Call Centre!

07 Aug

If you’ve been keeping up you will know that things are still a bit quiet here in the I.T. Department and are likely to get quieter still.

The eight or so remaining computer users at our last two sites seem to be managing to remember their passwords over the course of entire weekends for a change with the result that there have been no “internal” phone calls at all for the last week or so!

I keep busy mending broken PCs (provided it doesn’t involve spending any money) , running updates on the servers and doing other little tweaks necessary to keep the network running!

Incidentally, a few words of advice, if you DO suffer some sort of network problem and have to phone your I.T. Department, please DO NOT ask them the following question:

“Is there something wrong with THE server?”

I will tell you now that to I.T. people this question makes you look a complete dick!

This company is not that big as companies go (and getting smaller by the week!) and we’ve got FOURTEEN of the things in the room next door to where I’m sitting now! I don’t know of any networked business so small it only has ONE server!

I often ask the callers who put it that way which of these fourteen they think is THE server! I am perfectly aware that what they are really trying to do is show me that they are not complete IT idiots and have actually heard that there are things called “servers”!

It doesn’t work!

You are far more likely to be taken seriously if you TELL them what the problem IS rather than inviting a highly technical (and possibly completely fictitious) answer that you might not understand.

But that’s enough about my work – that isn’t what I wanted to write about.

While I don’t get many internal calls now the number of external calls has only gone down very slightly. I suppose the word does get around that Company X has no money and you won’t get paid if you DO sell them anything and that takes care of the worst of the “we want to sell you Servers/Computers/ Mobile Phone services and it doesn’t matter one bit if you don’t think you want to buy them!” type of call.

I have, on occasion, been heard to shout at particularly persistent callers of this type “WHICH PART OF THE WORD ‘NO’ DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND?!!!”

That doesn’t happen now! What now happens is that I listen to the sales pitch; appear to give in and then tell them I’ll have whatever it is but will they be OK waiting until the Company is out of Administration to get their money? This statement is usually followed by a rather bad-mannered “click”, “brrrrr” as they hang up!

However, the very worst calls to try and deal with are those where attempts are made to sell you something from an Indian Call Centre!

I feel quite sorry for the guys having to do this for a living – they probably have considerably better educational qualifications than I do (wouldn’t be difficult!) and are probably paid considerably less.

However, in some ways they are their own worst enemies!

Picture the scene: I’m sitting here in the I.T. workroom. There are background noises comprising the fans of three or four computers and the air-conditioning unit all roaring away.

The phone rings and I answer it.

I then have to concentrate through the aforementioned background noise while someone with a stereotypical Indian accent (picture Peter Sellers singing “Goodness, Gracious Me!”) gets my name wrong and then tries to sell me something from a script.

That’s one problem. The other is that they will start said script in said strong Indian accent with something like “Hello Sir, my name is Jeremy!”

There you go, you’ve just lost me! I’m no longer listening to the script!

Instead I’m thinking, “Plainly your name isn’t Jeremy so why should I believe what you are still telling me so enthusiastically about your product in the background”.

I can, of course, see why they do it – it isn’t easy for Anglo-Saxon ears to get to grips with names such as Lakshmipathy, Subramanian, Harbhajan or Mahendra ( to borrow some Indian first names from the Wikipedia page on the Indian Cricket team)and to have each salesman assigned a standard British name probably seemed like the best idea available.

However, there must be a better “in between” solution because surely there are going to be very few people in the UK who are going to believe that someone with an accent like that is going to REALLY be called Jeremy, Brian, Keith or even Clive (Clive of India? Come ON!), yet I have been given all of those names in calls of this type.

I cannot imagine that you are ever going to make sales if most of your potential customers think (rightly or wrongly) that you are starting the call with a lie but maybe that’s just me being “old Mister Cynical” again!

Whatever the answer turns out to be it has provided me with a new term – when transferring calls from Indian Call Centres to my (now ex-) Manager I would put my hand over the mouthpiece and say, “He’s asking for you. It’s a Jeremy!”

It told him all he needed to know.



Posted by on August 7, 2009 in Uncategorized


9 responses to “Call Centre!

  1. Mike

    August 23, 2009 at 1:50 am

    I wonder what the Hindi is for: “Have you tried switching it off and on?” (Larf!)

  2. littlealfie

    August 24, 2009 at 10:22 am

    Or, indeed, what the Hindi is for “Well, if you knew I was going to ask you to reboot it why the frag didn’t you do it before you called me!!”

  3. Mike

    August 25, 2009 at 2:16 am

    Anecdotally, a friend wot was a computer engineer (now made redundant after umpteen years and getting an HGV 1 – at OUR age) once drove FOUR HUNDRED MILES to switch a computer ON!!! 200 miles – CLICK! – 200 miles back. Sometimes getting paid isn’t enough…

    • littlealfie

      August 28, 2009 at 7:30 pm

      I did manage 80 miles once for the same sort of thing!
      Had to go from March to Boston (40 miles) because a LONG power cut took out the Mail Server there and none of the cretins in the office would take responsibility for pressing the power button “IN CASE THEY GOT IT WRONG”!!!!

  4. Mike

    August 30, 2009 at 7:17 am


  5. Lala

    September 25, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    I kind of feel the need to stand up for call centre staff…

    …they’re only well-meaning graduates who can’t get the job they want so they’re having to do a rubbishy job while also doing unpaid work in what they actually want as a career until they get their big break and move to Cumbria. So don’t knock it, yeah. Innit.

    • littlealfie

      September 25, 2009 at 9:29 pm

      Reminds me – I must do a piece sometime on that awful manner of talking that our young people have adopted lately innit! I blame the parents!

      • Lala

        September 26, 2009 at 10:29 pm

        OMG!!! but surely the joy of the English language is its fluidity. Thus rendering “innit” just as acceptible as “gosh”, “cripes”, “aye oop”, “hawey”, “verily” and other pointless sentence-fillers and colloquialisms that have existed over the centuries. And you can’t argue with me, I know a professor in York who thinks the same. so i must be right 🙂

  6. Mike

    September 26, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    I blame Sasha Baron Cohen! As happened before, with Warren Mitchell and Johnny Speight’s Alf Garnett, the people he was taking the piss out of didn’t REALIZE the piss was being TAKEN!


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