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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Another Strike Against Outsourcing

I was already feeling tremendously grumpy today, so a half-an-hour on the phone with the geniuses at Capital One didn't help.

Due to some not particularly great spending habits in my 20's, I have found myself with a rather unpleasant credit card debt, and a really high interest rate on one of my cards. I'm using my Capital One card, which has a low APR as the card that I transfer my higher balance from the other card to. I do this once every couple of months and it's slowly helping me regain my erstwhile financial stability. And my sanity.

Until today.

It seems that Capital One has joined many of its contemporaries in corporate America in the outsourcing trend. Now, when I call to make a routine balance transfer, I chat very briefly with somebody in the midwest before being transfered via a very fuzzy connection to some lady in India.

Apart from the loss of American jobs that outsourcing represents, it is a major pain in the ass for me, the consumer. Why? Because the ladies who work the call center in India, no matter how nice they may be in real life, maintain only tenuous graps of English, the only language I happen to speak fluently. Call it poor foresite among the adminstrators at Amherst Regional High School, but I am not proficient in Assamese; Bengali; Gujarati; Hindi; Kannada; Kashmiri; Malayalam; Marathi; Oriya; Punjabi; Sindhi; Tamil; Telugu or Urdu. While my inability to parse words in any of these toungues is not normally a handicap in my daily routine, it represents a major disability when attempting to communicate with the customer service reps at Capital One.

Normally, I'm a pretty laid back kind of gal. I tend to find that being nice to customer service reps and not losing my cool is a better way of obtaining the high quality of service that I desire. But doing so is hard when the person on the other end of the phone is convinced you want to transfer money from your personal checking account to a credit card. Why I'd want to do that is beyond me, but after saying very firmly into the phone "No, it's a credit card account" about a dozen times we still weren't jiving. I finally asked to speak with her manager.

Although incredibly surly, her manager was ten times more efficient and more importantly, *proficient*, and I had the matter of my balance transfer ironed out in all of 45 seconds. But this was after 30 minutes of arguing (in my cubicle, co-workers listening--mostly my bad, yes). It should not have been this painful, especially since the knowlege that the experience is going to suck doesn't make me want to repeat it, and for the sake of my credit rating, I really need to. I told her this much, and in response she rattled off a three-minute long term of agreement that I then agreed to without really listening to. So I might have just sold my first born off to Bollywood but at least I'm feeling a bit better about my financial stability.

And to think that more Americans are unemployed because of this simply adds insult to injury.

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Blogger Matt said...

Myself, I'm a big fan of Lou Dobbs. I am one of those 97% of loudobbs.com poll voters who always agrees with Lou Dobbs. Some times, it seems like the only one making any horse sense around here is Lou Dobbs.

This started happening to me 18 months ago as I turned 30. Sometimes, I get so worked up.

6:52 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

I don't understand how Lou Dobbs managed to parlay a highly paid job out of being that guy on the subway, or in a bar, or a diner, who is trying to talk politics who won't take a hint that I do not care to talk to him or listen to his indignant views.

Aaaanyway... i think call centers are just another way that companies have completely walled themselves off from any kind of meaningful interaction with their customers. You reach a call center, or go to a website, and it's all the same... a set of scenarios and procedures from which there is no deviation, and if your case doesn't fit the mold, you're screwed...

12:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I work in customer service here in the DC area. I get emails every week from headhunters all over the USA wanting to tell me about a position they have working customer service. I'm definitly not suffering from lack of job opportunities

I have a coworker who is from India and speaks very accented english.

Don't always assume all customer service jobs are overseas...or that just because the person doesn't speak English as their mother tongue that you've been transported abroad.

2:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Outsourcing and Offshoring have been destroying customer service in this country for years. As of today, I've finally had it up to my neck with it and I'm seriously considering forming a coalition of customers who demand that american companies bring customer service and technial suport back to american and BACK in-house where it belongs. Providing support to your customers is part of the cost of doing business and trying to cut so much of that cost down by either doing it haphazardly or not providing it all is completely unacceptable and should be prevented.

2:45 AM  

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