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Outsourcing Jobs From Uganda to India

A Sunday morning call from India

I remember it was the day after my cousin’s wedding, and we had a great time. I always do when I meet with my crazy but full of life cousins.

So understandably I did not want to be disturbed on Sunday morning, although being a journalist I didn’t have the luxury of having my phone switched off, just in case those folks at the office had something they needed from me.

So I was there chilling, trying to get my cousins’ very loud voices out of my head, when the phone rang.

It was a number I didn’t know, so I ignored it; I mean, who calls a stranger at 7:30 am on a Sunday morning?

But whoever was calling was not about to give up, and suddenly I was thinking maybe a friend or family member had a problem, could not use their phones for some reason, and are using another, unknown line.

So I answered in a voice meant to show the caller they better have a very good reason for waking me up.

The voice at the other end didn’t make any sense, and it was a while before it became clear some Indian guy was trying to tell me something. Now I was sure somebody close had a big problem and had checked in an Indian hospital, so I woke up really fast.

But I still couldn’t understand what the guy was saying, although it sounded like it was English. All I heard was Standard Bank, which confused me even more, why was Standard Bank calling me early on Sunday morning? And why did they have an Indian guy talking to me, where were all the Ugandans?

I told the guy I didn’t understand what he was telling me, could he get somebody else to come to the phone? So a lady’s voice came on, also distinctly Indian, but a bit more coherent than the guy.

It turns out that Standard Bank, which apparently owns Standard Chartered here, was querying a transaction I had made via PayPal on my Visa Card. I needed some software to set up a website so I had bought it online, and the money had been deducted from my account. So why were these guys calling me from India on a Sunday morning, making my headache even worse?

I tried to explain that yes, I had done the transaction, and it was all good and genuine, but they did not seem to understand and kept on asking me more questions. The more they spoke the worse my headache became so in the end I just hang up on them, after telling them, in my best Queen’s English, to get somebody who spoke proper English and not to bother me again on a Sunday morning. The blighters.

The next day I went to my bank and asked them what it was all about, and who were these guys calling me from India.

Apparently Standard Bank in the UK had out sourced some services to India, where minimum wage is as low as £0.40 (sh1,600) per hour, as opposed to the UK where it is £6 (sh24,000). And again apparently any transaction involving more than $1,000 was to be queried, hence the call from India.

Anyway the guy from India who I spoke to was apparently upset the way I had treated him, and had my transaction cancelled, and I had to do it all over again.

The moral of the tale is that Standard bank should up its game, and if they have to outsource services like that, I know some guys in Kampala who have impeccable English, and would a do a good job.  Not like those guys in India, and I bet they probably all drive Ipsums anyway.


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