Well now... last week's column seems to have rattled a few cages - and led a few of you to grab hold of the wrong end of the stick. When I complained about the rudeness of the BT woman from India, I was not in any way annoyed because she was coming at me from offshore; I was annoyed because she was aggressive, rude and patronising. Now, whether someone else had been racist or rude to her before she got to me is rather beside the point. If she's representing a company in its interactions with customers then she shouldn't take her anger with her onto her dealings with another.
Incidentally, I notice with some amusement that the national media have picked up on the fact that BT is now ordering its call centre staff in India to hassle people to pay their phone bills rather than send out final reminders. This is what happened to me. According to BT, this is not intended to be an intimidating process or an alarming one. Well, let me tell you BT, if I was a little old lady somewhere who got a call like I received from Mrs Rude of downtown New Dehli, then I'd have been fairly freaked out. If it's not your intention to intimidate customers (duck, flying pig squadron overhead!) than you need to go back and re-examine your training procedures!
My point last week was rather that if CEOs and CFOs at UK companies are so convinced that going offshore is such a good corporate business decision, then have the conviction to stand up and justify it in public rather than acting as though it's some grubby secret. Otherwise we're all going to assume that it is indeed some grubby little act to cut costs.
The point was reinforced this week when I set out to write a feature on call centres. After a rash of interest from various PRs keen to push their clients into the publication in question, there was a mass pouring away of interest from them when they realised their clients would have to talk about the Indian aspect of their call centre operations. So I say again: put up or shut up! Is it something to boast about to your peers and your shareholders? Then it's something to boast about to your customers! Surely?
As it happens, Mrs Rude of New Delhi has lost her top slot in the Worst Call Centre Experience league this week to a bunch of moronic individuals at some cowboy tele-sales outfit in Crawley who have had four different people call me at 7.30pm each night this week. I've no idea what they're selling. When I told the second caller to take my name off their list, she sneered at me and said I'd have to get a form from them and put a request in writing to have that done.
I asked Tuesday night's caller where they had sourced my number from. He told me I'd agreed to be called. Now, I never tick the 'please call/send me more info' box and do tick the 'leave me alone I've better things to do than listen to your shabby sales pitch' box, so unless this "agreement" was in microscopic writing on the back of some form, he's lying. And, I still wanted to know where they got my number, so I asked for his supervisor. He put the phone down on me. I tried 1471 to call back and speak to someone senior but the number was blocked.
I put the phone down on last night's call as soon as he began to talk. He phoned me back at once telling me I was rude for not listening. I put the phone down again. He rang back and asked me what was wrong with cold calling and didn't I realise he had a family to feed! Shabby, grubby and probably illegal in their conduct - I'd love to hear from anyone else who's had any similar experience. It's time we put a stop to this sort of thing once and for all.
Share your experiences by adding a comment to this story. Click the 'Add your own comment' below.
News & Analysis Editor