Friday, April 02, 2004

Outsourcing and the future

Brad DeLong has an essay on outsourcing that's worth reading. Although in favour of it in terms of the economic theory, the social safety nets are going to be grossly insufficient. It will be a big change, as he notes:
Because this is an economic transformation that is going to hit not in one shot next year but over the course of the next generation, we have plenty of time: time to build the social safety net, the education and retraining programs, the social and economic institutions needed to turn the coming of trade in white-collar services from a win-lose to a win-win affair for America and Americans; time to rebuild confidence that employment will be full and the duration of unemployment spells short. But we will need all this time, because the magnitude of the approaching economic trade shock will be much larger than anything in our historical memory.
Read it all, as they say.

I will say I was not impressed with Dell's clearly outsourced support. I'm not saying locals would have done better mind you, as stupid knows no boundaries. I emailed them letting them know I needed to update Microsoft Office from the web, and it was demanding a CD be inserted. The copy of Office I had came preinstalled, and for some reason I had no CD when I got my Dell. So clearly they needed to send me a CD, right? It took 25 emails back and forth, where they kept repeating a line from what was obviously a script:

"We are sorry you are having problems installing Microsoft Office. You can get the CD key that is printed on the CD case"

No matter how many times I calmly explained that was not what I was doing, and what I needed, they kept repeating back the same line to me. I imagine them casting half an eye on my emails somewhere in Bangalore, not reading it, and replying with the rote line with no comprehension at all. Then they would laugh and listen to the latest forgettable US pop music on their Ipods. Finally I had to resort to being irate in email and demanding to speak to a supervisor. At last a human actually read my email and shipped me the CD. Of course they got my zip code wrong, leading to a slow delivery. And they shipped me the wrong CD, despite me telling them what I needed. Can I get someone to live my life via an outsourcing contract? I can't take it any more.


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