Red Alert About An Orange Flag

, , , , , | Right | January 14, 2020

I used to work for a third-party call center contracted to a large, national bank, where I was a Debit Card Fraud Analyst. I enjoyed the job, but I had my fair share of belligerent customers. 

My supervisor was going in for surgery for a chronic condition, and I had been teasing her all week that my last call of her last night as my supervisor, I was going to get an “Orange Flag” call. This was simply a piece of orange, laminated paper with instructions on what to do with a threatening call; you would pull it off the board by your computer and wave it in the event of a threat. These events would take close to an hour to resolve, so I was basically telling her I was going to keep her over. She would laugh at me and we’d go about business.

My crew was the last to go home from this center, we’d leave at two in the morning, and on her last night as my supervisor, we had back-to-back calls. Finish a call, the next person was on the line at once. At 11:58, my cubical partner and I both got calls and as we went to pull information up, nothing worked. None of our systems would come up, nothing. We apologized to our customers, who were thankfully understanding, and put them back in the queue. At 12:02 in the morning, nothing. No calls. Everything seemed to have crashed on us, including the phone systems.

We now had close to an hour between calls, and the supervisor found out that the bank had taken its systems down for maintenance. Nothing would go through. All debit, credit, and ATM cards would not work for the next several hours, and if a customer happened to get through to us, we were to let them know to try again at a certain time. I wrote up a phone script for myself and ended up giving it to everyone there. I sounded like an automated phone system and used it to my advantage to not talk to customers. It politely let them know that our systems were down, we were unable to help them, and to please try again at the specified time. Of the five customers who managed to get through to my phone, four of them just hung up.

At 1:57 in the morning, one final call came through. I opened with the script I’d written: “Thank you for calling [Bank] Debit Card Fraud Services. We regret to inform you that all of our systems are currently down for maintenance and customers will be unable to use their Debit, Credit, or ATM cards until six am Eastern Standard Time. If any trouble persists after that time, please call the number on the back of your card to speak to an associate. Thank you for your understanding.”

And he responded with, “WHAT THE F***?!”

I tried again, but he launched into a tirade on me. “NO! NO! YOU STUPID F****** B****! NO! SHUT UP! SHUT THE F*** UP! I HAVE A FLIGHT TO CATCH IN THE MORNING, AND I NEED TO BUY MY PLANE TICKETS RIGHT NOW, AND YOU’VE BLOCKED MY CARD!”

He wouldn’t listen to me when I tried to explain to him that our systems were just out, and I was thinking to myself, “Why would you wait this late to book your tickets anyway?”

Then, he gave me this gem: “IF YOU DON’T UNBLOCK MY CARD RIGHT NOW, I’M GOING TO FIND YOU! I WILL FIND YOU, AND I WILL F****** KILL YOU AND YOUR WHOLE G**D*** FAMILY! DO YOU HEAR ME?! I WILL F****** SHOOT YOU!’

I muted my mic, sighed, and waved the orange flag at my supervisor, who just stared at me. She took over the call from there and I sat and listened to her deal with this man for a good forty minutes, taking down information. I went to clock out, use the restroom, and get a drink, and came back to ask what happened.

Turns out, he was already on file for making threats like that against employees pretty regularly, and that was his last strike. The bank was going to close out his account with them and blacklist him as a result.

My prediction came true. On the last call of her last night, I had to give her an orange flag. I couldn’t have timed that better if I had tried.

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