Speaking the same language, but only technically

You know how I just got HD? Well, this process all started with me wanting a Blu-ray player so I could watch Netflix without waiting for the discs to come in the mail.

That part of the project has been… tricky. I’ve spent several late nights in the past week trying to get that one simple thing done.

I thought I’d share with you my conversation — excuse me, “chat,” which isn’t the same thing — about the problem with a tech at Sony. As you read it, imagine unexplained pauses of five or 10 minutes while I wait for short, incomplete answers from the tech. Of course, when I took a couple of minutes to go try what the tech suggested (going through the process on a different browser), I got “Please acknowledge my question, so that I can assist you better.”

Note that, while it’s all in English, there is a distinct… disconnect… in the flow of communication. I get the sense that each comment is being run imperfectly through a translator. And it was amazingly frustrating. I was so desperate to work effectively with this person that I even slipped into a stilted version of English myself, hoping it would facilitate things (“Yes, it persists.” To which I got another deadpan, Hal-9000 answer):

Corinne_ > Hi Brad. Welcome to Sony Online Support. I’m Corinne. Please allow me a moment to review your concern.
Brad Warthen > Here is a full description of the problem:
Brad Warthen > I’m trying to get Netflix on my new Blu-ray player. I have an internet connection, but when it tells me to go to internet.sony.tv/netflix on my computer and enter a password, I run into trouble. That address asks me for my e-mail address and a password. So I enter my e-mail address, and the password that the Blu-ray player told me to use, and I get “The password you entered is invalid. Please enter a valid password.” So I try the password I created when I registered my player, and I get the same message. So I click on “Reset or Forgot your Password” and follow the directions, and you send me a new, temporary password. I’ve done this THREE TIMES now, and each time I enter the new, temporary password minutes (sometimes seconds) after receiving it, and I get “Your temporary password has expired. Please change the existing password at SonyStyle website.” Every time, same message. So what in the world am I supposed to do now?
Corinne_ > I am sorry that the BD Player can not be registerred in the Sony Essential website.
Corinne_ > Thanks for waiting, Brad.
Corinne_ > I’ll be happy to assist you in this regard.
Corinne_ > Do you have a SonyStyle account?
Brad Warthen > Yes.
Corinne_ > Did you try using different Web Brower?
Brad Warthen > No. I just used Firefox.
Brad Warthen > Hello? Are you there?
Corinne_ > Yes, I am online.
Brad Warthen > I said no, I just used Firefox. Is there a preferred browser?
Corinne_ > Brad, it is recommened to open the Eseential website in either Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox 3.6.
Corinne_ > Please check the operation with a different web browser.
Brad Warthen > I’m using Firefox. 3.6.10. But I’ll go try IE as well.
Corinne_ > Sure, please go ahead.
Corinne_ > Please let me know if the issue persists.
Brad Warthen > … that is, assuming it still works… I never use IE; I always use Firefox or Chrome…
Corinne_ > Please let me know the result after using Internet Explorer.
Corinne_ > Please acknowledge my question, so that I can assist you better.
Brad Warthen > Yes, it persists.
Brad Warthen > I tried all my passwords, then requested a new one. When I entered the new one, I got “Your temporary password has expired. Please change the existing password at SonyStyle website. ” Again.
Corinne_ > I am sorry to hear this.
Corinne_ > Thanks for the additional information.
Corinne_ > I am really sorry for the delay in response.
Corinne_ > This is a dead lock issue.
Brad Warthen > What does that mean?
Corinne_ > This deadlock issue can handled by our next level of support over phone.
Brad Warthen > OK, what’s the number?
Corinne_ > They are our next level of support and better eqipped to help you resolving the issue.
Brad Warthen > OK. What’s the number, so I can call them?
Corinne_ > They are available at: 239-768-7547.
Corinne_ > Their hours of operation is:
Corinne_ > Mon-Fri 8:00AM-12:00AM (Midnight) ET
Sat-Sun 9:00AM-8:00PM ET
Brad Warthen > OK, I’ll call, and tell them it’s a “deadlock issue.”
Corinne_ > I am sure that they will be more than happy to further assist you resolving the issue.
Corinne_ > Please mention that you have contacted Chat Support Team for the same regard before while contacting the.
Corinne_ > Hence, theyb will be further assist you fixing the issue.
Corinne_ > Thus, you can access Netflix fine in the BD Player.
Corinne_ > Are you able to take it from here?
Brad Warthen > Yes. I was trying to copy the text of this chat so that I’d have the number and times, but the text box doesn’t allow me to select it. Could you e-mail me the info?
Corinne_ > Sure, Brad.
Corinne_ > I’ll forward this chat transcript to your Email ID for future reference.
Brad Warthen > Thanks. Goodbye.
Corinne_ > This Chat Transcript has been sent to: brad@bradwarthen.com.
Corinne_ > You are most welcome.
Corinne_ > It was really nice chatting with you.
Corinne_ > Have great time ahead!
Corinne_ > Good-bye and thank you for contacting Sony Online Support.
Corinne_ > Analyst has closed chat and left the room

So I guess tonight, I’ll be on the phone for several hours.

7 thoughts on “Speaking the same language, but only technically

  1. Lynn

    Brad, you obviously need a resident 13 year old geek/nerd. Or I highly recommend Geek Squad installation through Best Buy. Of course if your internet service provide is Time Warner that explains it all.

  2. Kathryn Fenner

    It reads like your “chat” with “Corinne” was with a computer. It seems as if computerized customer service isn’t much advanced from the days of computer psychotherapy.

    Hey, if your first language was Assembly, you’d probably interact like that, too. Unfortunately, sometimes talking to live techies (or computer science professors) results in the same…

  3. bud

    Do they still have that 1950s looking computer handwriting analysis booth at the fair? Seems like I saw it a few years ago and it seem sooooo anachronistic. Maybe I’ll go this year just to check it out.

  4. Brad

    Thing is, Lynn, I AM on a certain level a 13-year-old geek/nerd. Pardon me while I go ogle that video of Felicia Day again…

    And Kathryn, I sort of picked up on the same thing, the idea that “Corinne” was, instead of some warm lovely from Bombay, a Hal-like entity. But I’m not sure. Would Hal make typos like those at the end (“Hence, theyb will be further assist you fixing the issue”), or have trouble with idiomatic expressions? Would a computer be programmed to say “hence?”

    Only one programmed by a particularly whimsical 13-year-old geek/nerd, I suppose…

  5. Kathryn Fenner

    The skill set that makes for a programmer is not the same one that makes for a great speller or character-writer. I’m guessing the writer of the original “responses” might also be a non-native speaker.

    So much for Garrison Keillor’s Guild of English Majors theory that we at least are the last resort for jobs requiring some language skills.


    Don’t they route some McDonald’s drive-through orders through India now?

  6. scout

    I have had similar tech chats with (???people???) where I have been really tempted to just blurt “Are you a real person?” during one of those pauses. Just when I’ve decided they are automated, they say something more novel or authentic. I’ve concluded they are perhaps foreign and using canned phrases provided to them in some format (perhaps a program, maybe just a sheet beside their keyboard – perhaps explaining the typos.)

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