Please be on hold, your readership is important to me

After boring your shirts off  the last two weeks with agonising details of my having shifted to a new residence and my difficulty in getting new services and connections, this week I had resolved to take a new subject and of course bore you down with even more agonising details of that.

But all through the week I was not available to myself: I was waiting on hold for customer service as I had been told that my call was important to them. I had no reason to disbelieve them as the pre-recorded message sounded not only sweet but also sincere. And, in any case, machines don’t lie!

Evidently, too, my problems are so important to them that they don’t want to solve them in a hurry. If they did, I would naturally stop calling them. This would naturally deprive them of the chances to keep convincing me of how important  I am to them.

The week’s experiences also brought home to me the major difference between the slothful public enterprises and the highly efficient private sector. With the former you get to speak to inefficient or disinterested officials who may or may not come to your rescue. But with private companies, things are vastly different: They apparently harbour the noble intention of preparing their clientele for Olympic boxing. The moment you dial in, most customer service cells welcome you with a request to punch a button so that you can continue with the call. Don’t ask why the call cannot be continued without punching any button. It is such questions that preclude this nation from producing Olympic gold medallists in boxing.

Once you have punched the entry button, there will be a request to punch in more buttons. And then more buttons. And then more buttons.  By the time you are through with it all,  on an average you would have thrown in more punches than a heavyweight boxer does in his entire career.  And ergo, ready for the Olympics.

It is not without reason that modern telephones have extra buttons carrying enigmatic symbols like ‘#’ ‘*’. These have been created with the explicit purpose of taking in all your finger pokes. Companies in the private sector did not flourish in the olden days simply because the phones then had no facility to punch. And not surprising too is the fact that there were no Olympic champions from India then.

Private sector companies also seem to possess a strong commitment to enhance your musical sensibilities. Between times telling you how important is your call to them and how busy their executives are, they let you hear so much music which is almost the equal to the combined total output at the Chennai Music season.  After this, if you don’t become a Subbudu or some such like him, you must either be stone-deaf or having the phone earpiece wrongly at the mouth.  In which case, you are requested to immediately move your ear to where your mouth is.  This has to be done since you cannot move your mouth to where your ear is —— obviously, it’s tough making a choice between the left and right ear sockets.

After the boxing and music sessions most callers are hardly in a state to remember their own phone numbers leave alone the reason for which they had called in the first place. This is how smartly most private Incs solve their problems.

But you cannot be overly critical of companies even if you are not able to reach the customer service officers.  The truth is that most of their office telephone lines are busy with the calls that their tele-marketing guys are trying to make to people like you.  It is no surprise that no tele-marketeer has ever managed to sell anything worthwhile.  It is equally no surprise that no one has successfully ever reached the customer service desk.

The curious among you may  be wondering as to for what purpose did I call the customer service and had been put on hold for roughly the time it takes for the Left parties and the UPA to meet and decide that they will meet again and decide.  Well, I had called a private telecom company whose name I will not air or tell, lest I am accused of mixing personal issues with professional commitments.

The point is I had asked for shifting of the telephone connection from my previous address to the new one. Being a phone from a private company, naturally it took me the time that the butterfly takes to become a butterfly from a humble egg to reach the official who handles such cases of phone shifts. Even more naturally, the shift hasn’t happened so far —— the time elapsed, it is pertinent to point out, is good enough for the said butterfly to have become a grandfather, or grandmother in case it happened to the female of the species.

The issue is that though my old telephone hasn’t been officially cancelled, the same number has now been allotted to someone else. My worry is whether this person will end up getting all the wrong calls that would otherwise have come to me if had the phone line through. And what would the tele marketeers do? Will they call him and ask for me? In which case, will he also call up the customer service and fail to reach them? And does he also get to hear only A R Rahman on the loop?

With so much to ponder, I have to put you on hold. But don’t go anywhere else. Yes, your readership is important to me…