Sunday, January 08, 2012

The Four-Hour Windup

Heading home in a taxi this evening after a boozy afternoon in Pui O, the conversation turned to awful customer service, and some friends' approach to dealing with unhelpful companies with inflexible policies and unfair charges. They'll actively spend as long with customer service agents as possible, tying up corporate resources with unnecessary queries until they feel that the company has expended an equivalent cost to the extra fees they've charged.

This is all well and good, but who has the time to spend on the phone all day? Taking a leaf from Tim Ferris's Four Hour Work Week, I see a way to waste somebody else's time in the most efficient way possible:

After all, why spend time on the phone talking to a call centre agent in Hyderabad, when you can pay a call centre agent in Bangalore to call Hyderabad for you?

Efficient Timewasting Inc. will have a menu of different options. For $10, somebody will ask inane questions on your behalf to somebody in Verizon's sales department, and after half an hour hang up. For another $10, they'll persist in asking for a supervisor and then telling the supervisor that they want to speak to their manager. Onwards and upwards go the charges, escalating the annoyance to your chosen company, until you hit the $200 Golden Premier Platinum Diamond Package (we're not wasting your money on flashy marketing names here).

$200 buys you a letter to the CEO demanding immediate reply, a strongly worded whine to the customer champion of your chosen newspaper, and three follow-up calls where in each case we'll guarantee that the line is so crackly that the person on the other end has to repeat themselves three times to be understood. And though it may sound a lot of money, the value of adding this grit to the smooth running of your detested corporate behemoth should be priceless.

Of course, to book it you'll have to call our call centre, and all lines are busy right now. Don't bother asking for your money back, all complaints terminate in a call centre in Uzbekistan staffed solely by trained cats.

I wonder what the end result of this might be. Either I've developed a way to wipe out call centres through higher and higher inefficiencies, or it's going to backfire and in a wave of tit-for-tat revenge, the call centre industry will metastatise, its malignant growth fed by a nutritious diet of vengeful, cash-rich, time-poor professionals, until everyone in the world is working in a call centre, calling up somebody else in a call centre to complain.

Anyone want to invest?


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