Call Center Purgatory <$BlogRSDURL$>
Call Center Purgatory
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
  A Very Satisfying Click

One good thing about this job is how it makes you think about people in general, and what makes them act the way they do in particular. If you are an amateur sociologist like me, its like having your own laboratory where you can take samples from people all over the country. I've always wondered what makes people choose to be rude.

Rude customers are really not as common as you would think in my call center. Most people might be a little grumpy, but true vitriol doesn't come around that often. But, as they say, into each life some rain must fall and today was my turn. I really try to understand it, but every time I talk to rude people I feel in shock afterwards. The only good thing about rude customers is that if they curse, we can hang up on them.

When you get cursed at, belittled or verbally attacked, besides the obvious hurt feeling, there is this feeling of incredulity. You can't believe this person on the phone just said this mean thing to you when you were trying to help them. Its like when you see someone walking around in clothes that don't match or their underwear on the outside of their pants-you can't believe what you are seeing.

Here's how it felt today:

"Anonymous Investments, This is AC, how can I help you?"
"Yeah, I need to make a trade. I got this offer in the mail for two introductory trades at a reduced commission from my credit card company."
"Ok, Which credit card is it?"
"It's a Visa from NeverPayItOff Bank of New Hampshire."
"What's the offer code?"
"Offer 6392A6"
As I typed it in, I realized which offer this was. He had to sign up for an account and make a minimum of 20 trades a year. It was like some investment club for the same people that buy 20 albums from BMG music and then keep getting stuff they don't want automatically for years. This was one of those ideas thought up by people that don't realize most people don't like these kind of surprises.
"Ok, I found your offer, I'll be glad to take your trades, but I do need to remind you that part of this offer is that you have to make 20 more trades by the end of the year to keep the reduced commission rate."
"What!! It said nothing about that in the letter! It just says I get two introductory trades at a reduced commission! This is bullshit. I'm not getting stuck for something I don't want!"
"I'm sorry about the misunderstanding. I can send you the full details by email if you want to look over the offer before you set up an account."
"This is just bad business! You need to just give me the two trades at these rates and then I will decide whether I want to continue doing business with your company afterwards."
"I'm afraid I can't do that. We set this up with your credit card company with the agreement that you would make twenty more trades this year."
"This is bait and switch-you guys are a bunch of fucking crooks!"
"Sir, we aren't trying to cheat you, these details are listed on the back of that letter in the fine print. I have a copy of the letter on my desk. Now, if you are going to start cursing I will end this conversation NOW-What do you want to do?"
"Oh please, You little fucking retard, don't cry 'cause I said a bad word. Start living in the real world you baby!"
"Fine, You've made your decision.CLICK!!"

It felt good that I didn't lose my cool. I was the grown-up. I still had these hurt feelings inside. Everytime somebody speaks to me that way, I just want to clock out and go home. I still wondered who is this guy? What planet is he from? The rest of society goes about our daily business and do not start attacking strangers verbally because they won't give you something for nothing.

It wasn't really the cussing that did it. There is a lot of swearing in the call center. I have dropped the "F-Bomb" in at least seven posts that I know of, not to mention assorted other words. But I cuss after I get off the phone, or when I'm alone, or to express how I feel to my friends, but almost never do I go out of my way to make sure a person knows I am seriously swearing at them because I think they deserve it. That's something so different.

It's not the words, its the idea behind them. You have judged that person as not worthy of the same sort of respect we give everyone in society, that everyday kindness. Instead, you have told them you are so much better than them, and they only deserve to be spoken to in the crudest and most profane manner that can be expressed through spoken language.

I realize I may have made him look stupid. But after the third time he started calling me a crook, and saying we were trying to cheat him, I really didn't care. His cursing was my way out of a call that had no recovery. His potty mouth gave me the out.

Thanks dude, I was looking for a reason to not serve you-and there it was.

Thanks for reading,


Anonymous Cog

I thought he could've thank you for the warning, you warned him about the smal prints.
Yeah, He was pretty unbelievable.
I think there are plenty of ways for customers to be rude and/or difficult without actually swearing and it is these customers whom I find really difficult. I come across people who enjoy being horrible to me because they know I have to be polite to them and I loathe these people.

It is amazing how many rude people there are out there and it gives you a very jaded view of society.
It never ceases to amaze me. People like that are one of the main reasons that I hate my job. I do not have the luxury of being able to hang up on them, though. I guess my company thinks it's okay for us to be treated like that.

My breaking point is when they say the words "YOU PEOPLE" I am not sure why, but when they say that I get my hackles up and my finger hits the hook button.

The good news is, that if these people are this rude in real life, you can bet they get their asses kicked on a regular basis.

That gives me a warm fuzzy feeling.
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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.

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"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

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