I tried connecting to the net earlier this evening when I noticed that the link and data indicators on the modem were off.It has happened before and when reported the guys at customer support asked me to switch it off , wait for a while and switch it back on and it was back to business. I pride myself on a being a smart computer user and prefer to fix known problems myself where possible. I tried switching the modem off a couple of times but the problem this time seemed more complex. So I called customer support. After dialing 1 for English and 2 for Internet related problem and 2 again for modem problem, I was informed that I was about to be connected to a service executive and that the call was being recorded and may be used for their internal training purposes. Finally a human voice was heard enquiring politely about the nature of my problem that had caused me to brave the call. I get frazzled dealing with pre-recorded voices. Basically I am the type who, when faced with a problem, likes to dial the number, state my problem and have it fixed asap. Not for me an IVR system - 'if this, press this else, press that' and so on. (It is actually worse with telebanking where you have to enter 13 digit account numbers and card numbers apart from having to listen to an enthusiastic voice telling you about all their innovative products which you most probably don't need)

Anyway where was I? Ok, I finally got a kind, human voice assuring me that it was all going to be fine but only if I would permit him to place me on hold while he went away to investigate the problem. As if I had a choice! And so he went away while I was being enticed with possibilities of a ticket to Bangkok or a new smart Swift car if I paid my bill on time. After I had heard this over 20 times in continuous succession, there came another human voice thanking me for waiting and repeating my problem in accurate detail.
Am I speaking to Mrs so and so from number such and such, modem model such and such and is this the nature of the problem you reported?
(What next? will I be asked to swear on the Bhagavad Gita?)But I only said "that's correct."
This was the conversation that followed:
Voice at other end (VOE): Are all the four lights on the modem on?
Me: No, the link and data ones are off.
VOE:Did you recently make any changes to your computer and modem connections?
Me: No.
VOE: Other than the modem do you see a small white box?
By now he was speaking to me like a fireman trying to rescue a three year old locked inside a bathroom with a gun. Clearly enunciating every word so there is no misunderstanding.
I wanted to ask "you mean the ADSL inline filter?" but I was beginning to enjoy this so I played along. "yes, the white box, it is there."
VOE: can you see that there are three points for connection?
Me: (without even bothering to look at the box) Ya line, modem and phone.
(if only he knew the number of times I have plugged and unplugged these while moving the laptop and modem between rooms)
VOE: Now please don't remove anything but just check and tell me if there are cords leading from all three lines.
Me: (Hey, stop being so condescending. Don't you make allowances for basic intelligence when you deal with customers? Check if cables are connected indeed. what next? check if power is switched on?)
Bending under the table,pulling out the white box and staring at it in shock, disbelief, shame in that order.
(into the telephone)The cord connecting to the modem has fallen off.(possible suicide attempt? fallen off, ha!) I've connected it now. Thank you very much.
VOE: ( displaying no obvious emotion) please connect the modem and tell me if all the 4 lights are on and confirm that your net connection is working madam.
Me:(very subdued and distracted) yes, I have, they are, it does. Thank you.
VOE: Thank you for calling customer service. Have a good day.
And I bet they filed the recorded conversation for the training session titled "customer may always be right but not always bright."

Anyone for a training on making a complete idiot of oneself while leaving evidence in a recorded conversation?
28 Responses
  1. Altoid Says:

    Heh. Awww Usha. Trust me, there arent very sharp tools on the other side of the call. And while its definitely annoying, the way they try to sound like they are speaking to 10 yr olds, most times, if its anything more complicated than checking cables, lights, reboot etc....they themselves can be easily stumped. So, fret not :D, its all good.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    :-) Halfway through the article, when you talked about being frustrated at being spoken to like a ten year-old, I was planning to write a comment telling you how so many of such callers make basic mistakes like the power being off! (Have heard hilarious stories from friends/colleagues who work in customer support.)

    ROFL after reading the punchline of your post! Yes, these things happen to the best of us sometimes, don't they? :-)

  3. Hip Grandma Says:

    You are better than me.Really.I once opened the dickey (spelling?)of my scootie with the ignition key and forgot to place it back.I tried to auto start,kick start tried every trick I could think of and finally took it to a mechanic who politely pointed out that the key was not in its rightful place.At least you were dealing with a telephonic voice I was face to face with a mechanic but dared not face him.I could almost hear him mutter 'why to these ladies even want to ride -no-drive a scooty when they do not know that the key is required to start the engine?' Do I need to say that I ran away from the place as fast as I could?

  4. Anonymous Says:


    Happens to everybody. :) The thing of it is, how do these things happen when we have checked and re-checked everything!!!! Baffling, no? :)

  5. ~nm Says:

    Hehehe...what a situation. I've gone through this so many times when I have this air of know-it-all and a few seconds later that air vanishes away into thin air when I see I have overlooked some trivial things and then I feel like such a dud!! :)

  6. Serendipity Says:

    Awwww :) Usha how cute you are :)
    hehehhe @ I could picture each and evry detail , especially the shock and the subdued part !
    But today started off bad :(, I came all the way till Airport road and realised Id left my laptop at home! Thats a total of 2 hours of non stop riding!
    And when I get back I get to read this post, nice !

  7. Anonymous Says:

    Take it easy, Ushaji. Happens to all of us, sometimes!


  8. Gauri Says:

    :-) Happens ... Happens :-)

    Oh and BTW, it is so irritating talking to machines, is it not ?

  9. Anonymous Says:

    Ah, customer service (or the lack of)! BTW, there is an actual acronym for these errors - its called 'PEBCAK' - the 'Problem Exists Between the Chair and the Keyboard'. :)

  10. Anonymous Says:

    Is this frm Ingr BSNL?

  11. Savani Says:

    hahahahaha. good one. And like Devaki, I was about to write in my comments that most service calls are for simple errors like these! Good read hough. Still laughing :)

  12. dipali Says:

    It happens to the best of us, Usha.
    Feels good to know that one is not alone:)

  13. Cee Kay Says:

    I have been on both the sides of the customer support experience so I can (usually) empathise with a customer support person. This was just priceless :P And yes, you can be sure they added this one to their "Possible scenarios" database for training new employees :P

    Now you can understand the frustration we desktop support people sometimes feel :D Specially when the person at the other end thinks we are just trying to make their lives difficult by making them look under the table :P At least you didn't curse them out (loud) :P. And believe me there ARE customers who need to be walked through all steps (including "Look for the round button in front that is marked 'Power' and press it ONCE" LOL!) like a 10 year old. Heck, 10 year olds are more tech savvy than them. And the customer service agents have no way of knowing that you aren't one.

  14. ggop Says:

    You have to see an episode of The IT Crowd. The IT support always answers the phone (regardless of the question/problem) like this "Hello IT. Have you tried turning it off and on again?"

  15. Anonymous Says:

    Usha, look at it this way. Thank God the issue turned out to be this simple. That's EXACTLY why it was solved so quickly :)

    If it had been anything more complicated that could not be resolved by (i) reattaching the cables or (ii) repeated resetting of the modem, trust me, the numskulls reading out of printed instructions would never be able to solve it. You would be pretty much on your own. Trust me, I've been there :(

  16. Anonymous Says:

    That was a great writeup. Appreciate the honesty at which you have written the way as is..It reminded me the days when my little brother used to explain those things that would happen in his school and justify why his teacher was not so good etc., etc.,

    "if only he knew the number of times I have plugged and unplugged these while moving the laptop and modem between rooms"

    -- Is that from BSNL?? If you use laptop then no point in plugging it at a point, instead you can avail a wireless connection through type 2 modem. Not too sure if you have type1 modem. You may go for the second one(either replace it or buy a new one).. I think the price difference is 600 and I feel its worth as it frees you with all such nuisances.. The connection will be only once and the NET connects as soon as your laptop is ON, and searches the signal... :-)

  17. LOL
    YOu tech savvy- you much better off than me. I get very frazzled whenever anyone asks me anything about my pc. And the scenario you described happens to me quite frequently, only it is the husband on the other end- I dunno whether that's better or worse!

    This post somehow reminds me of the one where you set out to the BSNL office LOL!

  18. WhatsInAName Says:

    lol :)
    That was funny... and I feel all the more close to you now, having been there and done that many times! Like JLT says, many a times its the hubby at the other end hehehe
    I am completely with you on the preference of human interaction than an IVR!

  19. rajk Says:

    Amazingly well-written piece! The twist-in-the-tail was superb...COnsidered publishing it somewhere?

  20. Opal Scraps Says:

    yes actually there DO exist such characters who really never even care to know whats that "thing" they are using to access net and when they face a prob, call f1, poor CS executives have to go through all that torture of making them understand what "light" they are talking about..

  21. Vivek Says:

    have you seen the advert on tv about birla 'some' insurance where the guy beats his monitor whereas the plug to the monitor is off :-)
    Happens happens to all of us. There are L1/L2/L3 levels of support. We basically deal with the L1 level of support whose expertise is also on pretty much similar lines as you describe - so you cannot blame them. The poor guy is just doing his job.

    Good writing style - enjoyed reading it.

  22. Lavs Says:

    Murphy’s law always catches up. I have this weird problem with my Tata indicom phone-whenever I am connected to internet, if somebody operates a switch in that room, my phone would get disconnected!!! Having identified this unique problem, I managed to convince Tata indicom service guys to pay me a visit and check their equipment. When they arrived, no matter how many times I operated on switches, internet did not get disconnected:-I am sure they must have considered me as one looney lady. Till date, I laugh about this incident and not to forget this peculiar problem still persists in my phone.

  23. Anonymous Says:


    *still giggling

    happens happens!! not to worry.. I have made an idiot of myself.. so many times.. and they say I am supposed to be god with computers..hmm.. thats my field of study you see..

    *still giggling

  24. Usha Says:

    altoid:yes but that I ended up being that character you guffaw about in emails still hurt. Next time someone sends me a blonde joke I may not laugh.

    Devaki:Ya I recollected all those times I had laughed at people not bothering to check the basics before shouting for support. And then, this.

    Hipgran: hahahaha. Now that really helped. To know that I am not alone.

    Chitra: ya they can happen even when you have checked but here I was super confident and then...

    nm:you got the exact picture. All that air odf superiority and irritation and then the fall!

    Seren:hehehe indeed. I could have shot myself then! the laptop, poor girl and in this bangalore traffic.

    Ravi:Ya I know. i am glad I can laugh about it. :)

    Gauri:happens huh? looks like I make these happen. :)
    oh ya don't get me started on communicating with voices without a soul.

    VIVIV: heheheh I love that pebcak. Thank god it is not between the B and V (brain and voice!)

    Anon: this was airtel.

    choxbox: ya laugh laugh!

    Dotmom:And to think that the guy got away with such a simple thing and got to have his laugh also - makes my blood boil. hehehe

    Dipali: YOu don't know how good that makes me feel. You always have the nicest words for people dipali.

    GTN:uhoh you reckon that they will use it to the amusement of a whole class of greenhorns? oh my god oh my god!
    I used to head the support division for a banking software and I can give you horror stories of the kind of issues raised. Once I got a panic call around 9 in the evening saying interest has not been calculated for so many account. it turns out that they had not keyed in an interest rate!
    I love that bit about looking around for the power button and pressing it only once.

    ggop: I am not sure if we get that here in India although I have feeling I would love it.

    lekhni:now that is what I call a true friend - i cannot explain how good I feel right now!

    Veena: Ya I intend to get a wireless connection. I used to keep removing the connection to the modem if I was using the laptop in bed (watching films etc) and sometimes I take the modem and laptop to the adjacent room and connect from there to the "white box".

    JLT: Ya, I don't know if it is better or worse - a husband may never let you forget the incident.
    Ah what was I doing in BSNL? Ok you mean the time I went to the KEB office to surrender my phone. hehehehe

    WIN: Welcome to the neighbourhood WIN. you were missed.

    rajk:This is the only place I publish anything. I am glad you liked it but didn't require any skill for that is exactly how it happened!

    e homemaker: and I have criticised such types all this time and see what I did finally. LOL

    Vivek: Yes I love that ad.
    Oh no, i wasn't blaming the guy - in fact it must need a lot of skill to be patient with people who don't bother to read instructions before using an equipment. I was only recording my attitude before the ultimate blow.

    Lavs: that too. Happens to me all the time. and the guy tells me "next time it happens tell us exactly what you did" and makes my blood boil but I can only nod helplessly.

    Veens:giggling still? :)

  25. S! Says:

    Talking of bright customers, I've heard people lambasting the automated voice response system we built for a client of ours as if it understood their choicest expletives.

    You aren't even close.

  26. Chitra Says:

    HA HA HA HA !! Join the gang...! My Mom did the same and guess who was at the other end of the line ??? ;-)

  27. eish wenna!!!!in south african. meanings ooops, sounds like something i would have done.
    my answer when the internet or anyother techno problem arises, call little brother,who will then just laugh at me,...and make me wait until he gets home.