Now We Know Why She’s Unemployed

, , , | Right | April 4, 2019

(I work in the help and support team for the local government benefits system. I help customers with using their online accounts. We are a separate company and are NOT the Job Centre. If they do not access the account, their money could stop, so accessing and using the account is a MUST, and it is ALL ONLINE. We also have a certain time limit for customers due to an appointment system. I recognise this one particular customer as I am the one who helped her set up her account. I go through the process as normal.)

Me: “Welcome to help and support. How can I help you?”

Customer: “I was told to come here by someone at the Job Centre. I have an appointment.”

Me: “Okay, so, today’s appointment is about using and accessing your online account. I will talk you through how to use the account and what each tab means. It’s pretty simple and there is also a handout for you to refer to at home.”

Customer: “Okay, fine.”

Me: “I understand we helped you set up your account here. Do you have your login credentials so I am able to gain access in order to help you?”

(The job centre are the ones with the background system for these accounts. We are only able to see what the customer can see on their account.)

Customer: “Why do you need my login details? They are private and are for me only.”

Me: *explains the situation about us and the job centre* “If I can’t gain access to your account, I can only provide you with general information about your account.”

Customer: “Okay, here are my login details.”

Me: *turns my screen around so the customer is able to see me logging into the account on the computer* “Okay, so this is what your account looks like…”


(We don’t deal with payments, the job centre does.)

Me: “Okay, I understand your frustration; however, the job centre has now created online accounts which you need to access to get your money. We didn’t make up this rule. We are a separate help team, and appointments with us will not affect your money.”

Customer: “Okay. Then why have they sent me here?”

(I explain the situation yet again. This goes on for about 45 minutes which is now WAY over the time limit for such a simple appointment, but I am still determined to help this customer.)

Me: “Okay, well, do you have any device with Internet access? A tablet, iPad, smartphone, or anything like that?”

Customer: “No, I only have the phone my son bought me for my birthday.”

Me: “Oh, okay. Can I have a look at your phone so I can help you access your account on there, instead, if you are more confident using the Internet on your phone? Do you also have email?”

(If they have an email address and check this frequently, then they MUST be able to access and use the Internet. This is one of the questions we ask to see if we can get a clue about Internet usage.)

Customer: “No, it’s just a simple phone my son bought me. I don’t know if it’s a smartphone.”

(She is also reluctant to just show me her phone. I would help her access the account on there as we can show customers on devices they are comfortable using. We also have Wi-Fi. Again, we are going around in circles, and it has been over an hour now. Eventually…)

Me: “If that is the case, I need to refer you a basic computer course if you are unable to use computers and don’t have Internet. This is not mandatory but would help you use your account.”

Customer: “Nope, don’t need one of those. Not interested.”

Me: “Okay, well, there isn’t much else I can help you with, I’m afraid.”

Customer: “Well, I’ve just wasted my time.”

(Just as she is about to leave, she gets a call from her son who is waiting in the car. From the popular ringtone I can guess her phone. She pulls out an iPhone 8.)

Me: *face-palm*

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