Arrogant americans abusing Indian call-center workers
The SF Chronicle has published an article on how Indian call-center workers suffer abuse from irate callers from USA. It makes an interesting reading on the reactions to outsourcing. Quoted from the article, some racist comments by callers:
The caller greeted her with a torrent of racial and sexual slurs, accused her of “roaming about naked without food and clothes” and asked, “What do you know about computers?” The diatribe ended with the comment:”This company is just saving money by outsourcing to Third World countries like yours.”
The less favorable view, though, is beginning to seep into Indian popular culture. The scripts for a new sitcom called “The Call Center,” scheduled to air this winter on the leading channel NDTV, depict Westerners as arrogant, immoral and comically rude.
One of the episodes recreates a real-life exchange that occurred in January between an American and an Indian agent that has become notorious among the call center crowd here. On the Philadelphia radio show “Star and Buc Wild,” host Troi Terrain phoned an Indian call center pretending to order hair beads for his daughter. The call quickly turned vicious.
“Listen to me, you dirty rat eater,” Terrain growled, to muffled laughter in the studio. “I’ll come out there and choke the — out of you. You’re a filthy rat eater. I’m calling about my American 6-year-old white girl. How dare you outsource my call?”
The complete article here: Outsourcing Outrage
I am surely going to watch this program on NDTV if I get to.
I have another issue with the way call-centers (whether Indian or not) work. The person who takes the call has little authority (decision-making power as well as command over the topic). I, as a user, would first try to find solutions myself, or do the preliminary investigation over the net, before calling the call-center.
When the person on phone repeats the same things that I already know (despite being told so), it is the most irritating part. And finally since the person taking care of my problem is someone else (who’s hidden from me, the call center people refuse to give their contacts), I don’t have anyone to hold responsible for, if my problem is not solved. I have rarely been able to get my problems solved through a call to a call-center (within India). I still believe in the old-fashioned across-the-counter/letter/email way of doing things!
Coming back to outsourcing of call-center work, I believe we Indians are fairly good at understanding others’ problems and solving them. Why? I am not claiming that we are a superior race — just that we are products of a chaotic system, a fact which aids development of troubleshooting capabilities.
From whatever little I know about outsourced call-center workers, they are not expected to apply their own mind, and operate according to a fixed set of rules: see if there is a ready solution for the problem already entered in the system. If not, refer the problem to your supervisor, who will follow the same procedure.
So this is not a problem of competence, but just cultural/social/economical/racial problem.
Someone should do a discourse analysis of the media coverage of outsourcing, as well as the conversations during the calls themselves. It’ll surely be one of the most interesting research topics! 🙂