Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Hanging on the telephone

It's an experience that I so far haven't been subjected to, until yesterday. I didn't know how lucky I was.

"Hello, how may I help you?" came the heavily accented Indian voice after I rang my credit card company to pay an installment on my card.

Outsourced eh? I thought to myself.

"Err, I'd like to pay an installment on my credit card please" I shouted slowly, naturally falling into obnoxious Brit abroad mode. I must buy some Union Jack pants I thought.

"Can I have your credit card number please Sir?"

I gave it, slowly.

"Can I have your credit card number please Sir?"

I was just about to say that I'd just given it to her when I stopped and decided to just do as she asked, from the heavily accented voice I could tell that I needed to make sure I did as much of the talking as possible. I knew what she had said so I should stick with that whenever it happens.

I gave it again, slower. And louder. She had obviously got it this time as she then asked me for my credit card limit.

"I can't quite remember the exact number but it's around £xxx" I answered.

My guess obviously wasn't the exact number on her screen, I could tell this by the long silence and the 'errs'. I broke the silence:

"It's as good as you're going to get, I don't have my statement in front of me so I don't know it exactly. It's there or thereabouts. I can fire random numbers at you until I fluke it if you want, but that's as good as you're going to get"

I had visions of them putting me on hold and flicking through their English dictionaries for 'fluke', and then I contemplated throwing into the conversation as many regional or slang words that I could.

This must have done the trick as she 'erred' for another 20 or so seconds before asking my date of birth, the first 2 letters of my mothers maiden name, my postcode, my address, my home phone number and then my work phone number.

I was stuck here again as I've had the card a few years and changed jobs at least 4 times in this period, all with differing phone numbers.

"I'm sorry, the work phone number I have at the moment wont be the one on your system and I can't remember the other ones I've had"

Silence again.

"Are there going to be many more questions?" I asked. I was close to submitting and giving in.

'It's not her fault though' I thought, she's just doing her job - it's the companies who outsource these services that are at fault.

"I'm sorry Mr Watski, I'm afraid we can't help you today" came the voice eventually.

My sympathy vanished in a micro second.

"Look. All I want to do is pay some money off my credit card - how difficult can that be? I'm not going until it happens, either you make it happen or let me speak to someone who can. I don't know the answer to all these questions you're asking me"

"Oh, you want to pay some money Sir, certainly" she said

Then followed another period of silence

"Can I have your credit card limit please?"

They reason they outsource these places is because it's too far away to go round and bang their heads on the desk.