Thursday, June 7, 2007

Bulgarian Hold Music

I'm trying to change the Web Host used by my company to another provider, and like all technical endeavors, there are some glitches in the process. I'm able to move files to the new hosting server, but I'm unable to view them using a Web browser. Instead, I get a message that says, "Service Unavailable."

I called my account representative who is a typical friendly, outgoing guy that is delighted to sell me services, but knows absolutely nothing about how those services actually work. I explained the situation, and there was a long uncomfortable silence. Then he told me he would transfer me to Technical Support.

Now, most Americans cringe when they hear this, because it usually means the call will be routed halfway around the world to some Indian sweatshop where the sleep-deprived Technical Support rep is confined to a stall smaller than those used to house veal calves. The Technial Support rep will introduce himself as "Nick" even though his name is actually "Jagadeesh," and the two of you will struggle with the language barrier for an hour until you give up in frustration. "Nick" will check the box that says "user satisfied with solution." Within a month, he'll get promoted to Assistant Junior Support Group Supervisor for a salary of 8 dollars a day, which will enable him to pay for 4 hours of electricity in his home per week.

However, I was pleasantly surprised when a man with a Slavic accent answered the phone. I asked where he was from, and he told me "Bulgaria." So the call had gone only a quarter of the way around the world to a Bulgarian sweatshop. I started to feel better immediately. I described the problem, and the Bulgarian Technical Support rep said, "Led me luk up yur aggount. I wull put you on holt."

The phone went silent, and then swelled with some unidentifiable symphonic music. It was a welcome change from the Kenny G cool jazz I'm forced to listen to normally. After a minute or so, the music stopped and the phone was silent for almost a full minute. I suspect that my Technical Support rep had to run over to the record player and turn the album over.

After a few more minutes of music, the rep came back and told me, quite seriously, that the Web site gives him the message "Service Unavailable." Then he just waited for me to respond.

After a moment, I replied, "I know. "That's why I called, remember?"

"I wull hov to open a tigget," he said. Then again, he paused. It was like I had to throw a switch to get him to move on to the next thing.

"OK, why don't you do that?" I prompted.

"Ya, someone wull call you wuddin 24 hourss," he said. He sounded peeved, as though I had disturbed him with my call, and had forced him to perform an unpleasant task.

Now I'm worried that the Bulgarian Technical Support contractor is in fact a front for the Russian Mafia. The guys who answer the phones are button men who solve problems by eliminating the complainers. If my Technical Support rep is able to shut me up, he can advance to Assistant Junior Extortion Group Supervisor, which will enable him to pay for American cigarettes and Polish vodka. I'm dreading the phone call.

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