Sometime last month I was asked to help clear up an 8 month old billing error. It seems one of the other companies that contracts out some of our billing data entry made a big error and we did not get paid for some trades that I set up.
The trades were for one of my least favorite corporate customers who screams like a wounded rabbit anytime they have to pay any extra fees (that by the way is a scary sound). This customer is evil. I mean the sort of "smile-at-you-showing-big-canine-incisors-before-biting-your-arm-off" kind of evil.
I called her up and explained that it was an honest mistake and we needed to bill them for the charges because it had never been billed to them even though the trade was successful.
"I'm so sorry AC. But we just can't accept a bill that old. You do understand.", she said with a Cruella Deville kind of smoothness.
"I do understand its an inconvenience, but the trade was very successful, by my information here, you even complimented us on the excellent profit you made."
"So sorry. I just don't pay bills that old. Better luck next time." **click**
People like this are why guillotines were invented. People like this are why perfectly good wine bottles are emptied so they can be filled with gasoline for Molotov cocktails.
The rest of us can't get away with this type of shit as individuals. Why are corporations allowed to. Yes, I know we could turn them in for collection, and that there are options. But they are a big company and we need their business. She knew she had us by the short hairs.
I know businesses need to make money, but why does that allow right and wrong to be blurred. Is there some place in economics class where you are taught that your soul must be left behind in order to make money? Maybe this is just one little blog, but it's important that it be said, there is good and bad in this world. Making money does not excuse being evil.
I hope she gets to the end of her life and there is a judgement day and all of her making profit is shown as the moldy feces laden garbage that it is, and she has nothing left to show for her life but dishonest profit, no mercy, no charity, nothing. I hope there is a special place in Hell for people that knew how to really work that bottom line. If there is any justice, maybe there could be a big room filled with sewing machines and they could make sportswear to be sold in The Gap while demons whip their backs if they don't make quota, and even the coffee is cold. Yeah...that would be good.
(If I smoked, I would have to stop to have one right now, that felt good...)
Thanks for listening,
I'm not sure exactly when call centers came into being. We do know at some point in our post-industrial past that companies that provided goods and services determined that it was much cheaper to have someone else do the clerical grunt work of answering the phone and actually dealing with the people that would buy their goods and services.
Before call centers like mine that provide services in the name of many other companies, all of those companies were much smaller entities. You had a much better chance of speaking to the people that could really solve your problems. There weren't eight levels of phones between you and the people that made, shipped and sold the things you bought.
The call center is really a tool to control customers. Notice I did not say to please customers, or take care of their needs. No, call centers are designed to control customers and to deflect blame for bad customer service.
Let me show you how. The call center becomes a scape goat for anything that happens between taking the order and billing. The parent company gets all the profit, but anytime there are real complaints they can always blame the call center, that mysterious entity. The call center lost the order, the call center hires rude people, the call center didn't understand our instructions. Call centers are not just a way to outsource clerical duties, they outsource blame and responsibility.
You may be asking me why I am biting the hand that feeds me. I'm not just being a malcontent, but I really do feel bad for my callers when they get frustrated. They were promised services and information and guidance, and they don't get it. Instead they are treated to a buffet of half-ass excuses why they don't get what they pay for. I guess I'm just tired of helping my weasely customers take advantage of good people.
Thanks for reading,
I woke up this morning from a very vivid dream. I was at a taco stand in NY city near a subway entrance eating plate after plate of beef tacos with Michael Jackson. I have no idea what this means. I prefer to think that I just like tacos and I've been reading too much Google news.
Thanks for reading,
I think we can agree that I am a little paranoid and oversensitive(just a little). But I'm not totally without reasons. Sometime the scariest times are when things go well at the call center. I find myself waiting for the other shoe to drop, or start imagining that there are things going on behind my back, that all those meetings management is having is about cutting staff. They must be talking about me. What have I done now?
Whenever I get to that point of paranoia, I take a step back, and repeat one of my favorite maxims: "It's not all about me...It's not all about me...Its not all about me....". If I could slap myself at that point I would. Maybe I could get Angelina Jolie to slap me...She could be wearing high heel black boots...Damn, I'm digressing again.
Since I lost the dream job, I've really made an effort to be thankful for the job I have, and try to improve my performance as far as I can control it. Every morning, when I can remember to, I try to pray to be a better worker and ask for wisdom to do things differently. I'm not trying to appear super-spiritual-I'm just smart enough to realize I need help-I can't do it on my own (if I was spiritual I wouldn't be thinking about Angelina Jolie in boots...)
What's been so scary about this is that things have improved. My call volume is up somewhat, not incredibly, but its not going down either. I don't remember the last time I got yelled at. To make things even scarier, the GM has been pleasant lately, even courteous.
I know there are always multiple causes for anomalies in our world and in the actions of others. My call volume could be the luck of the draw and other people being sick. The GM could have been getting some loving from Mrs. GM and just be in a good mood. My perceptions and my reality is almost always subjective. But for the time being, I'm just going to believe things are going good, and not be paranoid. There's nothing I could do about it anyway.
Thanks for reading,
I have finally put a couple of updates on my other blog if any of you are interested.
Thanks for reading,
I finally saw "Napoleon Dynamite" yesterday. Very funny movie. It's a slow starter, and very subtle. At first you think the hero is an idiot, but after awhile you figure out he is the most intelligent person there is in a world surrounded by utter and complete morons. It's a sneak up on you kind of funny and you'll find yourself talking about it for hours afterward.
It's sweet, and has a good ending. If you've ever been an outsider, geek, dweeb or nerd, you will love it.
While I'm reviewing media, the new U2 album, "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" is outstanding. I can't say enough about The Edge's excellent guitar work and Bono's vocals. The lyrics are intriguing, and poetically pleasing. The best place to buy it is Wal-mart, I got it for under $11.
Thanks for reading,
Curly and crispy,
Salty and smoky,
You put the pizazz in my pierogies,
Combined with onions,
You are the perfection of my pizza.
Without you, a cheeseburger is some sort of cheap sandwich.
With you, (and extra onions),
It is as spectacular as prime rib.
You make me as happy as when I was in third grade,
When the prettiest teacher in the world would put
A happy face on my spelling tests,
With the words, "Great Job!".
You more than make up for the stinking,
Ill-tempered beast that is your origin.
Without you, the world is cold and empty,
Like sex without foreplay.
I really like bacon...
Thanks for reading,
Sorry for the lack of posting. I've actually been reading The Razor's Edge by Somerset Maughm. It's a very interesting novel that makes you think about work, life, and what it means to be truly happy.
If you don't have the patience to read it, watch the classic movie
"The Razor's Edge"(and, no, this is not the Bill Murray version, this is the original black and white). I'll probabally put up a post in a couple of days.
Thanks for reading,
More than 13 years ago(gotta be vague...),I went on my first date with my wife. We met at college. Our first date was great. I didn't have much money, but it went ok. I bought her fuschia carnations. We saw a romantic Disney movie. We went to a charming restaraunt and I almost ran out of money. Wherever the waiter is now, sorry I stiffed you for the tip, it wasn't on purpose.
She was the first woman that I ever really "clicked" with. All of the others were either not kind, did not like me, too much drama, or just nuts. She is kind, sensible, intelligent, sexy and just a nice person. I think that most of the world does not notice what a great person she is.
I walk through my world and see masterpieces of women. I watch them move and smell their perfume. I hear their melodic voices. I like women, they are one of the nicest things about the world. I think this would be an even more cruel, base place without the influence of women.
No matter how much I like other women, there could be no other woman as beautiful and kind and wonderful as my wife. She captures my heart and passion for ever...
Happy Valentines Day,
Thanks for reading,
The phones had been incredibly calm all day. I walked by Larry's desk, bent down and said, "Hey, it's been dead. How 'bout I slip out and reduce your labor costs today?" He looked up at me very seriously, then a slow, devious grin spread across his face."Hit the road! Have a good weekend.", he grinned slyly and I slid my card through the time card computer before he could change his mind.
When I walked outside, it was like winter was out doing some errands and left spring in charge for the afternoon. The sun was on my face, and the temperature was close to 50 degrees. I knew it was still a little cold, but I rolled the windows down to get some fresh air in my lungs.
As I took the ticket from the tollbooth and accelerated onto the turnpike, I started really becoming aware of being happier than I have in a long time. I turned up the CD player and started a buffet of sound for the way home.
"Uno, Dos, Tres, Catorce!", and Bono started the weekend out as I tried to scream along to the vague but catchy lyrics of "Vertigo". Moby, and Seal and Red Hot Chili Peppers for an entree and salad, and Dave Brubeck "Time Out" for dessert.
The trees are all bare, the grass is shining through patches of snow. Everything is on the edge of warmth and new life. I pulled into the garage, ran inside and gave my wife a long kiss.
It was a very good Friday...
Thanks for reading.
Its been a strange week here at the call center. Things have been smooth. Not many customers have been extremely angry or unreasonable-there was one, but I chose to ignore them because they were so ignorant it was everything I could do to not start laughing at them over the phone.
Thats one of the things about being in customer service that always amuses me. People assume that we have been genetically modified and brainwashed to not only care about them, but care deeply and emotionally. They imagine that when they call and explain how they have been deeply inconvenienced that we are taken aback by this travesty and immediately realize that everything that this noble injured customer is saying must be right and that everything we say and do from that point will never make up for tragedy that has occurred to them.
I know, I'm way over the top. But so many of the customers call with this same kind of melodramatic bullshit. Check this out:
Ring, Ring, Ring.
AC:"Anonymous investments, This is AC, How can I help you?"
Caller:"Yes, I...I have a problem with a transaction today."
AC:"OK..What's your transaction number?"
AC:"Ok, I'm looking at the file. What was the problem?"
Caller:"When I set this up, I asked to be notified on my cellphone within 5 mins of completion and to receive a confirmation to be sent to both my fax # and email. I did not receive a call after the trade was completed and the fax was unreadable. This is unacceptable. I just feel like you don't listen or care what happens to your customers!"
AC:"The file here says they tried to call and could not get through, so they left a voicemail. I'm afraid the faxes are all automated and that happens from time to time. I am sorry about that."
Caller:"But I spent an hour worrying that the trade, and then with smeared fax and the lack of phone call, I was a nervous wreck!"
AC(pressing the MUTE key first):"I'm sorry that your three $100 shares in free range muskrat farms caused you to suffer a nervous breakdown. Have you considered a hobby of some kind? Maybe you could start by considering whether the world truly world revolves around you."
AC(releasing the MUTE key again):"I'm really sorry that happened. We are normally more responsive than that. I'm afraid it happened during a rush on the market. I do apologize."
Caller:"I-I just don't know if you see the importance of this. I need to be notified if I'm going to continue to invest with you. I just feel sad that you don't seem to value your customers like you should."
AC:(pressing MUTE again)"Oh no, no, don't take our paltry $20 commission once every other month when you get a hot tip from your exclusive spam e-mail newsletters. I don't know if we can handle that sort of loss to our income."
AC(releasing MUTE again)"We do value your business. I'd like to see if we can make it up to you with a free trade next time."
Caller:"I guess that will be all right..."
AC:"I'll send that right out to you. Thanks for calling." *click*.
Check it out people, if you want good customer service, start by making a personal connection with the people that are helping you, so they see you as a reasonable, nice person that they want to help. Pleasant people do get better service. If that doesn't work, be a holy terror that will not take "no" for an answer. But never, ever, whine. Don't assume that we are weeping for your inconvenience. Because when you are pelted with problems all day long, its almost impossible to feel any kind of compassion when someone whines. Whining never gets results, it just pisses people off.
Thanks for reading,
"Perhaps a man really dies when his brain stops, when he loses the power to take in a new idea. There are a lot of people like that. Dead minds, stopped inside. Just keep moving backwards and forwards on the same little track, growing fainter all the time, like ghosts." Pg 188-George Orwell Coming up For Air
I'm standing up in church listening to the songs. Everyone around me is clapping and putting their hands in the air to worship God. I feel nothing. Just numb...
This last week I found out the job that I believed was my destiny to not only get out of Purgatory, but to make a difference in the world was given to somebody else. It wouldn't have felt so bad, but I really believed that I was being led to this job. I was following everything my heart told me to do, being obedient every way I knew how to what I thought was God's voice, and it all fell apart with a shatter like a shot gun blast to a picture window.
"Why should I worship you? I can't even figure out what I'm supposed to do, or how to hear your voice. I know I'm probabally to blame or there's other things I don't understand, but I'm looking around this world and seeing very little proof that you are working in my life."
In a flash, a portion of a book came to my mind. I've got a pretty good memory, but I can't always quote a paragraph from a book. It was from the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis:
"Never is our cause in such danger Wormwood, than when a man looking around at a universe with no trace of God, no evidence of his power and goodness and the man chooses to believe in God anyway."I know it doesn't make sense. But I chose to let all the crap and bitterness drop there, and chose to renew my relationship with God, even though I still don't understand it all. I just trusted on something deeper than me. I feel better.
Scene:Lounging dejectedly on the couch at home.
"Hello, AC here."
"Dude! It's me, your old buddy, Depression. I'm on the way over, we'll party like we used to!"
"Man, Who told you to call? You know I don't hang out with you anymore!"
"Oh, yeah? Word on the street is you're lower than toenail fungus on a mole. I saw your old buddy, Reason For Living catching a plane to Cancun for one of those "Free-Timeshare Weekends" and your fancy-pants buddy Heady Ambition is down at the Starbucks weeping into his double-shot latte with caramel syrup like a little girl who lost her best dolly."
"So what? That doesn't prove anything. It's just a phase. I'm sharpening up the resume, I'll be out of Purgatory in no time. Why, just today I got a very interesting email from someone at Monster.com..."
Depression interrupts holding up his hand and shaking his head,"Save it for your NPR-listening support group friends. This is me you're talking to! Check it out, you redneck-in-disguise, I got a box of Little Debbie Swiss-Rolls, a large bag of Totino's Pepperoni Pizza Rolls and the entire first season of "The A Team" on DVD. Why don't you and I make a weekend out of it?"
"Alright, just until Monday, but you better hit the bricks then!"
"Whatever you say big guy...Whatever you say..."
Thanks for reading,
The Final Post:Depression Packs His Bags."
Click here to start from the beginning..(it will make more sense.)
What is the connection between bedwetting and religion?
That integral concept of many(not all) of the world's religions that consistently frustrates and confuses so much of the world is the idea that morality is the way to gain Heaven, attain Nirvana, escape Purgatory, etc.
I know, you're thinking it's a good thing I'm anonymous, because Pat Robertson is trying to find my IP address right now to start tracking me down for blaspemy,right? Whether he is or not, I think we can all agree that there is a great deal of teaching by religious leaders that is unconsciously tainted by some societal need to control people and their actions.
I can't speak for the other religions, but I can speak for some of the aspects of Christianity that seem more concerned with controlling people's actions as opposed to bringing them closer to a personal relationship with God. Somewhere along the way, both the followers of Christ, and the world at large got this idea that this specific religion is all about what you do or do not do, instead of what you believe.
All we seem to see lately is the political side of Christianity, that seeks to protect what we have defined as the "Classical Judeo-Christian Values".
Look at part of Orwell's quote again from his essay, "Such, Such Were the Joys...",
"...this was the great, abiding lesson of my boyhood: that I was in a world where it was not possible for me to be good."(Orwell's emphasis)Instead of providing us with an answer to such a cruel world, much of organized religion just makes it harder and harder. We become more and more frustrated with not being able to be good.
Look at this passage from the New Testament...
"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out." Romans 7:14-20I really identified with this passage because I spent a good part of my life going to church hoping I might get to Heaven, but knowing I was sinful and could not do good no matter how hard I tried. In my church, we would go to altar up front and pray after services. I tried to get "saved" over and over.
"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly." Romans 5:6
"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death."-Romans 8:1
"because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy."-Hebrews 10:14
"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."-II Corinthians 5:21What do many of the the world's Religions and Bedwetting have in common? We all wake up one day, discovering we are covered in our own filth in a world that isn't fair. We didn't want to be this way, we didn't choose it. We can try to pretend it doesn't exist, we can try to hide, but we know the filth is there. But true religion doesn't have to beat you until the cane is broken for something you can't change. True religion is a living relationship with a God that cleans you up and gives you the energy and hope and to live a better life.
The dream job just called and told me they gave it to someone else. I don't know what to do now. I thought I really had it all together this time...
Thanks for reading,
The Next Chapter:"Depression Calls"
Purgatory: A place of suffering and torment with an unknown duration. In Roman Catholic Theology-the place where the dead are purified from their sins.
By Rage Against The Machine