Outsourcing Call Centers

This is one of my pet peeves.  I had an issue that I needed to ring that bank about today and my call was routed outside of the UK.  This isn’t what bothers me, as I have been very satisfied on numerous occasions, what bothers me is that we’re so hypersensitive to being PC, that voicing dissatisfaction with outsourcing call centres, people deemed this as being racist.

Too be honest, it doesn’t matter if my call was routed to India, Glasgow or an old folks home in Bournemouth.  The bottom line is the person on the other end of the phone couldn’t understand me and I had to repeat myself at least 5 times.  As a consumer I want to be able to fully discuss issues, especially sensitive concerns, with the business and I find it frustrating at times.

I had this happen a few years ago, when my card had been cloned and all my holiday money went missing, I must admit that I was stressed and probably wasn’t listening as well as I should. However, I found myself apologizing profusely and feeling very guilty because I was the one who couldn’t understand.  I know, you can ask to speak to someone back in the UK, but I could never bear to do that.

Does this make me racist?  I would love to hear your thoughts.  Please do leave a comment.

Author: mediocremum

A slightly older mum of one, who drinks far too much red wine and has an unhealthy obsession with her slow cooker. During the day she's an ICT Trainer, Social Media/Online Marketing consultant and does a bit of public speaking. Full Profile on Google+

29 thoughts on “Outsourcing Call Centers”

  1. My husband just can’t understand Asian accents due to the fact that he grew up in a very vanilla middle American small town. He just hands the phone to me…the one who grew up in the mixing bowl of Washington, DC, to do all the call center work.

    1. Thing is I’m Canadian, my school was next to a Sikh temple and a lot of my friends were Sikh’s. I can understand most accents and I do try to listen. Just hate that I’m the one left feeling guilty.

  2. It doesn’t make you racist. I feel the same, I cannot understand them, or they me properly a lot of the time. Same could be said for a strong scottish accent or whatever. I have no peeve with them working, good luck to them, God knows they need jobs, but if it is an important issue & we struggle to be understood, it all becomes pointless. For example, BT, if you manage to get thru on the phone you get to India, but if you use live chat they are in Dublin! Guess what I use, they often call me back.

  3. Our home was burgled, ransacked about 2 years ago. The insurance call centre was in India and I had the most dreadful time getting everything sorted out – they just didn’t seem to understand my request.. it added stress to an extremely distressing situation..

  4. No it doesn’t make you racist! the people calling you that are arguably the racist ones for bringing the race issue up in the first place. I was called racist on facebook last week for using the phrase ‘illegal immigrants’ in a remark criticising the Daily Mail. The same joke Paul Merton and Ian Hislop have been trading on for 20 years. Igore the PC gone mad brigade, I have quite a strong Welsh accent and you may not understand me on the phone, if you stated that you didn’t would that make you anti-Welsh? Would I have to get the Sons of Glyndwr to come burn down your holiday home? No, because you are not racist. Full Stop!

  5. It is not racist. It meets none of the criteria of a racist comment. You just want to talk to someone who speaks clear English… must be tough for a Canadian :-)

  6. It doesn’t. Basically I have been put through to a call center in India before and it worked really well, I understood the person on the phone and they understood me, problem got sorted really quickly. But majority of the time they don’t understand what I am saying and I cannot understand them. All they seem to do is listen for key words and read a scripted response for that word. If it is bad, just ask to speak to their supervisor, they usually speak the language much better.

  7. hey its life, I’m always losing it with them and then end up apologising…… I think our brains go into that not going to understand mode as soon as we hear their voice… much different when answered in this country… your not a racist you just want value for your hard earnt cash at the end of the day…. its the company whom are racist whom are exploiting cheap foreign labour to maximise profits

    1. I have lived the majority of my life around people with different accents to me, being a foreigner and I’m quite good at listening but when I’m asked for my bank details 5 times, I do start to get impatient.

  8. a few years ago i had problems with a well know credit card company that had sent a new card to my old address (even after being sent letters with new address and this was before chip and pin) which was used by a lodger in old house. i had no idea this had happened until 8 months later i receive a letter from debt collecting agency demanding money. i called the number on the letter to be put through to an office in Deli (yep Deli) the young lady couldn’t understand what i was trying to tell her, had no idea about CCJ’s or what they were and when i told her i was not going to be paying as it wasnt my debt her reply was “you spent you pay!!!’ yes i was calling after normal office hrs as had been at work all day. I asked to be put through to a manager and got a guy who was about as much use as a chocolate tea pot. Surely if call centres are going to be out-sourced abroad a better understanding of english is needed as well as an understanding of english policies and laws

    i had to let this go to court in the end as talking to someone who could understand me and whom i could understand was only possible then and yes i won. Score 1 for the little guy

      1. i asked to speak to someone who could understand my request and got teapot guy when i asked for number to talk to Uk office they hung up

        as said gave up in the end and let it go to court only way to talk to anyone in uk

  9. Definitely doesn’t make you racist, all any of us want is someone that can speak our language and clearly on these important things in our life. I had the same problem with AOL who I had to call for an elderly friend of mine, she couldn’t understand them, in the end we were put onto a native call centre and her problem was sorted out in minutes, as opposed to the hours we’d spent on the phone previously.

      1. We didn’t, I think the call centre in India got fed up with not understanding us so put us through to Ireland! And yes of course it would be OK to be routed back to the UK

  10. It definitely doesn’t make you racist. It is often significantly more difficult to comprehend a service agent from an overseas call centre than from here in the UK, not just because of difficulties with accents (after all, that can happen here as well – ever tried conversing with a Glaswegian or a Geordie if you’re not used to it?) but because (generally) English is spoken in a subtly different way in the UK to the way in which many overseas countries teach – likely because their native languages have different (or perhaps just more) structure. Then there’s the fact (and it is a fact) that overseas call centres almost always work off scripts rather than being able to informally discuss your issues because of the difficulties involved in training staff at high staff turnover companies thousands of miles away, so if you need to discuss anything that isn’t exactly as written on their bit of paper, or if they need to explain something differently because you didn’t understand, or even they didn’t understand you (it cuts both ways), it leads to serious frustration on the part of the caller.

    I used to be a call centre manager for a UK ISP, and I can’t begin to tell you how many customers chose us a a provider specifically because we had a UK based call centre.

    1. That’s what I found, what I had to explain was complicated, I went through the whole story and then they said so you’re having problems with ‘x’….which was not at all what I said!

  11. It certainly does not make you a racist. Being able to understand the person you are talking too should be a basic requirement of the industry. I find myself struggling with strong Indian accents too often these days. I don’t consider myself a racist I just want to speak to someone that I can easily understand, I don’t care what country they’re in!

  12. This pisses me off too. I have to keep telling them “I’m sorry but I can’t understand what your saying”. But then again, I have the same problem with my partner sometimes and he doesn’t have an accent.

    I tend to try and make phone calls during business hours so I can get someone from within the country.
    I do appreciate being able to make after hours calls though.

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