Call Center Purgatory <$BlogRSDURL$>
Call Center Purgatory
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
  More Breakfast!

Another inhabitant of Call Center Purgatory named Bret sent me this mouth-watering breakfast recipe, enjoy!

1 package of crescent rolls-Pull them all out and press them into a
pizza pan to make a crust.

1 package of jimmy dean sausage-(I prefer maple but your favorite will work), brown the sausage and crumble it up and pile it on top of the crescent roll dough.

frozen hashbrowns-Use the little square ones (I like O'brien-again your preference) Thaw them out and pile them on top of the sausage.

Add chopped onions peppers or whatever else you may like.

2-3 Eggs scrambled and pour over top.

A great big handful or two of grated cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Cut like a pizza.

Excellent-no need for salsa or ketchup or anything else. The
crescent roll crust is the perfect amount of sweet and salty.

Thanks for reading,


Anonymous Cog

Sunday, February 26, 2006
  Bad Cog!

You ever catch yourself acting the exact opposite of everything you believe in? I'm sure it happens to every one of us now and then. It happened to me several days ago. Here's what happened.

Without going into much detail, my company uses other companies as vendors to help with data entry, certain kinds of trades, etc. So that means that there are times when I have to call another company's call center and be a customer. Most of the time it goes pretty well because we all try to be kind to each other since we are in the same business.

Well, on this particular day I was calling a vendor to finish a transaction up for one of my accounts. My screen had been filled out correctly, name of contact, transaction number, correct vendor number, all of my ducks were in a row. But when I called to close it out, they couldn't find the transaction.

"Anonymous Outsourcing, This is Sherry, how can I help you?"
"Hi, This is AC over at Anonymous Investments. I need to close out a trade I set up yesterday."
"Very good, what's your transaction number?"
"Hmmmm... I can't get that to come up. Do you want to hold and I will look it up by your customer number?"
"Yeah, that's fine.."
Suddenly, happy bluegrass music fills my ear on hold. It's an odd choice for hold music, but I don't mind it. Being on hold is when I get to eat, gossip with coworkers, and check my mail or pretend my Godzilla action figure is destroying my aluminum pencil holder, like some miniature high tech part of Tokyo. I normally put the Godzilla away when I'm not at my desk-wouldn't want people to think I was weird or anything.
The hold music stops.
"AC, Thanks for holding. I don't show any record of us doing a trade for you guys yesterday."
"Ah, C'mon Sherry! I remember talking to Susie about it-It was at 3:15 pm CST."
"I'm sorry AC, but Susie's not here and I can't find it."
"You need to look again! This was worth at least ten thousand dollars! I'm going to be in hot water if you guys can't find it! LOOK FOR IT AGAIN!"
"Give me your number I'll call you back."
I gave her my number and hung up. I could hear it in her voice that I had went too far. But all my ducks were in a row-it couldn't be my fault!

I thought about it some more and went through my notebook from yesterday. There it was. I had transposed one of the numbers when I transferred numbers from my notebook to the computer. I put the right number in, called the vendor, and sure enough-Susie answered the phone and we closed it out.

I felt horrible. I remembered several weeks ago when a rude customer apologized to me. So here I am, acting as bad as he did. I remembered how happy I was when he apologized and knew I had to do the same.

"Anonymous Outsourcing, This is Sherry, How can I help you?"
"Hi, This is AC from Anonymous Investments..."
She cut me off before I could say more.
"I'm still looking AC, I still can't find it, I promise to call you back as soon as I do."
"Hold on. You can stop looking. It was my fault. I had the wrong vendor number. I'm sorry for being a jerk."
"It's ok. Thanks for calling back."
"I'll try to call you guys next time since its obvious you know how to deal with lunatic customers."
She laughed a little, we said good-bye and hung up.
Thanks for reading,


Anonymous Cog

Friday, February 24, 2006
  Can't Sleep, Won't Shut Up.

Hi everybody,

Having a little drama right now. Don't worry, I'll be back in a couple of days with a post called "Bad Cog!". In the mean time click the link above for a good read.
Thanks for reading,


Anonymous Cog

Sunday, February 19, 2006
  Two Years...

Last Monday made two years that I have been writing this blog. It's hard to imagine that. I thought I would have given up the blog, got caught and fired or just up and quit the call center one day. But, none of those things have happened and I'm still here.

I'm certainly not posting with the same kind of daily vitriol like when I first started, nor am I posting as much. Most of that is because I don't need to. I've finally developed some healthy ways to cope with the management and the callers.

The call center has gone through changes as well. This year brought a change of management on several levels. I don't know how that's going to work out. The investment business is pretty cut-throat. I don't know If things will change for the better or not. Everything is in a state of flux for now, but I have a guarded optimism that it will get better.

Do I have plans to leave? Oh yeah-no doubt about that. I hope by the first of next year to be punching that time clock for the last time. I have concrete plans in the works-but I need the paycheck until then, unless someone has a lucrative book deal they want to offer me. Somehow, I just can't imagine a tell-all about working in a call center ever being on the New York Times Best-seller list, but stranger things have happened.

Whatever happens, I have no regrets writing this blog. There were times it was an obsession, and other times it was a burden. But it is always there, letting me blow off steam, letting me express who I really am, and being a source of support from those people that leave comments or link to me.

To all of you,

Thank you very much.

Your friend,


Anonymous Cog

Friday, February 17, 2006
  Which Super Hero?
Your results:
You are Spider-Man

You are intelligent, witty,
a bit geeky and have great
power and responsibility.

Click here to take the "Which Superhero am I?" quiz...

I took this one time before and ended up being Wonder Woman. I'm much happier with these results.

You know, cause he's an anonymous bad-ass.

Thanks for reading,

Anonymous Cog

Wednesday, February 15, 2006
  Bush wants extra $75 million to spur Iranian democracy

"President George W. Bush will ask Congress to authorize an extra $75 million to help the United States spur democracy in its adversary Iran, a senior State Department official said on Wednesday.

'This is to support democracy. It will be used to improve radio broadcasts, begin satellite broadcasts and include money for scholarships for Iranian students to come to the United States,' said the official, who asked not to be named because the announcement was not yet official.

Political analysts and Western diplomats are skeptical of how effective U.S. programs to promote democracy in Iran can be but note Washington has few other policy options when it is seeking to influence Iranians.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will ask later Wednesday at a congressional hearing for the money in a supplemental budget request for fiscal year 2006, he said. The 2006 budget already has $10 million for such programs"~Reuters

Democrats have always been noted for creating huge public works programs, public welfare programs and entitlements that cost billions of dollars.

It seems to me this administration wants to spend all our money outside the country. This Republican administration just keeps pouring on the money into everywhere but home, without even thinking of raising taxes, ever. No matter how many wars we are in, how many disasters come our way, they won't raise taxes. It just seems like a financial fantasyland. Republicans argue that throwing money at every social problem is not the answer. So why is throwing money at every international problem the answer?

Yes, Iran is a threat. I would not argue that. But the ten million dollars already in the budget is not chump change. How about we spend more time on diplomacy instead of just throwing money down every rat-hole we can think of? How about putting that 75 million dollars into somewhere else? I know in my state the teachers and staff at the schools don't make a living wage even though President Bush's "No Child Left Behind" act requires even the teachers aide's have a degree.

Look, I'm a pretty conservative guy. I normally vote Republican. But more and more, I see an administration that is out of touch with real Americans. The White House has this bunker mentality; they don't feel they have to answer for anything they do and they feel they can act with impunity.

The clock's ticking on your administration, George. You and the Republicans better get your heads out of your asses soon or you could end up with someone like Hilary Clinton in the White House. I'm serious. You guys are way out of touch. Don't come crying to us moderates when that happens, and don't count on us for support while you continue to pull such boneheaded stunts.

Thanks for reading,

Anonymous Cog

Monday, February 13, 2006
  You're not listening...

Probably one of the things that infuriates me the most about my customers is that they don't listen. It's an epidemic. You ask them one question and they answer with something totally different. Like this:

"Anonymous Investments, This is AC. How can I help you?"
"Hi, I want to make a trade."
"Ok, what's your account number"
"Yeah, my name is Robert Brown."
"Ok, Mr. Brown. What's that account number?"
"I live in Reading, PA"
"Mr. Brown. I can't start this trade without your account number."
"Oh, it's 69548. Why didn't you just ask?"
(AC, presses the mute button...)
"I did. Three times. But you are such a moronic imbecile you don't listen to a word I say. Did they serve fishsticks with lead chips at your grade school every Friday with apple crumble in a nice asbestos sauce?"
(press the mute button.)
"Thank you sir. What can I do for you today..."

You might think I'm exaggerating. But I'm not. I have calls where I have to ask three times for the same piece of information. I've often thought that customers live in this dream world where whenever they call up we will hear the sound of their sunny voice and say,

"Mr. Brown? Is that you? It's been so long! How's Buffy and Jody? Is Buffy doing any better in Math class? Oh, that's great to hear. How can I help you? Hold on, out of the 3000 customers I have I remember your account number. Oh, and did you want to invest in that stock that you and the Mrs. were talking about last night? Yeah, of course I know which one it is. You never have to think for yourself, not as long as I'm on the job. Have a nice day sir. Please call again so that I may bask in your presence and take in some of your marvelous personality. Yep, that makes it all worth living. Bye bye now!"

Customers can't have it both ways. They can't have the cost savings of a call center along with a company that knows them and their needs personally. As long as the public continues to always think cheaper service is the best, they will always have call centers where no one knows their name and no one can read their minds. They will always have to answer questions they don't want to, and talk to people that are complete strangers. Those people might even have accents and not be "Ahmericuhn". But, it's a small price to pay to get everyday low prices. Isn't global capitalism spiffy?

Thanks for reading,


Anonymous Cog

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Breakfast is the best meal of the day.

If I could only choose one meal, it would be breakfast. I don't know why, but breakfast foods are simply more appealing to me than other meals. Sure, I adore pizza, and ribs, and Mexican food and a good hamburger. But give me eggs, ham, biscuits and hashbrowns and I will choose that first any time.

Today was a good example of a great breakfast:
Three scrambled eggs with red bell peppers, chesse and sausage.
(I gave trying to make a pretty omelet years ago)
An entire ruby-red grapefruit
A banana
A big glass of milk
A mug of Kona coffee
And last but not least, the Sunday comics.

I am in post-breakfast bliss at this time.

While we are on the subject of breakfast-click the link on the title to go to a great blog who reviews breakfasts at different restaraunts, complete with mouth-watering pictures.

Thanks for reading,


Anonymous Cog

Thursday, February 09, 2006
  He's Gone!

The world turns on its axis, over and over.

The sun comes up, it goes down.

Democrats are in power, then Republicans, then Democrats again.

My life since coming here has been an exercise in futility. The people come and the people go, but the job never changes...

Until today that is.

I walked onto the floor Monday morning, sat down at my desk, and booted up my computer, ready for the fun to begin. Let's see, I've got my headset, my bottle of water, my steno pad, pens, highlighter, coffee cup, new memos from my mailbox, and ah yes, the sunshine of my day, a cinnamon raisin biscuit from Hardees and my Godzilla Action Figure! Ok, bring on the bullshit, I'm ready!!

What's this? It's a memo from the GM.

To: All Call Center Personnel
From: General Manager
Subject: Changes in Management

As of Monday, February the Sixth, Larry will no longer be the floor manager here at Anonymous Investments. It was felt his talents would be better utilized in our Dublin, Ohio office, as the new Manager of Customer Satisfaction in our WonderFunds division. We wish Larry the best in his new position. Please welcome Jeremy Withers as your new floor manager. Jeremy was brought in from the California office with high hopes of streamlining call center operations and decreasing agent turnover. He has an MBA from USC with a minor in Psychology. He and his wife and their two little girls are settling in from their move from Santa Clara to our little family here in the Tri-Country area. Please take the time to welcome Jeremy, and let's all work together to make this a smooth transition!



Just like that, and he was gone. I don't think he had any idea this was coming. Big changes in life hardly ever come when expected. There's no full orchestra playing a score for your life so you can listen for the suspenseful music. It's just something that happens on any other day. I haven't met Jeremy yet. I'm wondering if there will be any real changes, or just a different face presiding over the same old purgatory.

Thanks for reading,


Anonymous Cog

Tuesday, February 07, 2006
  Spilling Coffee

Check out a new blog by Tom Coffee. He's another over-caffeinated office cog looking for enlightment, or at least where his next cup of Joe is coming from. Its a good blog and worth the click.

Thanks for reading,


Anonymous Cog

Monday, February 06, 2006
  Muslim Cartoon Outrage

I've been keeping an eye on the news lately and am just amazed at the furor over the anti-Muslim cartoons that were originally printed in a Danish newspaper. It was hard to find the actual cartoons, but I did.

The way I understand it, it is blasphemous for a Muslim believer to even draw or make a physical representation of the Prophet Muhammad. That explains why this was a a particularly bad idea. Part of me wants to shout,

"Dude, WTF were you thinking? It's not like Muslims are known around the world as people who can take a joke!"

Check out this quote from the Christian Science Monitor about reactions in Kabul,
Marching from the northern Afghanistan city of Charikar to the American military base at Bagram, thousands of protesters shouted, “Death to America, Death to Denmark, Death to foreigners, Death to the West,” and burned shops, cars, and police checkpoints along the way.
What all this furor makes me wonder is if peace is even possible between Muslim countries and anyone in the West. Seriously, is there anyone out there that can tell me that peace is even possible between the West and the Muslim world? Because if a cartoon causes this much trouble, how is it possible for Turkey to join the EU? How is it possible for the Palestinians to make peace with Israel when they do not even believe Israel has the right to exist?

Maybe the chasm between our two societies is just too wide to cross. Maybe Western Democracy and the religion of Islam are oil and water, and they will never be mixed as long they both exist.

I just don't know what the answer is anymore...

Thanks for reading,

Anonymous Cog

Sunday, February 05, 2006
  "Terry Tate:Office Linebacker"

Oh yeah!! I really dig the part where he takes out the guy who takes the last cup of coffee! Seriously funny video, like Office Space, but with a little bit of the ultra-violence...

The quote from the video that caught my attention was when the CEO says, "The office environment is a violent world." Here's the question-which is worse? The real violence in this video, or the harassment, verbal abuse, and ego-sucking emotional violence many of us put up with in the office everyday? Is it better to get a bloody nose, or a wounded soul? Is it better to get sacked by a linebacker, or sacked from your job for no reason with no recourse?

I know some of you are saying, "AC-you're nuts! Getting laid off or fired, or your boss giving chewing your ass is not the same as violence! Its part of the adult world. It's part of business. Money cannot be made if we are nice to everyone and let people who aren't productive sponge off companies!"

Hey, you're right. I agree that the workplace is not always be a pleasant place. That does not mean it has to be evil either. I have watched people get fired, be reprimanded, and degraded in ways that are not necessary, not even humane. Not just at my call center, I've seen it in warehouses, restaurants and all kinds of workplaces.

Tell me this, if abuses that occur in the workplaces aren't a form of violence, why are there instances of violent responses in workplaces? Sure, there are nuts everywhere-that's a given, but why do so many people respond to workplace abuse with violence? This is not a weak point. Normal people can be taken to a place where they are capable of doing things they would not normally do. Violence comes when people feel they have been humiliated, oppressed, or backed into a corner without any visible way out.

I remember talking to another worker at the call center last summer. She was fired with no notice. She had no idea it was coming. No notice, no warning, just a phone call from a clerk telling her to clean out her desk and not come back. It doesn't matter if the company had a good reason to fire her or not. She deserved better. She deserved a face to face meeting. She deserved to be treated like a human being, not like some outdated piece of machinery. She had a little boy at home. What was that evening like? Trying to explain why Mommy does not have a job anymore, and not having a reason why.

Violence takes many forms, at least the exaggerated violence in this video is honest and doesn't hide behind memo's and cowardly phone calls. You can respect Terry. He's violent, and brutal, with no excuses, unlike some call center management I know...

Thanks for reading,


Anonymous Cog

Thursday, February 02, 2006
  The Apology

Some callers can really make your day, and others ruin it. It's not very often that its the same caller...

I picked up the phone from one of our third party customers, that is a customer where they contract me to do the service for their customer and then they act as if their company did the work,(it gets a little confusing).

Anyway, I normally do not speak to the "end-customer", normally it all goes through my customer, the middleman. I kind of like it that way, because my customer is someone at another call center, so they understand what's going on and always treat me well, almost always. Myron was on the phone, he's one of my favorite customers.

"AC, something went horribly wrong with this transaction. This guy is screaming bloody murder that he got an email showing that we bought the wrong fund!"
I looked it up, and he was right, but both Myron's files and my files matched. Myron's customer gave us the wrong fund information, it wasn't really anybody's fault-just one of those things that happen.
"Myron, why don't you let me talk to him directly? It might be quicker, and he doesn't have to know I'm a third party."
"That sounds great AC! I don't want any more mistakes on this one."

I called the customer up and identified myself as a specialist for my customer and that I was trying to get to the bottom of what went wrong and get it fixed. From the beginning of the call it was clear that he was one of those customers that was always in that twilight of a mood that was always somewhere between whining and righteous indignation.

"Every time I use you guys something goes wrong! This happened last time! I can't believe you can't do something as simple as this!"
"I'm really sorry this happened sir. I'm afraid you gave us the wrong fund name. What would you like me to do to fix this?"
"Oh, I see, it's my fault. You guys never take the blame for anything! Whatever happened to the customer is always right? Why, I oughtta just cancel this altogether! You people make me sick!"

It had come to the point where ass-kissing was useless as a tool to deal with this guy. I felt like it was time for some tough love.

"Look, I'm really sorry about this. You can still cancel it, or do whatever you want. I can't go back in time and change the name of a fund that has had the same name for five years. I will be glad to put the trade back through and call you, personally, on the phone and give you confirmation of exactly how it came out. What do you want me to do?"
He had lost the arrogance for now.
"Just put it through again..."
"Thanks, I'll call you back right away"

I made sure I did not have that effervescence cheerful sound in my voice, and replaced it with terseness. Some people don't deserve good customer service-he was my choice for the day. This guy had taken me to a special place I really don't like to visit. It justs amazes me that people are at their nastiest to others when its their fault. I don't understand it totally.

I set the trade up ASAP, and actually got a slightly better deal than he was set to get before. I called Myron and told him the good news, then steeled myself to call the asshole.

I was all ready for his acid tongue, so I tried to sound as cold and business-like as possible.
"Mr Smith, the trade is done, I think you may have made some money off it in the end."
Then he said something that changed everything between us.

"I'm sorry for being a fool. I shouldn't have yelled at you. It wasn't your fault. I'm in customer service, I know what its like to be yelled at. I'm sorry..."
At that very moment, my feelings for this individual totally reversed themselves. I wanted to shake his hand. He was my hero for the day. I was filled with admiration that in the face of acting like such an asshole, he had the guts to admit he was wrong. He knew I was not to blame, but more than that, he spoke to me like an equal, not as his inferior. This sort of apology took the kind of guts you so rarely see in today's consumer-driven society.

"Its OK, I forgive you. Thanks, that means a lot coming from you..."
"You're welcome. Thanks for fixing it. Goodbye"

And he was gone, and my day had went from crappy to glorious in a state of 30 mins. All it took was the sort of sincere humanity that I see so rarely in this place.

Thanks for reading,


Anonymous Cog


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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