Tag Archives: call

The 411 on 411………………

I have a teenage son, so in addition to everything else I must accomplish in a day, I am also a chauffeur extraordinaire.  

My son and his friend wanted to see a movie. So I had to decide which was the lesser of two evils – him sitting in a dark room playing Xbox with people who might not really exist – or taking him to a movie with his friend (who happens to really exist) to sit in a dark room and watch characters who definitely do not exist.

Xbox is free – the movie costs money and taking them required me to get off my b.u.t.t. and go out in the heat. So off we go to the movie where I can at least pretend he might have some real-life human interaction.

I drove them to the theater and dropped them off and told them I would be back in 2 hours.

I ran a few quick errands and got back to the parking lot and waited. And waited. And waited some more.

With my keen powers of deductive reasoning, I started to think that the movie might actually be longer than 2 hours.

So, I called information (411) to get the number for said movie theater. And, yes, it was the movie theater that I was parked right in front of and yes, I could have just gotten out (and walked all the way across the street) and simply asked the movie professionals what time the movie was over. And yes, it turns out that would have been m.u.c.h. faster. But that would have left you without the absolute pleasure of reading about my 411 experience. (See the sacrifices I am willing to make for you, dear readers?) Plus it was hot outside. And I (thought I) had technology on my side.

I dialed 411 and was asked the city and state. Told them. Was then asked what listing I wanted. Told them.

Dead silence.

Then this……”Ma’am, there is no listing for that number. Are you sure there is a movie theater there?”

I have to say I was pretty surprised by that answer. If I was looking for a sherpa at the foot of Mt. Everest, I might understand the no listing response. But I was asking for the number of a movie theater – in a pretty big town. Seems that would be kind of a routine request. It seems the 411 operator might have some knowledge of how to find that nugget of info.

I told her I was pretty sure. In fact, I was sitting right in front of it.

She checked again and started to believe that either aliens had either abducted the movie theater and taken it back to their home planet or I was nuts.

But she simply said, “Ma’am, I cannot find that listing.”

I know that the price of 411 calls has gone up, so I said, “you won’t charge me for this call, right?”

“Uhm, Ma’am, when you call four-one-one, you are actually paying for the service not the results of that service. Yes, we will still be charging you.”

Excuse me?

So, you basically call me a liar, liar, pants on fire for asking for a number that (according to you) does not exist – you do not give me said number – and you are going to charge me for service? Did I miss something?

“Yes, you are paying us to look up the number – whether or not we find it. I can transfer you to our service department if you would like.”

That would be marvelous.

I got transferred to a new chickadee who could also not find the number. I also asked her if I would be charged for the call.

“Yes. You are paying for the service.”

Got it.

I showed great restraint and did not ask her which  dictionary (or language) she was using to define “service” because not giving me what I asked for me and then charging me for it does not really equal “service” in my dictionary or my wallet.

I asked for a manager and the second chickadee told me she could transfer me to 611 – their customer service department. Being a customer who would like some actual service, I asked her to transfer away.

Then I heard “beep, transferring your call to 611” – and then – and no, I am not kidding – “your call cannot be completed as dialed.” And then another beep.

Seriously.

The bottom line here is that two different 411 operators could not find the number for a movie theater in a major metropolitan area and one  of them was incapable of pushing three numbers on her phone and following it up with hitting “send” effectively and I was going to get charged – wait for it – one dollar and seventy nine cents for their “service”.

Deep cleansing breath.

My blackberry has a web2go feature – so I entered (correctly) the search terms: movie…. theater….name of the major metropolitan area… and wahlah – the name, number, address, and movie listings came up for said theater.

After calling the number and asking when the movie was over and doing some pretty high level math, I realized I was an hour early for movie pickup.

Fabulous.

Plenty of time to call TMobile and ask again why I was being charged to not get a telephone number.

TMobile was all loverly. That spunky little chickadee even said – and I quote – it doesn’t really make sense that they could not find the number of a movie theater in a major city. That isn’t very helpful is it? (Yes, I think I love her.)

She held my hand and dabbed my wallet and told me she could remove the charge.

Now we’re talking.

And to fully absolve TMobile of any wrongdoing, she kindly explained that 411 is its very own entity and calls are not routed through or in any way handled by TMobile. And it turns out that you do in fact get charged whether or not they give you a number – and even if they give you a wrong number.

But it also turns out that you can call your carrier and have that charge removed.

I heart TMobile. 411 – not so much!

Outsourced……….blech…..

I was so excited for the premiere of the new tv show Outsourced and was absolutely bummed when my son’s back to school night was scheduled for the same night. Honestly, you would think the school administration would be a little more sensitive to my tv viewing preferences and be a little more careful to not create conflicts between my parenting and entertainment priorities. But no – they weren’t  – Outsourced aired right in the middle of my session of 8th grade math. Hpmf.

But the techno gods have been generous and blessed us with tivo capabilities. So, all is in sync in the parenting and hollywood worlds.

Last night, I finally got to see Outsourced – the new NBC comedy about an American manager running a call center in India. Frankly, they should have outsourced the production, writing, and editing. Blech. Let’s remember that I did offer my assistance. They should have taken me up on it. Who knows, maybe they still will. 😉 The Executive Producers are Robert Borden, Ken Kwapis, Victor Nelli, Jr., Tom Gorai, and David Skinner – just in case you are reading along fellows, you can contact me at AReasonToWrite (at) gmail (dot) com.

There wasn’t much about it that was realistic – even worse, there wasn’t much that was funny. And yes, I understand you are supposed to suspend reality and just laugh. But I just spent the past year and a half of my life living it and there is a lot that has laugh potential without being insulting. A lot. There is the line at the post office and the puja and oh, so much more.

I am not always great with chronology so I might not get my complaints in exact order but it doesn’t really matter.

The first big misstep was that the American manager went to work in a rickshaw. Beyond the fact that the rickshaw scene was very poorly done, an outsourced manager in India would very likely be driven to work by a driver. They just ruled out about 3 hilarious episodes by leaving out the driver and his very real side (splitting) story. Having a driver in India is part of the experience and it adds a whole new dimension to life abroad. It is so foreign to the way most Americans navigate through their day in the U.S. Maybe the manager should have tried to drive himself somewhere – now that would be funny. Very funny. Or try to communicate with a driver whose English is not exactly up to snuff – like here. Or try to find the zoo – like here.

However, my biggest criticism is the Outsourced character of the big Sikh guy who just looks intimidating and totally ticked off. Too easy. It’s (horrible) stereotyping. It’s ridiculous. And based on the Sikhs I met, it’s largely inaccurate. Many are actually gentle giants in many respects. Their temples all have kitchens and they feed absolutely anyone in need for free. I wrote about the Golden Temple here, where they feed over 100,000 people a day.

And then a cow appeared in the front office window. Really? A cow? That’s all you’ve got? Sure, cows roam the streets – but really? Again, way too easy. They should have at least made it a monkey (more realistic in front of an office window) or a camel or an elephant. At least that would have been unexpected. And not to be nit-picky but the cow in the window was way too fat.

On to the minor inaccuracies. All the desks are lovely, spread out, and nicely decorated with picture frames. Yeah. Not gonna happen. Call centers operate on shifts. And for obvious reasons, they try to get as many people in a room as they can (just like in U.S. offices). In the real world, two to three workers would rotate sitting at a desk during a 24-hour period. So there would be no personalizing your workspace. And it is highly unlikely that the boss would be sitting in the same room as the call center employees.

The Indian manager was wearing suspenders. I don’t think I ever saw an Indian man in India in a set of suspenders – I am not saying it didn’t happen – but I call malarkey. Or at least bad editing.

The company in the tv show sells novelty items – some of which are a bit risque. My experience with Indians is that they are very modest people. At one point in the show, the American manager is explaining the “value” of a mistletoe belt to the staff at the call center. How it works – why you would put mistletoe on a belt. Yeah, that would be totally inappropriate and awkward. Later in the episode, he shows the staff a plaque with a replica of a woman’s chest (read boobs) on it that jingles when a song is played. Maybe it was called Jingle Boobs – I had mostly tuned out at that point, so I probably didn’t get the name right. But please. A female employee at the call center laughs at the novelty item. I just really have a hard time believing that would be a typical response. Even most American women would not exactly be amused.

If it was Al and Peggy Bundy get Outsourced, it might have been chuckle-worthy. But it wasn’t about Married with Children hits India and it wasn’t funny.

The one thing that was funny was the food in the cafeteria but only because they made another (way too) easy joke about what we used to call Delhi Belly. When you are not used to spicy foods, you do have to be careful what you eat – and of course that is true of anywhere – not just in India. And some Indian food is super spicy and it can upset your belly. And it can be funny – when it happens to someone else – and someone else who knows better and laughs when they put it in his/her mouth and jokes “what’s the worst that can happen?”. That is what I call “famous last words”. Which are often followed by Montezuma’s Revenge and a quick re-enactment of the fabled Murphy’s Law.

So, for what it’s worth (and I realize that is nothing), I was left very unimpressed. I do, however, remain very willing to offer ideas and suggestions. 😉

Skype, Skype, baby…

Do you know about this service – first of all – it’s free – yippee – and second of all, it basically lets you talk via the computer with anyone else with a computer (think conference call) – yep, no matter where they are. Even in India. And, if both parties have a camera on their computer (and are willing to turn it on), you can see who you are talking to (think video conference call). It’s very cool. And it is why I can still remember what number one hubby looks like. 😉

Anywho, you can subscribe to the service (did I mention, it’s free) at www.skype.com. If you decide to sign up, please let me know your contacts login – we can keep up!

On another note – I added a subscription link to my blog – it’s on the top of the column on the left-hand side (it’s under the heading “subscribe to this blog” – yes, I am very clever). If you click on the link and enter your email address – you will get an email when I add a post. You will have to confirm your subscription in your email – it’s easy, schmeasy to do. And, that way, you won’t miss a thing!