Scripted Insincerities

I resent needing to tolerate glaring lies from strangers in order to get my computer fixed.

When I dial an 800 number for computer tech-support, I'm not being tricked into thinking the call is local, or even national. I realize that my call is relayed by satellite to ring a phone in India, the Philippines, or some other country where people, trained in English, are reading from basic technical, troubleshooting scripts and flowcharts intended to help me fix my technical issue for pennies on the dollar.

My annoyance is not that technical support jobs have gone "offshore." Like it or not, this system of technical support is cost-efficient, usually effective, and has become the norm in big-name technology support. It is here (actually, there) to stay, so it is time to get used to it.

My peeve is that such tech-support people are trained to lie to me. The nationality or race of a person helping me by phone makes absolutely no difference to me. When I call for help and a thick, difficult-to-understand, accented voice answers and tells me his name is "Chuck" or her name is "Suzy," I could be wrong, but I think we may be dealing an honesty problem. I'm betting that Suzy was assigned her name for the sake of "client satisfaction." Claiming a fake, American-sounding name may be intended to make me feel more comfortable, but it bugs me in the context of technical support. I'm not fooled and when my computer is broken, my coping skills are already turned up high. Such a weak attempt to manipulate my perception only makes an uncomfortable situation worse.

Don't the tech-support bosses realize that I couldn't care less about which name my support person has? If I can't pronounce the name I'll refer to him as "Sir" or to her as "Ma'am." If the person helps me resolve my computer problem, any name will receive my emphatic thanks!

After the "name lie," Suzy or Chuck will read, [spoken monotone with no punctuation] "Mr. Neil first of all let me say that I am very sorry that you are having technical difficulty today and I certainly apologize for the inconvenience..."

There's nothing wrong with a little sympathy; I sympathize with my clients' every day but I don't read it from a screen. I wish Chuck would just try to help my computer feel better, not me.

I know this practice of assigning pseudonyms and then forcing technical staff to read statements of fake sympathy has my comfort as a goal. But, in my case, such a weak trick backfires and makes my eyes roll.

I'm tempted to turn the tables on my next technical support call. Maybe I'll practice pronouncing a difficult-to-pronounce name and then claim it. Isn't tech support required to say your name at the beginning of each sentence? Then I will tell "Billy" or "Mary" how thrilled I am to have the honor of speaking with him or her and offer my "sincere" apologies that I didn't call sooner.

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