So Angry He’s Blacked Out

, , , , | Right | September 18, 2019

(I work at a call center doing customer service and technical support for a major sports organization. We offer an online streaming service for customers to watch the games live, which is subject to what are known as “blackouts.” What this means is that the individual sports teams sell the rights to their games to the sports networks, like FOX Sports or ESPN, and the networks then have the exclusive broadcasting rights to those games in that area. This means that we cannot stream those games to customers in that market. Our service determines your location based on your IP address and blacks you out from the correct teams. On occasion, a person is blacked out incorrectly due to the Internet connection being routed through a different location than they are currently in. If this is the case, we can manually input the person’s location so they can watch the game they want to watch. There are a lot of customers who are very upset about the blackout policy because often, the blackout area extends beyond the actual area the game is broadcast to. I can understand this frustration, and I’m used to dealing with callers who are upset by the blackout policy. However, this call stands out as one of the most ridiculous calls I have EVER taken on the subject.)

Me: “Thank you for calling [Sports Organization]. My name is [My Name]. Are you a registered user?

Customer: “I want to speak to a manager right now!”

Me: “All right, sir, I can definitely get you a manager on the line. May I please have your email address so I can pull up your account first?”

Customer: “Well, I want to complain about these blackouts! I’m in [City] and I’m being blacked out from [game that he shouldn’t have been blacked out from]. I want to talk to a manager right now!”

Me: “I apologize for the inconvenience, sir, and I definitely understand your frustration. Give me just one moment to pull up your account.”

Customer: “Why do you guys do these darn blackouts? It’s inconvenient and you need to stop it!” *continues ranting while I pull up his account and look over the information*

Me: “I definitely understand your frustration, sir. Who—”

Customer: *interrupting me* “No, you don’t! I want to know why I’m being blacked out from [game]! I’m in [City nowhere remotely near either of the teams]! I can’t watch the game on the television and you’re blacking me out! You need to stop it!”

(I am beginning to suspect that the customer has been incorrectly blacked out based on where he said he was and what game he was trying to watch.)

Me: “Sir, if you’ll just give me one moment to look into this, I can check the blackouts in your area. What is the zip code you are currently located in?”

Customer: *gives zip code* “Now, why do you black people out in the first place? It’s inconvenient and you need to stop it! When I was in [State], I was blacked out from watching [Team], and now I’m in [Other State] and I’m blacked out from [Team that he shouldn’t have been blacked out from]. You need to stop it! You need to stop blacking people out right now!”

Me: “Well, sir, the reason that the blackouts occur is that the teams sell the rights to their games to local sports networks, such as FOX Sports and ESPN. The networks then determine the area that is blacked out from each individual team.”

Customer: “So what? You need to stop it! You need to stop making deals with the networks and let us watch our games!”

Me: “I apologize for the inconvenience, sir. Sometimes, an Internet connection is routed through a different location than it is actually in. When this happens, the website reads you as being in a different location than you actually are. In your case, this seems to be happening. If you’ll let me, I’d be happy to help you and get you watching your game.”

Customer: “You need to stop it! You need to stop blacking people out because of some insignificant deal you’ve made with some insignificant networks! You need to stop it!”

(After about fifteen minutes going on like this, in between which I manage to get him to give me the necessary information to manually input his location, I finally get him watching his game.)

Me: “Is there anything else I can do for you tonight?”

Customer: “Yes, you can tell your boss to stop blacking people out! The number of people who are out to screw the networks is so small it’s insignificant, and you need to stop it!”

Me: “I will definitely notate your concerns in my notes from this call, sir. [Sports Organization] does read these notes, so they will be made aware of your concerns. Now, is there anything else I can do for you tonight, sir?”

Customer: “Yes, you can put lots of capital letters in your notes! You need to stop it!”

Me: “Well, thank you very much for calling [Sports Organization]. You have a great evening.”

(Note, from that entire fifteen-minute call, my notes read as follows: “Customer was very frustrated with the blackout policy and was yelling that we needed to stop making deals with the sports networks.” I then detailed the steps I took to get him watching his game. Also note that even if the customer had spoken with a manager, the manager would not have been able to do anything more than I did for the customer. This policy is due to multi-million-dollar contracts that we have made with the sports networks and it is highly unlikely it will change any time soon.)

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