How NOT To Conduct A Job Interview

I know I’ve talked about a number of different topics on this blog, and in the coming posts, I plan to tell you a little about my plans for the blog, my work life, and my writing. However, I wanted to touch on something that happened recently.

As you’re probably aware, there are a number of job related websites out there that are available for job seekers to search for jobs. These sites can run the gamut from compiling job listings from all over the web a la Indeed to allowing you to post your resume in a semi-public forum to use for applying to jobs and to allow potential employers to see your information and contact you.

Examples of the latter would be Monster and CareerBuilder.

I’ve posted my resume on both websites in the hopes it will speed up application processes. However, this has an adverse affect as well. It leads to what I’ll call the Wild Goose Chase.

The Wild Goose Chase occurs when I get a call from someone who “has my resume on file” and would like to interview me for a position they have available. Typically they give me very little information besides a company name, an interviewer name, and a date/time for the interview. Sometimes they even tell me there’s an actual position available!

Here’s the thing about this type of situation: if they give me a company name, I usually end up wracking my brains trying to remember when I applied to their company in the first place.

But I digress.

Recently I had just such a situation come up and found out the company was an insurance company. I’ll stop here and say that I’m immediately suspicious when I hear the words “insurance,” “sales,” or “agent” over the phone. So the fact they called out of the blue, “had my resume on file,” and had positions immediately available wasn’t giving them much credibility in my eyes.

That said, I did take a moment to ask whether this was for a sales position or something else. The woman told me they had “management” positions available in the office and other office positions available. So I gave them the benefit of the doubt and came in for the interview, which I was told would be with a woman named Vicky.

Great.

I showed up a few minutes early and noticed other people entering the building. I figured it could simply be people returning from break. Then I got inside, and a woman seemed confused by my name, told me to sit and “someone” would be with me shortly. I sat next to a woman who seemed in the same position as me. Another man came in who appeared younger than me and was told the same thing.

I started feeling irritated.

Then a woman and a man exited the offices from the hallway with a couple of people in tow. They were shown to a conference room where I glimpsed a room full of other people similarly dressed. I realized then they wanted to do a group interview.

Let me be very clear about something: group interviews really only work if you’re a big company (i.e. Apple) or you’re a low-budget sales company who doesn’t have the money to pay for the labor to interview individual candidates.

Oh wait. The latter doesn’t work.

I got walked back to an office with a woman who didn’t introduce herself, so I’m going to name her Shamequia because I feel like it and because she was painfully white. Yes, that may sound racist, but it’s not. I’m just making a point that it would have certainly helped if she’d had the courtesy to introduce herself.

So Shamequia and I sat for maybe five minutes, but it was probably more like three. In that time, she told me I was there to go through a presentation with Vicky about the benefits of the company. I was not there to be interviewed for a position in the office because there wasn’t one open, in fact. And yes, it was all agent positions. That was it.

But, she said, have no fear, because this, my dear, is not high-pressure sales!

Really? Because it sure was starting to sound like it. And with your lack of professionalism, you’re really making me want to walk out that door.

She wanted to get up and take me straight to the conference room then and there, but I stopped her and asked her definition of high-pressure sales (which she’d already said was being in a position where you didn’t have to twist a person’s arm to buy insurance policies they didn’t need). She looked at me kind of funny.

Then I said my definition of high-pressure sales was quotas, commission-only pay, and setting your own sales goals. Her face got a bit pinched, and she evaded my question by saying all my questions were great and would be covered in the presentation and I should really “give Vicky a chance.”

Oh sure. I’m here already. Let’s go sit through something I clearly am not suited for.

So then we walked to the conference room where a number of women were seated. I was handed an application, sat down, and began filling out the application. A man came in a few minutes later, and before I knew it, Vicky and another gentleman came in. I was still working on my application as was the last man to enter the room.

Vicky began by introducing herself and then pointing out the two of us filling out applications. “You can fill those out later,” she said. When neither of us stopped, she repeated, “Fill those out later!” Really? Manners, lady.

She introduced her colleague as French (he sounded Southern) and dubbed him Jean with some ridiculous sounding accent of her own. Through her presentation she called him Jacque and Joel. Again, I have no idea what his name actually was. For all I know, he could have been Frank.

I get the impression the only name I needed to know was Vicky.

She began talking about the company, the usual blah blah history, blah blah money, blah blah. Then she started on the spiel about what insurance sales had done for her life. At this point she stopped and told us she didn’t want to tell us her story because she didn’t feel like it. Excuse me?

I’m afraid I didn’t hear you correctly.

Captain Picard disapproves.

I came all the way to your office on the other side of town to hear you tell me your foot hurts and you’d rather not tell your fabulous success story? Talk about professional.

Let’s just say I tuned out at that point. I started watching the guy across from me instead. His body language was incredibly put out, and I was positive he was irritated by the presentation as well. It was fun to have a silent partner in my frustration.

By the time all was said and done, Vicky told us her salary, which, let’s face it, makes little to no difference in our lives. Quite honestly, when the owner of an insurance sales company tells future potential agents her salary, it’s like a human dangling a bone three feet above the head of a dog that has a broken leg and can’t jump. We know we aren’t starting there. You’re just tempting us unnecessarily.

She handed the remainder of the presentation over to Jean/Jacque/Joel, who botched it merrily. He’s 26, has never had a full-time job before, and quite clearly knew nothing about effective presentation skills. He could easily have put me to sleep. He got caught up on one point and chewed it up and spat it out like it was golden. I thought he was slightly moronic to emphasize the point so dramatically, but what do I know.

His point? You should always pay attention and listen to your mentors in the business so you can learn from them. Really? He also said that while he was younger than some of us, he knew more about selling insurance with that company than any of us.

No kidding, Captain Obvious.

That said, he tried. And by the end when I wanted to strangle him, I didn’t. He did tell us to stay for a second round of interviews if we were still interested. (I can tell no one’s worked with him on his sales skills. He should have assumed interest and created expectation for the interviews, but whatever…) He said if we weren’t interested to pick up one of Vicky’s cards on the way out and give her a hug.

A hug?? You don’t go give strangers hugs, dude. Not even here in the South.

He left the room, and I and all but one person headed out the front door without a glance back.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how not to conduct a job interview.

– RaeNez

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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

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

I Like A Man Who…

…challenges me intellectually.

Of course, this is why I enjoy Fernando.

I do not, however, like a man who thinks he can challenge me intellectually under the pretense that he’s a man and knows better than me because I’m a woman. It’s the classic “I know better than you. I’m a man.” complex that makes me roll my eyes in amusement as I casually crush his dreams because I am, quite happily, smarter than him.

No, I’m not bragging.

Honest.

I’m just saying.

As a woman, I like a good battle of wits. I like to be challenged intellectually. Stimulate my brain, and you’ll appeal to me on so many levels. Stimulate my cynicism and sarcasm, and you’ve got me hooked. Engage me in a battle of wits where the object is to entertain and amuse rather than demean and dominate, and you’ll have my attention for sure.

However, when you translate this intellectual challenge to my job, I have to say, don’t even bother.

I know what I’m doing. You don’t. I don’t care if you’re a man with a degree in five different things. You don’t know what I do, so quit trying to sound ultra-intellectual. You just come off sounding ridiculous.

“Oh yes, but doesn’t that mean that during those periods the interest accrual is deferred due to the account being on hiatus per my request?”

You just spoke Greek, I’m pretty sure. And, even though I can translate all that, you’re wrong. Sorry. No offense intended, but don’t try to sound smart. You just come off sounding like a moron.

This, boys and girls, is the lesson of the day: How To Convince The Call Center Rep To Do What You Want. And this is how not to get her to do it.

Man: “Have you received and processed my payment request?”

Me: “We’ve received it, but it’s still in processing. It typically takes 7-10 business days to process these requests. We should have this completed by the middle of next week.”

Man: “How can we fix the account right now since I haven’t paid?”

Me: “We can’t. We’ll have to wait for your payment request to go through.”

Note: This is not the time where you should decide you know better than me. This is where you should smile, nod, and get off the dang phone so I can take the next call.

Man: “My wife submitted the same payment request on her account and spoke with a rep and was told they could fix it over the phone for her. Why is it you can’t do that for me? The other rep did it on my wife’s account.”

Oh, yes, I feel oh so guilty now because I didn’t fix your account for you the way the other rep did for your wife. Mmhm. In fact, I clearly lied to you the first time I told you we couldn’t fix your account. 

Me: “You don’t have any available options to fix your account without waiting for the payment request to go through. You’ve used all of your options, and there are none left.”

Clearly I must be mocking you. Or maybe I’m speaking in tongues. Either way, what I’m saying and what you’re hearing are not the same. 

Man: “But the other rep was able to do this to my wife’s account. I don’t see why you can’t do it to mine.”

And if your wife’s account jumped off a cliff… okay, bad example. But seriously. Perhaps you should pay more attention to the fact you have, you know, separate accounts? 

Me: “Your wife may have had available options on her account. You do not. We’ll just have to wait until your payment request processes.”

Yes, I recognize that I don’t speak clear enough English to make it plain that your account is not going to be fixed until we process your request if it takes you three tries to figure it out. But all that did was keep me on the phone a few seconds longer and made you sound like an ignorant fool because you seem to think that your account and your wife’s account are the same thing.

Perhaps I should rephrase…

I like a man who challenges me intellectually unless it’s on the job. Then I like a man who shuts up and leaves the talking to me, takes what I say, and gets off the phone as quickly as I’m through. Because clearly I’ve told you everything you need to know. So you can get off the phone and leave me alone now, ‘kay, thanks, and bye. 🙂

And that is the lesson from today’s round of Manic Monday Inbounds…

– RaeNez

P.S. If you’re one of those men who calls in and tells me your name is Doctor So-and-So to try to intimidate me into thinking you’re smart (whether you’re an MD or a PhD), you can leave that at the “May I ask who I’m speaking with” door because I will not be addressing you as Doctor. You will be Joe Blow like every other Joe Blow I speak with, and you, too, are no smarter than any other Joe Blow who thinks he knows everything there is to know about my business. Unless you work in the same industry as me, I feel no compunction whatsoever in telling you how wrong your intellectual smarminess is, and I take great joy in crushing those hoity-toity words you think you can use to intimidate me… especially since I understand them and can throw them right back at you the way they’re meant to be used. Next time, grab a dictionary…

Speedy Gonzales, or Work Life meets Love Life

In the interest of being professional and honest, I won’t say I’ve never had any workplace infatuations, and I won’t say I’ll never go into details on that score at some point here. I will say that my current boyfriend, Fernando, is most definitely not related in any way, shape, or form to the call center. He is, in fact, an old flame from high school that never quite went out (and how glad I am of that!) who has become a rather important part of my life.

That said, I figured it might be worth it to touch on something that people all too often find themselves struggling with: work life and love life. When those two lives meet, it can become quite volatile. Sometimes it can be explosive. And sometimes it leaves you with less than satisfactory results for one or both aspects of your life.

I intended to keep the details of my dating relationship outside of work, really, I did. But working in a call center is working in a gossip den.

Add in a few flowers, and, well, my fate was sealed.

Shortly after Fernando and I began dating again, he did something that completely threw me for a loop. He had flowers delivered to me at work. I had never in my life had flowers sent to me. I’ve seen it, many times at the call center for Valentine’s and birthdays even, but for me on a regular day? Never.

This was definitely just a regular day.

Now let’s shift gears a bit and move on to something else. Or rather someone else. A woman I work with, we’ll call her Evelyn, has had it out for me since we started working together. And by having it out for me, I mean, she frequently made comments to the effect of: “Girl, we need to get you to a club! And get you some tequila! You need a man. And a condom…”

As you can imagine, Evelyn was extremely interested to see what all the fuss and the flowers were about. So much for keeping my love life secret. Evelyn is one of those people who likes to assign nicknames to significant others she hasn’t met; don’t ask me why. So after Fernando took me to lunch a few times and managed to whisk me away before she could catch up to us, she nicknamed him Speedy Gonzales.

It stuck.

Everyone calls him Speedy Gonzales. I’ve told them his name time and time again. It doesn’t matter. And everyone, simply everyone, has an opinion.

Take Evelyn. I haven’t dated Fernando for a year, so I simply am not allowed to marry him. Clearly he and I shouldn’t even think about it. We should be all over each other as much as possible in the meantime to make sure, you know, that we want each other. But marriage? Perish the thought until you’re much, much further down the line. At least a year.

I’m so glad she’s given me the rules because I wasn’t aware I was on a time frame here.

Or let’s consider Beth. Yet another coworker of mine who seems intent on knowing how this saga with Fernando plays out, she’s kept well up to date with me on a regular basis. Beth was secretly pulling for a Christmas proposal. (Clearly she hasn’t been reading the rule book or consulting with Evelyn.) And she’s made it clear I should leap into Fernando’s arms when the bling arrives.

I’m glad her confidence in his imminent proposal is strong.

Somewhere in the middle is Edith. She originally encouraged me to go out with Fernando when he first started showing interest again and I wasn’t quite sure. At this point, she told me she wouldn’t agree to someone getting married before they’d been together at least a year to see what they think of one another, but when I mentioned having known Fernando and dated him on and off for almost ten years, she seemed more open to the idea. Then she asked if I’d considered moving in with him. I said no and that I wouldn’t do that unless I was married to him; to which, she replied she was proud of me.

I’m glad she’s decided it’s okay for me to marry him now…

It amazes me how working in a call center seems to mean everyone’s business is suddenly, well, everyone’s business. I don’t mind Evelyn, Beth, or Edith telling me what they think about my relationship with Fernando. That doesn’t bother me. But it would be something else entirely if I were to date someone within the call center.

The funny part of it all is how different everyone’s opinions seem to be. Thankfully for me, Fernando and I will be making our own decisions about our love life, and everyone else at work can keep their noses out of it, thank you very much.

Of course, if he does propose… he ought to be prepared for all the amusing stories I’ll have to share from the wonderful women I work with. They will, I’m sure, start with questions and comments about the ring and only escalate into tips and tricks of the wedding planning trade.

I shudder to think how that would go.

Perhaps Mr. Speedy Gonzales should spirit me away instead… a nice elopement might work out quite handily. And create a tidy bit of scandal to leave the gossip mills running at work for quite some time. Perhaps I’ll suggest it to him (so long as my mother doesn’t find out – she’s another matter entirely).

Anyway, food for thought on this eve of going back to work after a long infection…

– 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

 

Case Study: Rodrigo & Denial

I’m usually a pretty patient person when I call people on the phones. My job isn’t hardcore collections work, heavens no. I can’t deal with the idea of dropping threats of garnishing wages on people; the most I’ll threaten is accounts going into collections if you reach a certain number of days past due.

That said, there is a limit to what any sane rep should have to listen to on the phone, and I might have strained that a time or two. Most notably with a person we’ll call Rodrigo.

Rodrigo is your average American guy. He is not, as his name might suggest, someone with a heavy Hispanic accent who understands little to none of the technical jargon around paying bills. (Those are the people who say, “Oh, ah, Spanish?” and get sent off to my dear friend who handles the Spanish queue and get a mouthful from her when they try to pull a lack of understanding in their own language.)

Rodrigo is of pretty average intelligence; though he seems a bit puffed up about his education and background. That’s fine with me. I don’t mind. I have a degree of my own, and I did my work to get it. That said, he doesn’t know what it means to have an account with a regular bill. Nor does he realize that by not responding to our efforts to collect or resolve his account, he can’t a) stop our collection calls, b) claim we’re doing something illegal, or c) stop his credit from being ruined. And if he keeps it up, his account will undoubtedly go straight to the collections agency who won’t listen to him tell them why he shouldn’t have to pay but will instead gently and firmly inform him of the amount they intend to garnish from his wages.

You’d think maybe then he’d actually want to do something on his account.

Here’s the story:

Typical for my job, Rodrigo’s name pops up on my computer screen, I greet the man and explain why I’m calling. Before you know it, I’m in a conversation with someone convinced that this debt does not exist.

Yes, well, apparently it does. And it does in your name. With your contact information attached to it.

In fact, this debt isn’t even legal. (It’s funny how every time someone tells me their debt doesn’t exist, they follow up by threatening that it’s illegal for us to contact them regarding the supposed nonexistent debt.) Yep, this debt isn’t legal, he didn’t owe any of this money to anyone or anything, and furthermore, this was supposed to be taken care of for him.

Clearly that happened, and that’s why we were calling.

Normally people are manageable. I’ve developed a knack for calming people down and convincing them to listen to me and take in their options to resolve their accounts and maybe even start their own process of resolution (however futile it may be). I give them a resolution that I think works, and then I give them the means to complain or request research or otherwise do something that makes them feel they’ve accomplished something.

Not Rodrigo.

He is of the class of people who are single-minded in believing any account in their name is not something they are responsible for. Nor is he responsible to try to resolve any issues on any type of debt in his name that he doesn’t feel is valid. (Because clearly leaving it alone will make it go away – like any child, this strategy is always a good one.)

His situation is one of the unique ones that my company comes across where he may have a legitimate complaint that could determine his debt is, in fact, not something he is liable for given the circumstances. He may actually have the potential to reduce his debt (which numbers in the thousands of dollars) to nothing.

Does he hear me saying that the good news is there’s a simple process he can start to get this debt issue resolved? No. He hears me saying he has to initiate something, has to take on responsibility for something, has to be active. And that grinds his ax, so to speak.

So we go in circles about his nonexistent, yet reappearing debt that he insists should be taken care of.

The great thing about Rodrigo and his infernal denial? He’s been in the system for calls so long he’s gone through several other representatives. He’s one of the people on my list that I tend to go back to for amusement purposes. He’s also spoken to two different supervisors, and I’ve had the misfortune of calling him a second time. During that call, he was so pleased that I listened to how much the system, the government, the schools, the businesses, and society has wronged him, he told me he wouldn’t speak to any other reps besides me… or perhaps the CEO, ya know, if he decides to call and apologize for this whole debt debacle.

All I can say is, regardless of our rules against hanging up on people, if I see his name come across my screen a third time, forget it being a charm, I’ll be clicking the little hang up button and calling it a “call disconnect.”

I’m sure Rodrigo will come up again in the future… he’s become a rather amusing topic of conversation amongst my coworkers. Not to mention, we’re unfortunately still calling him. It’s just too bad there’s not a button to stop calling people who refuse to help themselves. It would certainly save the reps a lot of time and energy.

– RaeNez