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Hello, My Name Is Ashley

September 18, 2015

A couple of years ago, I was constantly forced to call various utilities by phone such as our satellite television or internet service providers. The purpose was almost always to correct a bill they had screwed-up. After battling through the mine field of automated menus, scratchy music from decades past and endless inputs that never got inputted to begin with, I arrived where I wanted to be; speaking with a real, live (or at least semi-live) human being. Great! Then came the familiar greeting. In a voice that was unmistakably Pakistani, my customer service representative said, “Hello, my name is Ashley…. how may I help you today?” But of course, before he would actually help, I had to endure the “Vee have wary special deals today for our bestest customers.” After my refusals were finally understood, we moved on to my problem at hand. But guess what? Problems can not be resolved by reading from a rehearsed script card.

These encounters always ended in partially resolved issues, compounded by the frustration of dealing with someone who did not indeed speak or understand my language fluently. The result? After an honest effort on my part, I simply cancelled these services and replaced them with those offered by companies whose employees spoke American English.

My encounters with these captains of American capitalism always begged the same questions. If I was indeed a “wary” special customer, why treat me like an unknown assailant from the street? Why do you employ people who can’t communicate in my language? Would none of our unemployed be willing to do this job in America? And lastly, Do you really expect that I am going to put up with this nonsense forever?

Unfortunately, “American” business is no longer done in America. The business model of today’s communication giants is simply “get them in the door with ludicrously low rates for 12 months then feed them to the wolves.” There is no honor in this approach but it has been adopted by virtually everyone.

A look at the fine points. No, I am not prejudiced against Pakistanis or any other particular group. However, I do not think it is too much to ask that services provided in the United States of America be accompanied by customer service representatives who speak fluent American English. I have the same complaint when the fellow on the other end of the phone is from Liverpool, Mexico City or Leningrad; if we can’t fully understand each other, where is the hope? Any country in the world expects as much; why not the USA?

By the way Ashley, I don’t care at all that your actual name is Farooq. I just want to be able to understand what you’re telling me and vice-versa so that we can solve a problem together.

Read author Allen E. Rizzi’s latest books available at

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  1. Joan permalink

    Well said!!


  2. Reblogged this on allenrizzi and commented:

    After another encounter with ATT today….


  3. As someone with a distinct accent, I think that in-country call centers are best. If the rep is an immigrant, one has an option to talk to a native speaker AND the worker learns to go off-script for customer service.

    I quit AT&T after realizing their technicians supported the customers; customer service representatives were the enemy. My awakening happened after finding out the “new” modem they supplied in our original agreement was a refurbished model (the technician showed me the indicator). The problems I experienced with connections were a ploy to get me to get rid of the bought-and-paid-for modem and pay a monthly rental fee for another “new” one.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I just got off a phone call with what Home Depot calls customer service. After a 45 minute wait they actually had the nerve to ask me in a post-call survey what they could have done to improve my experience. Seriously?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I used to go to a McDonald’s in Arlington, VA. It seemed like every other week there was a new crew of international employees from Asia or Africa. I would order my standard cheeseburger, small fries, and diet coke–never anything odd or in need of personalization. It was always a struggle to be understood. I relished the summer when regular old American teenagers spoke English and usually had no trouble getting the order right . Heavy sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The only time we ate at a McDonalds was when we returned from Greece and were driving from Munich to our home in Italy. At two in the morning I saw a McDonalds that was open and decided we could use some food. On my way from the freeway to their parking lot, i rehearsed my order in Tirolean dialect. When it was my turn, I proudly ordered in a perfect Tirolean German. There was a pause and the young man asked in perfect English, “Do you want to super-size that?” (Triple heavy sigh…)


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