Checking our Tickets

nathanielkiddnathanielkidd on 1219963147|%B %d

In a way, it was just another experience with an Indian call center. But for the first time, and quite possibly not the last, I was calling the Indian call center of an Indian company.

I tried to put it off as long as possible, but there comes a point when you really just want to double check to make sure everything’s going to work out with your plane tickets. The airport is kind of a lousy place to find out that something has gone wrong.

After we purchased our plane tickets online, I got a message on my cell phone. It was so garbled that I couldn’t quite understand it, but after listening to it five or six times, I found it was from MakeMyTrip, the company through whom we ordered our tickets. But I still couldn’t discern what they were calling about, and they didn’t leave a number. I figured that if it was important, they would make some other effort to get ahold of me.

They didn’t.

Sarah woke up the other morning, randomly worried about it. “I checked on the internet,” she told me, “I can’t find any record of our tickets. Would you contact them today while I’m at work to see what’s going on?”

“We have the e-receipt in our inbox,” I replied, hesitantly, “and they charged our credit card.”

She gave me a skeptical look.

“I suppose I could check it out,” I said. I hate phones.

I browsed through their website. I couldn’t find any record of our tickets, either. I tried sending them an email. No response. I tried the LiveChat. I explained my problem to a guy named Gulpar, and he replied “ok” several times, and then silence. I switched to another window to work on something while I waited for his response. When I looked back, he had suddenly asked for my PTA number seven times and closed the chat.

I found a cryptic note on the website FAQ about a letter of dispatch needed for international journeys. I got something like that attached to an email, but nothing gave me any hints as to what it was, or what I should do with it.

So, it was time to suck it up and call the company.

A recorded female voice with a light Indian accent thanked me for calling, and asked me to press 1 to book a flight, or 2 to confirm an existing reservation.

I pressed 2.

The recorded voice came back again, and told me that they were facing high call volume. But she assured me my call was valuable, so I should be patient and stay on the line. There was an AM quality sitar snipped, about ten seconds long, and then she told me again. A reprise of the sitar music. Another polite notification. The cycle grew quite tiresome long, long before my call was answered. I held the phone six inches from my ear, quickly jerking it back every time there was a break in the sitar music. Unfortunately, it was the recorded voice.

After fifteen minutes of waiting, someone finally answered the phone. But then I was immediately disconnected. Chagrined, I said “Hello?” into the receiver seven or eight times, until a recorded voice told me I had waited too long to dial.

I sighed heavily, and dialed again.

After another long ordeal on hold, I (thankfully) got an operator. I had been lulled into a false sense of security by the understandability of the chorus of the recorded message. Not only did my operator have a thick Indian accent, it sounded like he was talking from underwater. And I could hear two or three other conversations in the background.

“Thank you for calling MakeMyTrip,” he gurgled at me, “How can I help you?”

“I’ve been having trouble accessing my e-ticket,” I told him, “and I wanted to confirm my booking.”

“You have a booking?” he asked me.

“What was that?” I thought I had pressed 2…

“You have a booking already, sir?” he repeated.

“Yes, yes I do,” I confusedly responded?

“Can I have your booking number?”

“Certainly.” I tabbed over to my email. They had given me about six numbers, but I was pretty sure I was looking at the right one. “It’s G-B-S…”

“Sir, I am very very sorry to interrupt you, sir, but could you please hold the line for one minute, sir?”

“Come again?”

“Could you hold the line a minute?”

“Um, sure.”

I could tell he put me on some kind of hold, because all the ambient noise in the background suddenly cut out.

I waited a couple of moments, then finally,

“Sir? Thank you for holding the line. Could you please give me your booking number, please, sir?”

“Excuse me?” He had come back quite abruptly.

“Thank you for holding the line, sir. Could I please have your booking number?”

“Oh. Certainly. It is G-B-S…”

“I’m sorry to interrupt you again, sir, but could you please one letter at a time, and spell phonetically for me?”

“Um, yeah, sure, I suppose…that would be G—as in…gorilla—,” He made a little grunt indicating that he registered this.

“Um…B—as in…burrito—,” Hey, it was the first thing that came to mind! I concluded that this wasn’t helpful, anyway, so I gave up.

“…S…T…” I continued.

“I’m sorry sir,” he said, “But was that ‘G-B-R?’ ‘R’ as in Romeo?”

And I wondered—How did he get “R” from “S”?

“No, ‘S’. G-B-S—S as in socks.”

“Ok, ok,” he cracked at me. “Continue.”

“T—as in tornado…V—as in vagabond…P—as in protrusion. Then number 1, number 7, number 3, 5, 9, 8.”

“Again, sir? Was that 3-5-9-3?”

“No, 3598. 8.”

“3? 1-2-3? 3?”

“No—3-5-9-8. 6-7-8. 8.”

“OK. Very good sir. What is first name?”

“First name? Nathaniel?”

“OK, sir, flying from Richmond, VA, to Delhi. What is it that I can do for you?”

“Um. I just wanted to make sure everything was alright with the ticket. I haven’t been able to access my e-ticket.”

“Yes sir. Everything is fine. Your e-ticket number is double oh one, double eight, double five, double seven, double three. Have a nice afternoon and thank you for traveling with us.”

I certainly hope that conversing face to face is easier than talking to someone in a call center over a shady connection. But I’m sure it will be. Things are always more real in person.

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