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This Is Why We’re In A Recession, Part 107

, , , , , | Right | April 12, 2022

My first job is at a call center handling fraud protection for a credit card company. I’ve done it for a year or two now and have been selected to be part of the “help desk” that less experienced folks can contact if they don’t know how to handle a situation. I am now also a mentor to a new employee that they have sit next to me.

For new accounts, we still have their credit bureau report that was requested when the card was opened, so we verify that people are who they say they are by asking about their credit report. This is an important step to prevent people who stole someone’s social security number from opening cards in their name.

It’s late enough in the evening that incoming phone calls are less common. I have just gotten off a call when the new hire I am mentoring waves that he has a question and puts the caller on hold to speak with me.

New Hire: “I’ve got a new account verification here that I don’t know what to do with. There are dozens of large accounts on his credit report, but he says he doesn’t have any accounts and doesn’t know what they are. He’s only eighteen and some of the accounts are twenty years old.”

I’m about to respond when I hear the ping in my ear that says I had just been lucky enough to have a call routed to me.

Me: “Hello. This is the [Company] fraud department. How may I help you today?”

I usually avoid such open-ended questions as that — asking if they are returning a phone call usually gets a much simpler yes and allows me to move on faster — but I want this customer to ramble a little so I can drone them out for a second. While she is telling me she got a call from us, I put her on mute and lean back to the new hire.

Me: “Ask if he is a Junior. We’re probably seeing his father’s credit by mistake.”

I go on to quickly handle the call I received, and this time, I put myself in a “not ready” state so I can’t get another new call coming in. During my call, I can hear my coworker chatting with, and stalling, the guy until I am free to help.

New Hire: “You’re right, he’s a Junior, but it’s his social on the credit bureau, not his dad’s. Man, this guy is crazy. He got a dozen preapproved offers for new cards in the mail and opened up cards with all of them. He doesn’t seem to understand he has to pay the money back!”

Me: “How much did he spend?”

New Hire: “About $1,800, out of a $2,500 limit. Sounds like he did the same with all the other cards he opened up to.”

The teen should never have gotten all those offers, or such a high limit, but since the bureau screwed up and gave him credit for his father’s accounts, he was being made offers based on his father’s presumably very good credit rating instead of his non-existing one.

Me: “Okay, leave the block on the account. I know this isn’t technically fraud, but it sounds like he is never going to pay us back, so there’s no reason to let him run his debt up higher. Tell him he needs to call the credit bureau with his father on the line to sort out his credit information before we can fix the account. Here are the numbers to all three of them.”

I hand him a paper I have that lists all the useful numbers for my job.

New Hire: “He needs his dad on the line for that?”

Me: “Honestly, I don’t think he does. But it sounds like his dad understands how to use credit and this kid doesn’t. Maybe if we get his dad involved now, he will realize what an idiot his kid is being and teach him how to use credit right. Just make sure to note the account thoroughly, and leave a comment that he’s unlikely to repay us and they shouldn’t remove the block even if he is able to somehow call back and verify his identity with us.”

I don’t know what happened from there, but I sincerely hope the dad figured out what his son was doing and taught him how to properly use credit, though I suspect/fear the kid would end up having to declare bankruptcy if he had just spent two thousand dollars on a dozen cards and presumably didn’t yet have any real income yet to pay it off with.

This Is Why We’re In A Recession, Part 106
This Is Why We’re In A Recession, Part 105
This Is Why We’re In A Recession, Part 104
This Is Why We’re In A Recession, Part 103
This Is Why We’re In A Recession, Part 102

Some Of You Have Worked In A Call Center And It Shows

, , , , , | Right | January 25, 2022

I work customer service for a credit card company. A customer calls, and I look him up and authorize him so I can help him.

Caller: “Yeah I just got my bill and it looks like I had a late fee from last month?”

That’s not a good start. Customers are never happy about fees or admit they did anything wrong to earn them, so I’m already a little apprehensive responding to him.

Me: “Yes, I see that. It appears you didn’t make a payment last month. Unfortunately, there is a fee of [amount] if a payment is not made for a given month.”

Caller: “Yeah, I know, it was my fault. Too disorganized to remember to make the payment like I usually do, sorry.”

Me: “Oh, I understand. That’s perfectly fine.”

Caller: “Anyway, I know it’s my fault, but you see, I’m a cheap b*****d and I’d prefer not to pay for my own incompetence anyway. Rather than me acting like a jerk about it, how about we save time and just pretend that I yelled and screamed and threatened to cancel my account while implying it was somehow your fault that I screwed up, and you somehow endured all my terrible behavior and, because they won’t let you tell me off as you would prefer, you end up promising to remove the fee as a courtesy because supposedly I’m a valued customer?”

Our policy is to allow removing one late fee a year if asked, so I can do that without needing a manager’s approval or escalating the call.

Me: “Oh, um… okay. I see you have reliably paid your account off in full every month for the last year, so I can make a one-time adjustment to remove that fee for you.”

Caller: “That would be great, thanks.”

Me: “The fee has been removed. Since you already made this month’s payment, the difference will be credited back to your account shortly. Anything else I can help you with?”

Caller: “Yes, actually. I’m still cheap, so can I ask that you remove the interest I was charged for the month I forgot to send in the payment since I would have paid the amount off in full? Paying interest on a credit card is against my religion of Cheapeanity… honest!”

Again, our policy allows us to do this, as well, in this situation; obviously, we don’t volunteer to remove interest unless explicitly asked.

Me: “Yes, I can certainly do that for you, because, as you said, you are a valued customer.”

Caller: “That would be great. Thank you so much for your help.”

Me: “No, thank you for only pretending to yell and scream at me.”

Caller: “Yeah, I had a job like yours to pay for college. I figure you get enough screaming customers without my adding to the pile.”

Me: “Sadly, I do, yes, but it was a pleasure to help you. Is there anything else I could do to assist you?”

Caller: “Nope, I’m good, at least until I manage to forget to send in a payment next year. Luckily, I’m just barely organized enough to usually manage to go a year between forgotten payments so I can get them removed. I promise when I forget a payment and have to call in next year, while I pretend to yell at whoever answers the call, I’ll pretend to complain that they are less competent than you were.”

While I’m sure my company would prefer he didn’t understand our policy for removing late fees quite so well as to be able to exploit it like that, I’m personally just thankful he figured out you don’t actually have to curse at us to get things fixed. One can only hope more people can figure that out in the future.

Where In The World Has My Credit Card Been?

, , , , , | Working | November 5, 2021

I am the author of this story and, yeah, it’s the same credit card company. Back in the days when online purchases are a thing but not common, my husband is going over the monthly credit card statement — one account in his name, but we each have a card. He discovers a several-hundred-dollar charge for what appears to be a hotel in China. There are also a couple of smaller charges in the same location.

My husband calls the credit card company.

Husband: “We haven’t even been to China. There’s no way we made these charges.”

Representative #1: “We’ll look into them and get back to you.”

Time passes and they still haven’t removed the charges. We call back.

Representative #2: “We’ve researched it and determined the charges were legitimate.”

Me: “What? But look at the rest of the statement. See, we got gas in [Home City], California the same day.”

Representative #2: “The signature matches what’s on file.”

Me: “Can you send us a copy of that?”

A few days later, we get a photocopy of the credit card slip. Let’s say my husband’s name is Luke Skywalker. The signature is SKYWALKER LUKE, all caps, in block printing. We try again.

Representative #3: “Wait, are you still using the same card? Why didn’t they cancel it and send you a new one immediately?”

Husband: “I don’t know.”

Representative #3: “These charges are obviously fraudulent. I’m removing them now. I’m also canceling your card. You should get new ones in a couple of days.”

The representative was true to his word and none of this cost us a penny. But, in writing this up, it’s only just occurred to me that the reason we never had any more fraudulent charges from China aside from that first month is that even the scammers assumed the credit card company wouldn’t be foolish enough to fail to cancel the card — and now we won’t be, either.

Where In The World Is My Credit Card?

When It Clearly Being A Race Issue Isn’t Clear

, , , , , | Right | October 28, 2021

I work in fraud protection for a department store’s credit card. When our system detects suspicious activity, we have to call people and verify they did the activity in question.

A woman has called in about a blocked card. However, she has failed to pass our verification questions so I’m not allowed to unblock the card.

Me: “I’m sorry, ma’am, but I’m afraid that isn’t correct. It looks like we won’t be able to verify everything over the phone. However, if you were to come into one of our stores with a picture ID, I’m sure we could get this corrected.”

Customer: “I don’t have time for that. Why can’t you fix it now?”

Me: “I’m sorry, ma’am, but in order to protect your account from potential theft, we are required to verify anyone that calls in to us. Unfortunately, since you were unable to answer our standard questions, the only method of verification left is to ask you to please come into one of our stores.”

Customer: “But why can’t I use my card?”

I’ve already explained this to her three times before, but I do it again.

Me: “Our system detected unusual activity on your credit card recently. To ensure that it wasn’t lost or stolen, we wanted to verify the charges with you.”

Customer: “What charges?”

Me: “I’m terribly sorry, but I’m afraid that, for privacy reasons, I’m not allowed to disclose anything on the account until we have completed our verification process.”

Customer: “This is insane. You’re just blocking my card to harass me.”

Me: “I am sorry, ma’am. I’m just following our standard procedure.”

Customer: “Don’t give me that. You’re doing this because I’m black, aren’t you? Don’t think a black woman can be trusted with credit?”

Me: “Ma’am, I assure you that your race has nothing to do with our standard procedure.”

Customer: “Sure it does. You blocked the card because I was black and you don’t like that!”

Me: “Ma’am, your card was blocked by an automated system designed to detect suspicious activity. The program they use has no way to know your race and does not in any way consider it.”

Customer: “Don’t give me that. You probably blocked it yourself. You would have already unlocked it for me by now if it weren’t for my being black.”

Me: “Ma’am, I assure you that your race does not matter to me. We’re talking over the phone; I didn’t even know what your race was until you chose to share that information.”

Customer: “That’s a lie; you can look it up on your computer there.”

Me: “I assure you, ma’am, that our systems do not record or make available your race, precisely to prevent any possibility of racial profiling.”

Customer: “Don’t lie to me, girl. They asked me my race when I created the account!”

Me: “We do give you the option to provide your race, but that information is only used by our marketing team, and only in an anonymous manner designed to assist them to determine how our products and services appeal to various demographics so we can better tailor our products. However, that information is kept completely separate from all of your account data and cannot be directly associated with a specific account, even by our marketing team, in order to protect your privacy and avoid any possibility of profiling.”

Customer: “You just made all that up so I wouldn’t know you’re trying to stop me. Besides, even if it was true, you could tell my race from my voice.”

Me: “I’m afraid I couldn’t, ma’am. I try not to make presumptions about someone from such superficial details as voice tone or vernacular as such presumptions are often wrong.”

She responds with a snort of derision.

Me: “As an example of how easy it is to misjudge someone’s voice, I noticed you keep calling me ‘girl’ despite my actually being male. I’m also guessing you presume I’m Caucasian despite my being African American. It’s easy to judge these things wrong.”

Customer: “You’re black?! you don’t sound black.”

Me: “I’m sorry I don’t live up to your preconceived expectations as to what I should sound like. However, I assure you that your race was not, and could not, be a factor in our system blocking your account. I am sorry for the inconvenience, but I’m afraid at this point the only way to get your account sorted out would be if you could come by our store with a photo ID.”

Now the customer sounds confused and less certain of herself.

Customer: “Um, yeah, I’ll umm think about it.”

She hung up before I could respond.

For full disclosure, while it’s true I’m male, I’m actually Caucasian, but I figured a little white lie would end the call faster. I think the fact that she couldn’t tell I was lying demonstrates my point that you can’t guess someone’s race just from their voice; I certainly had no idea her race until she told me.

The thing that most gets me about this story is the question of whether she was sincere or not. It’s not unheard of for someone who stole a card to call in yelling and screaming, hoping to upset us so much we make a mistake; as such, it’s definitely possible she was just trying to get me distracted enough that she could trick me into unlocking her account. At this point, I give it an honest fifty-fifty chance she was the actual cardholder. I’m not sure which option I prefer to believe.

Well, That’s A New One

, , , | Right | CREDIT: RS3197 | August 6, 2021

Customer: “Why was my credit card closed?”

Me: “Your card was closed back in 2020 after being inactive since 2019.”

Customer: “I’ve heard your bank was planning to slowly cut us [Politician] supporters out, so I guess it’s happening now. You closed my credit card because I’m a [Politician] supporter.”

Me: “No, sir, we didn’t. We don’t use political reasons to close our customers’ accounts. The last time you used your card was way back in early 2019, and it was closed down even before the election.”

Customer: “Of course, you’d tell me that. You won’t tell us [Politician] supporters that you closed it because you oppose [Politician]. You closed my account because I’m a supporter. You yourself oppose [Politician], too; I assume that’s why you’re being rude to me.”

I’m confused as to how I’m being rude when I have my perky customer service voice on.

Me: “I’m from the Philippines, sir. I’ve no opinion regarding US politics, so we’re not biased.”

Customer: “Whatever. Goodbye!” *Hangs up*