Given the accents of the two people I talked with during my Linksys technical support call, I doubt that they were in Omaha. Which doesn’t bother me. Outsource all you want, Linksys, so long as you can get my WRT54G Wireless Router back up and running.
I became desperate as soon as I turned on my laptop yesterday and saw that no wireless connection was available. “What the hell!” my mind screamed in its least joyous holiday spirit. After only a month I’d become addicted to our WildBlue satellite broadband internet that had rescued us from the tortures of 24kbps dial-up.
I wanted my WildBlue back, and I wanted it now. Running upstairs to the router that sits beneath Laurel’s desk I noted a disturbing blinking power light where previously there had been a steadily shining luminance. Plugging the WildBlue modem cable directly into my wife’s computer, internet access was restored.
The culprit had been identified. Now, I figured, it would “merely” be a matter of waiting on hold for several hours while the holiday-strapped Linksys tech support staff handled all the other similarly-panicked customers who were in the phone queue ahead of me.
I ate a bowl of cereal, went to the bathroom, and grabbed a few magazines, fortifying myself for a lengthy stay in tech support limbo—which hopefully wouldn’t turn into hell.
Amazingly, a woman answered my call almost instantly. I fell into the warm embrace of her Indian-accented voice. My savior! And she had such an appealing way of speaking. I’ve spent a lot of time around Indians. I love their accent. Everything said in an Indian English voice sounds so much more profound and wiser.
I’m convinced that if Deepak Chopra was a good old boy from Alabama his books on tape and television/radio appearances would be a good deal less popular. Heck, I’m ready to become the disciple of our waiter when I go into an Indian restaurant and am asked “Sir, how many roti would you like with your meal?” He just sounds so…classy.
Sadly, my relationship with the Linksys woman, which I had hoped would endure for many pleasant audible tech support minutes, ended when she transferred me to a guy who, she assured me, would be able to help me with my problem.
“Ah, the old bait and switch,” I thought. Have a receptionist answer the phone quickly to get the customer’s hopes up, then let him wait on hold for hours for the actual technical guru.
I was wrong again. Another Indian-accented voice came on the line after just a few minutes. I never understood the name that he gave me several times, so I’ll call him “Arjuna” in honor of the Bhagavad Gita—one of my favorite spiritual books.
Arjuna was unfailingly polite, as I’ve always found Indian tech support people to be. When I owned a balky Dell laptop, it made me feel somewhat better to have someone with an exotic accent in Bombay be unable to fix my problem, as opposed to someone with a bland American accent in Kansas City be unable to fix my problem.
I still had to deal with a computer that crashed a couple of times a day, but at least I had the pleasant memory of being told in an elegant Indian accent “Thank you for calling. I am sure that we have been able to resolve your problem.” No, you haven’t, I soon would find out when my Dell laptop crashed again. However, being bullshitted in such a nice voice took a little bit of the edge off of my frustration.
In the case of Arjuna, he quickly had me on my knees. Literally. It was sort of like phone sex, except without the sex. Arjuna would tell me what to do. “Unplug both ends of the cable that goes into the router’s Ethernet port. Now, go to the computer attached to the modem and click on ‘Start.’” And so on.
If I expressed uncertainty about what I was supposed to do, Arjuna would simply repeat his order in a more dominant tone. “Sir, unplug both ends of the router…” I’d hurry to obey, sometimes with a flashlight in my mouth as I kneeled before the malfunctioning equipment perched on a shadowy shelf under Laurel’s desk.
After half an hour of this I started to get irritated. I couldn’t figure out where Arjuna was heading, and I began to suspect that he didn’t either. I mean, it became pretty clear that he was working off of a tech support script.
A little post-call research on a broadband forum brought me to the realization that my particular router model, the dreaded v.5, has tons of problems compared to earlier versions. So Linksys surely gets many calls about the exact blinking light issue that I had phoned about.
Why, then, couldn’t we have gotten right to a fix rather than engage in (to milk the phone sex analogy for all it’s worth) so much foreplay? I probably wouldn’t have minded being ordered around for 45 minutes by the first female Indian accent, but Arjuna’s voice definitely began to wear thin on me by the time we got to what can only be called the tech support money shot.
“OK, Brian. Unplug the power supply from the router. Now, I want you to get a paperclip or something like that and press on the router’s reset button for thirty seconds.”
Sure, Arjuna. I’ll get on my knees one more time, crawl under the desk, put that damn flashlight in my mouth again, and try to hold the flimsy plastic router in one hand while pressing with my other hand on a tiny recessed button for half a minute while you put your feet up on your desk and sip on a chai brought to you by the lovely sari-clad tech support receptionist who, if my karma and her education only had been better, I would be talking with right now rather than you.
As soon as I plugged the power cord back in the power light stayed solidly lit. I had the feeling that the same thing would have happened 45 minutes earlier after pressing the reset button, but Arjuna and I apparently had to play out his tech support script.
The router is routing fine now. I give high marks to Linksys for having a tech support phone line that is answered quickly by polite people with marvelous accents. I just wish that we’d been able to cut to the chase in a more flexible manner. Like, by me saying what my problem is, and Arjuna telling me directly how to fix it.
If I’m going to spend the better part of an hour on the phone being ordered around by someone with an exotic voice, I’d prefer that my “dominatrix” not be a guy from Linksys tech support.