Do customer helplines care?

Life is a journey of trials and tribulations. Or as Deepak Chopra says, "your external and inner selves (givememoney) are in a state of existential angst (moneymoneymoney) and infinite ($$$$) quantum crisis. I take Visa and Amex."  I've spent a week looking inwards, exploring my deepest flaws, my neuroses and wondering what I'll do with my life.

As the men reading this column have no doubt figured out by now, what this means is yes, my TV is broken. What I currently have on my wall is a mirror with buttons and an HDMI port. I could get it fixed, but there's one little problem with that; I'd have to call customer care.
Customer-care helplines are like root-canals with a dialtone. The difference being that when you get a root-canal, at least one person in the room knows what they're doing, and by the time you leave, your problem's lying in a basin, and can't hurt you anymore. At the end of a customer-care call, you're still in as much pain and you want to cause more pain to the person at the other end.

At your service: The genius of customer-care is that you never speak
to anyone who can do anything about your problem, and you never
speak to the same person twice. Representation pic

All customer-care calls begin the same way. They warn you that your call will be recorded for quality and training purposes. Which is odd, because I have never spoken to anyone at a call-centre who seems qualified or trained. You are then put onto a frighteningly cheerful automated voice that gives you options. The voice is always chirpy and oddly enough, always female. I have never met an automated man. This may be because the woman forces you to choose from multiple options, and women like telling people what to do. And you have no choice but to push a button. It's like being forced to go to a restaurant where you know the food is horrible, and then being forced to order at gunpoint anyway.

The full extent of the horror you're being subjected to only sinks in when you realise that you're now at another menu, which leads you to another menu, which leads you to six more, and the next thing you know, you're fourteen levels down and white rabbits are running past you muttering about being late. It is like being in the cellular version of Inception, except at the end of the tunnel, there's no Leonardo DiCaprio, just an earnest young man from Ghaziabad named Prakash. This is how the conversation with Prakash goes.

Him: GoodeveningthisisPrakashwelcometoCustomerCareHowCanIHelpYou
Me: Hi
Him: GoodeveninghithisisPrakashwelcometoCustomerCareHowCanIHelpYou
Me: My (insert gadget name here) is broken.
Him: SorryForTheInconvenienceCanYouTellMeWhatTheProblemIs
Me: It's not working
Him: What do you mean? How is it not working exactly?
Me: It was working. And now it's not. That's how exactly.
Him: Sir it says here that you haven't registered your email address with us. Give it to us.
Me: Is that why you broke my TV?
Him: I will forward your complaint to the complaint team sir. They will get back to you.
Me:  But I went through 19 different menus to speak to you. I've spent more time and effort choosing you than Rahul Mahajan spends on finding a wife. After all that, you aren't from the complaint team?
Him: I'm not actually listening to you anymore. Is there anything else I can help you with?
Me: I have an itch in this spot that's hard to get to �
Him: *click*

And then Prakash is gone. It doesn't matter how many times I call them, I will never ever speak to Prakash again. The genius of customer-care is that you never ever speak to anyone who can do anything about your problem, and you never speak to the same person twice. That way, the company has no face, and your complaints can disappear. Or as companies call it "Our database."

So my TV is still broken, my cellphone plan is still too expensive and internet is still faster than the plan I paid for. Though that last one is because I'm not stupid enough to correct them. So if any of you are calling customer-care, good luck. Get ready for hours of pain, frustration, and anger. And if you speak to Prakash, tell him it still itches, and that's his fault.

Rohan Joshi is a writer and stand-up comedian who likes reading, films and people who do not use the SMS lingo

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