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Reasonable Policies But Ridiculous Enforcement

, , , , , | Working | January 25, 2023

I have a rather large friend group from college that started as a weekly board game group with eight members and grew over time to a group with (currently) eighteen members. Over the last several years, however, many of our friends have graduated and moved out across the US. These close friends have since been missing out on getting to hang out, and a lot of the original group members have never met some of the newest members.

As a result of missing our friends, we start planning a get-together for early next year. As my husband and I were the first in the group to get married, we are the sort of de facto “parents” of the group, so we get put in charge of planning and setting up the hangout.

I start looking on a popular app for rentals for a weekend get-together that will fit with our lowest-budget members. I find a couple I like and send everyone some options.

We pick a place and a date, and I reach out to the host to explain what we’re doing and make sure they’re on board with our plans. Everything is a go, and all my friends, being decent people, send me their share of the cost of the rental.

I go to my computer and set up the rental with the right number of guests (seventeen), the dates (two months away), and the location (five minutes from where I live and the college we all attended). I put in my payment information and hit submit.

The rental returns an error message, informing me that my reservation has been flagged as a “party risk”, so I can’t book this stay. For context, [Rental App] doesn’t allow parties to be hosted at any of their locations due to the high risk of damage to the host’s homes.

Okay, no problem. I reach out to the host again, tell her that the site wouldn’t let me book, and ask her for a pre-approved booking invitation to allow me to book. The host agrees and sends me the invite.

I follow the link, set it up again, and hit “reserve”. The same error message pops up; I’m not allowed to reserve the stay.

Okay, fine, the system’s a little buggy. No big deal. I reach out to the support team and tell them what’s going on. The host knows about the friend reunion and knows we accept responsibility for any damages that occur during our stay, etc.

I get connected to a support member via live chat.

Support Member: “The error you’re seeing is an automatic flag because you hit certain conditions for ‘possible party’. Namely, you’re booking a short stay in a large house for a lot of guests, you are under twenty-five, and you live locally.”

Me: “Okay, I understand. The host is on board, though, and is willing to let us stay. We just want to come to play board games and eat junk food with our long-distance friends for a weekend.”

Support Member: “This flag is not reversible. There is no possible way for you to book this stay. Neither the [Rental] host nor I can override this restriction.”

Me: “I want you to know that I don’t blame you for this, but this is really stupid.”

I ended up having to reach out to one of my friends, who is twenty-four and lives in a different state, to book the stay with her account instead. She booked exactly the same location for exactly the same dates and price with the exact same people attending. But she lives in a different state, so it’s fine. Dumbest system I’ve ever heard of.

Signatures On Tap

, , , , , | Right | January 24, 2023

I work for a company that sends out handymen, plumbers, and the like for people who have a contract with us. I get a call from one of our plumbers.

Plumber: “I’m here with [Client], and she wants a different type of water tap. I have one with me and can do that right away. Can you give me a digital order? I told her it will cost [amount], and I checked her ID. She’s okay with it.”

Me: “Of course I can help with that. May I please talk to her, as well? Then we’ll have her okay on recording.”

The plumber hands over the phone and I check the client’s identity with our security questions. I tell her that if she wants that other water tap, it will cost [amount] and she will receive a bill in a few weeks. I also tell her she needs to sign for the okay.

She gives permission, and the plumber goes to work. The digital order appears on his pad and the sweet old lady signs.

A few weeks later, after the bill is sent, the client calls about it.

Client: “I don’t know why I was billed; I have a contract with you guys! Unbelievable, taking advantage of a weak old lady like me!”

Me: “I’m so sorry to hear that. Let me check. I see it’s about that different water tap you wanted.”

Client: “Well, yes, but I wasn’t informed that it would cost me any money! I wouldn’t have done it if it would!”

Me: “I see here you gave permission over the phone and signed the order, as well.”

I never say people talked to me because if people want to lie, they tend to do that more quickly when they think they are not talking to the same person. Also, I think it’s fun to call them out when that happens. But this sweet old lady couldn’t lie, right? Just a bit scatterbrained, I bet. 

Client: “What? Was that what that was about? Oh, that person on the phone didn’t mention any costs! She held that information from me!”

Me: “I’m pretty sure I did mention the costs, ma’am.” *Silence* “The plumber mentioned the price and I repeated that. I also said you had to sign for it.”

Client: “I never signed!”

Me: “I have your signature right here.”

Client: “That’s not mine!”

Me: “I have your contract with us and the signature is pretty similar. Do I need to ask my manager to listen back to the recording?”

Client: “Well… I… I mean… I hope you sleep well at night, ripping old ladies off!”

She hung up. Of course, there is a possibility she has more going on and might need help, so I made sure I made a note in her file. We cannot act on one incident, but if it happens again, we can contact the right authorities to check up on her.

Taxing Taxing, Part 16

, , , , , , | Right | January 24, 2023

I was taking a call for IRS customer service.

Me: “All right, ma’am, I’m going to need you to send in [form] signed by you and your husband.”

Caller: “Why do I have to do it?! I want you to do it!”

Me: “No, ma’am. It has to be signed by you.”

Caller: “Well, I don’t know when I’ll have time.”

Me: “I suggest you make time, as I am not going to forge your signatures on government documents.”

Caller: *Stupidly smug* “Well, I guess you have a decision to make if you want that file to be completed.”

Me: “Since these are your taxes, you are on the hook for refusing to fill them out. Expect to pay through the nose, ma’am. Have a lovely day.” *Click*

Interestingly enough, the form was sent in, signed properly, a short time later. I have no idea how she thought that refusing to sign her own tax paperwork was going to cause ME any trouble.

Taxing Taxing, Part 15
Taxing Taxing, Part 14
Taxing Taxing, Part 13
Taxing Taxing, Part 12
Taxing Taxing, Part 11

Your Internet MAY Be Disconnected, But Their Brains Already Are

, , , , , | Working | January 4, 2023

I work from home, so I need my Internet to be able to actually work. One day, I notice an email from my Internet company stating that they’re going to be doing Internet work and I will experience up to two consecutive hours of downtime with intermittent downtime throughout the rest of the day. The time of the day when it’s expected to start isn’t mentioned, and the email was sent about five business days ahead of the event.

While my employer is understanding that stuff can happen suddenly, when there’s going to be extended downtime, they prefer notification so that we can keep an eye on staffing if needed. Plus, I sometimes deal with sensitive information, so going to a coffee shop for Internet isn’t really a good option. Because I am working when I get this email, I log onto the chat feature for my Internet company, hoping to get some more information.

Chat Robot: “How can I help you today?”

Me: “I’m reaching out about this email that I received stating there’s going to be maintenance done next week. I’m hoping I can get a more specific timeframe.”

Chat Robot: “I’m having trouble understanding your question. Please try to use fewer words.”

Me: “Agent.”

It takes me entering “Agent” like four times before it finally transfers me to someone.

Agent #1: “Hello, how can I help you today?”

Me: “Hi. I got an email that you guys are going to be doing work on the Internet in the area next week that’s going to mean at least two hours of downtime. The email didn’t indicate when this is going to start, and I need to be able to let my manager know.”

Agent #1: “Let me check your account. Can I get your full name and address, please?”

Me: “Don’t you have that already since I signed into my account?”

Agent #1: “I need this information to check your account.”

I provide my name and address information.

Agent #1: “I’m not currently seeing an outage in your area. Are you currently having access issues?”

Me: “I’m not trying to report an outage. I’m asking about this email that you guys sent stating that there’s going to be an outage. I’d like to be able to let my manager know when my Internet’s going to be out.”

Agent #1: “There’s no outage in the area. Let me test the line.”

Me: *Head-desk* “I’m not trying to report an outage. My Internet is currently fine. I just want some more information regarding this email that you sent stating there’s going to be an outage.”

I copy the body of the email and paste it into the chat.

Me: “All I’m asking is for the time that this is going to occur because that is not indicated in this email.”

Agent #1: “Hmm… Let me transfer you to another agent.”

Me: “…”

Agent #2: “Hello, how can I help you today?”

Me: “I just want to get some information about an email you sent stating that there’s going to be an outage next week. It didn’t include any estimated start time, and I’d like to be able to advise my manager.”

Agent #2: “I’m not currently seeing an outage in your area, but let me test the line.”

Me: “Just to be clear: there is not currently an outage. I’m asking about an outage that you guys have scheduled. I just want more clarification on this as it’s going to affect my ability to work, and I would like to keep my manager informed.”

Agent #2: “Yes, I see that you’re asking about this upcoming outage. I’m not currently seeing any outages in your area. Let me look at this and, if need be, I can dispatch a technician to check locally.”

Me: *Head-wall* “Look, my Internet is currently fine. I wouldn’t be able to chat with you otherwise. I’m not reaching out about a current outage. I just want information on this outage that you said was happening next week because it’s going to prevent me from working, and I just need to be able to plan accordingly.”

Agent #2: “I see. Well, we will, of course, credit your account $10 for this inconvenience, but let me just test the line really quick as I don’t currently see any outages in your area.”

I’m done explaining to him and just want to end the conversation.

Me: “Great, thank you.”

Agent #2: “I have added a note on your account regarding the credit and added a note about this outage. Please let us know if you have any issues.”

Me: “Thank you.”

Agent #2: “Before you disconnect, let me see if your account qualifies for any discounts. What’s your phone plan currently?”

Me: “I’m not looking to change my phone plan.”

Agent #2: “Okay, I see here that I can upgrade your Internet. It will drop your bill about $30 a month, and you’ll see increased upload and download speeds.”

I’m mildly interested but also wary because I don’t want to get caught in some weird contract.

Me: “What’s the catch?”

Agent #2: “I’m just trying to save you $30 a month.”

Me: “Right, but this isn’t something where you’re going to randomly throttle the speeds or randomly turn around and raise the rent $50 or something like that, is it?”

Agent #2: “Nothing like that. I’m just trying to save you $30 a month.”

Me: “Okay, let’s do it.”

Agent #2: “Okay, bear with me while I update your account.”

I do slightly blame myself for not thinking this through, but whatever this guy did ended up rebooting my router… while I was on a call with a user. I guess I should have thought it through, but honestly, I figured he’d, you know, warn me since that’s usually a polite thing to do.

My Internet finally came back up, and the chat session had expired anyway, so I just logged out. I was able to get a hold of my user and help her out.

I told my manager that there was supposed to be an outage, but I had no idea when, so there was a possibility I’d just randomly disconnect. But so far, the outage hasn’t actually occurred unless they managed to do the work overnight and didn’t bother to tell anyone.

Now I’m waiting for the day I can switch ISPs.

Return To The Holidays

, , , , , , | Right | December 22, 2022

It’s shortly before Christmas. I am in line at customer service to make a return. I have the receipt, the package is undamaged, and I’m within the time frame. The product, however, is bound to set off some red flags: it’s a gift set with two elaborate glasses and a bottle of fancy mixer for alcoholic beverages.

The cashier is very wary, and I can’t blame her.

Cashier: “Does this have alcohol in it?”

Me: “No, ma’am. It’s just the mixers. I checked the ingredients.”

I point out the package and she reads it carefully.

Cashier: “And why do you want to return it?”

Me: “I bought it as a gift for a dear friend and her new boyfriend, but I just found out he’s a recovering alcoholic.”

Cashier: “Oh… Oh! That’s no problem. Let me get this processed for you.”

We chatted for a bit, and she apologized for being suspicious. I told her I completely understood.

My friend’s now-fiancé is doing awesome with his recovery, and he now volunteers at a center for teens in recovery.