A six hour phone call to India

. . . is all it took to get Hewlett-Packard to send me a replacement for my defective CD burner. Six hours of getting put on hold, being transfered from one tech person to the next, having my call dropped, and jumping through their stupid hoops as they tried to convince me that what I knew damn well was a hardware problem was actually a software problem. Six hours of needlessly uninstalling and reinstalling perfectly functional software, of wasting countless CD-Rs reproducing the same inevitable error message, of having them swear to me that the problem couldn’t possibly be the CD-burner, only to have them finally admit that, guess what, it’s the fucking CD burner. Really, Einstein? You think? It’s a shame I didn’t tell you that four hours ago, back when you were trying to convince me that a dozen brand new CD-Rs from two different manufacturers all just happened to be defective, while the six I took from the same package and burned on my other computer just happened to work fine. Oh wait, I did tell you. I guess you didn’t notice, considering you were busy explaining that I should go out and buy some of your own brand of CD-Rs – at midnight – just so I could sacrifice them to that glorified coaster-maker you sold me.

But hey, after six hours of beating my head against the wall, they finally agreed to honor their warranty. That makes them better than Best Buy, where I was basically told that my “service agreement” entitles me to send my entire otherwise-functional laptop away for up to three weeks, and then get billed for shipping and handling if they couldn’t find the problem. I guess just ordering a part that I was more than happy to install myself would have been too easy, huh?

When it was all said and done, my fiancee – who endured this whole ordeal with me – had this to say: “Don’t you just hate computers?”

Nah, computers I don’t mind. But people . . .

Fuck 'em.

My sympathies. I’ve spent about 4.5 hours over the past 10 days on the phone to India trying to get my new BT Broadband line connecting for more than 15 seconds at a time.

Every single fucking call starts with me saying the service is intermittent, and them replying with a list of dumbass questions.

“Have you turned the unit on…”


“Is the ethernet cable plugged in to both the modem and the computer?”

Yes. I realise you have a lot of stupid customers, but I’m not one of them.

“Is the DSL line plugged into the modem?”


“Is your username and password correct…”


I have no problem with them being in India, just the training that allows them only to read from a script, not use their initiative, not listen to the customer and not cut to the chase. And the organisation that doesn’t allow me to speak to a local engineer who can look at my connection log and acknowledge there’s a problem with the fucking line.

And the latest answer “we upgraded you to an 8 meg connection and it takes ten days to ‘bed in’”. :dubious: Bed in, me arse. Funny how my wife’s company got BT to connect another 8 meg line to the same house the other day and it worked straight away. Motherlunchables!!! Grrr.

If you’ve been upgraded to MaxDSL it will indeed take up to 10 days to settle down.

BT Wholesale will monitor your connection over 10 days and measure the quality of your line / connection etc.

It’s suggested that you reboot your router a few times, to give as many readings as possible.

After 10 days the kit at the exchange should have worked out the maximum stable rate for your line, and will provision your ADSL service accordingly.

MaxDSL has been a 100% clusterfuck since it was launched in April… get yourself over to www.adslguide.org.uk for more info, as there are a number of tips ‘n’ tricks you can use to ensure your connection is stablised.

Well fuck me sideways.

I withdraw in shame and offer my apologies to the charming lady I spoke to, and to Ganesh, Vishnu, Kali, or whatever god she favours.

Except the bit where they upgraded me without me asking. But that was a bloke in England.

Hey tim314, your post virtually mirrors my own frustration of six months ago. I had just bought one of those shiny new HP Media Center machines and was just as pleased as punch, but I couldn’t get a clean burn of a DVD.

After about six hours speaking with different reps, spread out over a few days, they finally agreed that it was the part, and then they shipped me a fresh one.

I found that depending on the time of day I would get either an overseas person or a local person. In this case, each call with an overseas person resulted in the same frustrating litany of questions that covered the same ground, with me saying “Can’t you see what the previous guy wrote? We did all this already.”
Once I got someone stateside, they cut right throught the BS, read the prior entries, quickly diagnosed the problem, and shipped out the part.

I agree that we should count our blessings that they send out the part for us to install – I was fearing exactly what you described: having to ship the whole darned thing off to who-knows-where for six months at my expense. Even worse: to be told to take it to some designated repair place, which turns out to be a shady operation in a sketchy part of Newark.

My new burner works fine, thank you very much.

(I tried to get HP to reimburse me for the coaster-DVDs, but they politely denied my request)

I don’t mind the live technicians so much as I hate the automated menu. It’s fucking useless. When my Dell died I spent four hours on the phone and talked to a human being less than 15 minutes. Does Dell keep records of what people say to the automated system? If the do then they have over an hour of me threatening the entire Board of Directors.

True story:

Way back when I worked for a company that had to do a lot of phone technical support.

Because our customers were important to us, we didn’t want to have to go through the above ritual every freaking time.

So our boss found this cool product called “SupportWise” that was a database front end to allow us to track a given problem and/or a given customer, so if it took multiple calls to fix a problem, each call could pick up where the last one left off.

Great concept. Kind of expensive, but worth it. Except it didn’t work. A cow-orker got the job of making it work. First, he RTFM. No help. So he called tech support, many times. Each time, they asked for ALL the same information they had the previous times, and started down the same trouble shooting script.

Finally, inspiration struck my cow-orker:

“Ummmm, you guys aren’t using your own freaking product are you?” “Umm, no, we couldn’t get it to work.” “I see. Buh-bye.”

When they wouldn’t refund our purchase, the boss sued them…and they settled, not only for the purchase price, but ended up paying the lawyer, and for my cow-orker’s time.

We recently outsourced our entire help line, laying off dozens of people and going to India.

Now, when we call, we’re thankful if we get to talk to someone. What typically happens is they answer immediately, say “please hold”, and then never return. Some people have left their phone on speaker the entire day, from 8-5, and never got through. And yet, we’re told that “aside from a few intermittant problems, the system works”. Somehow, our company decided it was more cost effective to let an Engineer sit and charge up $1200 a day doing, well, nothing - than to invest in on-site competant tech support.

Funnily enough, I too have recently sufferred the hell of BT’s India ‘helpdesk’. Their accents were almost impenetrable. So I emailed our account manager. I’m awaiting the results.

Not that I don’t have the utmost sympathy for anyone trapped in customer service Hell, but…

After oh, say, the first hour or so, when you knew that installing and uninstalling and burning useless CD-Rs wasn’t going to work, why didn’t you stop doing it and just tell them you were? It’s not like they were going to know if you didn’t do it, right?

I have been implementing SAP for the last 5 years. For those of you not familiar with this, it’s a program designed to help a company run its business in a “wholistic” way - meaning not glass pyramids, but you have your finance data and your warehouse data and your quality data and your labelling info all in the same huge database.

If you’ve done the implementation properly it works great, but sadly the communication lines tend to be “consultant speaks with big-mid boss; real users don’t get a say until the whole thing has been installed upside-down”.

Anyway, my first contact with SAP was as a “real user” in a company where us little people were involved in the whole shebang from the start. Since I was very, very low in the totem pole, I had no fear of opening my mouth when something wasn’t right - what could they do, send me to the weekend shift? I’d been in it for two years, thanks! So, after turning the original design right-side-up, I moved to the consultants team (if you can’t beat 'em, hire 'em).

The second in command of the help desk was a moron. I believe I may be insulting morons here, for which I apologize. Every three months he’d send a letter telling his customers (only because they’re “internal” doesn’t mean you don’t work for them) that they were being bewwy bewwy bad boys, and they should call in with their problems, instead of emailing the helpdesk. Yes, yes, you must phone. The email address was monitored but not quite and you had to phone, yes yes.

He happened to send the exact same message for the sixth time on a day I was particularly up to here of self-centered assholes and cultural problems both. We were in the middle of testing the system with our Latin American users; another team (in which all the consultants were externals with no “factory work” experience) was testing it for the English-Spoken Asians. Data that shouldn’t had been touched had been, so I was kind of jumpy.

And then we get this letter, and I wish I had a video of our Argentinian Quality Manager reading it out loud. I wrote to the call center guy, telling him “these letters aren’t working; have you thought of wondering why? Have you thought of paying more attention to the emails, instead of telling people to phone? They email because it’s easier and more convenient than the phone, not just out of spite! Have you thought of adapting your product to your customers?”

He got mighty pissed and called my asshole-of-a-boss, his buddy, who yelled at me, and to my boss’s boss, who didn’t yell at me because she actually used her brain, and I ended up having a chat with the helpdesk’s boss.

me: Do you speak any language other than English?
he: No.
me: Oh, you never took any language classes at all?
he: Well, three years of Spanish in High School, but I sure don’t speak Spanish.
me: O-K. So. Depending on when they call, users may get an American, or someone from China, or someone from India. Now, I’ve got serious problems understanding the Indian’s accents, do you too? We’ve had meetings where it was one of the Americans who had to ask the Indian guy to please slow down and pronounce. OK. Now, most of our foreign users have had three years of English in High School. Or two. Or none, like the Brazilians, whose foreign language in school is Spanish. So, you have people with English as a second or third or fourth language calling on the phone and speaking with someone from India whose first language is Urdu, not English either, and this guy who’s calling is maybe at work at 9pm and he should have left at 6 but he’s the one on the phone because he has the best English skills in the factory and he’s got the warehouse manager and the production manager and the factory manager breathing down his neck and his wife is going to kill him and he’s supposed to explain a problem that isn’t even in his department, and he’s got to do simultaneous translation. And you’re telling these guys they’re not allowed to email, and you want them to listen? Yeah right! They’re trying to get their job done, not yours.

They set someone to monitor the email that same day; next week, they opened up a webpage you could use to create and track your tickets and include attachments. That pissed-off letter I sent to Mr Moron may have had something to do with my working for another company now… but heck, I count the end result as one of my lifetime achievements.

Don’t even get me started with the HP help desk. I was so frustrated the last time I tried to get my photo printer connected that when I needed help again, I am instead changing my operating system. Evidently it wasn’t designed to work well with millenium. I’m going with XP just to avoid the call. Fuckers. They need to die.

I’ve had another three hours to India since my last post. The issue has changed from intermittent speed testing to “Your username and password has been rejected because of some security problem.” :dubious: “I have reset it.” :dubious: :dubious: “It will work tomorrow evening.” :dubious: :dubious: :dubious:

I work on a helpdesk (admittedly bad). You would be absolutely *amazed * at the number of people who will answer ‘yes’ to the questions above when the actual, truthful answer was ‘no’. Some people have a knack for misrepresenting the problem and pointing us in a wrong direction…

I do understand that it’s a pain having to deal with what my brother coined “cuntstomers” and you do need the full info; my objection was having to repeat it ad nauseum every single call - don’t they have a “notes” section on their CRM?

Yes, but often, and I do mean often, we ask the same question several times in several ways before the customer admits the truth.
It’s not that they are lying. It’s that they are morons. Here is a sample conversation.

“Did you do ‘x’??”

“Yes, and it didn’t work”

“You’re sure you did ‘x’??”

“Yes, and dammit, it’s doesn’t work”

“Humor me and do ‘x’ while I have you on the phone.”

“That’s not going to do anything!!”


“OK. Hey, it worked!!”

As we’re on the subject of India, herewith my recent experiences with assorted helpdesks:

HP: Almost unintelligible.
Dell: Very difficult.
BT: See above.
Microsoft: Accented but clear.

Ah, a forwarded email which may bring some joy to you. :slight_smile:

Indians are getting a lot of bad press lately. Would yo guys prefer tech support from Pakistan or is America the be-all and end-all of internet technology.

I think it’s an issue of comprehensibility (i.e., can I understand the lady at the other end of the phone?) rather than a national issue, Dutchman.