Outsourcing Naming Conventions

Unlike some, I don’t particularly object to outsourcing. If Office Depot wants to hire Indians instead of Americans to answer their phones, that’s OK with me. Working in technology and science for the last twenty years or so, I’m pretty used to Indian accents, and don’t find them any harder to understand than a Texas accent (and considerably easier than a Scottish accent). I do object to bad service, but experience has taught me that an American isn’t any more likely to be able to tell me why they’ve missed two confirmed delivery dates than an Indian is.

However, I really, really hate being lied to. When I talk to someone on the phone, I want to know their name. I can recognize an Indian accent within a few syllables, and I know that Indian men are not customarily named “John Kelly”. Does Office Depot really think I’m that stupid? That just because someone introduces themselves as “Eugene” I’m not going to realize I’m talking to someone in India? The scam is so transparently obvious, it’s almost laughable.

Folks: stop insulting my intelligence. If the the person on the other end of the phone is named Bhaswan or Nirav or Amee, then tell me that. You’re not fooling anyone by insisting your employees use American names. All these little lies do is convince me I can’t trust you for the bigger things either.

12 Responses to “Outsourcing Naming Conventions”

  1. Anjan Bacchu Says:

    hi there,

    I’m one of those indians (in the US) :-)

    there are some small indian names and there are some long indian names. I’m told that the reason they are given western easy names is so that it should NOT be difficult for the customer to pronounce such names.

    How easy is it for you to pronounce these names

    a) Jayalakshmi ?
    b) Dasharatharamaiah Setty ?
    c) Siddhalingesha
    d) venkatasubramanya
    e) Chikkadoddayya
    f) Puttasiddalingaiah

    Just a few names from around the Bangalore area.

    There’s a hell lot of variation in names throughout India.

    the name of the game, I’m told, is to make it easy for the customer to call them. Well, there are going to be people like you, who will feel offended.

    Now that you know, does it make it any better ?


  2. Vivek Says:

    As the previous comment said, it is not about being insulting. The just want to make it easier for the customers. Would it help if they started mentioning their real names? No. It does not help that you can catch the accent in a few seconds and know that it is not a “John Kelly” or “Eugene” answering the phone. I think its time the outsourcing companies learn this and change their training accordingly.

  3. George Bailey Says:

    Use numbers. The person can say “My name is Siddhalingesha, but if it’s easier for you, you can refer to me as operator #123.”

  4. Frank Wilhoit Says:

    1) I know how to pronounce Indian (French, German, Spanish, Russian, etc. etc. etc.) names and can’t see why any educated person ought not be able to pronounce them as well.

    2) A person’s name is part of their identity and it is therefore profoundly immoral to distort it, purposefully or through carelessness.

  5. Doug Simpkinson Says:


    I used to be a support call center employee, and we handled lots of calls from Indians. I remember one in particular – his name was Venkatesan, but he called himself “Venky”. Is there a cultural aversion to abbreviating names like we often do in the US? For example, my grandfather was named “Frederick”, but everyone called him “Fred”.

    So, in the above list of names, the operators could say their names are “Jaya”, “Dash”, “Siddha”, “Venkat”, “Chikka”, and “Potta” (Puta means something non-flattering in Spanish.)

  6. Adrian Says:

    >How easy is it for you to pronounce these names

    Sure, it’s not that easy – but that’s just because English speakers aren’t used to them. And the only way to learn is to use them!

  7. Anjan Bacchu Says:

    Hi Doug/Adrian,

    operator : “Hi, Good Morning My Name is venkatasubramanya”.

    customer : “wha what is your name ?!!”

    The customer call is NOT about understanding new names. Yes, Indians do have a shorter version for names — although not everybody is confortable to shorten it. Although a lot of them are willingly doing it to help others. Not all customers are disposed to learn new names.

    Then, again my wife was looking for a really short name when our daughter was born so that just about everybody would have it easy.

    My dad would not like others to call him dash but maybe a 20+/30+ year old guy wouldn’t mind — then again, most call center operators are in really young.

    It wouldn’t hurt to tell the customers, as fred mentioned “My name is Siddhalingesha, but if it’s easier for you, you can refer to me as Siddha”. I’m sure some of them already do.

    Oh, well with a lot more outsourcing going on, I’m sure such feedback will get incorporated!! I wish there was a way to tell the indian companies about such civilized complaints.


  8. John George Says:

    Among my schoolmates in India were Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Aldous Huxley, Stalin and Lenin. “John Kelly” is rare but certainly within the realm of possibility.

  9. Augusto Says:

    The names are changed many times so that people don’t know they’re calling India, it’s as simple as that.

    Don’t change the names, it insults the callers intelligence. Nicknames as suggested before are a good idea, deception is not.

    At the end of the day however, sorry to shock “call center” people, but we don’t need to remember your names, just get our problem fixed.

  10. Christopher Colucci Says:

    Frank, you are in idiot. So you taught yourself music and can pronounce names. Enjoy wallowing in your self-proclaimed prestige but take a moment to consider a possibility outside the realm of your little world. Many people physically can`t produce certain sounds with their mouths. The Japanese `r`, for example, is not the same as an `r` in any language you can are so deft at pronouncing names in. It may sound similar, but most westerners can not do it. Similarly, many westerners have trouble with other pronunciations. In closing, education has little to do with a person`s physical pronunciation capabilities.

  11. Mokka mit Schlag » Do Not Call Me Says:

    […] calls in the last fifteen minutes, one from Mark Marshall at Ambit Energy (though I’m certain he lied about his name) and one from Daniel of the Police Conference of New York (one of those scummy organizations that […]

  12. John Cowan Says:

    I once asked the driver of a truck who was moving my possessions what his name was. “My name!” He laughed. “No American can pronounce my name.”

    It so happens I don’t have problems pronouncing Russian names, but I didn’t argue.

    Christopher C.: Japanese /r/ is a tap, just like Spanish /r/. And the problem isn’t physical, it’s a matter of habit.