Call Center Purgatory <$BlogRSDURL$>
Call Center Purgatory
Monday, October 31, 2005
  A Call Center Prayer...

Dear God, please guide me today..
Give me wisdom to deal with my customers.
Show me which trades to do first,
And which ones to delay.

Help me to be patient with my customers,
Help me to be a blessing to my boss and to the company.
Help me to be profitable.
In Jesus name I pray,


“Anonymous Investments, This is AC how can I help you?”
“I’ve been on hold for five minutes, this is unacceptable!”
“I’m really sorry about that, how can I help you?”



“Anonymous Investments, This is AC how can I help you?”
“You people have totally screwed up this order! It was supposed to be for fifty shares and not five!”
“I’m sorry. Let me see if I can fix that…”



“Anonymous Investments, This is AC how can I help you?”
"I don't know why I do business with you people! No one confirmed my twenty thousand dollar order! Let me talk to a Supervisor!"
"Hold, Please.."

I turned to my friend Jeff and said, "You know, they don't want us to help them. They call in already pissed off at the world, and refuse to give us any motivation beyond our never-increasing-paychecks to do them well."
"Yep...I don't know why we bother."

There are some days I hit the phones, full of hope and ready to make the world a better place. Then the world kicks me in the nads and I limp home crying in a high pitched voice. I guess this was one of those days. I'm not trying to say that prayer doesn't work, I guess I always thought it would be worse than that if I didn't pray.

Thanks for reading,


Anonymous Cog

Sunday, October 30, 2005
  Taking Steps

Check out this blog. I enjoyed it.

Thanks for reading,


Anonymous Cog

Friday, October 28, 2005
  Shifting Production Paradigms

Alisa came out of the GM's office with a look of shock. Her eyes were wide, her mouth a little open and just a confused look on her face.

Reviews have actually started, at least for some of the new employees. But most of us old veterans have still not got one, and the ones that have are pretty tight lipped about it.

Alisa is a new hire that came here from an investment bank, so she already knew alot of the business. She's not been doing well though, she knows what to do, but seems to not be catching up with all of the details that the rest of us do by memory.

Finally, once Larry left the floor she spoke...
"70 trades per day!"
"What did you say?"
"They want me to average 70 trades a day!"
"George did 90 one day, but it was the busiest day anyone had ever seen, and it was a record. But even the best people here only do 50 trades a day, 60 if they are kicking ass, and thats after they have been here several years!"
"Nope, they were serious. They want to see me do 70 trades a day..."

I suspected one of two things here. Either they wanted to get rid of Alisa, and they were trying to start a paper trail (they've never done that with the rest of us), or the GM and some of his new cronies have made new goals for our little call center. Either way, its not good news.

But what kills me is this, how can you say something is "normal" when it hasn't been done before? Surely they knew we would tell her different. Anyone can look up the numbers, they aren't a secret. All you need is 30 mins and an Excel spreadsheet and you can know the real averages, the real distribution. If you are projecting these kind of goals, say it that way, but ideal and actual are two different things last time I checked.

Thanks for reading,


Anonymous Cog

Wednesday, October 26, 2005
  Beauty Strolls Through My World...

Image courtesy of
(image courtesy of

I was walking down the sidewalk on a brisk fall day when I caught myself staring. Twenty feet ahead was a woman walking quickly in a pair of fitted cream colored trousers. She had high heels on and a silky red blouse. But what caught my eyes was her butt.

It was magnificent.

Each cheek, perfectly round, fluid and complete, moved gracefully on its own. I could not look away. The shape was not too skinny, too bony, too flat or too muscular. Instead, the image before me was replaced by a perfectly round shape, curved and proportioned as artistically and sublime as any thing I have seen at the Art Institute of Chicago.

It reminded me of a day when I was driving through the hills of Kentucky in the early fall as the leaves changed. As I crested the top of the hill, I could see the bright, yellow leaves triumphantly clinging to the trees, making bright round shapes that moved,swayed and shimmered in the cold wind as though they were listening to a jazz trio with a hot bassist at the foot of the trees pumping rhythm into the roots, spreading throughout the forest.

I was so pleased that she didn't hide this work of art under a coat, long sweater or tunic like so many women do. She moved with the grace of someone unapologetic for her shape, proud of who she was, celebrating what her momma gave her. She was a moving art exhibition, gliding through my world, in town for five minutes only.

Looking at her was not creepy or lustful. I knew there was a brain in her head, and a warm heart in her chest. I knew she was a real person and not just a piece of meat. I didn't want to have her, or stalk her. She was not the woman I loved. She was not the woman that has stood by all of my pompous bullshit.

No, she was just a woman that reminded me why I love women. She reminded me of all of the women in my world, all of the shapes, sizes and smells of the women who have scolded me, fed me, teased me, kissed and hugged me. From my mother to the fourteen-year-old brunette with blue eyes that gave me my first kiss, to my aunts, teachers, and finally to the incredible woman I have been blessed with as my wife, I love women.

To gaze at this beauty as she passed was not lechery, or wanton lust. No, looking at her was simply an appreciation for the works of God in all it's forms.

I like big butts and I cannot lie....

Thanks for reading,


Anonymous Cog

Tuesday, October 25, 2005
  Keep Your Eyes Peeled to This Spot!

Hi everybody,

I'm back from my leave of absence. Tune in to tomorrow for a post that I'm almost afraid to post. It's not erotica, but it's not certainly not family friendly either. It's called "Beauty Strolls Through My World". I'm very happy with the mental imagery, but it goes to a little farther than I normally go...

Thanks for reading,


Anonymous Cog

Friday, October 14, 2005
  Cog on the Loose

Hey everybody,

I'm going to be away from the blog for about a week and a half. I'll try to have some new stuff ready, check back then.

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, October 13, 2005
  A Journey to Perfection

Here's another call center blogger.


Wednesday, October 12, 2005
  Spam,Spam,Spam,Spam,Baked Beans and Spam!

Breakfast time and the cupboard is almost bare. All I can find is a can of Bush's Baked Beans, Spam, 1 egg and 1 piece of bread. All of sudden, my mind races back to the countless hours of Monty Python that poisoned my brain as a teenager...

I'd have to try it.

Sliced the Spam thinly, cooked it good and hot, cooked the egg overeasy, put about a 3/4 cup of beans on the plate and shot three squirts of hot sauce over the top just to make up for any lack of flavor.

It was surprisingly good. I do not suggest letting the eggs and the beans mix, but putting the baked beans on the toast was good.

All was missing was a cup of Twinings Irish Breakfast Tea(my favorite), and it would have been complete.

Thanks for the recipe lads! Cheers!

And thanks for reading,


Tuesday, October 11, 2005
  Call Center QA Blues

Check out another call center blog.


Monday, October 10, 2005
  Call Center Poetry

While I am thinking about poetry, I finally got around to organizing my poetry archives. You can see them on the right hand side. I am also trying to clean up the selections on the sides, so there will be some new things to read. I'm afraid I still have not figured out how to fix that firefox problem. I don't really have the kind of time to retool the whole template, unless someone knows a quick fix, until then, you'll have to use schlep on over using internet explorer...Sorry.

Thanks for reading,


  I've been tagged.

TLG over at Suicidal Snowflakes tagged me. This is a pretty interesting tag, its mainly for verbose individuals who have large archives. Here's the rules of the tag:

1. Go into your archives.
2. Find your 23rd post.
3. Post the fifth sentence (or closest to it).
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
5. Tag five other people to do the same thing.

In chapter 23, fifth verse, we read:
"This has put the management here in a tough position."

Things are a little better than then, business has gotten better, but it's still far from a "freakin' wonderland".

Here's the next victims in the tag:
Sleeping with Winona Ryder
Chaotic Spring
Bailey's Broadcast

Thanks for reading,


  Check these out

Check out these two new interesting blogs.

Leader Notes is by Hal Halladay, and is a very interesting blog about leadership. He has practical things to say, not just pointy-haired-boss-Dilbert-speak like so many others.

Shylohs Poetry is a writer from that has a real gift for free verse. She has a real ability to create images from words.

Thanks for reading,


Saturday, October 08, 2005
  Everything Changes Part III

In the last episode, we found our hero asking his boss if he wanted him to leave because he was not happy with his numbers...

"If you don't like my work, maybe you need to tell me to leave."

I wasn't sure what I expected him to say, part of me wanted him to fire me so I could collect unemployment since they had no paper trail of grievances. The other part of me was just pissed and wanted to lean on him a little to see how he would react.

"No...We don't want you to leave. We need you to handle the research projects for the mutual funds, I don't want other people involved with that because those people are so picky. We do need you to stay, just try to get your numbers up."

He was actually nervous, he had dropped the tough guy attitude and seemed sincere.

"I know Brad is a jerk, he says things that he shouldn't. Brad and the other managers ask me about your numbers, and I tell them not to bother you because of the research work we have you do. If there was something wrong, you know I'd let you know clearly..."

I couldn't believe my ears! What I really wanted to say was "What the Hell?! You were just saying my numbers stink and you weren't happy with how I'm doing, and now you're sticking up for me and protecting me from the other managers? let me know clearly?', HA! That's a joke! I have to ask for constructive criticism, and feedback about my work, and you think I believe that statement?!?"

But, either I was a coward, or just pragmatic, and didn't say that. Instead, I decided to go a different route, maybe I could get something good out of this.

"When am I getting a raise? It's been a long time."

"I'll talk to the GM about that and get back to you..."

So it was over. I left our short meeting feeling so many things. Anger...I found myself wishing that there were more unclean,filthy words in the English language to explain the sort of disgust and anger at these people that every thought brought me. Screaming "FUCK!" at the top of my voice was simply not enough. But besides just the anger, I was sad, kind of depressed.

All along, I thought I had taken the moral high ground, that I was obeying their policies, dotting all my I's and crossing all of my T's, I was proud how took care of each call that came through quickly. Then I come to find out that management does not care that I follow their written instructions, they don't care how I take care of their customers. The most important thing is the number of trades completed, and quality, and courtesy is only important when someone gets caught, or if we lose money on a big mistake.

Even more disappointing than that, it makes me sad to know that there is a group of people that have judged me as a lazy worker and a bad person. Even if I get my numbers up, then they will simply say I straightened up after Larry yelled at me. I don't really like them either, but I just hate being misunderstood when I was doing what I sincerely thought was right.

Well, now that everything is crystal clear, I'll change my ways and see what happens. I promise you will be the first to know what happens.

Thanks for reading,


Click below to read the other parts of this series
EpiloguePart II
Part I

Friday, October 07, 2005
  Everything Changes Part II

"Larry, I need to talk to you in private for a few minutes."
"Ok, The GM is out, lets go in his office."
Great, the last time I was in here they yelled at me, and I yelled back.
Deja Vue..
He wasn't even curious. It felt like he knew what I wanted already.

"What's on your mind AC?"
"There's something going on with Brad. Every time I have any contact with Brad, he goes out of his way to make comments about my numbers, but you're my boss, and he isn't. What's going on here? What aren't you telling me? I know something is up and I'm tired of not hearing it from anyone directly!"

"Your numbers stink! They are always lower than the others! We're not happy with that. I know you know what sort of numbers everyone else is doing and you just don't seem to care. You need to take more trades at a time, and take more calls."

There it was. All of my suspicions, all of my paranoia, proven true. I had spent the last year trying to convince myself that I had nothing to worry about and that they would tell me if they did not like my numbers, then in 1 minute, I found out how wrong I had been about them. No reviews, no warnings, no goals, no leadership, I just "should have known". What a cop-out! What a coward! Even worse than that, they all judged me as a slacker that didn't care based on assuming I knew what they were thinking, when they didn't have the guts to lay it out, I had to ask for real criticism.

"First off, You have me doing extra research for those mutual funds that the others don't do, you even added to it lately by having me check out some of their bond preferences. Then, I'm not passing off every call to the customer service temps like your top performers, I take every call that comes. Lastly, do you want me to start filling in only half the fields and not obeying your policies about confirming trades, market change pre-authorizations, and notifications? All these top players don't do that even half the time. Do you want me to do a worse job for more numbers?"

"....Uhh...Well..No, you should keep following policy..Look, you need to stop taking the customer service calls, I don't want you to take them. We still need to see more numbers from you."

"I still have not got a review. You still haven't answered the question of the extra research I do. I always thought you were straight with me about things, I thought you would tell me straight if you weren't happy with my work. If you don't like my work, maybe you need to tell me to leave..."

I don't know what made me say the last part, it wasn't the smartest thing I had ever done, but the look in his eyes and his tone changed immediately....

More later...

Thanks for reading,


Click below to read the other parts of this series
Part III
Part I

Thursday, October 06, 2005
  Everything Changes

I'm still kind of numb from what happened today.

I may have done a great thing, I'm not sure yet, time will have to tell.

The day was going along like any other day, I was getting a few trades, but spending most of my time on research for one of our very picky commercial customers. I wasn't making any kind of effort to slack, I was just working my regular pace and taking calls as they came in between doing my research. Toward the end of the day, one of the executives on the board, walked out on the floor and started talking to Larry.

"I've just been talking to Human Resources, they've got a great group of new CSR's coming through training that are going to make up for some of the older CSR's that are slacking off. Maybe we can start getting rid of some of the dead wood around here. You, know, like those that take so much time pretending to do research instead of knocking out trades like the real professionals here. Once these new people get trained, we'll be able to start getting rid of those kind of people soon. There's simply no reason all of the CSR's can't be bringing in numbers that guarantee profitability. We're here to make a profit, its a shame some people don't see that."

The king of subtlety he was not. The pattern of speech, the volume and tone communicated so much. That tone! Oh, if you could only hear his tone! His tone was so condescending, so utterly superior, yet so incredibly ignorant, I could only think bitterness, hatred, and guile. He mocks and sneers at what he sees on his excel spreadsheets, but he can't be bothered to speak to us to find out any real answers. His Brooks Brothers suit, his shiny wing tips, the gold ring and the moussed hair, it all made me sick with rage. We haven't seen raises in a long time, but our sales make his bonuses.

I had more than a hunch he was referring to me. I didn't hear Larry agree or disagree with him. The fact that Larry didn't stick up for me, or offer even a feeble defense, that said he either agrees with this schmuck or is more of a putz than I originally thought. Whether I was paranoid or not, something had to change around here. This time I was going to get to the bottom of this, even if it meant I would be fired.

More tomorrow...

Thanks for reading,


Click below to read the other parts of this series
Part III
Part II

Monday, October 03, 2005
  Don't Panic....

A big "Thank You" goes out to Rachel Brown, of Don't Panic. According to the good folks at Technorati, you are my 100th link.

Thanks Again!


  The Rat...

Some people here are obsessed with keeping their numbers high, no matter how many customers they piss off, no matter how bad a job they do, no matter what how bad they have to dump on the other employees around them. They remind me of the salesmen I knew when I was a "Cog in Retail Hell".

I remember watching these guys in action on high ticket items, they promised the most generous return policies, warranties better than a KIA, and that the proper application of the item could rid the owner of impotence. Then they hid when their shopper tried to return the item, so schmucks like me could fill out the paperwork, and break the bad news to the customer that we didn't give refunds after 90 days when the item is broke from abuse. Bastards!

Today I saw one of my coworkers get the same kind of shaft. Jan is a new hire, young and bright eyed, still believing that this job is her stepping stone to a great career in customer service. She whizzed through training with this perky smile on her face that never went away. She's a good person. She will help you if she can, and will tackle any call that comes her way.

Today, the reality of corporate life among the sharks gave her a real smackdown. She volunteered to help one of our slick veterans,George with one of his trades, and soon regretted it...

"George! I've got that customer on the phone! You took that trade almost an hour ago, and they want to know why it was never done! What's the story?", Larry, our floor supervisor yelled.

George got up and walked to Larry's desk. He leaned in to tell him something, I happened to be close enough to hear it.

"I gave it to Jan because I thought it would be easy for her. I think she forgot about it. I guess she had too much on her plate.", George excused himself back to his desk.
"Jan! Front and center, Now!",Larry barked.
"Yes, Larry? How can I help you?", (same perky smile from ear to ear)
Larry leaned in a little,"You've got to make a real effort to handle the trades as quickly as possible, I just got an angry call from a customer about the one George gave you."
"Ok Boss, I'll work on that!"(same perky smile and go-getter attitude, but a little shaken around the edges)
"That's my girl!", Larry said, trying to sound like the supportive boss.

Later, I caught her in the parking lot.

"You know that wasn't your fault, right?"
"What do you mean?"
"George held the call, and then gave it to you late."
"I don't believe it. George has been so nice to me."
"Nothing is as it appears here Jan. Be careful who you help."
"I'll remember that..."

Thanks for reading,


Saturday, October 01, 2005
  "Hey, You're not totally evil, you're just not that bright..."

One of the things that contribute to negative feelings between labor and management is the idea that the other person is all evil, all stupid and stands for everything that is wrong with this world. None of us believe that, but the way society operates, we always have this tendency to define people outside of our own group as being inferior.

Lately, one of the people from management has been working closely with me on some research issues, they are also spending more time on the floor than before. I did not like this person after I started working here. I felt she was pompous, condescending and just not a nice person.

I've watched this person up close and talked to them a lot more than before. I actually have a grudging respect for them. Not for their towering intellect, or their great people skills. They don't really have either. They aren't an idiot, but they are so incredibly sure of themselves that they walk right into all kinds of stupid situations because they won't listen to other people. They are just a real "thickie", sort of like Basil Fawlty on Fawlty Towers. They think everyone around them are children and that they are the only one that can lead us through to do the right thing.

I used to struggle with really disliking this person, but not anymore. The difference is that I can see their human side. All of the screw ups they do, its out of a sincere heart. She doesn't mean to come across as uncaring, it's just her way. She really wants the company to do well, and she puts a lot of energy into it. She has let her guard down enough, that I can see beyond that "management armor" so many bosses wear, so I can see who she really is. It makes it much easier to work for her, because any evil she does, is not on purpose, she's just not that bright.

What makes me sad is there are so many other managers here that I just can't wrap my understanding around why they are such assholes. If I could understand where they are coming from, I wouldn't have so many struggles with bad feelings toward this company.

That's all people want from their bosses sometimes, just explain things to us. Don't make us beg for feedback, or beg for you to explain things to us. We're all pretty smart, if you could bring us along when you can, we wouldn't all wonder if you're just passing the crack pipe around the room as you make decisions that affect us.

Thanks for reading,



Exploring the mind numbing insanity and childish corporate culture of an unknown call center employee.

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.

Email:anonymous.cog at

"One must know oneself, if this does not serve to discover truth, it at least serves as a rule of life, and there is nothing better." -Blaise Pascal

The Cog is listening to:
"Wake Up"
By Rage Against The Machine

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