Microsoft Sending All XP and Vista Tech Support Calls To India?

Microsoft is sending ALL of its XP and Vista tech support calls to India starting March 29th, according to a call center insider. Previously, the call volume was split between a site in North America and locations in Deli and Bangalore.

Our tipster says:

    “I know a lot of the agents in Deli and Bangalore; they are very smart and typically great troubleshooters – but I am also a realist, and I know that when I call support, I don’t like to lose 50% of the call to “communications issues”.

    Anyway, I just thought people should know. We have been told the decision was made by the outsourcer AND Microsoft, and that it was because it makes more money for the company.”

Comments prediction machine says: “Or you could just get Mac!” — BEN POPKEN

(Photo: cambodia4kidsorg)


Edit Your Comment

  1. JDAC says:

    The Deli – Fresh sandwiches and top notch call centers!

  2. mantari says:

    I think this does a good job in demonstrating what is going wrong with corporations. In a tighter and tighter squeeze to cut costs (almost always to please shareholders), they’re alienating the customer.

    Another short-sided money saving effort that reduces direct costs by _X_, but in the end, damages the company’s reputation and loses them business by _Y_.

  3. thisiskspraydad says:

    In Canada if you want to get a CANADIAN to answer you you choose FRENCH as you language and your call will get routed to New Brunswick or Quebec. Once there you have a 80% chance that they will be able to speak English to you. Job stays in Canada.

    In the US can’t you do the same by requesting Spanish?

  4. gryack100 says:

    Welcome to the new world everybody, you might need to learn how to communicate with people who don’t look, sound, or think like you. ZOMG!!!!! Somebody with an accent.

  5. Shutterman says:

    As I’ve said in a couple emails to The Consumerist, I really don’t care if I have to talk to a penguin in Antarctica as long as someone helps with whatever problem I’m calling about.

    The issue is really companies finding more ways to screw their employees and find every tax loop hole possible.

  6. Mr. Feller says:

    Or you could just get a mac!

  7. phrygian says:

    When Big Blue outsourced my job to India, I trained 3 people to support a product that was about 1/3 of my job. Their job was to return to India an train a team of ~20 people — again, to do a support job that was 1/3 of my job. I was told that outsourcing my job was a cost savings effort.

    6 months later, the company that I had been doing the support for decided to stop using the product because support was poor and miscommunication was rampant. In the end, that was probably the best cost savings measure.

  8. FLConsumer says:

    This just shows that Microsoft truly doesn’t understand their customer’s needs and wants. Hey M$, another company turned out lackluster products and ignored people’s needs too. It’s called General Motors. Their fate could be yours. (We could only be so lucky.)

  9. weave says:

    Where I work we had a weird intermittent problem with corrupted roaming profiles on Windows that we went nuts for weeks trying to diagnose. When we exhausted all of our internal resources, we shelled out a few hundred bucks for the high-end Microsoft business call support.

    We were sent to India, as evidenced by email headers we got when corresponding with the tech.

    It sounded like all they did was google an internal problem and spit out answers without even listening to us. Like they suggested the problem was with NVidia video drivers (we have no computers with nvidia cards in it). After being transferred up four tiers but still never leaving India, we were finally advised to remove all non-Microsoft software from all 4,000 of our desktops — including anti-virus software to see if the problem would go away.

    We had output from debug files that showed where the error was occuring but they would not answer “What condition triggers this particular message to be recorded during a logon?”

    In the end they just refused to go further unless we basically crippled the company and removed all non-microsoft software from 4,000 computers and we never heard another word from them. I assume they probably closed the call with a tag of “customer uncooperative.”

    (This and other reasons are why I split a gut whenever someone tells me that Microsoft is better than open source software because there’s this huge company there to back up their code. If I had access to the source code for windows, it would have taken about 30 minutes to search where that message originated then walk up the calling stack to determine what condition triggered the error)

  10. Rajio says:

    Get over it. the world is bigger than just the US. MS’s customers span the globe. Welcome to the 20th century. Complaining about bad customer support is one thing. Complaining about cutomer support reps living in a different country than you is quite another. If MS (or any other company) has low standards with CSRs then deal with those low standards specifically rather than blame the country in which that company applies those standards. Whats to say that if the call center was in the US that standards for CSRs would be raised? They could easily be as or more inept than CSRs from any country.

  11. mac-phisto says:

    put this at the top of my list for why i am not running vista yet.

    no wait, that spot’s reserved for “not interested in beta-testing software for a company without getting paid for it.”

  12. Ideapimp says:

    I’ve never had a problem with the IDEA of having customer support in a different country. But the problem I have had in the past is simply understanding the rep due to their heavy accent. I kept apologizing that I couldn’t understand a certain word multiple times and I felt bad that I couldn’t. After all, it’s not their fault. Still, if I buy an American product and try to get to a call center that speaks English I need to be able to understand them or else it’s a moot point.

  13. Tush says:

    I would have to agree with those of you that say the world is bigger than the USA. We are a part of the world and should communicate with the rest of the world. If we always choose to not even listen to people from other countries, how can we expect to have compassion for them?

  14. bokononist says:

    rajio: We complain because outsourced techs are generally cheap. For tech support, companies seem to get what they pay for. When quality standards of outsourced tech support companies go up (which I think will happen when the employees are paid better) people will stop complaining.

    I’ve yet to hear glowing praise–or even acceptance of outsourced tech support, and it’s not because of the ‘funny accent’ (many of us in the tech industry work with people with ‘funny accents’ and we can understand them and know them as competent.) It’s because the firms doing the outsourcing know that the companies hiring them don’t care about the quality of the work, so they don’t train their employees well.

  15. etinterrapax says:

    Hey, Macs could have some of the same issues with customer support. It’s just that I’ve never had to call them for it. Two computers, over two years apiece, and we’re all good.

  16. RexRhino says:

    Thank god we have brave activists speaking out to protect consumers from having to deal with brown skinned people!!! My god, you might have to deal with a god damn ‘furiner! Get your shotgun pa!

    Come on people, you are just as likely to get crappy support, or people who can’t speak english, from U.S. based tech support as you are from India. I have dealt with tech support so clueless in the U.S. that any complaint about Indian tech support being worse is just plain false. If crappy tech support is the issue, then complain about crappy tech support.

    But the root of the anger about Microsoft moving tech support to India comes from racism or xenophobia or isolationism, not any sort of concern over consumer rights.

  17. Scazza says:

    @thisiskspraydad: And thank god most call centers in canada almost always require dual language hiring. I have used this tactic quite a few times and by law they have to provide it if their product is sold in canada too. However, I don’t think it would work in the states for spanish speakers. I doubt many spanish call centers down their have dual language CSRs.

  18. dmc says:

    For the record and before anyone complains, Apple does do some tech support outsourcing. However, they only send Windows-using iPod customers to India because that group constitutes the vast majority of their support traffic and the calls most likely to be resolved by having the customer simply reinstall the software or restore their iPod. Not saying it’s great, but it is what it is.

    All Mac-related and iPod on Mac support calls are handled in Austin, TX or Cuptertino, CA for the US and Canada, Cork, Ireland for Europe and Singapore for Asia Pacific.

  19. Rajio says:

    @bokononist: but you get what you pay for no mater what country you’re doing your spending in. if they are cheaping out on CS in country X, what makes you think that if they move to CS to country Y that they’ll raise their standards?

  20. saikofish says:

    @thisiskspraydad: The GetHuman Tips page suggests going for the Spanish option in order to reach a bilingual operator in faster time than by waiting for an English-only speaker… so I think the same principle will apply to the US, as well.

  21. FLConsumer says:

    I don’t have a problem with outsourcing as a concept, but I’ve never seen it executed properly. Accents aren’t a problem, but heavy accents need to be addressed before unleashing these particular workers on the public. Likewise, they need training in understanding all of the accents and customs their call base will come from.

    My biggest gripe with offshore support is that they usually hire unskilled/poorly trained employees to work the phone. What we end up getting are a bunch of script-reading telemarketers rather than trained professionals.

    This IS NOT a matter of people being black/white/yellow/etc, it’s entirely a matter of companies not providing proper training to their workers. I’ve seen it happen with both US tech support (Vonage) and offshore (Vonage/Netgear/Linksys/etc) support staff. In the case of offshore workers, how much would it really cost to get trained professionals to work the phone, an extra $1 per worker per day?!?

  22. FLConsumer says:

    @saikofish: What would an offshore (I’m thinking India/Phillipines/China) accent in Spanish sound like?

  23. mantari says:

    @FLConsumer: DING DING DING DING DING! We have a winner (re: “they usually hire unskilled/pooly trained employees … script-reading”).

    I tell you, if being transferred to India meant that I was going to get top-knotch support from an expert on the topic, I’d be saying, “Too bad for those lazy and stupid Americans who are losing their job. Give me MORE outsourcing!”

    The problem isn’t with the country we are outsourcing to, or the people who live there. It is with the American corporations that are doing the hiring in that country. They’re not hiring the best and brightest, and putting them on the phones. They’re not investing in the employees and educating them to the point of being very knoweldgeable. They’re not empowering them to make decisions.

    I’ve seen service here in the US go to crap when they took the smart help desk employees off of the phone, and replaced them with procedure following script readers. That’s just as bad as your outsourcing from India. Why? Because that is procedure that companies so often follow when they outsource the work to another country.

    Again, what is to blame? The corporate executives who put a focus on the bottom line and cost cutting… which ends up hurting the bottom line in the long term. It is incredibly short-sighted, but still, very popular right now.

  24. nikalseyn says:

    You would think that after having to go thru an atrocious menu, hitting buttons interminably in order to get to a real person, there would be someone who could actually speak and understand the english language. I am not interested in any “feel good” interaction with customer support. I paid for the machine in American dollars and would appreciate being able to understand the customer service rep, viz. American product, hire an American to fix it!!Besides, am I the only one who remembers the well at Cawnpore??

  25. capitalass says:

    At least they are not being outsourced to Texas. People in that state have the most annoying accents, and they are all just a bunch of crackers-I say this in the most endearing way possibly of course. I’m not racist or anything; I just have issues with Texans. It’s too big there, and they seem to think that they are better than New Yorkers, where I am from–the place with the least annoying accents.

    Still, I think that FLConsumer is right. The problem is the execution. Dealing with an accent, even a texan one, is not so much a problem as dealing with scripts loaded with opportunities to upsell (try calling Mastercard–I’ve even had services added to my agreement after my obstinate refusal to accept them–courtesy of India).

    There are a number of communication barriers that one faces when not speaking with someone who speaks their language natively, or at least fluently.

    I remember dealing with three or four different levels of customer service in India when ordering a Dell over Christmas. That was a mistake. All I wanted was to have the computer shipped by Christmas. My order was dropped, and they could not guarantee shipment on the new order (this was about two weeks before Christmas).

    The support agents and supervisors insisted that Dell was just a mail-order company (how can one qualify the largest pc distributer in the world as a simply a mail-order company, esp. considering they now have retail outlets in addition to the myriad ways in which one can order a computer). After about a two and a half hour struggle with my the representatives from India, I was transferred to Texas.

    Despite the annoying accent, this Texan took care of the problem relatively quickly. He simply lied to me. I knew he was lying, but after nearly three hours of dealing with Dell on the phone over the holidays, I took my poorly accented lie to bed with me.

    The point is that no matter where you get your customer service from, it will probably suck and will certainly be heavily accented, but as Americans we have learned enough intolerance to accept our crappy customer service from idiots who we identify with more closely.

  26. Rajio says:

    @mantari: agreed

  27. royal72 says:

    lol @ ben. i’ve got a mac :)

  28. acambras says:

    I hate to be the Geography Police, but the city is DELHI.

  29. pediddle says:

    @acambras: I can’t believe you’re the first person to point out how to spell Delhi.

  30. acambras says:

    Well, JDAC pointed out the error in a more charming, oblique sort of way.

  31. dayjayvw says:

    I’m actually the opposite, I’m an American troubleshooting Indian users from Bangalore and others in the APAC. Most of them do speak with very heavy accents, but it’s how fast they talk that breaks up any for of communication.

    I can only they’re frustrated just as much by my Boston accent as I am with theirs.

  32. AppTechie says:

    There is a reason that Dell just pulled all of their support centers back to Roundrock…

    Indian call centers, while a good idea, lack the decent implementation due to lack of ability to communicate with the general public. That isn’t just the US either, that is a worldwide issue for Dell and the reason they pulled it back to the states. When you outsource, your only control over the quality of the support is the ability to cancel the contract and rehire the entire force of people you just laid off. (What Dell just did…)

  33. bjkwjk says:

    Okay so we live in a “new world”, I get it. But I deal with call cnters based in India and this is what I’ve seen:

    a) Communication was an issue at first, but after a few times speaking to people who have different accents, you start to understand.
    b) From what I’ve experienced, the turnover rate in these call centers is high, so chances are, you’ll be speaking to a newbie or a relatively new newbie, even after a few months or years.
    c) These outsourcing agreements can be pretty specific, so not only are you speaking to someone who’s reading a script, but they are following a specific process from which they cannot deviate. So don’t expect anyone to go above or beyond the call of duty to help you.
    d) The communications network in India, phone service specifically, can stand some improvement.

    In the end, however, North American call centers were never that great anyway, so it’s a little harder to communicate, but if it keeps other costs low then it evens out.

  34. amb1545 says:

    I’m supposed to accept the fact that Indian CSRs speak with a heavy accent just because the world is more global now? Here’s a reminder, half their job is communication. If they can’t effectively communicate, then what’s the point? If you absolutely sucked at half your job, do you think the people who depend on that half would be satisfied?

    And that’s not even considering how horrible some of the CSRs are. Microsoft is especially guilty of this. When I had to call in with a corporate support contract for an issue with exchange, I had to sit there and answer 20 minutes worth of questions thats had absolutely nothing to do with the issue. Needless to say, the issue never got resolved.

  35. CarlC says:

    Well, I guess they will need to hire thousands of Indians….their phone will be ringing off the hook just for Vista alone.

    Just download Fedora 6….you’ll get no support with that. :-)

  36. Rscam says:

    Big picture – it’s not about the quality of the service you may or may not get. It’s about the jobs that American corporations are taking away from Americans and sending overseas.

    It’s about thinking a little further into the future than next quarter’s financial report. Who is going to be able to afford to buy their products in America if all tech and manufacturing jobs are sent overseas? Since this forces Americans to be unemployed or to take lower paying, non-technical jobs it WILL affect their bottom line when their consumer base is reduced.

    Is it any wonder that it is the same corporations that are responsible for the deterioration of the environment. It’s time to start thinking about the world we’re leaving our children!

  37. McDee says:

    Hi everyone,

    Perhaps a change of perspective might be useful… I am from Scotland and was sponsored by IBM as a student. During the 4 years spent with the company (including 4 placements at their Greenock plant) I observed a number of interesting trends.

    As the Scottish manufacturing industry (particularly electronics) succumbed to global outsourcing, Call Centres were heralded as the new growth area – much like the Irish accent, people tend to find the Scottish tone pleasant and easy to understand. As a result, numerous corporations quickly established Call Centres across Scotland. This however, is now being threatened by the issue of outsourcing customer support to India (eg: British Telecom).

    The point I wish to highlight is IBM’s response to the situation. Rather than follow suit, IBM have grown a thriving Technical Support Centre at the Greenock facility by employing staff from over 150 different countries. As such, all technical enquiries made within the EMEA region are routed back to the west coast of Scotland and dealt with by a representative who is usually from the same country (or region at worst). As far as I know, this strategy has been extremely successful both for IBM, it’s customers, and the local community (through an initiative with local schools to encourage linguistic skills). Furthermore, I found that working in such a multi-cultural environment was extremely enjoyable.

    The problem being discussed in this thread is not one of racism or xenophobia, it is simply that of effective communication. To suggest that two people of different cultures can on average communicate as effectively as two of the same, seems totally proposterous to me.


  38. gardencat says:

    A few years back I had to talk to someone at Compaq and called their 800 #. The tech on the line had very broken English and got very upset with me because I could not understand him and that I kept asking him to repeat what he just said.

  39. eustace says:

    So Microsoft is ignoring it’s customers? Wake up – consumers are not Microsoft’s customers. The companies (Dell, etc.) that license Windows for the machines they sell are the only customers Microsoft cares about. In the dream world where consumers buy a computer then decide what OS to buy for it MS would have to care about things like lousy support. In the real world, where MS has total domination over the computer builders (thanks to years of monopoly building without effective opposition) they have rightly concluded that the consumers can go diddle themselves.

  40. Mishtav says:

    Having needed to call a CSR a few times myself, having to speak with someone who I cannot make full communication with is bogus, when I have to ask the CSR to repeatedly repeat themselves because I cannot understand them is in itself bad enough.. If my problem does not fit within the script they are required to use it becomes a bigger problem, non-fluency in a foreign language makes communication hard enough,but spending an hour on a call to have the CSR just not understand makes it all the more frusterating because I just wasted an hour for him to tell me he cant help me and would have to escalate it makes me downright angry..

  41. superbmtsub says:

    Outsourcing. Big deal! CSR within the US aint that great to begin with.

    I like how Dell does their “text” CSR stuff from India. No funny accents. No communication issues. All questions and answers are pushed to be as direct as possible.

    We dont ask each other “how’s the weather?” or “gas prices are killing me thanks to my SubUrban”. I gave them my questions. They gave me answers!

    The voicecalls are a lil different though.

  42. merripen says:

    I am not sure where you have gotten your information from. Your inside source was wrong, I currently am working in Canada as an English speaking Vista General Assistance tech support agent. There is a large amount of calls still sent to India, but you have a very high chance to speak to an English speaking North American. Microsoft has done this because of the many concerns listed above. We have been supporting Vista since launch.

  43. udidnotripmeoff says:

    My next computer will be Linux. I say the hell with Microsoft and Mac. Screw Dell and any other computer company that outsources. I am tired of speaking to people in foreign countries. Can’t get nothing accomplish because they can’t speak English. I say English please English!

  44. Database_Diva says:

    I have been on the phone 3x this morning with India. I don’t think it’s aprejudicial thing to want to deal with someone who speaks your language and understands what you need. I am once again awaiting a call back because the “engineer” – obviously a lightly used term in India or with Microsoft – has to consult with someone else again.

    Personally, I think it’s fantastic that people in India get to have a job and earn a living. However, professionally, it’s frustrating and extremely time consuming to deal with people that you can’t understand and can’t understand YOU.

    This shows that Microsoft does not know their professional audience.