No Harm Done

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Cross-Cultural Relations

Something is wrong with my printer. It was printing beautifully, but then all of a sudden the color cartridge froze. Now I can’t print anything in color, or even greyscale. It’s black print or it’s nothing.

I called the manufacturer to ask how to troubleshoot, or to see if I could get a free replacement cartridge. This is a company that outsources most of its customer service to India, so I called them in the middle of the night, hoping that people in India would be wide awake and most Americans would be sleeping and I could get through to a live person quickly.

After less than a minute on hold I briefly explained the problem to the customer service rep from India. She told me that before she could help, she needed the printer ID number inside the machine. It was a long string of numbers, with three letters mixed in.

I read them to her slowly, and she repeated them back to me. It sounded right, but when she typed it into the computer, it didn’t match the information on our account. As she re-read the numbers to me, I realized that one of them was wrong.

CS: 529-
Me: No. It should be 525.
CS: Thank you. 5253-
Me: No, no. 5258.
CS Thank you. 52587001BNT-
ME: Wait! The first letter is P.
CS: Thank you. 52587001D as in "dog-"
Me: No. P. P as in “pillow.”
CS: Thank you. 52587001T is in "tiger-"
ME: No. P. P as in…uh…"pillow." Or "party." P.
CS: Thank you. 52587001V as in "violet…"

Now, at first I thought this was funny. I was smiling and trying to avoid the “ugly American” stereotype by letting my smile come through in my voice, if you know what I mean. But this was quickly becoming frustrating. I had a difficult time understanding her accent, and she had a difficult time with mine. I’m sure if we were looking at each other, and could watch each other’s mouths move, we would have not gone in circles. But on the phone, it’s so much harder.

ME: No. No. Not V as in "violet." P as in (searching for a common P word) "park", or "pretty."
CS: Thank you. 52587001P as in "Papa-"
Me: YES!
CS: Excuse me?
Me: Oh. Sorry. I was just saying you got it. P as in "Papa."
CS: Thank you. 52587001P as in "papa." N as in "November-"
Me: No. That one is M. M as in “mother.”
CS: Thank you. 52587001P as in "papa." N as in "November-"
Me: No!

***Frantically trying to think of new words. Finally, I got an idea.***

Me: (Waving my hands wildly as I speak.) It’s 52587001 P as in “punjab.” M as in “mumbai.” And G as in “gupta!”

There was silence at the other end of the phone. And then a soft chuckle.

CS: Thank you. 52587001PMG. Is that correct?
Me: Yes! Yes! That’s it! Whew!

CS: I’m sorry, but that printer is no longer under our customer service warranty……


At 12:44 PM , Blogger PB&J said...


At 1:50 PM , Blogger Melkhi said...

Smart thinking! Very funny! But of course, I'm sorry that the warranty was expired after all that!!!

At 5:15 PM , Blogger Frankie said...

I got a little frustrated just reading this...btdt. How funny, though. Very clever on your part.

Did you get your printer running?


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