Boom. Splat.

That’s the sound of my brain exploding.

You may recall my computer died a couple of weeks ago.  The reload went pretty well, until… *cue ominous music* …I loaded a new(er) version of my accounting software.

It crashed.  Even my geek skills couldn’t persuade it to work, so I phoned and waded through the usual labyrinth.  Why do companies choose automated telephone systems?

“Hey, let’s take customers who are already frustrated by our product and irritate the shit out of them by making them respond to ten minutes of increasingly obscure menu choices before putting them on hold.”

“Ooh, good idea!  And let’s set it up so if they press the wrong number they have to hang up and start again.”

“Right on.  Should we play music specifically designed to promote speechless rage?”

“Yeah, that’s a good idea, but I think we should intersperse it with monotone assurances of how important their call is to us.”

“All in favour?”

“AYE!”  *roars of demonic laughter*

I finally got through to a human being.  In India.  Obviously I missed a point in the decision-making process:

“Let’s route the call to someone with a tenuous grasp of English, an unintelligible accent, and absolutely no hands-on experience with the product.  Both the now-frothing customer and the poor underpaid bastard in India should suffer as much as possible.”

“Support” refused to help me unless I a) paid for the call; or b) bought the 2013 software.  After reflection, I bought the new software, comforting myself that it was probably good to get the latest version anyway.

I installed it… and discovered it’s impossible to update contact names.  Call me crazy, but wouldn’t it be a good idea to direct invoices to the person who’ll actually approve them?

I called India again.  When I finally vanquished the automated menu, the support guy put me on hold for several minutes while he searched for my customer ID.

He couldn’t find it despite the three numbers I supplied from my receipt.

He told me I’d have to pay for the call.  After a terse conversation and some deep breathing on my part, he finally unearthed evidence of my purchase(!) and agreed to help me.

Apparently the definition of ‘help’ was lost in translation.

I explained the problem.  He put me on hold for several minutes while he consulted his helpdesk database before coming back with a completely unrelated answer.

I explained again.  Hold.  Another unrelated answer.

Repeat six times until he grasps the problem.

Then he put me on hold for several more minutes before trying to get me to change the invoice template.  That would solve the problem for the one invoice I’d called about… but completely mess up the umpty-thousand other invoices in the system.

I (not-so-)patiently explained to him how his product works.


Repeat until I bleed from the eyes.

An hour later, I gave up and requested a case number so I could try another day.

Hold for ten minutes.  Then he came back with another useless attempt at a solution.

Slow, distinct enunciation:  “Just.  Give.  Me.  A.  CaseNumber.”

Hold for five more minutes.  He finally spouted a (probably random) number, and I hung up.

I got a survey from the company.  The first question was ‘Were you satisfied with your recent technical support call?’  When I chose ‘No’, their next question was ‘Please explain why your issue was not resolved.’

Boom.  Splat.

Uh… I dunno… maybe because your support system sucks?

I never did complete the survey.  I just couldn’t get past that question.  Can anybody help me out with an appropriate answer?

P.S. I can’t believe I forgot to mention this last week: Curmudgeon-at-Large wrote a fabulous Fallen Arches post, “Corned Beef on Spy“.  It’s hilarious in its own right, but if you’ve read my books, you’ll get the satire (Updated: Oops! That should’ve been “parody” – I just looked it up) immediately.  I laughed my ass off.  Go.  Enjoy!  (C-a-L, I’m sorry for my brain fart – thanks again for honouring me with your wit.)

30 thoughts on “Boom. Splat.

  1. I’ve been to India, and lived in a country with many expats from that country. Their unintelligible accent is simply because they put the accent on the wrong syllable. Not on a few words. On every word. And they speak very quickly. Over time, I thought I would be able to understand them, but alas, I never did. I think all help centers should be in Texas. They speak much slower there.


  2. I would probably have gone over to cable internet by now, but I remain with my dearly beloved ISP that can only give me DSL. Because when I call them, someone answers on the first ring. And fixes everything. And has even taken my computer in to debug it for me. For free. And they’re right here in town. I will put up with slow internet to keep these phone-answering people. Those other people make me weep. I once lost a month of my life talking to India about my email account. A month. I’m not going to get it back at the end, either.


    • I hear you. Companies don’t seem to realize we will happily pay extra and give up other perks if necessary, just for the sheer joy and comfort of dealing with real, local human beings who go the extra mile to help us. Hang onto that ISP! 🙂


  3. LOL! Thanks so much for sharing. I always suspected that was the decision making process, and I will confess to finally giving in to my baser urges and adjusting one poor computer with a sledge hammer. Keep the faith, sister. There has to be a path through this. Good hunting!


  4. OK…if it’s any consolation I was ROFL reading your post because it’s soooo freaking TRUE!! God help us….GOD help us!! Seriously, what is the world coming to?!?! I hope you’ve mastered a way around the issue because if it’s anything like any of the “support” calls we make, you are likely doomed.

    I’ve started hanging up and calling back 200 times until I get someone who speaks English. 1 out of 10 times, that does help. LOL!!


    • After I wrote this, somebody (I can’t remember who) told me you actually have a legal right to ask for a support person in Canada.

      It sounds too good to be true, though. I may have a right to ask, but it doesn’t mean they’re required to comply… ;-p

      Thanks for visiting and commenting!


  5. I started getting infuriated on your behalf just reading your post. Has your blood pressure gone back to normal yet? The term “speechless rage” is perfect, that’s exactly what happens when you’re trapped in automated phone routing hell. I really would respect these companies more if they just came out and said, “We don’t really care at all about our customers, so we’re going to make our customer service as cheap as possible, even if it doesn’t help you one iota.” I’d give them points for honesty, at least.


    • The saddest part is I didn’t even need tech support. I’m a geek, and I’ve done my time in QA. Bug-hunting is what I do. All I wanted was to report the bug and find out when they’d put up a fix.

      Y’know, I’d probably burst out laughing if I actually got an “honest” on-hold message. I’m grinning just thinking about it. 🙂


  6. Those poor SOBs in India earn their few pfenigs the hard way. Quickbooks? Don’t answer that. Fortunately I NEVER had to call them about a problem. I had a friend who used it all the time who knew how to make it work.


  7. I’m surprised your hair isn’t gray yet from all those recent tech frustrations you’ve had. And if they’re frustrating for a tech-savvy person like you, there’s no hope for the rest of us…


    • Yeah, I actually hesitated to write about it – it’s a little too commonplace. I guess at this stage it’s more a matter of laughing at the cliche than at the actual situation. 🙂

      Glad you enjoyed C-a-L – his Fallen Arches series is a blast!


  8. You know, it should be obvious that your repeat business will suffer if your customers routinely throw themselves out the window.


  9. Q: “Please explain why your issue was not resolved.”

    A: “I got some guy who kept asking me about my computer. He wouldn’t even tell me what he looked like or what turned him on. Worst date line ever!”


  10. Ah! I feel your pain. Customer service calls and support service is still within the country…this makes it more fun as I get to scream at them in 2 languages…English and the national language, knowing they would understand both. I truly think you deserve a prize for patience!


    • I actually feel a lot of sympathy for the guy on the other end. He’s doing his best, marooned with no knowledge of the product and a lousy helpdesk database… and after the customers get through the automated phone system, they’re pissed off before he ever talks to them. I don’t think you could pay me enough to do that job.

      But I still go nuts trying to deal with it…


      • True…it can be a thankless job. I usually have this visual of CSRs having a nicotine or caffeine break each time I hear the “Our customer service representatives are busy right now Please hold on as your call is important to us” Sigh…times when I wished I could reach inside the phone, get through the other side and wring the non existent neck of that automated voice.hehe


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