Coming Soon! The e-Book Edition…

…or not.

I thought about it the other day, and I have the desire to write a book about some of the crazy people I speak to on the phones. I wouldn’t have to even explain what exactly I called them about. I would simply have to say it was in regards to loans and that I worked in a call center.

I’ve got a great title to my book. Are you ready?

On the Phones: Why I Probably Wouldn’t Want to be Friends with You

Personally I think it’ll be a best seller.

Can you imagine all the ways I can make this work? I can. And if you’re reading this feeling affronted because the title just insulted you, don’t be.

You’re either the person I’m writing about, and I wouldn’t want to be friends with you, or you aren’t a rude person who makes ridiculous comments when a poor call center rep calls you. (Alternately you aren’t rude to the call center rep when you call in for assistance.)

Because that’s where my book would go.

I’d glaze over all the absurd responses I get to the eternal question: “May I speak to so-and-so?”

We’d go through the jerk-offs who reply, “What do you want?” instead of replying in any normal fashion to every question I ask. That was a fun call that I had yesterday, actually. A man continually replied “What do you want?” when I asked to speak to him and would not tell me if I had the correct person or anything else.

Now I understand being annoyed by 1-800 numbers because I get that, too, but when you know for a fact who the company is, what they’re calling about, and that you have a plan of action, you don’t have to be a moronic broken record to me.

To people like him, I’d like to say, “If I ever saw you in person, I’d happily knee you in the balls and watch you cry.”

Then there are the ridiculously high number of people who I speak to that tell me, “You people screwed up my account!” Or any number of variants on that theme. It always begins with “you people” and ends with an accusation, typically false, that leads me to want to ask if the person is really that ignorant in real life.

First of all, if you addressed me as “you people” in person, I’d laugh in your face. I am not a people. I am a person. Second of all, I am not a business. I am an employee, who really has nothing to do with your account aside from the unfortunate fact I had the luck of the draw to speak to you today. Third, “you people” really does not compel me to be on your side, see things your way, or feel it necessary to empathize with your situation.

It generally just makes me think you are an idiot.

Also, it sets my teeth on edge. Call us Call Center Xtroardinaire, call me rep or Rae or miss or ma’am. Not “you people.” See the above for all the reasons this is wrong. Not to mention it’s just plain rude, and you wouldn’t speak that way to someone in person, so please do me the courtesy of pretending I am, in fact, a person.

For those of you who ritually speak to reps in this manner, please be advised most of us would like to rip your tongues out for calling us “you people” on the phones. Also, if you set a pack of wild reps on people like your fine selves, I’m fairly certain the wild reps would succeed in ripping out your tongues.

And then we wouldn’t be “you people.”

(As I digress, I realize I may have a minor bit of pent up aggression held back today.)

Finally, I really must say I quite enjoy when I call a wrong number and people feel the need to harp on me about how angry they are that we keep calling for someone who isn’t at that number. “You people keep calling for her, and I keep telling you she don’t have this number no more! Don’t you understand that? Take my number off your list! You keep calling and calling and calling, you called three times yesterday, you never take my number off, and she ain’t got this number…”

Aside from the general lack of proper grammar and a grasp of the English language, the people who yell at me about insipid things like having a wrong number simply don’t seem to recognize one basic fact about call centers: If I have a wrong number for someone who is behind on an account, you can be damn sure someone else has the same number and is calling you.

Now, most of the time I try to head off the mundane commenting of people in these situations because it’s useless and gets me nowhere, but can I tell you honestly that people who do this annoy me to no end?

I want to slap them upside of the head and tell them I wouldn’t have called someone so hateful if I could have avoided it, but unfortunately it’s my job. Now be a polite human and bugger off while I remove your number so some other poor rep never has to hear your hideous voice.

As you can see, I could easily write quite a book about the people I speak to on the phones, and please remember: this includes you, too, if you’ve ever spoken to a customer service representative in any hateful or rude manner.

I hope you can see my point. It isn’t so much that I wouldn’t be friends with people based on how they treat call center reps. It’s more humorous than anything, but I would hope it would make people sit up and take notice that even a lowly rep on the phone is more human than just an annoying voice that cuts into part of your day.

And that, my friends, is your public service announcement for the day!

– RaeNez

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Scheduling Blues & Valentine’s Recap

Well, I’ve been away several days, and it’s been an exciting and busy few days to say the least. I’ll start by saying that on Friday (yes, I’m bypassing Valentine’s for a moment) we had a meeting at work. That’s always a danger. It was even more of a danger because it was with our outbound collections team only instead of the entire call center team.

The meeting began with the management team informing us we’re going to a new schedule. Now while it isn’t pleasant for me, I wasn’t as upset by the changes as some people were. It’s not like I can complain anyway. They do what they want, and I simply do as I’m told, right? Right.

Our current schedule is a Monday-Thursday 9-hour shift and Friday 4-hour shift. You can see why some people were upset. They cherish their 4-hour Fridays. As do I. It’s one of the few days I’m really able to see Fernando, after all, since his crazy schedule as fast food assistant manager keeps him busy on 10-hour shifts five days a week, he ends up taking off Fridays and Saturdays to see me. So we get my half-day Fridays and all day Saturdays and most of Sundays.

If we’re lucky, we’ll see each other at various times during the week. But that hasn’t happened often lately due to our schedules.

Now my schedule will be changing starting in a few short weeks. It’s going from the above to a straight 8-hour Monday-Friday shift. They determined this was the best option to get the most call outs done and get things taken care of in the timeliest manner.

I have no quibbles with leaving an hour earlier. I’m not too chuffed at losing my half-day. I’m just rather tired with all the changes. It’s every other week we’re having a meeting about changing this or that policy. Or perhaps we’re getting an email at least once or twice a week about being able to accept or deny new pieces of information for customers when they apply for different programs. Then there’s the constant change in seating arrangements. I feel like I’m back in high school, moving desks because the teachers disapprove of so-and-so sitting next to so-and-so or whatnot.

In fact…

I had to move my desk to a desk literally not two feet away from where I was sitting. It wasn’t a big deal. They had me move on Thursday. And while I’m not really complaining, I find it amusing that I was moved.

You see, I didn’t ask to be moved.

Evelyn did.

She has severe asthma, and it’s been acting up terribly in our prior seating arrangement next to the supervisor. We were seated directly under a vent that constantly pumped out air (whether warm or cold) that would irritate her asthma and cause her to cough uncontrollably. Honestly, it was an OSHA issue more than anything else. But she was going nuts trying to get over the coughing, and she had requested to be moved to a seat where there was no vent (a seemingly impossible task in our large facility).

She requested to take over the resident “bro-ski’s” seat because he sat in an area that wasn’t as heavily hit by vents. Now “bro-ski” is an okay guy, but he’s not someone I talk to a lot, and I’m not particularly a fan of his. Evelyn took him aside and explained her situation and asked him nicely if he’d consider switching seats with her. His response was, unfortunately, predictable.

He told her in no uncertain terms he would raise cain if she tried to get him to move.

Well, strike one.

Then my supervisor came up to me on Thursday morning after I noticed her speaking to “bro-ski” and asked if I would move. She told me she knew I wasn’t really interested in moving but asked if I’d be willing to. I said I would, end of story. I mean, they’d move me anyway, so I had little choice in the matter.

That afternoon our systems went down completely for about an hour. It was great and glorious. I couldn’t take calls. It was a really beautiful world. And that’s when I moved. I took over another “bro-ski’s” desk who was out sick that day, and that’s when I realized what had happened.

In order to pacify “bro-ski,” they moved me so that his “bromance” with our other “bro-ski” could continue unhindered by distance. And of course, because the “bromance brothers” are the “teacher’s pet” types in the call center, they get pacified in their desires.

I know that’s very sarcastic and all, but you have to understand the call center life is one of those things that is very similar to high school. You have the teacher’s pets who suck up to the supervisors and get what they want. You have the cool kids who band together and get to do special things because they’re cool and they can. And then you have people who don’t really fit and just try to make it without getting in trouble.

There’s more to it than that, but I’ll likely do a separate post about how the call center is just like high school.

In short, I got bumped for the “bromance” duo, and I’m not altogether unhappy, just amused at the irony of favoritism.

In other news: I am hoping and praying for a favorable review of an interview I had Friday afternoon with an amazing company that I’d love to work for. I won’t say much here now, but I had a phone interview with them last Thursday and arranged for an in-person interview with them Friday afternoon. And now it’s a matter of waiting for them to call me this Friday to let me know if I get to go on to an executive interview, the next step in their process. I’ll definitely keep you posted on how that goes! Be wishing me lots of luck!

Finally, I have to say I had an excellent Valentine’s Day with my dear Fernando.

He surprised me big time, and though the women at work were wagering on how many bouquets I’d receive and whether he’d propose or not (to both of which they were disappointed), I was frustrated by the end of the work day. The flowers rolled in, and it was a riot of roses in the office, but none came for me. And what really frustrated me wasn’t the lack of a delivery but my co-workers’ constant jabbing at me about how I hadn’t gotten anything yet and how something much bigger and shinier must be waiting for me at home. (Or as one co-worker put it, I must have a “butt naked man” waiting for me.)

By the time I went home, I was annoyed and ready to call it a night and just go wherever for dinner and not even bother with all the hoopla surrounding Valentines, even though I’d made Fernando a card on Sunday and gotten him chocolate-covered strawberries the day before. So when he showed up at my door dressed nicely with his hands behind his back and told me to pick a hand, I was taken aback and felt annoyed with myself for being annoyed.

He brought me chocolates and a beautiful bouquet of red and pink roses and the sweetest card. I think I liked the card best. Probably because he wrote me the most wonderful note, and I’m nothing if not won over by a few lines of ink on paper. I almost cried but didn’t and instead hugged him and didn’t want to let go to get dinner.

We went to a seafood restaurant here in town and got a delicious meal. I got a nice fish that wasn’t too fishy tasting with a lemon caper sauce and au gratin potatoes. He got filet mignon and lobster and steamed broccoli. And it was all just lovely. I thoroughly enjoyed my Valentine’s Day with my first Valentine.

I’m not going to make a huge deal out of it, but he was incredibly sweet, and I adored him for it. And now here’s hoping all the good vibes from Valentine’s allowed my interview Friday to push me toward the potential for a new and better job in a company that seems to be really amazing and, more importantly, cares for its employees and wants them to enjoy coming to work.

What a difference that would make!

We shall see. And I will definitely keep you posted.

– RaeNez

“May I Speak to So-and-So?”

Today I’d like to share a list of common responses to my fateful opening question on every call out I make: “May I speak to so-and-so?” These responses are the ones I typically get from what we like to call “unauthorized third parties.” These are people who are clearly not the person we’re calling but picked up the phones.

Along with these typical responses, I’m going to include what I’d really like to say in response to them, because, let’s face it: what I have to say and what I want to say are often two very different things.

The Straight Up Lie

Person: “Wrong number.”

Me: “Do you know so-and-so?”

Person: “Well, yeah, he’s my son/husband/father/brother/etc.”

Me: “Then I’m pretty sure this isn’t a wrong number, moron.”

The Jealous Spouse

Person: (typically a female voice) “This is Mrs. So-and-So. Who is this?”

Me: “Clearly not a person stupid enough to tell you I’m sleeping with your husband since it’s obvious you’re already thinking he’s cheating. By the way, could you have him pay his debt? ‘Kay, thanks, bye.”

The Enraged Wrong Number

Person: “Do you know how many times you people have called me for this guy? What? Do you call every fifteen minutes or something cause I am getting sick and tired of this! This is ridiculous! You need to stop calling immediately or I am getting my lawyers, and I am going to sue you. Stop calling this number! You keep calling me every day, and I keep telling you I am not this person, and this is harassment and illegal and…”

Me: “Have you considered the person might have had multiple creditors, and maybe, just maybe, you’re not getting harassed by one company but several who have this number for him? In any event, a simple wrong number and I don’t know him would have sufficed, but no, you had to get your rage fest on for no good reason.”

The One Who Pays

Person: “He’s not here, but I’m the one who pays. You can speak to me. I’m an authorized payer on the account.”

Me: “If I wanted to speak to the authorized payer, that’s who I would have asked for. Now be a good third party and give him a message. Because I don’t want to deal with your pretentious belief that you should have everything you demand all the time when I can’t accommodate you, and I have other people to talk to.”

(As an alternate end to this scenario when I try to decline and explain I can only speak to the person whose name is on the account, they sometimes get defensive and demand I speak to them or no one at all, which can be amusing in itself.)

Person: “I told you. I make the payments. He doesn’t know what’s going on with the account. You’ll have to speak to me, and I’m not giving him the message.”

Me: “If you think I really care about resolving this issue, then think again. All I care about is getting off the phone with you and moving on to the next call. You are not that special, unique or anything else your mother taught you, and I couldn’t care less if you want to ignore my message and not tell so-and-so we called. The only person you’re hurting is him and his credit, so have at it. It’s not my account, and I’m not being paid enough to deal with your delusions of self-importance.”

Those are just a few of the more common responses I’ll get from people who answer the phones as well as the responses I’d like to give these people I talk to. In all honesty, it can be a bit cathartic to go through and think up biting responses to people even if I’m not allowed to give them.

I have some ideas about other things to add, but this was just what I wanted to post on a lark because it entertained me thinking about it. I’m sure people who have worked in collections have heard these same things and will agree with some of my desired responses.

The good thing about my job? I’ve learned there are a ton of people in this world I do not want to be friends with… and all because of how they treat their friendly neighborhood call center rep!

 

RaeNez