I won't be on Kemp and I don't want to end up going out of my way like I did the last time I was here."

She (pointing to the exact same exit and median break that I did the first and second times I asked): "All you have to do is exit over there and turn left at the crossover. I do it every night when I get off work."

My next encounter was with Customer Service in New Jersey. I had already spent over an hour on the phone one Monday trying to access an account that wasn't available. The fifth Customer Service agent recommended that I try again later because maybe the system was being updated.

Tuesday, I went through the automated telephone system to change my PIN that the fourth agent reset on Monday. Mind you, I didn't ask for my PIN to be reset. The fourth agent somehow decided that was what was needed to make my account available to me which, of course, didn't work. On Tuesday, once again, I got the message that my account wasn't available and was transferred to a Customer Service agent.

Agent: "How may I help you?"

Me: "I've been trying to access my account through the telephone, but the system says it isn't available and I'd like to know why."

Agent (typing sounds): "I can reset your PIN for you."

Me: "An agent already reset my PIN yesterday. The system says my account isn't available. Why isn't it available?"

Agent (more typing sounds): "I can't change your PIN. I'll have to reset your PIN and then you can use the automated system to change your PIN."

Me: "Yes, I know, but I can't change my PIN if my account isn't available and I don't know why it isn't available. Can you make it available?"

Agent: "Are you using the automated telephone system or the Internet?"

Me: "Telephone."

Agent: "Do you have access to the Internet?"

Me: "Not at this time."

Agent: "Okay, I can reset your PIN and then you can use the automated telephone system to change your PIN."

Me: "I want to talk to somebody else."

Sheesh. And I edited both encounters for brevity.

(The next agent immediately saw that my account was locked and unlocked it, but didn't know how it got locked or why. It would have been nice if I had gotten him on Monday.)

Genesis 11: 6. And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. 7. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.

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