“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!