Getting To The Principal Of The Matter

| MD, USA | Learning | July 13, 2017

(I work in a call center for a well-known virtual charter school. We are state-funded and thus have to abide by all state regulations. Many parents think that our company does homeschooling.)

Caller: “Hi, I’m trying to enroll my kids in homeschool.”

(We are trained to make sure parents know the difference, but casually.)

Me: “You would like to enroll your children into our virtual charter school? Certainly. Have you started your application online?”

Caller: “Virtual what? Is this homeschool?”

(I explain the difference, and like with 99% of all parents, she understands and we continue the call. I start to hear squealing and crying in the background, which is common for this job.)

Caller: “My name is [First Name], [Last Name].”

Me: “Okay, I see you started an application with us and you’ve already started filling out the online forms.”

Caller: “Yeah, but it wouldn’t let me put my kids in.”

(I notice there are seven children listed. Our default application maxed at eight people and a message would appear that you had to call if you needed to add more people, which is what she did. She is the only adult listed.)

Me: “I see you have seven students listed. Did you need to add another student to your account?”

Caller: “Yeah, I need to add [Kid #2], [Kid #8], and, uh… [Kid #9].”

Me: *scanning the kids’ names* “I see that [Kid #2] is listed here already, but I’ll add [Kid #8] and [Kid #9] for you now.”

(I add the two other kids, bringing the total up to nine children. I have a flag I see on the account that there aren’t enough adults to allow the application to process. This means I have to go through a list of questions with her to see if she even qualifies for our school.)

Me: “Our program requires your children to have learning coaches who are available to help with things like organization and homework. Who will be the primary learning coach?”

Caller: “That will be me.”

Me: “Do you have someone else you’d like to add as well?”

Caller: “No.”

Me: “Do you have someone who might be willing to help you with this? Our program requires no more than four students per learning coach.”

Caller: “What? Why?”

Me: “Well, it can become very hectic with four children, keeping track of their class schedules, homework, and teacher communication. We want our students to succeed while they’re with us, which is why we want to make sure learning coaches have manageable schedules with their students.”

Caller: “Oh, okay. In that case, you can add [Name].”

(I go ahead and add that person.)

Me: “Okay, just have that person call us when they’re available to finish setting up their account.”

Caller: “What? She can’t call you people.”

Me: “Why is that?”

Caller: “She’s eight.”

Me: “…what?”

Caller: “She’s my daughter. She’s the smartest though. She’s good at that stuff.”

Me: *I am trying so hard* “I’m very sorry, ma’am, but the learning coach must be at least 18 years old. Your daughter will not be able to be a learning coach for your other students.”

Caller: “Well, you put her on there, right? I have two more kids I need to add.”

Me: “Okay, we can do that, but I am letting you know that with 12 children, you will need two more learning coaches in order for us to process your application.”

Caller: “What? No. There ain’t no other learning coaches. How many times do I have to tell you? It’s me. I’m it.”

Me: *at her insistence, I put her other kids on her application* “Well, we can put your other kids on and maybe you can speak with relatives or friends who might be willing to help out. What are your other children’s names?”

Caller: *pauses* “Uh… which ones do I got on there?”

Me: *lists names of children*

Caller: *pauses* “Do you have [Kid #5]?”

Me: “Yes.”

Caller: “What about [Kid #11]?”

Me: “No, let me add him. Okay, he’s in. Who else?”

Caller: “How about [Totally Different Name]. No wait. That’s not her name. Uh…” *to the crying children in the background* “You. Your name. Tell mommy your name.” *to me* “Do you have [Kid #7]?”

Me: “Yes, she’s on there.”

Caller: “D*** it. I don’t know which kid I’m missing.”

Me: *half-joking* “You could try a roll call?”

Caller: “That’s a good idea. List them off again.” *to her kids* “Raise your hand when the lady says your name.”

Me: *I list the names of the children*

Caller: *to her kids* “Your name wasn’t called?” *pause* “Tell mommy your name.” *pauses, to me* “Add [Kid #12].”

Me: “Okay, he’s on there.”

Caller: “So when do we get our computers?”

(Some states provide a computer to households or students, but it varies. Not all states do this and it is 100% funded by the state. The computers have to be returned when the kid is no longer enrolled in our school. This caller’s state pays for one desktop computer per household. In rare cases, the principal might get approval to get a second computer, but never more than that.)

Me: “After you complete the enrollment process, the computer would be shipped to your house for your children to use to attend classes and complete their homework.”

Caller: “They each get one, right?”

Me: “No, ma’am. Your state pays for one computer per household.”

Caller: “How are 12 kids supposed to all share one computer?!”

Me: “Well, most states don’t even provide a computer to any families. This would help you out, but you would be responsible for making sure your students have what they need.”

Caller: *fuming* “I ain’t got the money for that!”

Me: “If you qualify for the program, there is a chance that the principal MIGHT be able to get your household a second computer, but even that is a stretch. If you aren’t able to provide another computer for them to use, this might not be the best program for you.”

Caller: “What?! What else am I supposed to do with this many kids!”

Me: “You do have the option of sending them to your local brick and mortar school as you have been doing up until now.”

Caller: “They ain’t been to no school! They been homeschooled their whole life!”

Me: *feeling so incredibly sorry for these unfortunate kids* “Well, ma’am, given how many there are and how much time they will need to be successful in classes, maybe sending them to a brick and mortar school is the best option.”

Caller: “Why do you care what I do with my kids?! This is a HOMESCHOOL! What I do is my business!”

Me: *shaking my head* “Ma’am, this is a state-funded school. We want all students to be successful with us and we have program rules that all parents are expected to abide by if they want their children to be enrolled with us. Keeping up with 12 different curriculums and 12 different schedules is just not possible for one person. That is why we have a cap of four students per learning coach. The curriculum is going to be a little more rigorous than in your typical public school. There is just no way the principal will allow a household enroll that does not meet those requirements.”

Caller: “OH, REALLY? I want to talk to this principal.”

(She puts emphasis on “principal” like we don’t have a real principal. We do. Each individual school has its own principal located in a real office with a real address that any parent can go to or call.)

Me: “Okay, ma’am, here is the principal’s number. He can explain anything you need in more detail.”

Caller: *smugly* “Yeah, we’ll see about that. You’ll see.”

(The principal explained what I did and told the caller that she would not be permitted to enroll in the school. His notes described her as “frightful” and “generally confused.” He certainly saved me a LOT of pointless work with this lady.)

You’ve Been Singled Out

| AR, USA | Right | July 12, 2017

(I work at the corporate office call center for a big store chain. One day, I get this call.)

Me: “Hi, thanks for calling. My name is [My Name]. How can I help you today?”

Customer: “I’ve been shopping at this [Store] for ten years, and I don’t understand why they would do this to me!”

Me: “I’m sorry to hear that, ma’am. What happened?”

Customer: “This store has stopped selling [Store Brand] single serving pancake mix. Now they only sell family size! I… I feel like they’re discriminating against single people!”

Me: “They’re discriminating against single people?”

Customer: “Yes! It’s like they’re saying you don’t deserve pancakes unless you have a family!”

(What the customer probably didn’t know was that “discrimination” is a keyword for us. As soon as the customer says that word, whatever complaint they were filing immediately becomes an ethics issue. Ethics usually handles things like racial discrimination, sexual discrimination, serious problems like that. That day, I got to send them a letter about pancake discrimination. I hope they found it as funny as I did.)

Common Sense Has Cashed Out

| CO, USA | Right | July 11, 2017

(I sell auto insurance for one of the major US companies. We sell policies directly though the company or through a network of local agents. This customer calls for a quote over the phone, and as part of the triage it’s verified that the customer can pay over the phone with a checking account or major credit card. He states that he can, but he normally only deals in cash. I try to refer him to an agent in his area who can provide a quote and would be able to accept a cash payment, but he declines the referral even after I’ve explained that a payment will need to be made over the phone or online if he wants to purchase insurance from me. I’ve completed the quote and the customer indicates he wants to buy the policy. The customer has been using profanities liberally and was pretty uncooperative in providing information necessary to properly complete the quote throughout the call, so I should have seen this coming, although he’d been fairly civil until…)

Me: “Would you like to make the payment with a card or your checking account?”

Customer: “Cash. I only pay with cash.”

Me: “I’m sorry, I have no way to accept a cash payment over the phone; you can use a card, including a pre-paid card if necessary, or a check. Which will you be using?”

Customer: “You useless piece of dirt b*****! Why didn’t you tell me you won’t take cash? I don’t have a checking account or a credit card; they are of the devil, just like you, and I’m sure as h*** not going to give someone my money to get an evil pre-paid chunk of fire and damnation! What a f*****g waste of time and breath this has been!”

Me: “…”

Some People Shouldn’t Be Allowed To Have Phones

| | Right | July 4, 2017

(I work doing customer service and tech support for a major phone carrier. Normally when we get a call, a screen pops up with the customer’s account, but if the phone number the customer entered on their way through the system doesn’t match any account, we get a blank screen that lets us search an account instead. One of these calls has just come in to my phone.)

Me: “Hi, thanks for calling [Carrier]. My name is [My Name]! Can I get your name, please?”

Caller: “No.”

Me: “Um… Okay, well, what can I do for you?”

Caller: *shouting* “Now listen here to me. You guys just gave me a brand new phone, and the number they gave me, it doesn’t work! I need you to fix it right now!”

Me: “Okay, I’m really sorry it doesn’t work right! It’s possible the account didn’t get set up correctly. Did you get the phone in a store, or did you order it online, or over the phone…?”

Caller: “Ma’am, you’re not listening to me! I said it doesn’t work, and I need you to f****** fix it!”

Me: “Sir, I understand your frustration. I just need a little bit of information so I can find out what’s going wrong with the phone—”

Caller: “No, I told you enough information! Now fix it!”

Me: “Sir, right now I don’t even have your account up. If I can get the account pulled up, I can definitely look at it and find out what’s causing the phone not to work.”

Caller: “I need you to fix it, right now!”

Me: “I’m trying, sir, but I need to find out what’s going on—”

Caller: “I told you what’s going on! God, you idiots are useless! You’re the fifth person I’ve talked to and you’re all just asking these questions and going off in directions that don’t matter! I. Need. It. Fixed!”

Me: “I do understand, sir, that it’s important to you to get the phone fixed. Now, I can pull up the account using your name and state, since the phone number isn’t working—”

Caller: “I don’t need the account! I need you to fix the phone! Look, I’m just gonna hang up. None of y’all know anything about what you’re doing.”

Me: “Have a nice day, sir!”

Credited With A Lot Of Fraud

| Atlanta, GA, USA | Right | July 4, 2017

(I’m working in the call center for a cell phone company in the late 90s. This is back when you have to put down a sizeable deposit for the phones if you didn’t have really good credit. As long as you make all of your payments on time, you get the deposit back in six months. I get a call and do the standard greeting, including getting the account number so that I can pull up the account.)

Me: “Thank you very much, sir. And how can I help you today?”

Customer: “You can turn my d*** phones back on! And I expect compensation for them being down all day! I’m trying to run a business here!”

Me: “My apologies for the inconvenience, sir. Let me take a look at that.”

(I find that his phones were deliberately deactivated and that there’s a note from the fraud department not to reactivate the phones and to forward the customer to them.)

Me: “Ah, yes, Mr. [Customer], it looks like I’m going to have to get another department on the line.”

Customer: “Well, hurry it up! And get your supervisor on the line while you’re at it, you incompetent a**!”

(I put him on hold and dial the fraud department number. When I tell him the account number, he laughs.)

Fraud CSR: “Yeah, put him through. Oh, and stay on the line, you’ll love this!” *I pipe in the customer and make the introductions* “Yes, Mr. [Customer], the reason we froze your account is that we discovered an irregularity in it. It appears that the credit check for the account was run on your father’s social security number.”

Customer: “Yeah, so? It’s a family business!”

Fraud CSR: “Well, the problem is that the credit check was run about three months after your father’s date of death.”

Customer: “…”

Fraud CSR: “Now, of course, deliberately using someone else’s credit like that is a form of identity theft, and prosecutable under both state and federal laws. Fortunately for you, I’m lazy and don’t feel like appearing in court. So how about if we re-run the credit check with your real information, you put down whatever deposit is needed, and we all go on with our lives?”

Customer: “…all right.”

Fraud CSR: *after getting the customer’s information and running the check* “Yes, sir, it appears that with your credit, you will need to put down a $500 deposit on each of those three phones for a total of $1500. Do you have a card we can go ahead and put that on?”

(A deposit of $500 per phone meant that his credit rating was really in a ditch.)

Customer: “What?! That’s f****** insane! Why should I have to put down that much for a deposit?”

Fraud CSR: “Because that is the deposit required with your current credit rating. If you make all of your payments on time for the next six months, we’ll release the deposit back to you.”

Customer: “But I’ve already had the phones for the last nine months!”

Fraud CSR: “Technically, sir, your father had the phones for the last nine months.”

Customer: “But he’s dead!”

Fraud CSR: “Yes, sir, that would actually be our whole point.”

(After a bit more back-and-forth and some choice expletives, the customer hangs up.)

Me: *laughing* “Wow. That’s incredible.”

Fraud CSR: *sighing* “That’s not the worst of it. You know how we caught him? His ex-wife called because she saw a ping from us on her eight-year-old son’s credit report — along with a lot of other activity — and called us to make sure that the kid didn’t have an account with us in his name. Ruining your own kid’s credit? What kind of a****** does that? Anyway, she said she’s already got law enforcement in the loop, so I didn’t see the need to get [Company] further involved.”

(It turned out that listening in to the conversation and documenting it came in handy. The customer started going from store to store demanding that somebody “fix” his account. I ended up faxing the notes to every store in his area so that they wouldn’t be caught off-guard. Hopefully the ex-wife filed charges.)

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