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Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Comments

Arnold

>>>"Outsourcing is an un-American activity" <<<

We're talking about offshoring, not outsourcing. You can outsource something to another company in the same country.

It's not the outsourcing that's the problem anyway.

It's the fact the bean-counters always go for the cheapest 'service' provider. You get what you pay for in the service game, so if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

If you want the monkeys to be trained, you have to add some bananas to the pay packet.

Bob Milhaus

Ran into the same problem with Dell E-Mail support for my Axim 5! The "support" person was instructing me to fiddle with things I didn't even have on my hand held, and then to "revert" back to them.
I finally looked at my unit, removed the main battery and reinserted it and the unit sprang to life....
I think I will sign every email I send to Dell from here on in with the following tag line "Outsourcing is an un-American activity"
The quality I received in my e-mail support was worse than terrible.

Pink Ice

"clear, unaccented english? please... you americans"
"snotty white middle american chick
you sound like one of those Americans who has no idea just how good you've got it"
"Don't give me any of that "Ugly American" crap, puhleazze!"

I am a blue collar, working class person of hispanic descent that speaks with a southern accent and is currently living in the midwest. Hmmm....I don't fit any of the descriptions above, except for maybe "ugly American," but hey beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I have no problem communicating with others or they with me in this country.
I wouldn't exactly classify myself as spoilt because I have to work harder than most people in this country for everything I have. I know exactly how good I have it in this country.
Do I think American companies should have their tech support located in this county? Hell yes!
Do I think it should be a requirement for companies to inform potential consumers where their tech support is located? Hell yes!
Would I be willing to pay more for a product if it had tech support in this country? Triple hell yes! I want tech help from people that speak American english.
It's like what The Monarch said: "The malice intended here isn’t toward people who live and work in India, but to stupid people the world over. The difference is, that as an American I can tell if I am speaking to an idiot in justaboutthisfast. That determination becomes even harder when there is a language barrier."

Robert A. Carlson

I don't do "whatever this is","blog?" but I did run into Trudy's message AND, frankly, I could have written the exact same message. My parents have Earthlink and the India Indians drove me nuts. For most of my adult life, I managed people that provided customer service to customers of the company and distributors of the product we sold. It was a national company and often had to deal with customers that had called in (asian, russian, hispanic, etc.) I always knew when someone came running down the aisle, that it was to transfer a call to me because they could not understand the person. Gee, did they expect that I could?

However, having spent so much time trying to provide customer serice, I can not for the life of me imagine why any company would be stupid enough to attempt to cut costs by materially sacrificing customer service. This seems like the management logic for Dilbert.

Bob

Robert Sterbal

If you need help with you problem there are a lot of underemployed techies right now willing to give phone support in exchange for either cash or help with their resumes/cover letters/people skills. I run into a couple of people in your shoes every month, and try to help the ones who are interested in systematically and creatively solving their problems. A reinstall sounds likely. Reproducing the error is a must!

Andrew

>>>I don't personally give a flaming flamingo who is at the help desk, as long as he or she can do their job.

If they can't communicate with me, then they're not doing their job.<<<

Agreed. But unfortunately, your post came across more as a rant against all Indian helpdesk operators than all incomptetent ones, regardless of their location. I'm sure there's good and bad ones in India, just as there are good and bad ones in the US.

Offshoring is here to stay unfortunately, but the least these companies could do is make sure their chosen contractor is up to the task, both technically and linguistically.

The same is true for those companies who outsource tech support within their own country. The fact that someone is in the same country doesn't mean the quality of their support will be any better, even if they are a bit easier to understand.

It all comes down to the mighty $$ and unfortunately, the PHB's who run these companies go for the cheapest option, not the best. If they're *that* much cheaper, you have to ask why. Maybe it's because their trained monkeys aren't actually trained at all. Trained monkeys cost more to run.

lee

clear, unaccented english? please... you americans.

just because someone has an accent doesn't mean they don't understand you or that you have to shout at them just in case what you were saying at 70dB wasn't clear enough.

remember: americans have accents too. californians sound different to new yorkers.

believe it or not, there are countries outside of america and they're full of people trying hard to earn a living to feed their kids and they don't need some snotty white middle american chick getting all upset because they're talking at a hundred miles an hour and wondering why the person on the other end of the line just won't understand you.

get a grip.

Sally Thomas

Re the outsourcing to India (and other non-English speaking worlds)....you think YOUR experiences are scary, think of the poor fools who think their taxes and bookkeeping is being done by a local CPA yet is being "outsourced" to these places...what happens if/when their stuff is screwed up or their identity is stolen, or their personal info plastered all over terrorist networks etc.....hhhmmmm, are we there yet?

Mike

Your message to Earthlink should have been since you cannot help me solve a problem caused by the software you provided, you are no longer my ISP. There are many ISPs that do have local helpdesk support. They should get your money, not a company that trys to save money by stiffing you on the tech support.

Dan

All,

This same tale is told to me almost every week by one of my customers.... Earthlink's Total Access is pure crap! Sure, it runs fine for awhile, but get one by Ad-Ware, Spyware, or some Mal-ware program on your system and you can bet your last dollar that TA will freak-out on you. Not to mention any type of file corruption.... don't get me started on how poorly written and inter-laced this TA software really is. I do not recommend it to my customers, period. There are far superior products that will do the job that TA is attempting to do; for example, use Spybot Search and Destroy to keep the mal-ware off your system, use AVG AntiVirus to ward off those nasties. In short, Earthlink is good at being an ISP, but they cannot write software worth a damn!

As for the foreign out-sourcing issue: Unfortunately, it will take a few years before American companies realize the idiocy of this practise. After they lose enough repeat business, they may come to their senses. Like someone else said, "who cares where the Support person is from, as long as they can effectively communicate AND solve the problem".

As for what to do, Trudi: DUMP Earthlink Total Access (Total Asses), uninstall it completely, use a registry cleaning tool such as JV16 or EasyCleaner to find the leftover TA crap, then re-install IE. If that doesn't get you back to working order, re-install Windows (that's actually Microsoft's Tech Support standard answer). Good Luck.

The Monarch

I think that the larger issue of what Trudy is saying is that there is a pronounced difference in English speaking people and native English speaking people. The malice intended here isn’t toward people who live and work in India, but to stupid people the world over. The difference is, that as an American I can tell if I am speaking to an idiot in justaboutthisfast. That determination becomes even harder when there is a language barrier. And even more infuriating when the language the other person sounds like the same language you are speaking, but isn’t. I have experienced this first hand. I hold no mean spiritedness in my heart, but consider if Trudy had been at work and just trying to get through a day. What are you supposed to tell your boss? “Sorry I can’t get that done for you today. I know that tech support speaks English, but there is some loss there.” Do you think your boss would accept that?

Tech Support, people. Support.

Mark Anderson

Thankfully, not all companies are this bad. The company I work for keeps all tech support in house (in fact, my office is right next to a tech support person), and they are trained quite well. They know nearly as much as we developers do, in fact, and what they don't know they ask us for. Each of our (health care) customers has its own dedicated tech support person, so you'll always know you're getting someone who knows about your problem.

Unfortunately, we're the (rare) exception right now, rather than the rule.

Thimma

I think you were too harsh on this. Not all of them are understandable. I have had many conversations with americans and many times they are clueless on how to explain their problems. Also average person in these contries you are talking about are more informed and capable than the average americans. They had missed the tech race but are fast catching up.

Bob

Finally someone has written an article about the lame people on the other end of the tech support phone. I have been having so much trouble with Linksys that I finally gave up and returned the print server to the store. When asked by the return clerk what the matter was, I just told them I couldn't understand Linksys's tech support people. I didn't know if the print server was defective or what. It would be nice if each manufacture would display the origin of their tech support on the outside of the box.

Richard Coleman

Trudy, I agree wholeheartedly with the tenor of your comments. I have gotten phoen calls from creditor reps whose accents were damn hear impossible to decipher. But the positive advice I would offer is to learn as much as you can about solving your own problems,rather than relying on tech support from anywhere. I ahve 4 computers at my house tht I am more or less responsible for maintaining (one is my son's laptop), and I have a good sized shelf of reference books that I can turn to for advice on problem solving or other topics, like site building. If you can afford it, you can go to any large bookstore like Border's or Waldenbooks, or do like I do. There is a small chain of outlet stores in Eastern Pennsylvania where I live, that has an excellent selection of computer reference books tht are only slightly short of the cutting edge, latest systems. The book store at the outlet mall in Reading has a slightly more expensive, but closer to the cutting edge selection, of computer related books.

The other piece of advice I would mentionto anyone reading this is to go with a ISP of more limited, local availability. The ones that do all the advertising get most of the clients, but I ahve found that the local ISP I use is far more accessible for system problems, and even software problems I may be having. Their people are knowledgable, and go out of their way to help their clients. The owner and several of his employees are active members of the same local computer club I belong to.


Trudy

Trudy,
Welcome to the real world, 2004!
I'm an American who has lived and worked in several countries (Mexico, Thailand, Saudi Arabia), and you sound like one of those Americans who has no idea just how good you've got it!
Orn

Uncle Ian (gnomie)

Two possible solutions. The first may be to do what the supposed tech supervisor recommended: re-install Total Access and then try uninstalling it again. I have found this has helped me in the past when an uninstall seemed to go bad. My second thought is that you may be having problems with the "Earthlink Parental Controls" which seem to be installed along with Total Access, but which appear as a separate item in Add/Remove Programs. See this link: https://support.earthlink.net/mu/1/psc/img/walkthroughs/windows_9x_nt/ta_2004/8905.psc.html This is the Shorter Link to that same page: https://makeashorterlink.com/?O27024928

Good luck.

Regards,
Uncle Ian (gnomie)

Pink Ice

Kick ass rant! Once upon a time I too was able to speak to support that was located in this country. Not anymore. I also try to resolve my own problems, because of communication problems with foreign tech support.
I don't think it's asking too much to get support from someone you can understand and who can understand your language/accent.
This has nothing to do with being racist. It's all about receiving quality support that you pay for when you purchase a product or extended support. Language/communications problems do not equal quality support! Gateway are you listening?
If I were an Indian, Swede, Mexican, French person or whoever I would be p.o.ed if a company provided me with tech support from a person in another country (including American) and we couldn't understand each other.

Pink Ice

JokesterX

Trudy, I actually agree with you 100% on this matter. I am not one to call tech support much if at all, I try to work out the problem on my own. There was this one time I had to call HP tech support for my daughter's brand new PC, and after four calls in one day, each of them getting a different ticket number, after giving them the previous one, I finally got sick of saying this is what is wrong, this is what you need to do to fix it, that I finally did it myself. So much for tech support. As for the guy with problems with SBC, I feel your pain somewhat, although everytime I called them I got someone from the states, the problem I had with them was their billing software, not tech support. I for one do not think that working a help desk is below me, I would love the chance to work a helpdesk, even if it's just a stepping stone to something better. I would love to see the call centers come home, it's about time to treat the 80% if not higher base of customers with some good ol fashioned respect. Well that's my 2 cents times 100...

Jim Walsh

Trudi
Most of the people in India speak a form of English that is not understood by the English (quite often I don't understand American English). Many people in the UK have been put out of work by the companies farming out "technical" support to third world countries. It would appear that the companies look on support as a necessary evil and it doesn't seem to matter that those they employ are not colloquial enough to understand the nuances of what is their second language. It all boils down to the great god MONEY. Before I retired I worked for a company that supported Microsoft systems in a private environment we at least had the knowledge, resources, and understanding of the language to answer our customers queries. I suppose that this a cross we all have to bear, but the people farming resources out should be aware of the groundswell against this practise.

white bread american but w a brain

Wonder how old you are, that is numerically? No problem gauging your maturity.

I don't even particularly disagree with your hypothesis that many customer relations personnel lack skills in communication and/or technology specific/general (resident or off-shore).

I further wonder if you ever watched old re-runs of SNL. To simply steal an oft used retort from a Dan Ackroyd/Jane Curtin news skit: "Trudy you ignorant sl**"

If your contributions to Lockergnome are simply one more mutant variation of LG’s declining quality, you have done your job admirably.
LG has been on the slide for well over a year, & now it’s time to ‘unsubscribe’.

LG's editorial slant was always an accepted part & parcel of trade-in-kind for the superb technology dispensed. That equation is no longer balanced.

Best of luck CP/LG!
Blog That!

white bread american but w a brain

Wonder how old you are, that is numerically? No problem gauging your maturity.

I don't even particularly disagree with your hypothesis that many customer relations personnel lack skills in communication and/or technology specific/general (resident or off-shore).

I further wonder if you ever watched old re-runs of SNL. To simply steal an oft used retort from a Dan Ackroyd/Jane Curtin news skit: "Trudy you ignorant sl**"

If your contributions to Lockergnome are simply one more mutant variation of LG’s declining quality, you have done your job admirably.
LG has been on the slide for well over a year, & now it’s time to ‘unsubscribe’.

LG's editorial slant was always an accepted part & parcel of trade-in-kind for the superb technology dispensed. That equation is no longer balanced.

Best of luck CP/LG!
Blog That!

cheira

Trudy,
I applaud your determination and willingness to actually share the entire ordeal with us. I read this via Lockergnome and this is the first time I have been moved enough to respond. I have a mother who is like your brother. After having trouble with her Dell she asked me to interact with their tech support (yeah right). It was challenging because I live 300 miles away from mom. But, I drove home for a special visit, and actually got to talk to someone in India. And you know it wouldn't have been so bad if they actually knew what I was referring to. Sure the accents are challenging... but since I too work in Social Services I have gotten fairly comfortable with asking someone to either spell or restate something if I didn't understand them. I will actually spell out for them as well. I make them repeat the problem and the solution. The kicker for my mom's problem was that the solution took longer than I visited for. So, I had to continue the trouble call from my home and then relay them to her...
I totally empathize and hope you find or found a solution to your problem. (And yes, I did finally resolve issue for my mom.)

Andrew

You have my sympathy with your Helpdesk troubles, but I have to ask, would you prefer to speak with an ignorant American on the helpdesk who stuffed you around and couldn't help, or with someone in India who could fix your problem first time ? Was the rant about ignorant helpdesk staff, or was it just because they're Indians ? You say "at the risk of sounding bigoted", as if you don't want to, but unfortunately, that's exactly how it comes across. If you really are racist, then admit it to yourself and to us and don't try and cover it up with arguments about competence or lack thereof. If you're not and the rant really was about incompetence, then it doesn't matter where the person is located, or what colour they are. I'm sure there's lots of untrained Americans working in call centres in the US, not to mention the Asians, Indians, Mexicans etc who are just as difficult to understand. It's these folk who are often the only ones who'll work for the lousy pay that call-centre people get, since everyone else seems to think that sort of work is below them and they'd prefer unemployment benefits. It's us who drive this outsourcing as we expect prices to stay low and quality to stay high. Ask yourself, would you pay the extra couple of hundred bucks your system would cost if your call-centre operator was in Iowa or someplace, or the one next to it on the shelf which was cheaper for the same hardware, but had a call-centre in India ? If you knew, you'd probably buy the more expensive one, but you'd complain about it. If you didn't, you'd go for the cheaper one. If you're serious about keeping call centres at home, then you're going to have to be willing to pay extra, because Americans (even untrained and/or immigrant ones) cost more to run than Indians, Bangladeshi's or even Aussies.

Just my $0.02

Robert Perry

I had the same type of experience with the tech help in India except I was calling HP trying to get a recovery disk when the hard disk recovery utility that is on the hard disk in a HP computer wouldn't work because the damn computer would not boot period. I spent over two and a half hours talking to 4 different people over a period of 2 weeks and understood maybe 5 or 10 minutes of the conversation and I think they understood less than that of mine. I finally just bit the bullet and installed a new hard drive, bought and installed the full version of windows, slaved the old boot drive to my new hard drive and recovered all my files. I will never buy a computer from HP again since I now know they could not care less about how good their tech support is or have any real interest in helping their customers. They just want to be able to say they provide tech support without it technically being a lie.

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