Armchair Mayor column, Kamloops Daily News, July 25, 2009
When I call up technical support at my satellite TV service provider, there’s a certain comfort in the words, “Yes, Mel, I can definitely help you with that.”
Right away, I figure he or she is going to be able to tell me why my screen just went blank, and fix it.
There’s also a certain comfort in knowing he or she is talking to me within my own country, assuming we consider Mississauga part of Canada.
There’s nothing wrong with living on the other side of the world, but I wonder how much someone in India is really going to know about television reception in Kamloops.
Wherever they are, though, I admire these call-centre reps — they are trained to be cool under fire. If I were in a war zone being shelled by the enemy, I’d want a couple of these guys guiding me through it.
Take Ronnie, Daniel, Alwin and Rajendra, for example, the first line of defense for HP (Hewlett Packard) in the CJay Dillman case. She’s the Kamloops woman whose laptop overheated and gave her second-degree burns.
It took her a good part of the week for HP to come through with a new computer and — as of yesterday — an insurance adjuster to discuss her injuries. Yet no corporate spokesman has talked to her directly, and no apology has been forthcoming.
Through it all, though, the call-centre people have been darned polite.
Here are just a few boiled-down excerpts of Dillman’s chatline conversations with HP.
RONNIE: Hi, Janine (CJay is a nickname), how are you doing today?
DILLMAN: Good, and you?
RONNIE: I am very well. Thank you for asking. Could you please elaborate the issue?
DILLMAN: On Saturday I chatted with a tech and was supposed to receive a call back today at 2 p.m. No one called. . . . I have second-degree burns on my leg from my laptop. . . . I have talked to a lawyer and if somebody from HP does not respond by noon tomorrow I will start the legal process.
RONNIE: Janine, I assure you we will surely call you.
This conversation goes on for some time. When she doesn’t get a call back, Alwin is next up.
ALWIN: Hello, Janine, how are you going?
ALWIN: That’s great! . . . If I understand you correctly, your notebook is getting very hot. Is this correct?
DILLMAN: Hot enough to give me SECOND DEGREE BURNS.
ALWIN: Alright. These sort of things happen occasionally, I’d be glad to resolve your issue for you. May I know since when have you been experiencing this issue?
DILLMAN: How long have I had second-degree burns? Since yesterday.
ALWIN: Alright, no problem.
No problem, indeed. A few second-degree burns aren’t about to rattle HP tech support. Next up is Daniel.
DANIEL: How are you?
DILLMAN: Really, really unhappy! How are you?
DANIEL: Don’t worry, I am here to help you.
DILLMAN: I hope you can, this is my third time contacting HP. . . .
DANIEL: I apologize for the inconvenience caused to you.
DILLMAN: Thank you. . . .
DANIEL: Janine, as I read the previous transcript the notebook has burned your leg and you want somebody from HP should give you a call and in this issue you were promised for a call back. Am I correct?
DILLMAN: Yes, twice they have not called.
Daniel asks her to wait a couple of minutes and then returns.
DANIEL: Janine I have checked with the service ticket. The case has been already escalated to our complaints department. I request you to please wait for a few more hours. . . .
DILLMAN: Can you get a supervisor? My lawyer said if no one contacts me by noon to start the legal process. It is 35 minutes past.
DANIEL: Yes. Please be online.
SUPERVISOR: Hi, I am Rajendra. . . . I am the supervisor. . . . As I have checked your service ticket, your case is already escalated to the second level. It might take two to three business days.
DILLMAN: . . . I have second-degree burns and no one is doing anything about it. If someone does not contact me now I am going to tell my lawyer to start litigation and I will call the news stations and the newspapers and make a blog about HP computer burns. I’m not kidding.
SUPERVISOR: I again apologize for the inconvenience. Now what I can do, I will re-escalate the issue.
The conversation, however, doesn’t do much to resolve the situation, and they sign off.
RAJENDRA: . . . I sincerely appreciate your willingness and patience to work with me on this issue. It was a pleasure assisting a person like you.
DILLMAN: Have a great day.
RAJENDRA: You, too, God bless. Thank you for contacting HP Total Care Real-Time Chat Support.
Now, you might think CJay Dillman deserves some kudos for sticking to her guns but you must grudgingly admire the polite persistence of the folks from the HP support centre, as well.
I mean, somebody is very unhappy that their product gave her serious burns, is threatening a lawsuit, media coverage and Internet trashings, and they tell her God bless and have a great day.
I thought I’d test it out myself, so I phoned HP and Brian came on the line. Brian, by the way, is in the Philippines.
We had a pleasant conversation, with Brian thanking me profusely every few words, and it ended with him providing me with information on how to contact the company’s CEO Mark Hurd (by email, no phone calls allowed) and an HP office in Richmond.
Brian then asks if there’s anything else he can help me with today.
MEL: No, thank you. You have a good day.
BRIAN: Thank you. You, too, have a very good day.
How can you get mad at people like this? Even CJay Dillman found herself exchanging pleasantries while nursing her second-degree burns.
That doesn’t make her feel much better about HP itself, mind you. She used to work at a call centre, and knows the drill for unusual complaints — call the supervisor, the supervisor calls corporate, solution found.
So she’s still waiting for a call from HP corporate. Meantime, she could always pass some time chatting with Ronnie, Daniel and the guys in the Philippines.