Saturday, April 12, 2008

Pride and Prejudice

I find that good English is getting more endangered with each passing day. As a recruiter, I feel the pain that this causes. I can't hire someone whose language skills are bad and that person doesn't get a chance to work with a company like ours. But what I see around me pains me more. There are companies that are willing to compromise on quality while hiring.

I tried to order flowers at and their site said that I'd have to place my order before 2 p.m. if I wanted a same day delivery. Although I'd taken care of that, the flowers didn't get delivered on time. (They refunded my money eventually, but that's a different story!) I tried to call their customer service centre to lodge a complaint and went through their IVRS. The usual rubbish: For English, please press 1. हिन्दी के लिए कृपया २ दबाएँ! I pressed 1 and got to this joker at the other end. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: Hi, I'd like to cancel order no. xxxx. It was supposed to be delivered this evening, but it didn't happen.

He: Sorry ma'm. Your order no. xxxx is placed and will be delivered in 48 hours.

Me: But I wanted same day delivery.

He: The site is no provide guarantee.

Me: It said on the site that if I placed my order before 2 p.m. the delivery would be the same day.

He: We do not gives guarantee. Shipping in 48 hours. I can't able to cancel.

Me (exasperated): I need to speak with someone who can understand English please. Could you please transfer me to someone who knows English?

He (obviously miffed): I speak English Ma'm.

Me (having completely lost it): No, you think you do, but you really don't. I have no time to waste and would like to speak to someone in English.

He: It is not so great language. I speak.

Me: देखिये आप सोचते हैं की आप अंग्रेज़ी जानते हैं। क्या मैं आपके मेनेजर से बात कर सकती हूँ?

He: आपको हिन्दी आती है, हमसे बात कीजिये।

I was so irritated at the end of this. If I'd wanted to have a conversation in Hindi, I'd have dialled 2 to start with. But I doubt if they really care. I sometimes feel I may be the only one who's even bothered about any of this.

On a separate note, there's another advertisement on TV for Virgin mobile where a "Mahalingam" calls in response to an ad in the paper. When will it end?


Padmaja said...

Raaga!! I hate to talk to customer services ovee here as well. Its horrendous when u speak to people who can't even understand what we are saying!!
I just hate it!!


Raaga, I came here through the comment you left on my mother's blog - Maiji and Janta Stove.
Same name as my granddaughter, eh? Nice. BTW, how did you reach Maiji's blog?
I am totally in sympathy with you over this. I have had some terrible experiences too - but the arrogance of the person you dealt with is amazing.

Anonymous said...


I read this post of yours and here are my thoughts that I quickly jotted ...
Hope you do not take offense!and I think you are addressing the wrong thing here.

Poor customer service skills is one thing....
But you have no right to ridicule the poor domestic call centre employee's english skills who

Do you even know how many Indian children get to study in an English Medium school. Some govt schools teach in Hindi medium all through and suddenly switch to Englisgh medium in clas 9th. Even these kids can't suddenly start speaing fluent english. Is it fair for us Upper middle class bread, MNC employees to make fun of some poor guy who Indiatimes has provided a means to earn a living?
There are no fancy jobs available in metropolitan cities for youngsters like this! Many of them are "well educated"... That's got nothing to do with English skills.
The IVR ( whether you call an Airtel, Indiatimes or Icici bank) is only langauge specific for self-help options... The average person who picks up the call finally is usually semi or no english medium educated.

Yes, Good English has become difficult to come by ... In various India ( English) News Channels, Radio channels.english advertisments . These guys are talking in what we call "Hinglish" or South Indian slangs thrown into gramatically incorrect english sentences in some of the channels down south.....
This guy must be making around 5000 rupees a month. Do you think a convent educated youngster will join a low paying job such as this? ...He/she will join a fancy MNC call centre where he/she jolly well speak good english and it is fair to expect so!

By the way the number of native language speaking people who call and indiatimes or a just-dial or the airlines are higher than people like you and me.

Yes, if you are hiring for an MNC and looking for good english speaking skils, I agree it is tough to find the right skills these days ....

However, here you are quoting a totally wrong example...I really sympathise with that guy who picked up the phone and must have felt so upset speaking to an irate customer....

By the way .. Please share what you are trying to highlight in the 'Mahalingam' ad...

I look forward to your response!

Anonymous said...

By the way ... Customer Service skills {namely patience, ownership of a customer's problem, follow up, ackowledging, empathy skils etc)definitely need to improve in our country ...

Language is a different thing .... We all can manage a lttle bit of hindi, tamil , kannada as the case may be.. :)

Chitty Cat said...

hmm - a bit harsh on the customer care exec who was, for all we know, the best english student in his school?