‘Customer service’ from New Delhi

Published 11:53 am Saturday, August 15, 2009

Are you getting tired of hearing about my wife’s irritation with “customer service” folks who don’t speak English? If so, read no further, because I’m about to subject you to one more.

On the other hand, I suspect that many of you (of us, for I am among that group) share her frustration.

My favorite mother-in-law has spent the last couple of weeks with us. (She absolutely loves North Carolina, by the way, and, if invited, would move to Murfreesboro tomorrow, entirely separate from Sherry’s being there.)

As this is written, Sherry and her mother are en route back to Mississippi in Mammaw’s car. The trip will be a leisurely one, with a couple of extracurricular stops, the first one in Asheville to show Mammaw the Biltmore Estate.

To facilitate that first stop, I made the hotel reservation for them. I made it at the motel where I stayed when, a week or two after I arrived in North Carolina, I ventured to the western part of the state myself. I stopped at the first motel I came to in Asheville. It had only one room left, a Jacuzzi suite, and the lady at the desk apologetically let me have it for the price of a regular room.

The Jacuzzi tub was in the suite’s main room. It was entirely separate from the bathroom, which had a regular tub with a shower.

I don’t get out much, and I thought that was pretty cool.

So that’s the room I reserved for Sherry and Mammaw.

But it turns out that the room had a King Size bed and there are no Jacuzzi suites with two double beds.

Furthermore, Mammaw wants her own bed, all by herself.

Therefore, Sherry wound up having to call to change the reservation I had made. (I made it online, but you can’t change it online; you have to call and talk to a real person in real time.)

The Quality Inn representative who answered the phone didn’t speak English. (You saw that coming, right?) Or at least she didn’t speak English Sherry could understand.

After a couple of attempts at communication, Sherry asked the lady: ���Where are you?”

The lady said, “Our corporate offices are in North Palm Beach, Florida.”

It’s tough to snow Sherry.

She asked the question again: “I asked where you are.” (With the emphasis on “you.”)

The “customer service” lady admitted she was in New Delhi, India.

Sherry and Mammaw stayed at that same Quality Inn, albeit in a regular (i.e. no Jacuzzi tub) room with two double beds, but only because I’d already paid for it.

You can bet Quality Inn is not on her list of places to stay in the future.

If you want to do business with Sherry, you need to speak English and, if she asks you where you are, you need to tell her you’re somewhere within the continental United States.

David Sullens is president of Roanoke-Chowan Publications LLC and publisher of the Roanoke-Chowan News Herald and the Gates County Index.