Sevangi of Bangalore


It is not often that I am moved to poetry by a session with a call centre, but it happened today . . .

My heart has an open door
For Sevangi of Bangalore;
When my mouse wouldn’t work
She discovered a lurk*
That made my spirits soar!

On Friday my USB optical mouse stopped working. “Oh well,” I thought, “it’s quite old, I’ll buy a new one for A$4 at Officeworks.” I did, and that didn’t work either. So I did the things that any mildly tech-savvy layman does in such circumstance – turning my laptop on and off, shouting “#&$@” at the screen, smashing my forefinger down on random keys – to no avail.

I complained to the manufacturer’s website of course. Then, when I discovered that the old and new mice both worked perfectly when plugged into my old computer, I turned my wrath on Hewlett Packard.

My first live-chat session with HP Tech Support ended in my PIN being invalidated, leaving me unable to access my own computer until a secret code had been emailed to my wife. My second and third ended when the people at the other end found out I was in Australia. “We only support customers in USA and Canada,” they said as they flicked me lint-like off their sleeves.

Today I ’phoned a local HP retailer in hope of help, only to find that the call went through to an office in another state and, anyway, they just sell stuff. So in desperation I gave HP Tech Support another go. I groaned as I went through the same rigmarole with the same robot and waited to hear a human voice.

To cut a long, long story short, after two false starts which ended with line drop-outs I found Sevangi. She instructed me, encouraged me and tried all sorts of tricks that I would not have thought of. After two hours she concluded that the problem lay in the operating system, and the only remedy would be to download it afresh. That would mean wiping all my programs and files off the hard-drive, so I’d better start backing them up. She promised to ’phone tomorrow to see if I’m ready for the operation.

It felt like being told I had cancer. That sounds silly, but it did. On my way to the gym I thought about all the programs I’d have to recover somehow: MS Office, Outlook, Norton, PDF995… how many more?!

Soon after I got home the ’phone rang. It was Sevangi. “I spoke to my superior,” she said, “and there may be another option that won’t mean losing all your files and apps.” She then guided me through a process using the DOS command prompt (ah, nostalgia!) and a long string of code… and it worked!

“I’ll ’phone you tomorrow anyway,” said Sevangi, confirming her place at the top of my list of favourite people, “to make sure everything is still working.”

So you’ll understand why I was moved to honour Sevangi in verse; and why, whenever I hear a negative comment about Indian call centres, I shall recount this story. I’ll probably buy another HP one day too.

* In Australian/NZ idiom a ‘lurk’ is clever scheme or dodge.

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