Dealing with Overseas Customer Service or Please, come up with more original names!

When I was a kid, I collected comic books. In the storage room of my house, carefully inserted in plastic sleeves and in numerical and alphabetical order, I have boxes and boxes of comics. If it was published between 1975 and 1995, I probably have it or had it at one time in those boxes, carefully preserved and accrueing value. At times, I have sold some of these comics, mainly to make room but more for the need of money at one time or another. The summer before I went to school in England, I spent almost every sunday at my own table at a flea market, selling off duplicate copies of some of my more treasured pieces in my collection. I made $1000 just from those! I was a a happy guy! So, along with this collection, I have an encyclopedic knowledge of the history and characters of the Marvel and DC universes.

So today, one of the first things I had to do at work was call GM for an in-service date for a 2007 Grand Prix that I was stocking into our system. I call these companies every day to get in-service dates so we can know if we do any work to the vehicles, we can claim it under the factory warranty. During the week, I know that if I call during business hours, I will almost always get an American call center, but on the weekends, I know it’s a crap shoot. One of the common practices of the foreign call centers is the “Anglosized Name Change”. We have all encountered this. Someone with an obviously thick Indian accent saying “Thank you for calling chevrolet, dees ees ‘Bob Smeeth’, How may I assist you?”. I will never understand this practice, I know it’s to put the caller at ease, that they are talking to someone who will understand and be able to address their concerns, but come on? why the fake name? Just tell it like it is and move on. We are all in on this particular joke.

Anyway, so here is the conversation I just had:

“Hello, This is Reed Richards, How may I assist you?”

“I’m sorry, what was your name again??”

“Reed Richards.”

“From the Fantastic Four??”


“How are Sue, Johnny and Ben doing today?”

“I’m sorry sir, this is Chevrolet is there something I can help you with?”

This is when I realized that my geekiness had just made me an asshole. Here is this poor guy, just trying to do his job and I’m calling out for naming himself after a superhero. I suddenly felt like Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons, eagerly correcting and scolding those around me who were clueless to the history of my past comic book obsession. Resigned to my prickishness, I allowed him to walk me through his entire script rather than explain that I have called a million times and all I want is the in-service date.

Yes, we buy lots of these at auction.

No, really? an open re-call? I’ll get right on that.

No, thank YOU for getting me that in-service date.

Humbled, I hung up the phone and started doing some real work, hoping I don’t offend anyone else today…….


24 responses to “Dealing with Overseas Customer Service or Please, come up with more original names!

  1. I heard from someone that used to do some training over there that at the place he was at they would draw names from a fish bowl at the start of the day, and they’d have all kinds of crazy names. “My name is Neo, how can I help you” and stuff like that. And that sometimes they guys would end up with chick names, but I guess they weren’t aware of it, because it wouldn’t stop them from “My name is Susie, how can I help you” which I’m sure had to crack callers up. I can see where you would feel a bit guilty after your laugh. As if being laughed at wasn’t bad enough, they’re not even really sure why you’re laughing. The humor gets lost in translation. 😕 Mmmm… Oh well. 🙂 Play nice now. 😉

  2. This is pretty funny. I didn’t know they used fake names, of course I don’t call places like that too much. I used to have verizon and they were notorious for out sourcing their call center work and all I can say is it was one of the reasons I changed my phone service. I could not understand what they were saying and although I demanded they put someone on who could speak english clearly it never happened.

  3. PETER – I’ve heard some of those same stories from different corporate people inside Ford when they go in for ‘outsourcing training’.

    LUCKY – Yeah, I’m a big embarassed comic book geek.

    DDTD – Most of these call centers, you can demand an American call center and they usually will transfer you.

  4. A few months ago I called my credit card company to close my account. The person with whom I initially spoke had a thick foreign accent (I’ve had the anglo name switch thing occur before, but not this time). I told him that I wanted to cancel my card and I got transferred to a woman who spoke very clear English. I wonder if they have some secret policy for who handles the quitters.

  5. My husband is a big comic book geek. I talked to Peter Parker once. It’s nice to know that superheroes are just like you and me.

  6. Haha, you prick!!! (just joking 😉 )

    Whenever I get on the phone with one of these “Bob Smeeth” types, they recognize my Indian last name and try to small-talk me about Bollywood stars and my parents village of birth…awesome times 😉

  7. MATT – On thursday, I got the following “Thank you for calling Chrysler, this is Leeah Organa, how may I help you?” (think star wars…) I wish I could make shit up like this….*sighs* I put her on speakerphone and she repeated her name for the salesmen around me….

  8. Indeed, Happy Birthday, hope you have a great one full of joy and surrounded by females who behave inappropriately! 😉

  9. Duffboy – my geekiness seeps through no matter what I do… 🙂

    Lucky – Thank you thank you thank you!

    Romi – I lived up to your message, however, the women I was with did not behave innapropriately with me…*sighs* story of my life….

  10. Nicely..NICELY done my new blogging friend.

    Glad I found you. You write woonderfully!

    Being an old broad and from Texas, I tend to ask before I simply shove someone’s name on my blogroll, so may I?

    I’ll revert back to Junior High..

    Do you like me? Yes/No (Circle one)


  11. The great thing about women is that they don’t need a birthday to act inappropriately, so just expect it to happen any old day 😉

  12. Shucks, sorry I missed your birthday. Here is a belated (((hug)))

    As to the Bob Smeeths out there… OY, I am growing more and more persnicketty about repeating myself to those who cannot understand my Southern accent and asking the Bob Smeeths to repeat themselves because I cannot understand their’s.

  13. Soooo….do you mean you want me to have a pep talk with your female friends and bring out the “fun whore” in them? OR do you want me to hook up with your male friends? Either way I’m game….LOL…I love how I’m “all talk and no action”, hahaha 😉

  14. Romi – all my male friends are hooked up or married…I’m the odd one in the bunch…
    all talk and no action: well, not like I’m in the next town over: coming here involves a passport, hours of travelling, etc, not exactly a quick drive to come visit… 🙂 so talk all you want, my friend, I enjoy the enthusiasm… heehe

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