Any Caption Added To This Situation Won’t Be A Good One

, , , | Working | January 18, 2018

(I work for a closed-captioning company. The vast majority of our captioners work remotely from home, so we communicate with them primarily via phone. For many programs, the client likes to do a captions test — sending out a few practice lines — before the actual show starts, so that we know everything is running smoothly and that captions will appear at the start of the program. On this particular day, a client, who is known for calling rather early to test, calls a full 29 minutes before their scheduled show, which is VERY early. I’m not entirely sure my captioner will be ready to test yet, so I call her.)

Me: “Hi, [Captioner], it’s [My Name]. I know it’s still quite early, but [Client] has called to test for [Scheduled Program]. Are you ready to go now, or do you need a few minutes?

Captioner: “I still need a few minutes.”

Me: “Okay, no problem. I’ll let them know. Just give us a call back when you’re all set.”

(I inform the client that the captioner still needs several minutes to set up. They are agreeable about it, and we hang up. Almost 15 minutes goes by. The client has called again and spoken to another coworker to see if we are ready, and I still have not heard from my captioner. The coworker who took the call has managed to stall our client, but I am getting concerned, as they are an important client and can be very particular about tests. Additionally, my captioner has not “checked in” to a program we use that lets us know they are ready for each job assignment. I call her again.)

Captioner: *with slight annoyance* “Hello?”

Me: “Hi again, [Captioner]. [Client] is on the other line wanting to test. Are you ready to go yet?”

Captioner: *in a very annoyed tone* “No! I’m not home! I had to go sign papers for my mortgage, and I’m still at least five minutes away!”

(I was shocked. Not only is that unacceptable, but she didn’t tell me that the first time we spoke! I put her on hold so I could speak to our schedulers, who assign jobs to captioners, and I informed them of the situation. During all this, the client called several more times and spoke to several more coworkers who were all trying various ways to mitigate the situation without outright telling them how irresponsible our captioner was being. The schedulers, angry and knowing how important this client was, decided to instead contact a captioner who was essentially “on-call” for last-minute emergencies just like this. They called her to set her up, and SHE wasn’t home, either! Both captioners were told to call when they got home, and whoever called first would cover the show. The on-call captioner “won,” and we tested successfully with only a minute to spare. What an unnecessary headache.)

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