He Has His Wires Crossed

| Lismore, NSW, Australia | Extra Stupid, Wild & Unruly

Me: “Welcome to [company], this is [name]. How can I help you?”

Customer: “I want instructions to wire up my phone socket to the mains to boost the signal.”

(Our phone lines use a 12 V signal while main power is 240v V Connecting the two would be a very bad idea.)

Me: *shocked* “Are you a trained electrician?”

Customer: “No. Why would I want to be one?”

Me: “You do know that the phone systems uses a 12 V system while the mains is 240 V?”

Customer: “So?”

Me: “Only authorized and trained people can work on a phone line. You are neither.”

Customer: *sighs*That is why I am wanting the instructions to wire the phone socket to the mains!”

Me: “Sir, if by some miracle you do not kill yourself wiring the two together you would be personally responsible for the cost of replacing a multimillion dollar telephone exchange that you would blow up by doing that wiring. Do you understand?”

(A moment of silence as the customer thinks this through.)

Customer: “I don’t like your attitude. Transfer me to someone more sympathetic to my needs.”

Me: “How about I transfer you to faults. They know about wiring, and we both know you will be there sooner or later.”

Customer: “They can tell me how to wire it up?”

Me: “I will get them to tell you themselves.”

(I put the customer on hold while I contact Faults department.)

Faults: “Hello this is [name] in Faults.”

Me: “I am so sorry to give this to you, but I have a customer demanding how to wire the phone socket into the mains.”

Faults: “What?”

Me: “I have explained to him if he did not manage to kill himself wiring it up, then he would be liable for the replacement cost of the exchange but he insists on being transferred to someone more sympathetic.”

Faults: “It’s going to be one of those days, isn’t it?”

No Vocation For Location, Part 5

| London, England, UK | Bigotry, Geography, Language & Words

(I work at a call center for charities where we call people to confirm their details and thank them for their donations. I have recently moved from South Africa and am still getting used to some of the pronunciations around the UK.)

Me: “Hello, this is Sarah calling on behalf of [charity]. I believe you spoke to John in Inverness on Saturday. Is that correct?”

(I’ve pronounced it ‘In-ver-niss’ as opposed to ‘In-ver-ness’.)

Man: “What?! How can you work in a f***ing call center and not even know how to pronounce the names?”

Me: “I’m so sorry, sir. I’m not from England so I’m still getting used to all the names.”

Man: “How f***ing dare you! I am not from England! I am from Scotland, you dumb b****! They’re different places! How don’t you know that? Didn’t you go to school?!”

Me: “Oh, I’m sorry, sir. I meant to say I’m new to the UK. Some of the names of places are still a bit tricky for me.”

Man: *calmer* “Well, okay then. Where are you from?”

Me: “Johannesburg in South Africa.”

Man: “Oh, you mean Zimbabwe!”

Me: “No, sir, they’re different countries.”

Man: “They’re the same thing!”

Related:
No Vocation For Location, Part 4

That Makes Two Of Us

| Las Vegas, NV, USA | Uncategorized

Caller: “Hi, I’m returning a call here?”

Me: “Yes? Are you looking for health insurance?”

Caller: “Well, yes.”

Me: “Great! Do you have the name of who called you? If not, I can just transfer you to an available agent.”

Caller: “Well, that’s the thing. I have a note and it says Linda.”

Me: “Okay, well—”

Caller: “Do you have a Linda? Because my name is Linda, and I’m worried I just wrote my own name down.”

Me: “We have a Linda. I’ll transfer you.”

Caller: “Oh, thank goodness!”

Having A Light Bulb Moment

| AB, Canada | Extra Stupid, Math & Science

Me: “Thanks for calling [company name]. How can I help you?”

Customer: “I’m calling because my bill is too high!”

Me: “Alright, I can pull up your account and see what could have caused the increase in—”

Customer: “It’s always been too high, and I think it’s this distribution charge.”

Me: “Ah, well that comes from the regulated electricity distributors, the ones that own and maintain the lines in the area. They send that information to us; we don’t have any control over that, unfortunately.”

Customer: “It’s a bulls*** charge! I don’t need no distribution!”

Me: “Well… the charge is for maintaining the electrical lines that transmit the electricity—”

Customer: “Transmitting the electricity?”

Me: “Yeah… you know, sending it out there.”

Customer: “What are you talking about? They don’t have to send it anywhere!”

Me: “I’m sorry?”

Customer: “When I turn on the lights, they just come on. I don’t have to wait for the electricity to get there, it’s already there.”

Me: “That’s not how electricity works, sir.”

Customer: “Of course it is! It turns on right away because the electricity is there. It doesn’t move!”

Me: “Sir… do you have a microwave?”

Customer: “Of course I do.”

Me: “And when you use your microwave, it works immediately, correct?”

Customer: “Right, because the electricity is already in there.”

Me: “So, why do you have to plug it in if the electricity is already there?”

Customer: “What?”

Me: “If you unplug your microwave it doesn’t work anymore, right?”

Customer: “Well, yes! What does that have to do with—”

Me: “That’s because the electricity has to travel through the cable to get to the microwave to make it work.”

(He mutters as he’s grasping for something to argue.)

Me: “Is there anything else I can help you with?”

Customer: *click*

Guaranteed To Shut Anyone Up

| San Antonio, TX, USA | Bad Behavior, Language & Words, Top

(I am an EFL teacher and self-published writer. I am an English major and in several classes focusing on the history and structure of the English language. I am paying my way by working at a call center. I get a caller who sounds reasonably educated.)

Caller: “I want you to tell me if there is a guarantee on this product.”

Me: “I know, sir, but to cont—”

Caller: “Tell me about the guarantee before we get anywhere else.”

Me: “I’ve given you the information on my sidebar, sir. To get further details I need to advance the screen so can you just give me your name—”

Caller: “Just tell me about the guarantee! Guarantee: Latin for get your money back!”

Me: “Latinate.”

Caller: “Pardon me?”

Me: “It’s Latinate, not Latin. We acquired it from the French. Probably Parisian French but I’m not sure in that. Warranty actually comes from the same word, but Norman French has the W sound and other types of French don’t usually. Probably because the Normans were a bunch of Norse Viking types the French gave some land to in order not to be pillaged. The Normans invaded and conquered England and tried to obliterate the English language but only managed to get a bunch of words added. When the English invaded and conquered France a couple of hundred years later, they got the Parisian version of the word with the GU sound. This is why warranty has a more official and stronger meaning than guarantee.”

Caller: “Uh…”

Me: “Now, I have a specific script the client requires us to read about the guarantee. It is important that I read precisely the words they chose without interpretation. To get to that script, I need to process the first screen as if I am taking an order. I am not allowed to read from memory. If you choose not to order, then I just cancel it out and there is no order placed. Can I get your information now, sir?”

Caller: *much calmer* “All right…”

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