Friday, April 24, 2009

Witz DOESN'T Pick: ESL Customer Service

Let me start by saying that I have no problem with people in America who can't speak english as long as they aren't in a position where english is necessary, like, saaaaay CUSTOMER SERVICE. Yesterday, I was in Safeway and managed to drop my credit card somewhere in the store because I'm half man, half friggen idiot. I, of course, realized this at checkout after all my stuff had been rung up, and got to do the "Oh shit, I don't have a form of payment!" thing, which, when wearing shorts, sandals, a sweaty gym t-shirt, and buying more refried beans than seems necessary, probably implies, "...nor will I ever have a form of payment!" The guy behind the counter was helpful and said, "No problem, I'll just push this 'Retarded' button here and you can come back later for your stuff. (paraphrasing)"

So I wandered back through the store looking at the ground like I was autistic. When I came up empty-handed, I went to the customer service desk where I met my well-intentioned, absolutely useless Chinese arch-nemesis.

Witz: Hi, I lost my credit card somewhere in the store and was hoping you could help...did anyone turn one in to you?"
Lady: ...."Credit card? (but you know...with more l's involved)
Witz: Yeah, I dropped it somewhere in the store...
Lady: Oh, credit card...
Witz: Yyyep...
Lady: You need go to ATM?
Witz: (oh fuck me) Um, no no, I LOST my card....
Lady: Bank?
Witz: (it was at this point I realized karma had caught up to me-- for all intents and purposes, I was speaking to a deaf woman. So I busted out the charades) No. I (gesture to self) lost (look around and shrug shoulders) my (gesture to self) credit card (gesture to my debit card that I had retrieved from my car to pay for my groceries-- Ok, I see how that part might have been confusing). My other credit card. On the floor (point to floor).
Lady: Ohhhhh!!! Ahahahahahahah! Credit card! Ahahahahahah! I see, I see!
Witz: Yeah...(Thank God, she finally gets it-- all hope isn't lost.)
Lady: Yes yes-- we accept all kind; Visa, Mastercard, American Express--
Witz: --Uh huh. Ok. Ok, I'm gonna go--
Lady: --All kinds! And personal check? And cash...all kinds payment!
Witz: Fantastic, thank you.

Maybe there's something to that "one child" policy China has. Smiling gratefully, I walked away and found someone who was much more capable of enunciating just how effed I was-- time to go home and cancel my card.

When I got home, I promptly called India-- I mean my credit card company to cancel my card and get a new one sent out immediately. "Bill" was on the case, and his dulcet tones were just magical-- because they made all my faith in humanity disappear. While calling to report that I had lost my credit card, "Bill" tried to PITCH ME!

Bill: Now we like to put a security watch on your account for three weeks in case of suspicious activity on your old and new account. Would you like us to do that?
Witz: Is it a standard feature?
Bill: It's 7.99 a month.
Witz: Uhh, that's okay--
Bill: We really do highly recommend it to save you a lot of possible trouble later on. (The implication being that I'm already the kind of guy who loses credit cards, maybe I should take his advice. I've never had someone pitch me by simply stating the reasons behind marketing-- "Our product will save you trouble later.")

So, fine, I got the three week protection-- partially because I figured it was potentially useful and partially because I had started to think of "Bill" as Prabaker from the book Shantaram and wanted to make him happy. "Bill" was very pleased:

Bill: Oh, this is very good! Now, are you aware that identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the world? It is a very bad thing-- and can ruin lives! I assume you already have identity theft protection?" (read: You know and I know, and you know I know that you absolutely do not have identity theft protection already. Implication: What the hell is wrong with you? You're the type of person who loses credit cards and you don't think you need this service? You arrogant shit! Identity theft is the fucking fastest growing crime in THE FUCKING WORLD you over-priveledged douchebag, so why don't you man up and make a good decision for once in your hollow, daytime-gym-and-safeway-shopping life!)

Witz: ...Yeah, I think I have that with my other credit card company. (read: You're not the boss of me)
Bill: ...Well good. Good luck with that.

And then "Bill" gave his five minute sign off speech, during which I stopped being able to hear the correct syllables of accented words and began only hearing a scripted rhythm with musical intonations which was actually quite relaxing. I landed back on the proper syllables right as he concluded with the most surprising, endearing, and genuine sounding sentence I've ever heard from customer support: "Thank you for listening to me talk about all this," he said and I really think he meant it. People must hang up on him all the time after he initially cancels their card. Instead, due to the perfect storm of my needing his services, his reminding me of a fictional character I enjoyed, and my total lack of commitments and responsibility during daytime hours, I didn't hang up on him and we were able to bond in the way only a guy who lost a credit card and his outsourced service rep can-- as soul mates.

Nothing Like Railing on People Who Can't Speak English Three Days Before I Go to France Where I'm Screwed If I Have to Do Anything Besides Order "Deux Croissants, S'il Vous Plait",

P.S. So yeah, I'm gonna be gone for the next two weeks, but I will try and get some posts in so keep coming back to check. I also had a "baby shaking app" post for you all, but this ran long so you can check back for that later today or over the weekend.

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