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A Dead-End Is Better Than This Weirdness

, , , , , , , , | Working | May 6, 2022

In early 2016, I quit a dead-end job in a call center and was looking for new pastures or at least a way to pay my bills. A certain company was recruiting for a sales team, and I figured I’d give it a go. I mean, if nothing else, a year and a half in customer service had sure fine-polished my gift of the gab.

The interview went fine — so much so that they excused me for ten minutes and then invited me back in to offer me the position. In retrospect, that should’ve been my first warning sign — who hires someone based on a fifteen-minute chinwag and ten minutes of deliberation? But oh, well.

I showed up on my first day for the contract signing, and it was then revealed that we’d be working on commission only. This should’ve been my second warning sign because if I don’t make any sales on a certain day, I don’t eat that day.

We then went off to a morning meeting in what they called “the Atmosphere Room”. This meeting consisted of everybody pairing up in twos and practicing the (near-identical) sales pitch on each other — with a boombox blasting loud dance music at the same time. According to the trainers, this was to “motivate us to talk loudly and confidently”. I was a bit skeptical, but I didn’t want to be “that guy,” so I played along nicely.

Then, we actually got off to work. It turned out we’d be doing “campaigns in residential areas” — which I quickly learnt was door-to-dooring — so as to recruit benefactors for a cancer fund/research organisation. “Commendable purpose, if nothing else,” I thought to myself. But I soon wised up.

For starters, said organisation had no operations in Northern Ireland (NI), so that alone made it tough to tickle anyone’s interest. Moreover, NI already had a variety of local organisations and hospices doing an amazing job. Lastly, I was no sales expert, but even I knew that knowing your demographic group is key. I also knew that NI was still shaky and divided despite the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, and saying the wrong word at the wrong place at the wrong time could still get you into a heap of trouble.

With that in mind, it’d make sense to focus only on Protestant/Unionist areas, right? Nope. We’d be sent off to random neighbourhoods with no regard for sectarian division. Now, imagine walking into a staunch Catholic/Republican area, asking people to donate to a London-based English organisation that doesn’t even operate in NI. In retrospect, I believe it was only my non-Irish/non-Ulster accent that saved me from major carnage. (“Ach, some weird Caneedien or Austreelien… Lad don’t kno’ any bettur!”)

The trainers kept telling us that for every thirty doors knocked, we’d be invited into thre homes, and out of those three we’d perhaps make one sale — in plain English, a conversion rate of 3%. We shouldn’t be discouraged but instead be more assertive and positive. We were expected to cover 100 to 150 households during one ten-hour day in the field, while keeping a tally of the number of houses visited, doors answered, invitations inside, and sales closed. After we’d visited the last house, we were to return to point of origin and revisit all houses that hadn’t answered the door the first time. After Round Two, it was lunch — which, by the way, wasn’t company-paid, so everyone had to find something on their own. With a very limited selection of shops and food outlets in no man’s land, it always ended up being overpriced fast food. On average, I’d spend £4 to £5 on lunch each working day. And unless one of the trainers would take us in their car to our respective patches that day, bus tickets were, too, funded by us. A day ticket in Belfast was £4 back then if memory serves.

At the office itself, things were getting more and more ludicrous. We were not allowed to drink beverages of any sort in the “Atmosphere Room”, and we weren’t allowed to go near the reception area if there were visitors in the waiting area. (They probably didn’t want us to warn inadvertently any “new fish” about this whole madhouse.)

On my fourth day, I started crunching some serious numbers. If, best-case scenario, I’d close a deal with 3% of the households visited, and each sale gave a commission of £2, I’d have to knock on 200 doors a day just to cover lunch and bus tickets that day! Never mind rent and utilities that whole month! There are only so many residential areas in NI! 

The drop that finally tipped the scale, though, was when I’d just returned to the office one evening. The dress code mandated trousers and a dress shirt, and as it’d been a fairly warm summer’s day, I was beat and rather dehydrated. Toilet facilities were scarce in the field, so everyone tried to limit their fluid intake.

As I still had a soda left in my backpack, I helped myself to it. One of the trainers walked by, and I jovially raised the can in a sort of toast. She flipped! What was I doing here? I wasn’t supposed to be out here drinking soda, but instead, I should be in “Atmosphere” to deliver the final tallies! I was like, “Gee, hold yer horses; I only got just in like thirty seconds ago!”, but she’d have none of it. 

And that’s when I left. I couldn’t even be bothered to hand in a formal resignation. I just left and never came back. Rack off, ya collection of lunatics!

A Tale About Topping Up Is About To Go Down

, , , , , | Right | November 18, 2020

I have just arrived at work at the phone store, and there is an elderly couple waiting to be seen. I walk over.

Me: “Do you need any help?”

Elderly Woman: *Exclaiming* “Your company is a sham! You’re trying to con innocent pensioners out of their money!”

Me: *Confused* “What is the problem?”

Elderly Woman: “We were in store a couple of days ago to get a £10 top-up put on our phone. We gave you a top-up card, and the money didn’t go onto the phone!”

I check the receipt confirmation and the number of the top-up card they have is mismatching to the one on the receipt.

Me: “Do you have another top-up card with you that might have been used accidentally?”

Elderly Woman: *Firmly* “No!”

They continue to complain the whole time I am on the phone to our customer care team as they try to work out what phone the money has gone on to. They end up telling me there is nothing they can do, and it is up to the store to fix it.

My manager at the time has been listening in and is annoyed at their outburst. He comes over.

Manager: “I will give you a new top-up.”

This is just to get them to leave the store. The woman goes to open her purse to pull out her loyalty card to get the points, and he points toward one of the cards inside. Lo and behold, there is another top-up card sitting in there, its number matching the one on the earlier receipt.

They had given my colleague the wrong top-up card. I had spent over an hour trying to fix a problem that could’ve been resolved if the customer had just checked her purse in the first place.

The woman said she was embarrassed and that she’d never usually get angry and have an outburst like that. She quickly apologised, telling us what great staff the company had — even though she complained about my colleague the whole time, calling her incompetent — and they quickly left with their tails between their legs.

All Of Europe Is Just North Africa

, , , , | Right | November 15, 2020

I work in a phone shop. A woman comes in:

Customer: *Demanding* “Why is my phone bill more expensive this month?!”

I take a look into her account.

Me: “It’s due to international roaming. At the moment, our customers can travel anywhere in the EU and use their phone at no extra charge. Countries outside the EU, such as Canada, Australia, the USA, etc., are not included, so would start to charge the extra. Have you been abroad?”

Customer: “I went to South Africa for a couple of weeks.”

Me: “This is the reason why you were charged extra.”

Customer: *With bewilderment* “South Africa is within Europe!”

Me: “No, it isn’t.”

The customer lets out a surprised gasp.

I can no longer take her seriously and find it hard to keep a straight face. As if this isn’t enough, she goes on to complain that the bank changed her password for her banking app without her consent — highly unlikely — and asks if I can do anything about it.

Me: “We are a mobile network provider, and thus can’t look into apps, especially those including sensitive information such as banking.”

The woman gives a sound between a laugh and cry, and from what I can see, she is starting to have a mini-breakdown. She quickly got up, exclaiming she would go to the bank, and walked quickly out of the store.

Thinking He Was Home Free

, , , , | Right | May 11, 2020

In the UK, you can tell what type a phone line is by the first two digits. 01,02,03 and 08 are landline phones while 07 is always a cell phone. I work as an outgoing cold call agent in the UK where we see the phone numbers listed as we call them.

Me: “Hello, sir, I am calling from [Cell Phone Company] regarding your cell phone plan.”

Customer: “I am on pay-as-you-go; I don’t have a cell phone monthly plan.”

Me: “Yes, I noticed and you could be getting a much better deal for your cell phone.”

Customer: “I’m sorry, but I’m driving. Could you call back later?”

I take a second to look at the number I dialed before I respond.

Me: “Sir… are you telling me that you’re driving your house?”

It was an 01 house landline number. The customer paused for a couple of seconds, stuttered, and hung up.

Wireless, Clueless, Hopeless, Part 36

, , , , , | Right | April 25, 2020

I support routers for a fairly well-known company. Usually, customers are quite pleasant and trust that we know our devices well enough to know what they can and can’t do. Some people, however:

Customer: “My router isn’t giving me Internet over its Wi-Fi!”

Me: “Right, let’s check the cable, shall we? Is the Internet cable in the internet port?”

Customer: “No, this one doesn’t have a cable; it’s receiving Internet wirelessly. Are you stupid?”

Me: *Pause* “Your model does not come with that functionality. Either you put a cable in there, or you installed another software on there that does allow for that. Are you sure there isn’t a cable nearby that was unplugged accidentally?”

Customer: “Clearly, you don’t know your own products. You’re useless. You can’t even help me, can you?”

Me: “Evidently not. Have a lovely day.”

I hung up, because I’m not forced to deal with people like that.

Related:
Wireless, Clueless, Hopeless, Part 35
Wireless, Clueless, Hopeless, Part 34
Wireless, Clueless, Hopeless, Part 33