Friday, December 29, 2006

DO AMERICAN CORPORATIONS PUNISH THEIR LESS WELL OFF CUSTOMERS? TAKE A GUESS. (HINT, THE ANSWER HAS 3 LETTERS.)

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In theory I don't mind my customer service calls getting routed to a call center in Bangalore. The harsh reality of a cultural divide, though-- when I'm just trying to get something mundane, and annoying to begin with, done-- sometimes drives me up the wall. I have to admit I've fantasized about creating a page of companies that use Americans for customer service and urging people to send a message to corporations by using those companies instead of the ones that make life harder for us with these damn call centers.

Do corporations know how much people hate the call centers? Yesterday I get a strong clue that they do. Having just gotten back from over a month in South America, I went to catch up on some banking business. There was someone new at the counter and-- damn luck-- that's who I got. I prefer the tellers who already know me and my... quirks and minor eccentricities (especially since I don't know my account numbers and have no ATM card). Anyway, the business was easy enough and afterwards the teller informed me that my account qualifies for an upgrade to a CitiGold Account. "What's that?" I asked, suspiciously.

He rattled off the benefits: you get $50 if you maintain a $100,000 balance and you get your own line. "My own line?" I asked, looking around. I hate waiting on lines and I've done my best to figure out which days and what times the bank is most likely to have the worst lines so I can avoid them. Usually it works; but not always. But I never saw a sign saying "CitiGold Line." I eyed him with more suspicion; "Where's the line?" He figured out where I was coming from and quickly corrected me... "No, no... phone line; you get your own exclusive phone number just for CitiGold members. No more Indians."

"No more Indians? Do we get Pakistanis? Uruguayans? What do you mean?" He got right to the point. Their "best customers" (people with a balance of over $100,000) get to talk to real live Americans when they have a customer service problem. Everyone else undergoes call center torture. Another reason to hate corporations.

A SAD LITTLE ADDENDUM

CNN International may not be any good but it's a lot better than the garbage CNN broadcasts in the U.S. While I was in Argentina I saw an international program about the hopes and aspirations for the new year that young people in India were harboring. Oy... do they love those call centers. It's like the best thing going and all these poor kids in villages were talking about their dreams of going to Mumbai and getting a shot at a job in a call center.

2 Comments:

At 9:29 AM, Blogger Joe Max said...

Amazing. I still remember the days when I knew a dozen punk rockers (including two in my own band) who ecked out a living working in call centers ("telemarketing" to be specific). Call centers didn't give a damn if you had spiked hair and safety pins in your eyebrows, as long as you showed up.

Now them damn Paki punks are stealing our jobs!

 
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