I had been up and working on my computer a couple of hours on Saturday, when suddenly I had no internet connection. I knew what to do. Around 3 years ago, we bought our first desktop computer, and for many months we had nearly continual grief. The company, Dell, was gracious, and at first we communicated only by phone and through the computer–at least when the computer was well enough to be involved in its own healing.
The first thing any technician would tell us was: Turn off the computer, unplug and replug everything. Finally, though, after repeated failure of the computer, and since we had bought insurance that guaranteed on-site technicians, the company sent men to our house. More than once they came–installing new mother boards, new hard drives, new memory…new this and new that. Said sick and disabled computer would work awhile, then we would get the feared signs: the dreaded blue boxes, and “this page can’t be displayed. ”
There was talk of replacing the computer. I heard mutters of, “It must be Verizon,” and we were sent there, they walked us through their little pinging tests, and said, “No, it is the computer.”
I was ready to anoint with oil and lay hands on this computer!
At last, a year and a half ago, the repair was performed that has given us seamless service since then; a new power cord was installed.
But first, long before we had worked up to the power cord, we had analyzed, scrutinized, plugged, pinged, dinged and unplugged our way through the entire country of India. Support for our computer company and for our internet provider is outsourced to India, and well did we come to know that fascinating and mysterious land.
At first it was I who spent hours on the phone, then finally when I was so exasperated at plugging and unplugging cords, tapping keys, turning on, turning off, while at the same time trying to maintain a modicum of patience and good sense, as my ears and head struggled to understand the English that the sweet people from India spoke, Jerry took over. We had to love them–the Indians–for were they not our saviours, and they were polite, and repeatedly said, “Yes, Mrs. Buxton, Yes, Jerry, I will fix your problem today. Do not worry. I can help you. I will make you happy.”
Jerry spent uncountable hours–day and night–with his Indian girls, as I began to call them. He was so patient, sometimes sitting with the receiver to his ear for hours. He had direct numbers to call, and through the night as Jerry slept, “…we will be working on your little problem, Mr. Buxton.”
So Saturday, when my internet spot on this globe disappeared into some kind of black hole, I knew the first step. Turn off the computer. Unplug, then plug again everything. Check. I was crawling around on the floor, finding all the cords, pulling, pushing, then clicking the on switch again. Check. Nothing….except This page can’t be displayed. The server cannot be located. Try later. Check your firewall…. Check. Check. Plug, unplug, ignore the computer, turn my back on it, check, check, plug, unplug. Nothing. Nada.
I pulled on my geeky hat, and performed computer tricks. Defrag? “Doesn’t need it,” the little sign said.(I knew that had nothing to do with the internet, but what could it hurt?) Run AVG again. No viruses. Tried Windows little repair gadget, but it said it couldn’t finish. Something about the IP number and that my administrator should be notified. Well, that was no help, as either Jerry or I is the administrator—and what a sad state of affairs is that.
That was the extent of my technical expertise, and I just was not going to deal with India. I’m a pretty flexible person, will pitch in and help when it is needed, but technical stuff drives me batty in the first place, and when I can’t understand what someone is saying to me….well, I just wasn’t going to do it. We’ll call out a technician, I decided.
I had told Jerry about it as he left to go down to San Bernardino. When he returned around 6:00 in the evening, he inquired as to the state of the patient. “Sick, very sick,” I sadly reported.
So, then, it was Jerry’s turn to crawl around on the floor. He plugged, unplugged, fumed, Christian cussed, and muttered. Finally he picked up the phone, dialed Verizon…..and was wisked away to his girls in India.
1. “It is not a Verizon problem, Mr. Buxton,” she said. “We will connect you to your computer company.”
2. “It is not the computer, Mr. Buxton,” another Indian sweetie said to him. “You must call Verizon.” Gave him a case number…and wished him a good night.
3. Sunday morning Jerry called Patrick, our friend who is a computer guru…told him the scenario…and Patrick walked Jerry through the routine. “It’s not the computer. You need to call Verizon.”
4. “Good Day, how may we help you?” came the cheery, nearly undecipherable Verizon voice from India.
In an aside Jerry spoke to me. “She is the most difficult one to understand I have had.”
5. It was a long chunk of time as Jerry typedin commands, then relayed the responses to his technician. Finally, she said. “You need to unplug your router.”
Jerry was so frustrated by now, and the router cords were hard to get to that he asked her. “Do you have a direct number where I may call you back. This will take awhile.”
“I will wait.”
“Okay, if you don’t mind waiting”…and by now my patient (in this incident :)) husband was huffing and puffing and…but finally he had done the deed. “Okay,” he spoke to her. “The modem is unplugged.”
6. “Type in these commands.” Jerry clacked away and soon she had established a new internet connection. Suddenly, Jerry said, “Here’s Goggle. We’re on!”
Before Jerry returned from his trip to India, I observed a smiley face as he talked into the telephone and heard friendliness in his voice. He spoke to her of recommendations and, smart cookie that she was, soon had her supervisor on the line. I heard Jerry voicing compliments about her handling of the job.
The discussing of outsourcing will elicit various opinions–some quite positive and others of a negative tone. I’ve included a timely article for your consideration.
I certainly want to acknowledge that the reason telephone and computer companies outsource, and choose India (and others such as Pakistan) for much of their technical support is because those people are extremely intelligent. In addition, they are sweet and polite. Ask Jerry. He knows.
Pune, India, is coming to rival Bangalore as a foreign destination for U.S. technology companies, including several from Northern Virginia. (Andrea Bruce — The Washington Post)
India’s New Faces of Outsourcing
High-Level Technicians Lead a Transcontinental Shift in Business Culture
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 11, 2006; Page A01
PUNE, India — Before he supervised teams, wooed American clients over dinner or sat in a Northern Virginia boardroom alongside U.S. executives, Constancio Fernandes wrote computer code for a living.
That’s how it started in the late 1990s — American businesses ordered up software applications, and Indian programmers such as Fernandes dutifully delivered. But somewhere along the way, Fernandes became more confident and outspoken. He began questioning the Americans and suggesting cheaper, faster ways to run their businesses. They listened.
More of the Washington Post article here.