Instead Of A Herr It Was A Her

, , , , , , | Right | June 12, 2018

(I work as a supervisor for an electric company call center. I’m a woman, although my voice sounds very deep to the point where most customers think I am a man, especially over the phone. This doesn’t typically bother me. I am on a supervisor call correcting a billing mistake — these calls always have to go to a supervisor. The customer speaks very good English to me, but rants in German to somebody in the room with him that I am actually helping him because I am a “man,” and various other misogynistic comments about how women don’t belong in the workplace, are inept, etc. He doesn’t realize I speak German and understand everything he says.)

Me: *still in English* “Okay, you are all set; you’ll see an adjustment on your next bill and you can simply pay the corrected balance at your earliest convenience.”

Customer: “Thank you very much, sir. You have helped me incredibly.”

Me: *in German* “Is there anything else I can help you with today?”

(I hear a gasp on the line.)

Me: *still in German* “Well, as a supervisor, I’m glad I had the opportunity to satisfy your concerns. Again, my name is Frau [Surname], and thank you for calling [Electric Company].”

Murphy’s Law: Online Edition

, , , , , , | Working | June 8, 2018

(I decide to move closer to my college to make it easier to get back and forth to class. We move all our utilities over, keeping our home phone and high-speed Internet through the same company, which is one of the largest communications companies in Canada. About three months after we move and after the school year has started, my maternal grandfather passes away. Once the initial shock has passed, I go to email my professors to let them know I won’t be in classes for the remainder of the week, but I can’t get on the Internet. Being in a computer program, I check all my equipment, and am certain it isn’t my end, but I am too exhausted to deal with it, assume it is a blip, and go to bed, planning to send the email in the morning. However, in the morning it is still not working, so I root out my last bill and call the number on it.)

Customer Service Agent #1: “Thank you for calling [Internet company] tech support. My name is [Customer Service Agent #1]; how can I help you?

Me: “My Internet service has been down since at least last night. I’ve checked all my equipment, and it doesn’t appear to be my end. Is there an outage in the area?”

Customer Service Agent #1: “There are no outages that I’m aware of, but can I get your account number to take a look?”

Me: *gives account number and answers some verification questions*

Customer Service Agent #1: “I see. Your account has been shut down due to a billing issue.”

Me: “That’s not possible. I have my last bill in front of me, and according to my notes on it I paid it through my Internet banking on [date], which was well over a week before it was due. I would log into my bank to verify, but I have no Internet.”

Customer Service Agent #1: “I’m not really sure what happened, then. Let me get you over to someone in billing to get this sorted out.”

Me: “Okay, thank you.”

(After several minutes on hold, another person picks up.)

Customer Service Agent #2: “Thank you for calling [Internet company] billing. My name is [Customer Service Agent #2]; how can I help you?”

Me: “I’ve not had any Internet access since last night. I was just speaking to a tech support agent, and he said it was a billing issue and transferred me to you. Can you help me straighten this out?”

Customer Service Agent #2: “Okay, let’s take a look. Can I get your account number?”

Me: “You didn’t get it from the last agent?”

Customer Service Agent #2: “No, they blind-transferred you.”

Me: *gives account number and answers some verification questions*

Customer Service Agent #2: “Okay, apparently we don’t have your billing information on file, which is why your account was shut down. I’ll need to take either your credit card information, or your bank account information for direct withdrawal, to get the account active again.”

Me: “I’ve never given you that before, and I’ve been a customer of yours for several years. You’ve always billed me, and I’ve paid through my bank.”

Customer Service Agent #2: “No, we don’t bill people. We do direct withdrawal, either through your bank account or through a credit card.”

Me: “I have proof in my hand that says otherwise: a bill with both my home phone charges and my Internet charges. I’ve been a customer for several years, and that’s always how it’s been. All of my charges have come together on a bill and I have paid them. Why can’t that continue?”

Customer Service Agent #2: “I’m not really sure. Let me get you over to billing for [Main Company], and they may be able to tell you what’s going on. One moment.”

(I am put back on hold again before I can protest. After several minutes, another agent picks up.)

Customer Service Agent #3: “Thank you for calling [Main Company] billing. My name is [Customer Service Agent #3]; how can I help you?”

Me: “I’m sorry, but I’m really getting frustrated. I haven’t had Internet service since yesterday. I’ve spoken to tech support, and they say it’s a billing issue. I’ve spoken with [Internet company], and they’re insisting that I have to give them a credit card, which I don’t have, or my direct withdrawal banking information, which I also don’t have handy. I have always had all of my [Company] charges just billed to me, and I don’t understand why this has suddenly changed. Is there any way we can keep the current arrangement?”

Customer Service Agent #3: “Can I get your account number, please?”

Me: “You don’t have it already?”

Customer Service Agent #3: “Nope, you were blind-transferred.”

Me: *tries not to be overly testy as I give my account number and answer some verification questions*

Customer Service Agent #3: “Yes, you did have it on billing, but [Internet service] normally needs to do direct payment, either through your bank account or through a credit card. If you can give me either of those, I can reinstate your Internet service right away.”

Me: “I just told you I don’t have any of that information at the moment. Why the sudden change? I’ve been a customer of [Company] for four or five years now, and it’s never been a problem before. I even used to get my [Satellite Service] charges on the same bill, but I had to cancel that since I’m now a student and not working full-time. I’ve always paid my bill on time, so it’s not that I’m a delinquent customer, so I don’t understand why I can’t pay as I always have.”

Customer Service Agent #3: “The only way I can get the Internet back up for you is to get direct payment information from you now.”

Me: *feeling defeated* “I just need to send an email to my professors to let them know that I won’t be in class for the next few days because my grandfather passed away, before I go and spend time with my grieving family. You’re absolutely sure that there’s nothing you can do to help me out here?”

Customer Service Agent #3: “I’m sorry, but no.”

Me: “Can I speak to a supervisor, please?”

Customer Service Agent #3: “I don’t think that a supervisor will be able to help.”

Me: “Just let me speak to a supervisor.”

(Suddenly back to hold music. I have now been on the phone for almost an hour and I am genuinely upset at this point, and the hold music seems to go on forever. It is also now past time that I should normally be in a lab, and I wanted to email my professors before classes began, so I am especially unhappy.)

Customer Service Agent #4: *in a somewhat surprised tone* “Thank you for calling [Main Company]. My name is [Customer Service Agent #4]; how can I help you?”

Me: “Are you a supervisor with [Company]?”

Customer Service Agent #4: “Yes, I am. What can I help you with?”

Me: *fighting to not cry on the phone* “You are now the fourth person I have spoken to with regard to what should be a very simple issue. My Internet service was cut off at some point yesterday due to [Internet Company] not having my direct withdrawal information or credit card information on file. I have never put that information on file, as [Company] has always billed me for the charges for both my Internet and home phone service directly. I am not sure why this has changed; the timing is incredibly poor, as my grandfather passed away yesterday, and I need to email my professors to let them know why I will not be in class. I just want to be billed as I have been for the last four or five years. Can you please help me with this?”

Customer Service Agent #4: *still sounding somewhat surprised* “So, all you’re after is bundling all your services onto one bill, correct?”

Me: “Yes, that and reactivating my Internet service.”

Customer Service Agent #4: “Of all the… Yes, I should be able to get that done for you. Can I get your account number, please?”

Me: “The last agent didn’t supply that information?”

Customer Service Agent #4: *in an exasperated tone* “No, I’m afraid you were transferred to me blind. I was not given anything.”

Me: “I take it from your tone that this is not normal operating procedure?”

Customer Service Agent #4: “No, it is not.”

Me: *supplies account number and answers verification questions*

Customer Service Agent #4: “Okay, Ms. [My Name], it does look like there was some sort of technical glitch that got your billing switched around to the more standard prepay for [Internet Company]. Give me a minute, and let me get it switched back for you.”

Me: *relieved* “Thank you so much.”

Customer Service Agent #4: *can hear her working in the background* “It always seems that these things happen at the worst possible time, doesn’t it?”

Me: “Murphy’s Law, I guess.”

Customer Service Agent #4: “I know, and I’m sorry. Okay… There. I have it reset back to post-pay, and since your payments are up to date — thank you for that, by the way — your Internet should be back on shortly. It won’t be instantaneous, but it shouldn’t take more than 15 to 20 minutes. Is there anything else I can help you with today?”

Me: “No, but thank you. You’ve been wonderful.”

Customer Service Agent #4: “I’m glad I could help, and let me extend my condolences to you and your family. I don’t think I’d be as calm as you have been if this happened after I had just lost a loved one.”

Me: “Thank you again. Goodbye.”

(True to her word, about ten minutes later I was able to connect to the Internet. I sent the email out to my professors, and left to go support my mother and her sisters. Fortunately, I never had to call their customer service again!)

Talking Africa-ca

, , , , | Right | June 8, 2018

(I work at a call center. I have a slight accent from my Caribbean island home, but my only language is English. A customer calls in regarding her services that have been disconnected for non-payment. When I advise her that payment must be made in full on one method of payment, she responds:)

Client: “You are racist and discriminating against me because I am ethnic.”

Me: “Ma’am, I’m from an island nation. I’m ethnic, as well.”

Client: “But I’m an African, so I’m more ethnic than you.”

Me: “…”

While On Hold, Hold Your Mouth

, , , | | Right | June 7, 2018

(I am on the phone with a pretty annoyed lady trying to read her trouble ticket. My department only works with businesses, and most of the people I talk to are extremely polite. This lady starts out nice until I try helping her.)

Me: “I’m just reading over your ticket at the moment. Please give me a bit to look it over.”

(Not long after saying that I hear the following…)

Caller: “That dumb girl just put me on hold now. I tell you these people are incompetent. I don’t know why I even buy this s***. She’s probably making good money to sit on her a** and do nothing.”

(Not wanting to even get involved, I don’t say anything, but I keep typing, which I’m pretty sure she can hear if she shuts her mouth. After a while, I hear the line go quiet.)

Caller: “Um… If you’re listening… I was… I was just kidding about the stuff I just said.”

(I wasn’t convinced.)

Requests So Outrageous You Have A Delayed Reaction

, , , | Right | June 7, 2018

(We have a repeat international customer and, naturally, his orders often get delayed at the airport as they have go through customs first. His newest order has just been posted, and he just has one request for his order.)

Customer: “I really need this order as soon as possible. Can you send it through a different airport this time to avoid the delay?”

Me: “I’m sorry, but we have no control over which airport it is sent through; it depends how Royal Mail sorts it when they receive it. The delays are caused by customs, and going to a different airport wouldn’t change that.”

Customer: “I want to try a different airport, anyway. Can you ask them to send it somewhere else this time?”

(I explain how our packages to the US are probably less than 1% of what Royal Mail has to send there every day, and that we really have no influence over which airport it goes to, especially as the airport his previous orders have gone to are based in the same state as him.)

Customer: “Can’t you call Royal Mail and ask them to find my parcel and make sure it is sent elsewhere this time? It is a tracked delivery; they can just find it by the tracking number.”

Me: “Again, [Customer], our packages are just a very small percentage of what they receive and have to sort through. They will not delay hundreds of packages and waste so many man-hours just to find one package and to send it to another airport.”

Customer: “Hmm.” *he takes a few seconds to think, and I am hoping that the message has sunk in and he will just accept it* “Can you call British Airways?”

Me: “Sorry? What do you mean?”

Customer: “British Airways. Your plane company. Can you call them?”

Me: “Um… Why?”

Customer: “To ask them to redirect the plane to New York or somewhere.”

Me: “No.”

Customer: “Why not?”

Me: “Because they will have hundreds of people on the plane expecting to go to a particular airport. The airport they are flying to is expecting them and has space for them to land. If they were to suddenly redirect to another airport, they might not be able to land, the people on the plane would be very annoyed at landing in a different part of the country, and their customs team would suddenly have several thousand more packages to sort through which they would be unprepared for. This would cause even more delays for both you and the other people whose packages are on the plane.”

Customer: “Are you sure? My packages are usually delayed for about a week. The delay wouldn’t be that long, surely?”

Me: “I am absolutely certain. Furthermore, I cannot, and will not, make any attempt to inconvenience what will literally be hundreds of people to try to save you an unavoidable delay. Is there anything else I can help you with today?”

(Thankfully, the answer was no.)

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