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You Don’t Own The Street

, , , | Right | CREDIT: citizenzero_4 | January 9, 2022

I work for a 311 call center; we’re basically a non-emergency services and municipal information line. People call us for all kinds of city-related stuff.

An elderly lady is calling to complain.

Caller: “A car blocking my daughter’s parking space.”

She is a little all over the place with what she is saying and is starting to rant, and on top of that, she has an accent that makes it a bit harder to understand her, but this is a common thing people call about.

Me: “Is it a car blocking your driveway?”

Caller: “Yes.”

Me: “Is the car parked in the driveway itself, or is it on the street blocking the entrance?”

Caller: “No, it’s on the street blocking my front door.”

I’m confused but I still try to clarify.

Me: “Is it parked on the sidewalk outside your house?”

Caller: “No, it’s blocking my daughter’s car.”

Me: “So it’s double-parked?”

Caller: “No, it’s parked where she parks.”

After a few more rounds of questions just to be sure I completely understand her, it eventually turns out that she is calling because there is a car parked in front of her house where her daughter usually parks. The car isn’t in violation of any laws or anything, and this isn’t a reserved parking spot. This woman is just mad that someone has parked somewhere they are legally allowed to park.

Caller: “But it has [Out Of State] plates. Parking in this neighborhood isn’t good. My daughter will have to park around the corner and walk farther. This driver from [Out Of State] shouldn’t be able to park here.”

For what feels like the millionth time:

Me: “I understand that it’s frustrating, ma’am, but I can’t take a police report about a car legally parked on the street just because your daughter wants to park in front of the house. It doesn’t matter if it’s from out of state.”

Eventually, she hung, up grumbling about how we were useless. Because, you know, if we won’t or can’t accept a police request against someone who isn’t breaking the law, what good are we?

Whistle While You Work It Out

, , , , , , , | Right | January 7, 2022

I work in a call center for a major bank. I help with anything from balance to lost/stolen cards to online banking. I get a call from an older gentleman who sounds like he went riding with King Richard in the Crusades.

Me: “How can I help you today?”

Customer: “I want to add someone to my bill pay.”

Me: “I can help you with that. Can you please log in to your account?”

Customer: “Where?”

Me: “Are you on our home page?” 

Customer: “What is a home page? 

Me: “Do you have your computer on?”

Customer: “I need to be in front of the computer? Hold on…”

I hold on.

Customer: “Do I need to turn it on?”

Me: “Yes, please. Let me know when it’s up and running.”

Customer: “I’m on the home screen. Where do I go now?”

Me: “You said you wanted to add someone to your bill pay, correct?”

Customer: “Yes, how do I do that?”

Me: “Log into your checking account on our website.”

Customer: “How do I do that?”

Me: “Double-checking: who are you going to be adding to your bill pay?”

Customer: “My mortgage company says they will accept electronic payments through bill pay. I want to do that.”

Me: “Okay, I can help you, but I need you to log into your checking account.”

Customer: “How do I do that?”

Me: “By chance is there anyone else at home that uses your computer that can help us?”

Customer: “My five-year-old grandson is here. Do you want to speak with him?”

Me: “I’m willing to give it a shot if you are.”

Customer: “Let me get him.”

It sounds like he is missing his front teeth, so he whistles a bit when he talks.

Kid: “Hello?”

Me: “Hi. I was hoping you would be able to help your grandfather with something on the computer. Do you know how to pull up a website?”

Kid: “I go on Grandpa’s computer all the time; Mom doesn’t let me go on the one at home.”

Me: “Well, I can keep that secret if you can help your grandfather with something.”

Kid: “Okay.”

I then spend the next thirty minutes walking a five-year-old and a very old man through how to set up bill pay. The kid was a wiz on the computer and was showing his grandfather where to go and what to push. He didn’t know how to read but knew all his letters, so I could spell things to him and he found them quickly.

It was the longest call I ever had, but still, ten years later, it makes me smile as the kid was so excited helping his grandfather with the little whistle when he spoke.

His Inquiry Went Direct To His Issue

, , , , | Right | January 5, 2022

My first foray into the telecommunication business is via directory inquiries, i.e. the number you call if you want to find out someone’s phone number. In Sweden, this service used to be provided by the government but was eventually sold out, so a number of private companies took over and charged a lot more.

The company I work for has inherited the number the government-provided service used to have, and as a result, we have a lot of customers who call in just to have someone to chat with, not knowing that the call is a lot more expensive than it used to be. Usually, when I get a customer like this, I inform them of the cost of the call and let them decide if they want to continue the conversation or not, but I am not allowed to hang up on customers unless they are verbally abusive.

Me: “Welcome to directory inquiries. How may I direct your call?”

Caller: “I want to talk to the government, right away!”

Me: “Certainly, I have the number for the switchboard right here. Do you want me to read it to you so you can write it down, or do you want me to transfer you?”

Caller: “I want to talk to the person who’s in charge of the elections.”

Me: “I don’t have the direct number, but the switchboard will help you with that. Would you like me to transfer you?”

Caller: “I’m not happy with [Elected Official] and I want to complain! I want him out of office! This is outrageous!”

Me: “I can transfer you to the government switchboard or give you the number. If you want to keep talking to me, I have to tell you that the cost of this call is [amount] per minute.”

The caller goes into a very long rant about everything that’s wrong with the government, the country, and the world.

Me: “I hear you, but there is nothing I can do about your issue. I can give you the number of the government switchboard or transfer you. Every minute you spend talking to me will cost you [amount]. What would you like me to do?”

Caller: “There are gay representatives in the government, I tell you. Gay representatives! What do you have to say about that?”

At this point, there are no representatives in our government who are openly gay, although there is one who wears his hair in a ponytail. I’ve already been on the phone with this customer for five minutes, listening to his rant, so I just decide to shut him up the best way I can think of.

Me: “Well, to be honest, you’re talking to a gay telephone operator right now. What do you have to say about that?”

Then came the longest silence I’ve ever heard, followed by the blessed *click* when he hung up.

They’ll Let Just Any Jerk Be A Big Wig

, , , , , , | Working | January 4, 2022

About two years ago, I started at a tech support help desk. I don’t have any certifications (A+ or N+, for example), but it’s not really needed here since we aren’t supposed to handle networking issues and we don’t have any actual hands-on with hardware. I just get computer stuff, so I just naturally fit the job. The tech support job is to do basic troubleshooting and learn basic software troubleshooting for the proprietary software that the company designed and supports.

There is no real training offered. New hires just get sat down by another tech that has a bit of experience, listen to them take incoming calls, learn how to create a new ticket, and maybe pick up on some basic issues and how to resolve them during their first day on the job. The second day, they are kind of just tossed to the wolves. There is no training manual to follow and the troubleshooting guides for the hardware and software we need to help customers with are scattered across multiple places; this includes new hardware and old hardware and new software and old software. Needless to say, it’s a cluster bomb.

I spent countless hours in my first six months constantly asking questions, reading up on software and hardware, and tracking down resolutions for problems, and pretty soon, I was more experienced than people that had been there for a couple of years. I taught myself how to navigate the MS Access databases used in the older software and learned how to rebuild databases from scratch. I found easier workarounds for problems and learned how to talk down to customers (without making it sound like I was) to find out specifically what their problem was. I excelled at the job, and the manager for the help desk took notice.

After about a year at the job, the help desk manager had me helping on calls when needed, but I was mostly going around and coaching other Tier 1 techs on how to resolve issues that are very suitable for T1 techs to handle and to stop escalating tickets to Tier 2 so often. Too many stupid issues were pushed to T2 because T1 didn’t know how to resolve them and no one was around to really train them.

I did this for about a year. I got a lot of T1 techs up to a reasonable level, but what I didn’t realize was that my own metrics were bad compared to all other T1 techs. Most T1 techs would usually handle thirty-five calls a day on average and close around twenty tickets a day, but with my manager having me walk the floor and help others, I handled around ten calls a day and closed around ten tickets a day. In my position, I was given a $.50 raise and therefore made more than the other T1 techs because I was considered a lead.

Around the two-year mark of my working at the company, in comes new upper management. They want to make an example of how good they are and they want to weed out the bad employees. This “big wig” manager runs his metric data and sees that I’m paid more, but I produce fewer results. He wants to fire me on the spot to set an example. Thankfully, my immediate manager takes the bullet.

Manager: “It was my call to pull [My Name] off the phones to help others. You shouldn’t fire him for my decision.”

Big Wig: “Put him back on the phones. If I don’t see any good results, I’m going to fire him.”

My manager pulls me off to the side the next morning.

Manager: “I have to put you back on the phones because your metrics aren’t good. I took the blame for my decision to pull you from the phones. I want to make sure I don’t lose you as an employee.”

Most T1 techs, as I stated earlier, average around thirty-five calls a day and close around twenty tickets a day. On my first day back on the phones — which is hard to get through — because I have so many T1 techs wanting me to come and help them — I take seventy-four calls and close out fifty-two tickets. This is a normal day for me; I just hammer out calls and close out tickets.

The very next morning, the big wig manager walks past me and pats me on the shoulder.

Big Wig: “Keep up the good work!”

My immediate manager sits and talks with me.

Manager: “I’m thrilled that you were able to put [Big Wig] in his place by blowing the rest of the help desk out of the water with your metrics! I walked into [Big Wig]’s office earlier with my chest puffed out and told him that it felt awesome to straight-up tell the new management team that was the reason why I took you off the phones — so you could help other T1 techs, so we’d handle more issues and take more calls as a team and not just rely on you to pick up the slack.”

A short while later, I was promoted to Tier 2 because I handled harder stuff that most other T2 techs didn’t know how to do. Then, I became the T2 lead, and the story kind of repeats itself. In came new management, and the whole song and dance started again.

Thankfully, I left the place right when the third new management team took over a few years later.

“Good Client”. Sure.

, , , , | Right | January 2, 2022

I work in customer service in a call center for three well-known car brands.

Customer: “My engine broke and has to be replaced. I want you to pay for the repair. This is clearly a manufacturing defect, and I’m a good client!”

Normally, we help loyal/good clients who have done their car’s maintenance on the brand. Often, we do not even care that it has been on the brand, simply that the procedures indicated by the brand have been done. So, we opened the process and contacted the repairman so that he could send us the maintenance invoices and the repair invoice so that we could analyze how much to contribute.

The car was twelve years old, had around 500,000 km (over 300,000 miles) on it, and had had six maintenances done; it should have had twelve. The customer had chosen the most expensive engine possible, and the repair cost more than €10,000.

We had that process open for two weeks because the client kept calling demanding that we pay him 100% of the repair. Obviously, we did not pay him anything. He ended up threatening to take us to court. We told him that a better option was to buy a new car with the money he would spend on lawyers to win that case. We haven’t heard from him again… for now, at least.