Joy of Outsourcing
November 2003

Linksys, like so many North American technology companies nowadays, have outsourced their help desk duties to relatively poor countries.  India and the Philippines are the most popular choices; California -based Linksys has chosen the latter for their call center.  This rant will focus on Linksys.

On several occasions I've had to call Linksys for support, for devices as simple as their power-line Ethernet bridges and as complex as their cable/DSL wireless routers.  In each case I was left waiting on hold for thirty minutes or more, only to be "helped" by someone whose abilities were limited to searching a knowledge base and parroting the answers therein.  In each case I insisted on escalation to more qualified technicians, and in each case I was disappointed to find that Linksys could offer nobody with sufficient networking knowledge to answer anything more than basic configuration questions.

Frankly, I can read a manual and search a knowledge base as well as they can.  If I'm calling for assistance with their products then it's for a bloody good reason.  As if the stunning lack of help and their poor understanding of networking weren't bad enough, the situation was worsened by the language barrier that inevitably results when you're speaking to someone nine thousand miles away whose English skills - however admirable they may be - suffer from unfamiliarity with American colloquialisms and typical usage.  For these reasons Linksys earned top billing in my Technical Support Rant in November of 2002.

When someone says something about you that you do not like, it is all too easy to point an accusatory finger and shout "racist".  That is exactly what happened just a few days ago when a Linksys employee in the Philippines call center, on company time and with company resources, was surfing the web and found my aforementioned November 2002 rant.  That employee then made the mistake of interpreting my web site guest log as a "blog" and used it to accuse me of being racist, and hypocritically made a few of her own racist comments.  But I'm a democratic fellow, so I've left her foolishness in my guest log for all to view.

The next day another Linksys employee (at the exact same IP address) left another entry in my guest log portraying himself as a happy Linksys customer who received "excellent support".  This idiot proved outright that Linksys' Philippine call center people don't know a damn thing about networking, otherwise they would have realized that the IP addresses recorded in the guest log would clearly reveal this cheap ruse.

India and the Philippines proudly offer many brilliant people in all fields of expertise.  I know very little about their scale of economy, but it appears to me that the $250 a month they claim to earn (about five times the national average income there) is still not enough incentive to bring any of those knowledgeable people to Linksys' allegedly high -pressure call center in the Philippine Islands.  Linksys have clearly hired from the bottom of the barrel.

The person who originally complained stated that "i love my job bec i learn a lot from it" (sic).  I'm delighted that you're learning from your job.  Really, I am happy for that - everyone deserves the opportunity to learn and grow.  But you're not supposed to learn on my time and at my expense.  We're calling to learn from you, not the other way around.


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