Live E-Chat with Customer Service
By Elaine Kendall
24 May 2016
Hello, My name is Tiffany. How may I help you today?
I cannot open the things I bought at the drugstore.
What items did you buy?
LíOreal blusher, Revlon face powder, Naphcon eye drops.
What is the problem with those purchases?
The cosmetics are packed in hard plastics that Iím unable to cut
with heavy duty kitchen scissors. The eye drops are in a cardboard box;
heat-sealed with a softer plastic, but I cannot get that off.
Do you have a 3 centimeter spanner?
Where are you, Tiffany?
My home is Bangalore, Call Center of the Universe. †Where do you
California. I donít think American hardware stores have anything
like a 3 centimeter spanner. Weíd call that a minuscule wrench.
Do you have 4 centimeter spanners?
No. In the US, wrenches are used to tighten plumbing pipes or open
& close dangerous liquids. Theyíre never so tiny. Why does it take so long
for you to reply?
It is because we give the best possible service and do not hurry and
make errors. All clients are precious to us.
Fine, thank you, but Iím running late.
What tools do you have in your house, Joanne?
We have a trowel, all-purpose gardening shears, a wrench, pliers, a hammer,
various screwdrivers and the Cuisinart kitchen scissors I just ruined.
To open the cosmetics, use the all-purpose gardening shears. First
you should wash all earth off the gardening shears. That will spare your
scissors from further harm.
Too late for that. Iíve also broken two fingernails almost
halfway down trying to get the seal off the eye drops bottle.
I am so very sorry. Do you have a nail salon in California? Here we
have many who create acrylic nails.
Just please tell me how to open the eye drops. Thatís my only urgent
If you had the proper spanner, you could use it to break the seal
and I would tell you how to access the eye drops.
Please tell me anyway. Maybe I can find someone to break the seal
Do you have an optometrist nearby your residence? They would have
exactly the recommended spanner. If you need eye drops, you should visit the optometrist
No, we live in a semi-rural area and I donít need glasses. I just
need the anti-allergy drops. Tiffany, I have an important meeting in ten minutes.
Can you help me or not?
I can help you if you can remove the plastic seal. Once you
accomplish that, you will see instructions on the bottom of the top of the eye
The bottom of the top? I donít see anything there. Is that what you
meant? Itís just a plain white bottle top. Or bottom. Iím not sure.
Below the very tip-top of the bottle you will see a border with
raised letters telling you to press down while turning the cap counter-
clockwise. Or maybe it is clockwise in the United States. Try both if one does
I donít see any letters. Will you stay on the line? The magnifying
glass is in the library.
Put a bit of black ink on your finger and rub that finger lightly
over the bottle cap to see the instructions more clearly.† Use the
magnification glass if you continue to have trouble. Do you have a Magic
Marker? That is the best; black indelible.
No. I donít have a bloody Magic Marker.
May I ask you a personal question? I will understand if you are
unwilling to answer.
Just ask it.
Do you have a privately owned chemist shop in your village?
Yes, we do. †Our pharmacist makes up special prescriptions.† He
doesnít stock ice cream, beer, develop pictures, sell cosmetics or hand out
yards of coupons for what youíve just bought, like blusher and powder. Our
private pharmacist isnít an international market with a customer service
platform in Bangalore. He also rents equipment for the physically challenged.
†Do you mean disabled people? He offers Zimmer frames?
That is the politically correct term for disabled. In the US, we
donít say disabled now. He rents walkers, yes.
I have one more personal question, this one extremely delicate.
Please tell me if it offends you.
This has to be your last question.
I am worrying to ask but do you have a partner who has a well-fitted-out
My husband is an attorney who hires a person to hang pictures. His
toolbox is a briefcase. No.
Did you call our help phone line? It is gratuitous to our valued
clients. Your password should be 12 letters, 4 numbers and 2 symbols. You will
need your grandmotherís maiden name, the name of your infant school teacher, or
I called your help line but my place in the queue was 37 so I
couldnít wait. Iím overdue at a rehearsal. Now I have a personal question. Is
Tiffany really your name?
Tiffany is my work name. My family name is Anupama, but we are all
given most popular American names like Britanny, Tammy, and Caitlan.† The menís
work names are Jeff, Jason, and Matt. We have 42 Caitlans and 34 Matts. Never
tell anyone this, I implore you.
Thank you, Tiffany, and goodbye. Forever.
I will connect you with my supervisor. †Our time for E- chat has run
away. †He may say press down extremely hard on the actual tippy-top of the
bottle to open it while you use the 3 to 4 centimeter spanner to turn the top
in the directions the arrow points. †Joanne, I must leave you now. Please,
Joanne, when you are asked in the help survey, I hope you will leave me a
favorable recommendation.† The difficulty is because you do not have the
required tools. I am not at fault. †Have a lovely day!
An author, journalist and playwright, Elaine Kendall (The ďTĒ word; Republicans Expose Obama's Supreme Court Nominees; The New Neanderthal Majority; When Did That Happen?; Reviewese 101)
reviewed books weekly for the LA Times from 1980 to 1997. Her books of American
cultural history are The Upper Hand; (changing roles of men & women) The
Happy Mediocrity; (architecture, clothing, food) Peculiar Institutions; (the
beginning of womenís colleges) & Seeing Europe Again (an anthology of
travel pieces). The first three were published by Little, Brown & Putnam; the
fourth by Capra Press. Her articles have appeared in many national magazines
& newspapers, particularly the NY Times & LA Times.