The Devil Wears Prada but doesn't speak English

Herself wanted to watch a film last night.

We have the Sky Satellite setup. It’s an old one, and it’s not connected to the phonelines. So if we want to watch a film we have to ring them up. They then press a button or something, and we can watch the film. Simple? No!

I rang Sky.

“Can I help you?” Four words and I knew I was in trouble. Another foreigner..

“I would like to book ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ for half nine on channel 713, please.”

“Select ze channel and press ze select button on your control. Zat will book ze film.”

“No.” says I patiently. “We don’t have the box connected. We have to book it through you.”

There was a pause.

“Select ze channel and press ze select button on your control. Zat will book ze film.”

I knew I had a real one here!! This was going to take a long time. I opened my special box of Call Centre Prozac and took a few.

I explained as slowly as I could, in words of one syllable that I didn’t have a phone connection on the box and that they had to release the film for me and that I had done it that way dozens of times in the past.

“Ze computer is broken” says he.

“I don’t care about your computer. I just want to watch a film! Can you please unlock the film for me?”

“Select ze channel and press ze select button on your control. Zat will book ze film.”

I hung up.

A couple of hours later, I rang back. It was getting close to the screening time at this stage.

“Can I help you?”

I don’t know how many people they have in their call centre, but I had managed to get the same bloke.

“Is your computer fixed?” I asked.

“Yes. Ze computer is vorking”

“Good” says I. “I would like to book ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ for half nine on channel 713, please.”

“Select ze channel and press ze select button on your control. Zat will book ze film.”

“Listen Dickhead” says I [I knew i could swear at him – if he didn’t have basic English he wouldn’t understand and I would feel better] “I explained all this before. All you have to do is take my name, address, codeword and you can release the film.”

“May I have your name pliz?”

I sighed with relief. We were getting somewhere. I gave him my name.

It was a name he hadn’t come across before, so we had great difficulty getting it across, but we got there in the end.

“May I have your address pliz?”

I knew I was in trouble. I don’t live in an address like ‘5 The Green, Newtown”. I live in rural Ireland where we use townland names which are derived from the old Irish names. I have a simple enough address – five words in total if you include the word ‘County’.

It took fifteen minutes. I had to spell out each word, but he kept confusing ‘m’ with ‘n’ and ‘b’ with ‘c’ and the like. I even tried the phonetic alphabet – C, Charlie, but he didn’t know what Charlie was and I even started to spell that for him. I was cracking up, despite the twenty Prozac I had taken at this stage.

Finally, I got my address through to him.

“May I have ze house number pliz?”

“I don’t have a house number. I live in the country. We use house names. I have already explained that. I have given you my house name. Jayzus!!!”

He got the last word, and must have realised he was pushing it a bit so he skipped the house number bit.

“May I have your PIN code pliz”

“WHAT?” says I. “I don’t know my PIN code. I have never been asked for my PIN code. You don’t need my PIN code. And I would like to watch this film tonight, if at all possible”

“Security” says he “Ve need your PIN for security”

“I DON’T KNOW IT” I shouted [five more Prozac] “ALL I KNOW IS THAT IT STARTS WITH ZERO.”

He read the number out to me. “Is zat it?” says he.

It suddenly dawned on me. A moment of complete frustration set in. I had to confirm my worst fears………….

“Did you have all my information on the screen all the time?” says I.

“Yes. But I have to confirm for ze security”

“Put me on to your fucking supervisor” says I. Thirty Prozac wasn’t enough at this stage.

“Ze film is booked” says he. “I am sorry if I hurt you”.

“Not half as sorry as I am that I can’t hurt you” says I and I hung up.

Ten minutes later, we switched on to watch the film.

A banner came up on the bottom of the screen – “Press Select for booking information”.

Ten more Prozac, and I reached for the phone.

A very nice Scottish lass answered.

I explained [in a hurry, as the film was about to start] what had happened and about the computer failure and all.

“There was nothing wrong with the computers” says she “Can I have your details please?”

I gave her my name, address and password. It took all of ten seconds.

“Ah yes” says she “I see who it was. He’s a bit of a dickhead”

“Strange,” says I “That’s what I called him”

“Everyone does.” she laughed, “He’s managed to debit your account but he hasn’t booked you any films”.

There was a fierce clattering of computer keys.

“You are OK now. I have cancelled the old booking and made a new one. And I’m very sorry about all that”.

I thanked her and sat back to enjoy the film, which had just started.

‘The Devil Wears Prada’ is a good film. I normally don’t like Meryl Streep as an actress but she was brilliant in this film.

I just wish her character in the film could be Dickhead’s boss.


The Devil Wears Prada but doesn't speak English — 19 Comments

  1. At this rate Grandad I might outlive you!

    No need for Prozac in this house as I have no TV. Life is wonderful. If I want to watch a film I do so on the computer.

    As for news I get that as it happens on the net, and if I miss somethingthere I catch up with it in the blog world.

  2. For some reason your post reminded me of the Rolling Stones’ song, Paint It Black. Don’t know why.

    And have you ever tried ordering printer ink off Dell? The Indian guys who answer the phone would make the guy you dealt with sound like Kevin Myers.

    And if you did say half that stuff, I would have loved to have been there.

  3. You know me, Dario. I’m as honest as the day is long. I’m a bit insulted that you should doubt my word.

    Actually, I did remove quite a bit, as it wouldn’t have been fit for public publication. As you may have gathered, I got a little annoyed.

    I’m sure if you write to Sky and ask them for the tapes you can hear the unedited version…

    “All our call are recorded for training purposes”

    They can use that tape in their lesson “How to really piss off a customer and get them to rack up large phone bills”.

  4. Grandad, what a marvellous account of your clearly traumatic experience. After working in a few call centres myself, I know Dickhead’s type! These idiots cause so much work for the complaints managers, just because they are unable to listen to the customers and just press on with the script or whatever else stuck in their head from the training.

    Having said that, in general if you have a problem with a call centre it’s usually the company’s fault and not the individual agent’s.

  5. Yes. I know I’m being a bit unfair on Dickhead. Of course it is Sky’s fault. They are the ones using cheap labour.

    Companies like to be able to quote figures like “We have 500 people in our Call Centre, awaiting your call”. What they don’t say is that 495 of then can’t speak the language.

    Dickhead was doing his job just as the cheapskates in Sky trained him. As you say, he was working off screen prompts. But screen prompts don’t work if the customer strays off the norm. He was left floundering and I was left steaming.

    But he still should have been able to understand my spelling of my address?

  6. Of course he couldn’t understand it! Most of those Asian languages don’t even have the same alphabet as us. The Japanese alphabet doesn’t distinguish between r and l sounds, for example. Hence the expression Engrish.

  7. Exactly Dario,

    Grannymar told us not long ago of the Asian man who was upset because he thought he was being cheated in a money exchange. The clerk told him he wasn’t getting all he expected because of “fluctuations”
    His reply? “Fluck you white people,too!

    And I mentioned the Japanese man who told me he couldn’t find his car because he couldn’t see well and I asked if he had a cataract and he replied, “No I drive a Rincon.”.

    They both work at call centers.

  8. Only forty prozac, Grandad? I would’ve downed the entire bottle. Unfortunately, I have to deal with these Indian/Asian/Whacko types on a daily basis.

    Dario, I know all about the nuts at Dell. I hate calling them effing people!

    And we call this progress. Huh!


  9. Imagine the fun I have when two lines after my name (Townland and County) will get to me the fastest. A lot of web forms don’t like that at all.

    Where I’ve had more fun with people like Dickhead is that I slip into a fairly strong Kerry accent when I get angry, and Dickhead has even less of a chance of understanding me. And so starts the vicious cycle of me getting more pissed off, and Dickhead getting more frustrated :/

    I usually end up hanging up and trying for someone with a clue. Or if they really really annoy me, I ask for a supervisor.

  10. I used to be polite to the myriad of foreign telemarketers that we get calling right on dinner time but now, I can guage the delay and just hang up. We’re even getting a national register up and running by May to stop them.

    Shame Douglas Adams’ Babel Fish are a thing of fiction . . . I tried it once with a fish shaped sushi sauce container but nup, still couldn’t understand a word they said . . .

  11. Baino,

    I tend to try not to be an ass to them, but if they don’t have any clue and I don’t seem to be getting anywhere, I do tend to get pissed off.

    I will usually hang up the phone rather than loosing the plot. The one time I haven’t, I have been told since that my rant is now used by the company in question as an example of how not to let things go 🙂 The only thing in my defense for that outburst was that I was waiting 2 days for a 4 hour response and lots of people where getting very annoyed and looking to me for answers.

  12. “Put me on to your fucking supervisorâ€? says I.

    “Ze film is bookedâ€? says he. “I am sorry if I hurt youâ€?.

    “Not half as sorry as I am that I can’t hurt youâ€? says I and I hung up.

    Ten minutes later, we switched on to watch the film.”

    That Showed Him ! You put him in his place nice and firmly there. Maybe we should start a campaign to treat all call centre staff like that. We might all get better service then. They might even start employing native English speakers. Then everything would be better and we could all see our special films when WE wanted.

  13. Grandad

    I feel your pain.

    I dealt with Dickhead’s cousin who works in Sky’s accounts department not so long ago. It was one of the most frustrating experiences I’ve ever had!


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  15. Una,
    Unfortunately it didn’t show him! He had still managed to screw things up so that I had no film, but was charged for it. Luckily we sorted it in time.

    Are you sure it wasn’t Dickhead himself? They probably float him around the place to piss people off.

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