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D.F. Krause
  D.F.'s Column Archive

March 12, 2007

‘My Neem Ees Neeeeel!’


“Customer care desk. My name is Neil.”


Except that it doesn’t sound like that. It sounds like this:


“Cuthdumah cay disk. My neem ees Neeeeel!”


I do not know everything. But I know this. His name is not Neil.


Nor, for that matter, was the guy I called last week about my Internet connection named Mike. And the guy Mrs. Krause had to call about her cell phone problems was not named Jack.


Neil, Mike, Jack . . . Not, Not, Not.


I am not about to go on a crusade against overseas outsourcing. I’ll leave that crusade for Lou Dobbs. Perhaps some of you remember Lou from when he was a serious business journalist before he went wacko nativist. But I digress . . .


If you want to outsource your labor-intensive operations to India, China or East Timor, fine by me. It will probably help make your products and services more affordable for Americans who live paycheck-to-paycheck. Besides, if you’re a CEO and a lot of your workforce is halfway around the world, you can’t waste your time and mental energy standing around on the shop floor or in the phone center trying to hear what they’re saying about you. Without really cool technology . . .


Oh, sorry, I was digressing again. Outsourcing is a simple market-driven reality. If you can get cheaper labor at the quality level you need, and you don’t, you’re a dunce. I do not want to be a dunce. That’s how I lost my last CEO gig.


But. Do not. Insult. My intelligence.


I am perfectly comfortable with the idea that Jayinth Rajev Nandan, halfway around the world in friendly Bombay, is going to take control of my computer, figure out how to restart it in safe mode and restore whatever file I just lost.


I’ve reached Muhammed Abu Abbas Sahoob Saheeb in the Bahrain, and he’s going to hook me up with a new mobile broadband connection card? All right! He tells me at the outset: “Mr. Krause, I am from Bahrain, I speak with a very heavy accent and I won’t be able to understand much of what you say. But we’ll try to get through this the best we can.”


Honesty! I, with my low-frequency hearing loss, am going to have a hell of a time with this phone call. But Sahoob Saheeb is being straight with me and he’s doing the best he can, so how can I do anything less?


Ah, but that’s not the way it ever goes, now is it?


The call to tech support at The Very Big Corporation of America leads you to a man claiming to be named Neil. I am sure this is true. His father was named Red and his mother was named Kitty. He was born in Omaha, and he picked up that accent listening to Kuwaiti military communiqués on shortwave. That kind of stuff is so infectious!


Yeah. His name is Neil. My name is Billy Ray Cyrus. We’re going to have a nice little chat.


Maybe this is all Lou Dobbs’s fault. Maybe The Very Big Corporation of America is scared to death to have anyone know they outsourced a job, and they figure it’s far less trouble to have Sahoob Saheeb claim to be Neil – however implausibly – than to acknowledge what is obvious to everyone.


If Lou finds out that Neil isn’t really Neil, he might put The Very Big Corporation of America on his Very Bad Corporations of America list, and then where will that leave Neil?


Meanwhile, I still can’t get my computer to work. Neil just told me to Rdeebuut Zee Zeeeztim. They talk so weird in Omaha.


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