Four hours. That's the total amount of time I spent on the phone recently with my new friends from the Phillippines. Actually, "friends" might be pushing it. Truthfully, by the end of my fourth conversation, we were in need of some serious detente.
You see, the Phillippines is where my phone calls were routed when I experienced trouble installing my brand spanking new Linksys wireless internet router.
I'm sure you know the hook. You buy this marvel of modern communication technology and in the box you find the router, a cable, and an innocuous looking CD which promises to have you up and flying across the internet airwaves in a matter of fifteen minutes.
Nowhere does it tell you about the three hours you spend on your own trying to figure out the "simple" instructions. It neglects to inform you of the additional four hours spent on the phone, the endless "trouble shooting," or the fact that even after your head all but explodes, you still won't be able to go wireless with your laptop--even though the Linksys product is a WIRELESS ROUTER.
I swear I'm not one of those people who automatically screams that every job in the history of employment should stay right here in the good old U.S. of A. But, when I'm dealing with a communication device, doesn't it stand to reason that I should be able to communicate with the people who are supposed to be helping me fix the communication device?
Frankly, I'm not sure if the entire problem was one of language (even though one "support" technician asked me the same questions a minimum of three times each), or if the Linksys "support" (Yes, the use of quotation marks here is fully intended to evoke sarcasm.) people simply had no idea how to service their product. Regardless, no one solved my problem.
The last technician, with whom I was on the phone for a total of one hour and forty-five minutes, had me repeating the same steps over and over. Finally I said, "Can't we do something else? Do you know this is the definition of insanity--when you repeat the same steps over and over and expect a different result?" Apparently, she took me at my word. Not wishing to indulge in any further insanity herself, she promptly disconnected me.
Was I frustrated? Yes. Was I rude? Unfortunately, yes. Was I angry at the poor people trying to do their jobs? Not really. I was furious at Linksys. Furious at once again having been swayed to purchase a product which professed it would make my life easier and instead came with its own set of maddening, unsolvable problems, exacerbated by a company that hires individuals hampered by a language barrier to help me "solve" those problems. Furious that a claim to have me up and running in minutes was just another hook to reel in my money. Furious that I wasted seven hours of my valuable time with no solution to my problem. And furious that the only thing I can do now is get back on the phone with my friends in the Phillippines and return to square one.
At the risk of sounding like a spoiled American, I just want what I paid for. If you're going to sell me a product that's supposed to help me, then it should. And if it doesn't, you should make sure that the folks you employ to fix the problem can do it.
Do you hear me, Linksys? You're in the communications business. And what we have here--on oh, so many levels--is a major failure to communicate.