• You hear a lot of complaining these days about jobs being "outsourced" — particularly tech help centers. You think you're calling someone in the U.S. with that laptop problem, but it turns out you're yapping with a guy in India.

    Me? I'd be grateful to talk to anyone, anyone at all who'd help me. But no human will, at least not over the phone. And I don't think it's just me.

    Look, I don't mean to sound paranoid, but the world really doesn't want to talk to us or hear our problems.

    If you have an issue about your PC, e-mail it. Got the wrong item in the mail? Then mail it back and shut up.

    Now, of course, the retailer's Web site doesn't say, "Mail it back and shut up" — but it does politely suggest that.

    There are some sites that don't leave a single telephone number — not a one. They no more want to hear from you than the Ponderosa manager near me wants to see me show up on all-you-can-eat buffet night.

    You don't doubt me, just try calling any service provider — if you're lucky to get a number.

    It won't mean a damn thing, because I guarantee you, after a series of endless telephone prompts, they'll direct you to their Web site and have you whine about your problem there, where they don't have to listen to you, argue with you or remotely put up with you.

    So consider yourself lucky if you get some guy who barely speaks English on the phone. At least you got someone on the phone.

    It beats e-mail. And certainly, it beats me.

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