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Gold'en Rant : Support line call quality - getting worse by the minute

The credit crunch is now starting to affect the quality of support lines to Indian and South African call centres; not the quality of the support, but the quality of the lines.

Telcos, as well as IT companies, it seems, are trying to trim the costs of operating these support lines and, as a first step, are switching to VOIP connections for such calls.

And the quality of the line is suffering as a result.

I've had problems on calls to Dell and HP's Indian call centres in recent weeks, as well as when talking to TalkTalk's operation in South Africa.

In all cases the call quality has been abysmally poor, both in terms of volume and interference. On one call to Dell, the quality was so bad I had to hang up and redial. And this, after waiting in a call queue for around 20 minutes.

And it's going to get worse, as Ofcom, the telecoms regulator, has decreed that non-geographic numbers - e.g. 0870, 0845 etc., commonly used for telephone support lines - will no longer be charged at non-standard rates from later this year onwards.

This will mean that revenue-sharing on non-geographic numbers will disappear, forcing companies using these numbers to cut their costs still further.

And guess what will be hardest hit? - it will be the quality of the phone lines as telcos multiplex more and more simultaneous calls onto a given section of the digital lines concerned.

Coupled with the fact that the accents of the call centre staff in Asia are also tricky to understand, this is going to make it almost impossible to get sensible IT support over the phone.

Unless, of course, you pay for that service via a premium rate number; Perhaps that was the intention all along? Great, Just great...