When to hang up on an overseas call center

It happens to all of us. We pick up the phone to call a company, and find ourselves talking to “Joe” in Bangalore. Now what?

I deal with customers who had to work with someone in an overseas call center every day. While many are happy, a fair number come away from the call feeling frustrated and misunderstood.

Here are a few times when you should end the call and either call back (and hopefully get through to someone in the States) or send an email:

1. If you can’t understand the person. Nothing personal, but if you are unable to communicate with the person on the other end of the line, there’s no point in continuing the call. Politely terminate the conversation.

2. When they’re stuck in a script. Overseas call centers work with a lot of scripts and decision-trees. Meaning that for every problem there’s a scripted “solution.” If you’re dealing with someone who is not listening to you, but instead reading from a script, maybe it’s time to end the call.

3. When cultural barriers are too high to continue. Sometimes, culture gets in the way of a resolution. For example, during one tech support call with my better half, a representative asked her to hand the phone to “the man of the house.” (Before she ended the call, she briefly considered giving the phone to our one-year-old son.) It’s better to cut your loss and try calling the company back.

Important note: Never ever slam down the phone in anger. It’s better to say that something has come up (which is true) and that you’ll call back. Cursing at the call center worker will ensure your behavior is noted in your file, which unnecessarily complicates things.

Related story:   What's your favorite way to communicate when you're away? Here's ours

(Photo: Jonathan Cohen/Flickr Creative Commons)

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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