I hate going shopping. I hate trying clothes on, I hate the crowds, I hate watching people who love shopping. Harumph! So I use the web to order most of the things I want.
Every once in a while, though, I’ll order by phone instead of placing an online order, particularly if the company’s website is difficult to operate. I’d say about 90% of my phone calls to telephone sales agents proceed exactly as follows:
Me: I’d like to order item #41928.
Order-taker: Great. May I have your name?
Me: My first name is Narayan. That’s spelled n a r a y a n.
Order-taker: Could you repeat that?
Me: Sure. My first name is Narayan. N a r a y a n.
Order-taker: OK, Ryan, could I have your last name?
Me: No, my name isn’t Ryan. It’s Narayan.
Order-taker: I’m sorry. Could you…
Me: N a r a y a n.
Order-taker: N a r y a n, right?
Me: No. N a r a y a n. There is an ‘a’ between every letter.
Order-taker: Oh! N a r a y a n.
Me: That’s right.
Order-taker: Narayan. That’s a unique name. What kind of name is it?
Order-taker: You don’t sound Indian.
Me: I grew up by Chicago.
Order-taker: I know someone in Chicago.
Me: So my last name is Nayar. That’s spelled N a y a r.
Order-taker: OK, how about your last name, though?
Me: That was my last name. N a y a r.
Order-taker: …So your first…
Me: My first name is Narayan. N a r a y a n. My last name is Nayar. N a y a r. Narayan Nayar.
Order-taker: Whoa! Slow down!
Order-taker: Your first name is spelled N a r a y a n.
Order-taker: Your last name is spelled … how again?
Me: N a y a r.
Order-taker: OK, what’s your address?
Me: I don’t mean to be a jerk, but could you tell me how you’ve entered my name? I’ve had charges to my card denied before because my name was spelled wrong.
Order-taker: Sure, no problem. I have a first name N a r a y a n. I have a last name N a y r.
Me: No, the last name is spelled N a y a r. There’s also an ‘a’ between every letter.
Order-taker: N a y a r is your last name.
Order-taker: Hmmm. Is there an ‘a’ between the ‘n’ at the end of your first name and the ‘n’ at the start of your last name?
Order-taker: OK. Because you said there’s an ‘a’ between every letter.
Order-taker: How do you say your name again?
Me: Narayan Nayar.
Order-taker: Your names are very similar.
Order-taker: I mean, they’re almost identical.
Me: My address is…
This is about the only time I actually find myself wishing all corporate phone operations would be outsourced to India. I called Dell the other day to check up on an order, and the conversation couldn’t have gone more smoothly.