Monday, March 20, 2006

Call centre blues

A. (Telephone rings . . .)

B. Hello?

C. (Silence, for about five seconds . . .)

D. (Voice on the other end of the line, invariably in a South Asian accent) Good evening, Mr Vandelay, how are you today? I notice you are currently with telephone carrier X, but did you know that telephone carrier Y offers . . .

Somewhere around point C (since I know by now what point C generally entails), I hang up. But this approach, it appears, is not adopted by everybody who wishes to avoid the telemarketers--and call centre workers in India are not happy:

WORN down by racist abuse and sexual harassment from angry Western
customers, Indian call centre workers are lobbying to have repeat offenders
barred and to have complaints lodged with police around the world.
Vinod Shetty, of Mumbai, secretary of the newly formed Young Professionals
Collective, said staff were subject to so much abuse that thousands of its
workers were quitting in despair.
The problem has become so bad that remaining workers are being forced to extend their shifts to 12 and 13 hours a day to fill the gaps.

Abusing people who at the end of the day are simply doing what they are being paid to do is not on, obviously. Still, however inexcusable, you have to admit that the phenomenon is not surprising.

(Nor, it must be said, is the fact that Indian call centre workers are collectivising as a consequence, as the SMH piece indicates.)