Tonight I had a call from someone named Doreen in India. At least I think it was India. It certainly wasn’t the UK because I’ve got BT’s Caller Display enabled on my line and it said ‘International’ when the phone rang.
Anyways up, Doreen said she was calling from my bank and asked if I wanted to know about their great offers to help me save money (how is it that money saving offers always end up using money rather than saving it?). Not believing that her name really was Doreen I asked her what her real name was but she just insisted that it was Doreen. Funny that; perhaps it was but then the last person to call in similar circumstances said his name was Derrick.
Now, I have no problem with being called from India and certainly don’t blame the Indian government for trying to corner this market. They have to get money into the country somehow and setting up call centres is probably as good a way as any.
No, what bothers me is why the companies tell their employees not to use their real names. If it were me I think I’d feel insulted. If I’m called from a call centre in the UK the person on the other end is as likely to say their name is Jamal as to say it’s David. So why the difference for real, genuine inhabitants of India?
It must be stressful enough spending your day pretending you’re half way around the world from where you really are, not to mention having to watch East Enders so you’ll be able to make smalltalk, without also having to pretend that you’re someone you aren’t.
Someone has pointed out to me that a lot of the Indian call centres are in Bangalore where many people have European names. So perhaps Doreen really was Doreen and Derrick was Derrick. I went to bangalorenet.com and looked at the personal pages. Out of 125 names only 17 were of European origin or might sound as if they were over the phone. I still think the call centre companies are insulting most of their workers by asking them not to use their real names.
Posted 18 May 2004, 21:58 BST