Saturday, October 13, 2007

Am I a Racist?

Allow me to introduce you to the twins...

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I've affectionately dubbed them "$3000 of love" because I told my husband if he loved me, he would buy them for me. And coincidentally, his love for me has an approximate cash value of $3150, so I had enough left over to get some new shoes, too!

Yes, I gots me a good man, ladies. Keep your grubby mitts off!

So, what does this have to do with being a racist? Well, I'm getting to that.

See, twin #1--we'll call her "Washer"--isn't quite feeling like herself lately. She's shaky and loud, and now she's got an internal injury. Yes, somehow the drum of the washer got a dent from striking one of the components outside. There's quite a noticeable bump in the metal.

As a concerned and caring owner, I promptly called the manufacturer, who shall remain nameless.

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Now, I'm not a marketing genius, but I'm clever enough to deduce that when someone calls the manufacturer, it is probably not for the purposes of congratulating them on their fine craftsmanship or exceptional engineering. No, when one calls the manufacturer, it is to tell them what lousy pieces of crap they had the gall to inflict upon the innocent denizens of the planet Earth (even if those denizens had spent the past 6 months singing the manufacturer's praises and encouraging anyone who would listen to throw their hard-earned money at them in return for products which were finely crafted and exceptionally engineered.)

I was placing the bad kind of call, so the last thing I wanted to hear was a chipper recording telling me, "Life's good."

Shut up! Life's not good! My washer's broken!

I don't think the recording heard me because she continued to spout off extensions.

"If you are calling about a delivery, press one. If you're calling about an existing order, press two...

...If you're calling about a refrigerator, press 95. If you're calling about a washer, press 96. If you're..."

Nine six.

"Thank you. A customer service representative will be with you shortly."

Muzak.

"Hello, my name is Don. How can I help you today?"

Indian call center. I immediately tense up. I have not had good luck with Indian call centers in the past.

"Uh, yeah, my washer's broken. I need someone to come out and fix it."

"Don" asks for the model number, the serial number, date of purchase, mother's maiden name, square root of pi--all the relevant information. I give it. (Aren't you impressed that I know the sqaure root of pi?)

"Thank you. Now may you tell me what is the problem?"

"Yeah. My husband put a load of clothes in the washer, and it started shaking and making loud noises, like clanging. So, we stopped it and took the clothes out, and we found a big dent in the drum. It was dented in, so it must have struck something inside the washer."

"The drum is dented?"

"Yes."

"What did your husband put in the washer?"

"Uh, clothes."

"What was in the washer with the clothes?"

"Uh, soap? Water?"

"What other object was in the washer?"

"There was no other object. He put in clothes. Jeans, tee shirts. Maybe some socks. Just clothes."

"Ma'am, clothes would not dent the drum."

"Yeah, I know. That's why I'm calling. It was dented from the outside, not from the inside."

"Hold one moment please."

Ugh! He's not getting it. "Don" and I are not on the same page.

Waiting. Waiting. Fifteen minutes go by. You could steam vegetables on my head.

"Ma'am?"

God, how I hate being called that!

"Yes?"

"Ma'am, there's nothing we can do for you."

"I don't think you understand. The drum was dented IN. Dented IN!" As though yelling it will help him understand me any better. "Not out. IN!"

"Yes. As I told you, there's nothing I can do for you."

"Nothing you can do for me? It's under warranty! We bought the extended warranty! We own you for the next FOUR YEARS!!" Okay, I didn't say the last thing, but I was thinking it.

"Ma'am, the warranty does not cover owner negligence."

Oh, my friend, it's on now!

What followed were words I thought I would never say:

"I want to talk to someone who SPEAKS ENGLISH!!"

By now, I'm sure "Don" had already written me off as a psycho nut job, so he gladly relinquished my call to his manager "Dave", who spoke flawless English and was extremely helpful. The repair was scheduled and I was satisfied that it was, in fact, covered under warranty.

But I still felt bad for the way I had spoken to "Don". It is so not like me to lash out at anyone, sarcastic jabs aside. And especially not for something as trivial as a misunderstanding. If I'd just asked for his manager before I lost my cool, the whole thing could have been avoided.

So, what do you think? Was I justified? Or am I a blight on polite society, destined to live a life of shame and isolation?

35 comments:

Rimarama said...

Whether or not I would have spoken it aloud depends on the day of the month, but I definitely would have thought it. No help, I know.

newnorth said...

He wasn't listening to you. He assumed you were negligent. I would have been much meaner. I think you were rather nice.

It all worked out in the wash (ha?, well I tried)

Lisa said...

I'm familiar with outsourced customer service operations. Indians are actually very technically intelligent and most speak English quite fluently; it just doesn't translate well because of the unmistakable accent. (I'm not Indian, in case you're wondering.)

It's understandable you were ticked off. I would be too if I just spent three grand on something that's broken. But I bet you anything that the fifteen minutes he put you on hold was spent conferring with that English speaking manager, and it was actually Dave who made him say that. If you accepted it, then that's one less thing for them to fix. :)

These customer service representatives just do what they're told and say what they're supposed to say, which is why I feel bad for them. How awful it must be to have that job.

Mommin' It Up! said...

Oh it's just tough to keep your cool, especially when you probably felt accused of damaging your beautiful washer! Just learn from it and cut yourself some slack. The twins are GORGEOUS by the way!! Your hubby DOES love you!

Sometimes Emma said...

Indian? Like dots or feathers?

No, not racist, I'd say miffed, ruffled, steamed (veggies, hehe), and dented.

So what happened? I hope they fix it...if not, I'm offering my services as a squeaky wheel. I've had bank president's write me letters back, I'm just sayin....

Julie Wright said...

totally justified. I'd have done the same and likely worse, but then I never professed to be a nice person. Like the music selection!

Whimspiration said...

You had every reason to be ticked, and to wave your ire around like a banner in a parade had you chosen to.

Wow, today must be the day for REALLY bad customer service.

Hope washer gets fixed, fit, and happy really soon.

And a candy apple red laundry suite, that is truly love. *agree*

Outsourcing hurts us all.

Bitsy Parker said...

Racism aside, that is the most beautiful washer and dryer set I've ever seen. Actually, it's the only beautiful washer and dryer set I've ever seen. ARe you taking in laundry? I've got some.

Avery Gray said...

Rimarama, you're right. You were no help. ;o)

Newnorth, you're funny! (In the wash, get it?!! Ha ha!)

Lisa, you're absolutely right! The job is thankless, and the Indian people are notoriously impoverished. I should not have taken my frustrations out on him, as he most likely would get a different job if he could. Plus, I've worked with several Indians, and they are incredibly intelligent, and most are more proficient in the English language than I am.

Mommin' it up (Jenny), thanks for that. And yes, my hubby does love me a whole heck of a lot! Still wondering why.

Emma, if they don't fix it the way I want it done, you better believe I'll be calling you to kick some [insert manufacturer's name here] ass! You're my back!

Julie, thank you! And thank you. ;o)

Whimspiration, I agree about the outsourcing. It hits a little close to home. The place I last worked before my son was born was shut down when the company moved its operations overseas. Everyone I worked with lost their jobs. It DOES hurt.

Bitsy, no. I am not taking in laundry. But for a nominal fee I will let you come to my house and admire my gorgeous washer and dryer! ;o)

Flip Flop Goddess said...

Damn that sucks, but they are the shinest most nice looking twins I have seen..

thanks for dropping by..

dan leone said...

I have no idea whether you were right and I don't wish this to happen to my worst enemy, let alone my newest friend, but the only thing I am thinking about is....is..."You could have steamed vegetables on my head! Hysterical!

[still laughing]

Dan

dan leone said...

OK, 8 minutes later and I just went downstairs and used the "steamed veggies" line on my wife...she didn't laugh. Clearly, it was in the delivery.

cate said...

i wouldn't beat yourself up about. obviously he wasn't really listening to your complaint, or there was a language-barrier problem and he did not understand what had actually happened. it can be frustrating talking to customer support of any kind, and when it's out-sourced to another country there is bound to be misunderstandings due to the language-barrier.

i think we all have our moments...and you had one...and it's okay.

loveyh said...

Oh, my god. The twins are broken? *sobs* Will a couple lemon bars ease their pain?

melody is slurping life said...

I don't care what his origin of birth, he was of no help.

Back to the washer and dryer, I am in love...like, drooling in love with the twins. Let me know if you and husband divorce. ;)

childlife said...

Nope don't think you're racist. I think you actually responded quite well and that you would have felt the same level of frustration regardless of who was reading to you out of the "Nothing We Can Do For You" 'customer service' manual. I had almost the same exact conversation with a 'customer service' rep from the Columbia House DVD club. I think I'm blacklisted.

Anyway, I stopped by to thank you for your prayers for my little girl during her illness and for your kind words of encouragement on my blog a week or so back (I'm just now getting around to returning calls!) I'm so glad you stopped by because you have a great blog here and I'm looking forward to stopping in again.

P.S. I'm soooooo jealous of your twins - lovely!!

Corey~living and loving said...

I feel for you, as I would want to take the statement back also. I do not think you are racist. YOu just were frustrated that you couldn't get your point across to this person. If you had not been so mad, you would have just asked to speak to his supervisor...but he had your back up.
hugs.

oh....the color of your twins.......fabulous. love them.

Ravin said...

You go girl!! Lmao! You were definitely justified in my book!

Julie Q. said...

Oh, I've had sad, sad moments with those Indian call centers myself. I was reduced to tears of frustration by the end. You're a stronger man than I for asserting your way through the process until you got some real customer service.

christina said...

racists have all the good stuff! lol, you're not a racist. you are just a meanie... like me!

R said...

That is not racist. You just want someone to speak and understand the language of our country, English. It is silly how companies have foreigners take care of issues with English speaking people. In any language we have ways of saying things that don't fit the rules. It is imperative when describing something you get someone that can completely understand what you are saying in your own language. Imperative.

What a tough job for those guys, really. Glad you got a manager!!! Nice appliances! I am jealous.

Anonymous said...

Serves you right for blowing 3100 bucks on a freaking washer and dryer.

loveyh said...

Wow, glad to see the anonymous trolls are out in force today!!

Someone's jealous...

Avery Gray said...

Thanks everyone for weighing in! I'm still feeling like a shmuck, but I'm letting it go. We all have our moments.

Oh, and anonymous, it's sweet of you to worry about my finances, but we're doing just fine. And, since tomorrow is Blog Action Day 2007 (nice segway, huh?), I'd also like to point out that my $3000 washer and dryer use FAR less water and electricity than most. I know how important that is to you.

(Catty when it comes to my babies. Can you blame me?)

Melissa Garrett said...

First off, I am only slightly jealous of your washer and dryer (says the woman who has been wanting a pair since their debut). Actually, I've heard it's the washer you should spend the money on and not the dryer so much. But it's nice to have a matching pair and if you can afford it, why not?!

I don't think you are a racist. A little miffed, sure. And you said what a lot of us have probably wanted to say while being fielded through a call center. Really, it's no worse than me going "off" on a lady at the grocery store, two days before Christmas, for rolling her eyes at my husband. At least your brief tirade was over the phone and not in real life. At least you didn't have an audience to bear witness. At least your husband wasn't totally mortified and left wondering what happened to his sweet, shy wife . . .

Try not to feel too bad :-)

Misssy M said...

No- it's not Don who is at fault, it is the company who employ him that think that it's ok to fob their customers off with about 6 standard responses written on a card in front of the Dons of this world. You would have had the same trouble no matter where the call centre was.

OK you might not have questioned the lingustic ability of Indian Don if he had been American Joe, you would have questioned Joe's intelligence. You actually have given Don the benefit of the doubt assuming he was not stupid but rather he just didn't understand.

That's my take on it anyway.

Jackal said...

I think we've all experienced moments of frustration boil over and said things we regret. That is the power of communication and why it is so important in matters that when it fails can lead to frustration.

Joeprah said...

Yo! Chill out baby girl. That is totally racist. I have a lot of injun friends and they would totally not like the way you spoke to Don. LOL.

If you can't get angry at call centers than I am confused what they are for. I thought their sole existence was to give me a forum for which I could vent and express my deepest frustrations.

Sometimes I call "call centers" just to get other stuff off my chest. Like the other day, these punk kids were skating in the middle of the road and not moving for approaching vehicles, so I just called customer service. It seemed to work for me although some dude named "Ron" was utterly confused.

Jennifer said...

I don't know if it was justified or not, but I have SO been there, and I'm afraid I said nastier things to my victim than you. I was, however, provoked. I think the whole automated thing sets the mood, and when you get someone on the other end who is either incapable or unwilling to understand you it's an explosion waiting to happen.

david mcmahon said...

Came here from Jo's blog. I thought I was doing OK because I know the value of Pi - but you;ve gone one better!

Sheila said...

As someone who has a similar experience, I can understand your frustration. I do not believe that you were wrong in wanting someone who could understand you better. There are so many nuances in the English language that someone learning it in another country, may not be aware of. Clearly, if he had understood you, you would not have needed to speak to someone else.

Radioactive Jam said...

Don't you wonder what your buddy Don was doing while you simmered for fifteen minutes? My guess is he was reloading the Muzak track.

And what a bunch of STUPID QUESTIONS.
Don: What other object was in the washer?

You: Well we did toss in a few pounds of antimatter cement, but we do that all the time.

Don: A-HA!

Rob said...

Not racist - just a victim of poor service. It's likely that Don didn't have access to the information that he needed to help you. In having to escalate to his manager, you cost his company money. Remember, many outsource call centers are on a cost per call basis and will pay lip service to providing service to their suppliers - the same suppliers who are purchasing services from the lowest bidder. So don't blame Don, blame, um, that company you didn't mention. And ask yourself - would your reaction have emotionally any different if you had gotten a call center in the US and gotten the same service run around? Probably not.

Azhria said...

Hell YES you were justified... and a lot politer than I would have been.... I WILL NOT RANT! :D

Jo Beaufoix said...

I hate it when I do something like that and then feel bad.
I don't think you're racist, just angry at hitting a brick wall.
Hope the beautiful twins are better soon.