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Lost in translation

There are many benefits to living in a small paradise such as Bermuda — and many disadvantages, too, but that is for another column.

One of the main advantages is everyone knows everyone; most conversations you will have on the island will start out like “Ya know ya bie Hooks, right, de one with de Mobylette?” Or “Hey, I hurd ya cuz Pussy Balls is getting hitched up wif dat gurl from St David’s!”

Sometimes people may know a lot more than you would like them to know, but we’re a close-knit community. It has its advantages. Sometime back, when you used to call the telephone company or your local community bank about a problem you were having, you knew you would have a friendly and, most times, familiar voice on the other end.

You would sit in a chair next to your phone, put your finger in the rotary dial and dial a five-digit telephone number, and a pleasant voice, easy to understand, would answer: “Thank you for calling Bank of Bermuda. Cathy speaking, how I can help?” Right away you knew who you were talking to: “Hey, Cathy, it's your cuz”, and you would catch up on any family business that you have may have missed. Like, “Hey Cuz, you comin’ over to Momma’s house on Sunday for her birthday? We gonna have a set.”

But now that more prominent offshore companies are taking over some of our older financial and communications companies, they have moved our customer services — or call centres, as they call them — to foreign lands.

Now there are a few things I have an issue with this: One, my cuz, Cathy, is now out of a job, and I haven’t been invited to one of her sets since; and two, I don’t understand what people are saying on the other end of the line at the call centre!

Now I know that we bies from Bermy can have thick accents, so when I go across de pond or the States, I get by with no problem. However, when I call my financial institution call centre, it ain’t happenin’.

They seem polite enough, but there is a communication gap; it’s bad enough that as soon as I call, I’m put on hold that seems to last for ever, but then when I do get through to a human, usually my first reply to his first question is, “Say what now?!” Followed by “Sorry, what was that you said?” (many times) And “Can you say that again?” I’ve said “sorry” so many times that I feel that I’ve just spent that last hour in a confessional booth.

I have an Indian friend, and I mentioned to him next time I need to call my bank call centre, maybe he could talk to them. I said I never call the call centre, as I’m always worried that they may think I’m making fun of them because I can’t understand a word they are saying.

The other call centre I seem to have problems with is the internet /cable TV bies — and, again, they are super helpful and very courteous. Still, when you call a call centre, you are usually short-tempered, frustrated and want to give someone a piece of your mind because something has gone wrong again with the service that I’m paying for and I’m vexed!

When I’m trying to get online to find out what shenanigans my bie Trump — or “Cheddar Bie” as I like to call him — has gotten himself into this week, and I can’t get online cause my internet is down again, I do not need to be put on hold to hear the tune Dollar Wine. No doubt for the sake of the operator on the other side, it should be soothing music to calm me down rather than “Cent, five cent, ten cent, dollar” before the poor person has to deal with the wrath of a Grumpy Old Man.

If we let other overseas-owned companies take over our longstanding Bermuda companies, we should demand that the help desk be managed by Bermewjans actually on the ground in Bermuda. Now when it comes to dem byes at Belco, I can understand why they would want to move their call centre off island so as not to hear us locals complain about not having any lights.

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Published August 24, 2023 at 7:59 am (Updated August 23, 2023 at 3:43 pm)

Lost in translation

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