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Frustration Coming From All Sides

, , , , , | Right Working | March 28, 2022

I work for a call center of a major grocery chain. I am trained to take calls relating to online ordering and technical issues with the apps and website. Due to a decline of a certain health concern in the country, those calls are dropping off as people return to in-store. So, as retail typically does, I’m thrown into the store-related calls with no training other than what my trainer from the very beginning said several months ago:

Trainer: “This is for in-store; you won’t need to worry about this.”

One day, I get a call from a woman.

Me: “This is customer support. My name is [My Name]. How may I help you?”

Woman: *Already upset but keeping an even tone* “I want to make a complaint about my store. Can I do that here?”

Me: “Certainly. May I get some information from you so I can correctly process your complaint?” *Gets the information* “And what was the issue with your store?”

Woman: *Her tone rising slowly* “They never have what I want I stock! I check on the website before leaving my house, and when I get to the store, it’s never there! I make sure to check online before I leave the house so I don’t waste my time!”

Me: “I really do apologize for the frustration, ma’am, and I definitely will forward your complaint. Can I confirm a few things to make sure that you are getting the most updated information?”

Woman: “Fine, but I don’t see what that’s got to do with anything!”

I ask her to pull up the website and find out that the store she’s looking at is the default location that comes up the first time loading the site up… halfway across the country.

Me: “I do believe I have found the issue. You are looking at the store in [West Coast Location] when you need to change it to [Local Store]. I can walk you through the process. I know it can be confusing, and you are not the first person to make this mistake.”

Woman: *Voice still rising* “I did not make a mistake! Your website is wrong! I use it exactly as it should! It shouldn’t make a difference!”

Me: “I can assure you that it does make a difference. Different parts of the country have a need for different items, and because of that, they would have variations in availability.”

Woman: *Now screaming* “No! Listen to me! I AM DOING IT RIGHT! YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG!”

I start to pull up the abusive customer script we need to use. In training, I was told that if at any point I felt that I was being abused, I could use it. Due to a traumatic past, yelling of any kind can set me off, but I have a one-chance point where I’ll continue as if that didn’t happen in case it was just a reaction — some customers do get better after the initial yell without me reading the script. So, I continue on.

Me: “Again, I apologize for the confusion, ma’am. Once you update your store, you’ll be able to see—”


I take a deep breath while my hands shake. Then, I read off the script as that one chance has come and passed.

Me: “I understand you’re frustrated, and I want to assist you to the best of my ability. However, if you continue to speak to me in this manner, I’ll have to terminate the call.”

Woman: *Icily* “Well, good, because I don’t want to speak to you anymore. Get me your manager.”

Those are the magic words. I ask her to please hold, dial the supervisor line, and finish up my notes as there’s a wait for a couple of minutes. The supervisor I get is known for being wishy-washy about having your side, but I explain to her what happened, including needing to use the script and the customer’s response to it.

Supervisor: “And did she actually start cursing you out?”

Me: “Well, no, but she was screaming at me.”

Supervisor: “Screaming is not classified as abuse for the script. They have to be continuously cursing at you.”

I’m upset but I don’t have the energy to pick a fight.

Me: “That’s not how it was described to me, but I’ll know for the future.”

I sent the call over, and then I needed to take an extended break because I was so annoyed. I’d been screamed at all day and was sick of it.

I only lasted about two more weeks before I ended up quitting because of the constant “abuse” and nothing being done about it. Now I have a job that’s not customer-facing and I love it so much more.

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