General ramblings, Indian Call Centers

Indian Call Centers- An Indian’s Perspective

You must have read a lot of posts that talk about how badly people in the U.S treat the call center guys in India. Well let me give you an example of how weirdly they treat Indians who are in the U.S. And this has not been the first time that it has happened to me, so I thought that I should write about what happened. There was this one time when I was talking to a call center guy from Calcutta and he realized that I am an Indian and started asking me where I am from and all that. After knowing that I’m from Cal too, he thought that he can do small talk with me. He started asking me how many siblings I have, where do I stay, why I am in the U.S. I thought he would ask me my monthly income next. Seriously.

One thing that I have noticed is that whenever these call center guys see that there is an Indian on the other end of the phone, they start acting ridiculous. They are quite rude and use words which they shouldn’t be using. Another example- So I forget to pay my JC Penney’s credit card and call up for support. An Indian guy answers the phone. I tell him that I forgot to pay my credit card bill (which wasn’t much – just two t-shirts for about $30) and since this was the first time, I should be excused from paying any late fees (which is about $25) because $30+$25=$55 for two t-shirts is plain ridiculous.

So, what does this guy say? “I am sorry. You should have known that before forgetting”. (WHAT THE F*CK!! How rude is that???!)

Me: (Really mad) Oh really? So you are at the help desk to pass judgments on my actions?

He: (Baffled) No, I don’t mean it that way. But you will need to pay the late fees too.

Me: Every major credit card waives off the late fee if it’s for the first time and that too on just $30. I am not paying it. Sorry. Can I talk to someone in the U.S?

He: You are talking to someone in the U.S. I am in Arizona.

Me: Sure. Can I please talk to someone ELSE in the US?

He: You will need to call up again.

Me: Thanks a lot.

I call back again and this time, I get through an American. I tell him my problem and he waives off my late fees and put those $30 in the next billing cycle. So, I don’t pay it until next month’s bill. Thank God!

Another one-

My laptop konked out this Sunday. I called up HP “Total Care” Support to see what they could do. My laptop is out of warranty too. Anyway, after a long day of shopping at the mall, I came back home and saw that my laptop wasn’t even turning on. Every time I tried to switch on the Power Button, nothing happened. So, I call up their Support. An Indian who goes by the name of Chris answers my call. After the initial hellos are exchanged, this is what happens:

Chris: And what’s your name Ma’m?

Me: Pragati Agarwal (since he is an Indian, I didn’t bother to spell it out for him or go the P for Paris, R for Raisin way)

Chris: Excuse me? Did you say “Pragaattii Aaeggarrwall”?

Me: (realizing that he won’t let go off his pretense) Yes, that’s correct.

Chris: Could you spell it out for me please? It’s a difficult name.

Me: (Really pissed off) P for Paris (with special emphasis on ‘P’), R for Raisin et al.

Chris: Thanks for the information. Do you have a previous Case no?

Me: No

Chris: I see. Can I have your laptop’s serial number please? It’s located at the bottom right corner.

Me: (I dig it out and tell him).

Chris: (He interrupts me like 5 times while I am giving him the serial number. The result – he ends up typing the wrong number). I’m sorry Ma’m. There is no such Serial Number.

Me: Let me repeat it one last time and please do not interrupt me. (Spell it out).

Chris: (Finally gets it and does some search in his database). Ma’m, your laptop’s warranty has expired.

Me: Yes, I know that. I have a problem. Can you provide me with any assistance?

Chris: Not unless you pay. You can pay us $49.99 which is a one time charge for phone support. We will try to resolve your matter.

Me: What if it doesn’t get resolved? $49.99 is too much. At least, not unless I know if my problem is major.

Chris: I’m sorry Ma’m.

Me: So, you mean to say that you won’t even listen to my problem unless I shell out $49.99? Right?

Chris: Actually, there is another deal too. You can pay is $129.99 (WTF?!!!) and get phone support and free replacement of any part if need be.

Me: No thanks. I don’t want to pay without knowing what the problem is. So, you can’t help me at all, right? Why don’t you guys tell this while selling the laptop? Then I would have extended my warranty.

Chris: (After much hesistation) Ma’m….actually …you can try an online chat. That is free.

Me: Thanks (almost ready to hang up)

Chris: Can HP contact you by phone, email or mail for future offers?

Me: (Almost shouting) No thanks! (Bang the cell phone)

So, I use my other laptop (also broken, the screen has some black marks) to connect to the online chat and talk to someone called Ross. Here’s the transcript:

Ross (R): Hello Pragati\

Welcome to HP Total Care for Compaq Products. My name is Ross. How may I
help you today?

Pragati (P):Hi Ross, my laptop isn’t starting.

It was working fine just a couple of hours ago. Now it won’t even start.

R:May I know are you able to aee the Compaq logo when you turn On the

P: (what the hell? Didn’t I just tell him that it doesn’t even turn on?!) It doesn’t turn on!

When I click the start button, nothing happens

R: Thanks for the Information.

Pragti, please perform Power Drain steps mentioned below.

P: (trying to explain what the problem is)The light that has the shape of a lightning- that light blinks for a
couple of seconds, that’s it.

R: okay

To perform a Power Drain Procedure:

1. Disconnect the AC Adapter.
2. Remove the Battery pack.
3. Hold the Power button down for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
4. Install the Battery pack
5. Reconnect the AC adapter.
6. Turn on the Notebook power.

Please let me know once you are done with the steps.

P: not working

R:Pragati, please perform the same steps again and let me know.


R:Please go ahead. (obviously! duh..)

P: Still not working

R: Thanks for the Information.

R: May I have your notebook serial number ?

It is a 10- digit or 12- digit alphanumeric value written on a label and
pasted at the bottom of the notebook

P: !@#$%^&KLZ

R: Pragati, this issue could be because of the Hardware malfunctioning.

P: (what kind of hardware malfunctioning??! Ridiculous. Does he think that I am some kind of moron?)

What does that mean?

Which component do you think is malfunctioning?

R:I mean, your notebook need a detailed On-site diagnosis to resolve the

We cannot predict which component has gone wrong, that is the reason why
it need a detailed diagnosis.

P: (So say that instead of just stating that there is some hardware malfunctioning)

Okay, so you can’t figure out what’s wrong..

R: I am sorry to say that as your notebook is our of warranty, you have 2

P: But how’s that possible? It was working fine a couple of hours back.

R: It happenes of the distortion in power supply or might be beacuse of the
some other reasons, the notebook shuts down and will not work.

P: (Funnily, my laptop turned on somehow)Well thanks for your help.

Luckily it started.

R: If it would have stated by performing the power drain steps , then it
means that the power was bolcked at some components , and after getting
the power discharged completley the notebook turned On.

(Yeah right whatever! Who cares?! I disconnect from the chat client).

Well my adaptor had some loose connection business going on since a couple of days. When the laptop started working on the battery for a couple of minutes, I realized that it is the adaptor that needs to be changed. So, I ordered one on Ebay and I’m still waiting for it. Hopefully, I’ll get it today. And I continue to type on my broken laptop.

UPDATE: Just got my adaptor. Laptop’s working fine 🙂


8 thoughts on “Indian Call Centers- An Indian’s Perspective

  1. hey world over call centers is a temporary job…. nobody in
    the procession is serious….
    otherwise why is the same issue cropping up again and again

  2. @ankur,

    [hey world over call centers is a temporary job…. nobody in
    the procession is serious….]

    I didn’t understand what you mean by this.

    But I do feel that if billions of $$$ have been invested in these call centers and thousands of people are working in them, then yes, people need to be serious. Customer support is something that can never be taken lightly. Look at Dell. They are learning it the hard way.

    Selling a product is not the only thing. If there is no customer support after that, then that’s BAD news for the company.

  3. Haritha says:


    you have good humour sense. I laughed many times(!!!sorry!!). while i read ur experience. try to write stories .u can become good writer

  4. @Haritha,
    Glad that you enjoyed my post 🙂
    [try to write stories .u can become good writer]
    Thank you for your generosity 🙂 But for me, maintaining a blog is problematic enough.
    Do Visit again!

  5. No agony story on Indian call center is complete without horrifying experiences from desis at DELL…, (of course named peter, sam, chris, cathy)
    I thought of writing a post on that myself, then it turned out so big that I thought of dedicating one entire blog to it, that was not sufficient as well…so now I am working on a book….
    but i can tell you this about calling dell customer support
    routed to India..

    …DONT DO THAT…….

  6. Sh!t…wrote a long comment and everything vanished.

    Anyway, let me re-type it. I thought that you have given up blogging after your traumatic experience (your Ph.D). 😛

    Dell had big-time business problems, part of it because of its lousy call center customer service. Michael Dell learned it the hard way and thankfully, they have recovered somewhat. They were listed in the “Fastest Growing Companies” Forbes List in the early 2000’s and then swoosh! vanished within 2 years.

    Some characteristics of their branded support:

    i. Call center guys who couldn’t care less whether your problem has been solved or not
    ii. Long waiting lines
    iii. Poorly designed laptops that look like commodities
    iv. Laptops are identified more by the model number instead of the specific design specifications (what design?! Dell thinks that having all the hardware in place is enough).
    v. He refused to acknowledge new ways of selling his laptops, ie. through traditional super stores like Best Buy etc. and mostly relied on his website to do the selling, when most of the customers like touching and seeing the laptop before buying it.

    Like you said, I could probably help you co-author that book.

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