Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

The Friday Rant - 18.11.11

I had a problem with my mobile phone the other day. We touched down on Mahe in the Seychelles after being in the MON (Middle of Nowhere - Farquhar atoll)) for a week or so, and having not spoken to my family while we were there I thought a phone call to say hi and that I am alive and on the way home might be cool. I got a new phone the other day as an upgrade I was owed, but this was the first time I had tried to use it overseas. I dial my home number, let it ring, and get some bloke answering who I think was from a take away !! First thoughts ? Something rather drastic has changed at home !! Either my wife has shacked up with some weird sounding bloke and together they have opened up a take away in the week I have been gone, or otherwise my phone is not working properly. I try again and get I think some strange sounding garage. OK, no go, so I call my wife's mobile phone. If we take into consideration here that most women seem to have a mobile phone but never actually answer it then I am not that surprised to get another weird bloke answering on that particular number. I send a text and then do actually get a reply, and this time it is actually from my wife. So we don't get to speak, but we do get to make text contact and check that all is cool. But something ain't right with my new phone........

When I finally get back home, I call the Vodafone people. And this is where my Friday Rant kicks in. Foreign call centres. I do not have a racist bone in my body, indeed I don't care if you are white, black, green or purple with red spots on. But I seriously despise having to make a phone call to ask for example what was wrong with my phone and end up talking to somebody who is not really understanding me. Is it wrong to want to speak to a person with complete control of the language that I happen to speak myself - English. Yes, I grant you that many English people can not speak English properly anyway, but when I am wound up anyway because I could not get to speak to my girls and I get some bloke asking me for the third time how to spell Gilbey, I tend to get a little tetchy to say the least !! Is it too much that the person I call with a problem actually gets what I am talking about ?

I will admit to mostly asking the question these days "Am I talking to somebody in the UK ?" whenever I have to make one of those dreaded call centre calls. If not, I ask to be put through to somebody in the UK. As I said, it is has nothing to do with the colour of one's skin to me, but I simply want to have my conversation conducted with somebody who can fully understand what I am talking (or perhaps ranting) about. I live in the UK and I speak English. No offence to India because it is a very cool place with some seriously cool fishing, but I do not want to problem solve with a person who is struggling to understand what I am talking about. Granted, I know I speak fast, but what is wrong with the world these days when UK companies with UK customers go and outsource their call centres abroad ? Saving money is one thing, but winding customers up is another matter entirely.

It has to be a potential problem that these companies are aware of, otherwise why would you see some of them actually advertising the fact that they have proper UK call centres for UK customers to call ? Now Vodafone told me that they did not actually have any UK call centres that they could put me through to, so I was stuck with talking to a person who I am sorry to say had to sit through me getting more and more wound up as I tried to get to the bottom of why on earth I call my wife from the Seychelles and get some dodgy sounding take away. My wife swears blind she was not selling curries out the back door with a bloke other than me (fairly tall, approaching middle age, a little more relaxed muscle these days, with attitude), so it had to be a Vodafone problem. Can you imagine though how long it took to sort it out with a call centre person who first off was struggling to get to grips with the spelling of my surname ?

Is it just me, or do any of you lot get steam coming out of your ears when you end up having to talk to some admittedly usually very nice sounding person from overseas who can't really understand your problem(s). If I lived in India when I would want to speak to an Indian call centre, but I live in the UK and I want to speak to somebody here in the UK who has a better than average chance of understanding me and my problem(s). To be honest it drives me mad. Not only has nearly all the stuff that we used to make gone overseas, but now when we get problems with this stuff we then have to communicate with somebody for whom English is not their first language. It drives me potty. It would almost be ok if I was a raving racist because I could pass it off as that, but it ain't - as I said earlier. Is it wrong to want to speak to want a call centre operator for whom English is their first language ? I think not.............calling a call centre is pain enough as it is, so how about more of these companies work on making the pain a bit more bearable ?

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