Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Technical Difficulties

My cable remote control stopped working the other day. Getting up to change the channel manually wore off after about 10 minutes. After an attempt to change the batteries proved not to fix the problem, I decided to call the 24 hour call center. Dealing with people at call centers or help desks or whatever you call them can be very frustrating in this country. It was frustrating back in my home and native land but it is exponentially more difficult to get your problem fixed here. The worst part is that you cannot be upset with or fault the voice on the phone because they truly have no idea what is going on. I suspect that this is usually due to lack of training.

The first problem is the language barrier. I consider myself able to carry a conversation in Bahasa but people on phones tend to speak extremely fast. My requests they bicara pelan-pelan (speak slowly) usually either fall on deaf ears or prompt the operator to switch to English with a very limited vocabulary. This can have strange consequences as a bilingual conversation usually breaks out. I will ask a question in English and when they sputter to reply in English, I will re-phrase the question in Bahasa. Sometimes this works, other times it causes more confusion as they can't decipher whether they can't understand what I'm saying in English or if I am actually speaking Bahasa with a western accent. This is my fault as I am in Indonesia and must work to improve my bahasa. I have called help lines before which say "press 2 for English". Quite a few times, the operator has simply hung up on me when I ask if they can speak English as they most likely got stage fright or simply can't speak English.

On this particular day, the help desk was pretty helpful and told me that a technician would be sent to my house. Later that evening, the technician called to inform me that he would be coming after lunch the next day. The following day being Saturday, I was able to sit around and wait for him to show up. He called me again at 9 am to confirm that he would be around after lunch. He called again around 10:30 am to make sure he had the right address. At 4 pm, I called the technician to see if he was coming any time soon. He didn't answer his phone which made me wonder if perhaps he was in the middle of eating his lunch when I called. Once again, I called the help desk to ask whether the technician would be coming today or not. I did not want this question to be answered but rather for the help desk to remind the technician to come to my house. There is sometimes a serious lack of communication or an obliviousness as to what the left and right hand are doing in companies such as these. 10 minutes later, a different technician called and asked for directions to my house. 5 minutes later, he was at my house with another assistant technician and very quickly sorted out that the problem was the decoder box. He replaced the box and told us to make sure to unplug the decoder box every time there was a power failure. This is not really possible as power failures are a regular occurrence and often happen when nobody is home. Despite this, I agreed to do what he said.

With my remote working again, I was looking forward to some channel surfing. It went great for about 10 minutes at which time a blue screen appeared and the decoder box started to attempt to download new software. The download progress stayed at 0% until 5 minutes later, programming resumed. 15 minutes later, it again tried to download for 5 minutes and then resumed to 15 minutes of TV watching and then continued to repeat this cycle. I called the cable company and they advised me to disconnect and re-connect the wire into the converter box. After this failed, I once again called them and a different operator told me to do the same. When I explained that I had already called and tried that, she told me that I may need a new converter box. I told her that it was a new converter box delivered earlier that day. Then she told me to try disconnecting the wire. I told her again that I had already done that and then she hung up on me. Once again, I called and had a similar kind of dialogue. This time, I hung up. Finally, I called one more time and told them that my cable wasn't working and I didn't know what was wrong. They promised me that a technician would come the next day.

A few hours later, I was on my way out of my house when 2 guys on a motorbike asked me if I knew where a certain address was. I was surprised to hear them say my address and told them that this was the place. They informed me that they were from the cable company and were there to fix my problem. It must be my lucky day, they are a day early and managed to arrive before I left. I explained what had happened and they decided that I needed a new decoder box. Once installed they started putting their shoes back on and getting ready to leave. I asked them to stay for 10 minutes or so in case we had the same problem again. They assured me that this was a NEW box and that I wouldn't have the same problem again. I pleaded and even offered them coffee and snacks in a sad attempt to get them to stay (they must have thought I was lonely or something). They told me that they were very busy and had to go. They also pointed out that the cable was working just fine. There is a big problem with people using "it's OK now" as an excuse not to fix things properly. Sure enough, the technician's motorbike was just out of earshot when once again, the decoder box started to attempt to download software. I immediately called the cable company and demanded that they return since they still must have been close. The operator informed me that there were no available technicians until 2 days later and that I should attempt disconnecting the wire from the back of the box.

This morning, I had the Mrs. call the cable company and tell them that we are not going to pay our bill if they don't come to fix this problem. After asking if we had tried to unplug the cable from the converter box, they agreed that they will come later today some time after lunch. I gave specific instructions that they are not allowed to leave until 2o minutes of uninterrupted cable TV time has passed, even if that means locking them in and forcing tea and snacks down their throats. I'm hoping that this problem will sort itself out but I won't be the least bit surprised if takes another week to get this problem sorted out. I also fully expect to be forced to dispute the charges on my next cable bill that may or may not include payment for 3 converter boxes. All of this commotion is making me think that maybe I should find something better to do with my time than watch TV. Maybe I'll turn my television set into an aquarium. Hopefully, this will reduce the number of technical difficulties in my life.

1 comment:

  1. XL are the same. Complete idiouts when it comes to customer service. 20 people in their shop - 1 service assistant actually doing anything useful.