Who Is Screening These Calls?

, , , , , | Right | February 21, 2021

I work for a divisional IT group in a municipal government. The first part of this exchange takes place via email.

Client: “Can you please open a ticket for a computer at [Rarely Visited Location]?”

Me: “We can definitely look into that. Can you please tell me which computer and what problems you’re experiencing with it?”

Client: “No. I don’t work at that location.”

Me: “Can you please give us the name of the person who reported the problem to you? We’ll need to speak to them to determine what’s required and what computer you need help with.”

Client: “You can just use me as the contact.”

Me: “Unfortunately, we’ll need to speak with someone who knows: a) what computer it is, and b) what the problem is. It’s possible that the problem can be solved remotely, or it could be something we need to bring someone else in on, for example, our Internet provider, or maintenance if it’s a power issue. Once we have that information, we can dispatch a tech if required.”

Client: “Can you just send someone to check all of the computers in the building and make sure they’re working?”

Me: “As there are a few hundred computers in that building, I can’t send a tech to check all of them, especially when we don’t know what’s wrong with it. Unfortunately, we can’t troubleshoot a computer we don’t know anything about. If you receive any other communications about it, please have that person contact us via email at [email address] or phone at [phone].”

Five minutes later, I get a call from another user.

Me: “Hi, you’ve reached the [my division] IT Service Desk; how can I help you?”

Other Client: “Hi, yeah, I was told to call you?”

Me: “Okay, what can I help you with today?”

Other Client: “This computer isn’t working.”

I look up the caller’s information and realize that he is working out of the same [Rarely Visited Location] and is NOT part of our division. We don’t have administrative access to or authority over their equipment; they have their own on-site IT help.

Me: “Okay, I can see that you’re with another division. I may be limited in how much I can help you, but what’s the problem you’re experiencing?”

Other Client: “The screen’s black.”

Me: “Okay, can you tell me if there are any lights on the monitor or the computer itself?”

Other Client: “No, no lights.”

Me: “Okay, can you please try turning the computer on?”

After about thirty seconds:

Other Client: “Oh, that did it! Thanks!”

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Well, When You Put It Like That

, , , , | Healthy | February 21, 2021

I work in a call center for my state’s unemployment office. I have a caller who is unable to work due to an asymptomatic case of that nasty disease that has defined 2020. I’m walking him through the documentation I need to qualify him and get him his unemployment. One of the items we need is a doctor’s note saying the individual can’t work.

Caller: “So… you want me to go into a public doctor’s office to get a note that says I shouldn’t go into public?”

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The Grind Keeps Starting Younger And Younger

, , , , , | Working | February 17, 2021

My daughter has special needs and receives SSI — Supplemental Security Income — which is a federal supplemental program, funded by tax revenues for the disabled and seniors with little or no income. I do work and make wages but my daughter still qualifies because I am within the federal poverty level. Before the sixth of every month, I have to go to the office to submit proof of my wages — paystubs. Since the start of the health crisis, the office is closed to the public, but I am still required to submit my wages.

I am what is called a “Representative Payee” on behalf of my daughter and can’t use the wage reporting app because it clearly states that the SSI recipient is the only one that can report with the app. After several months, I finally receive word that I can report my wages by faxing; I just have to include all information on the fax cover sheet. After a few months of reporting, I receive a letter saying that they’re canceling my daughter’s SSI because of “changes in the household that show there is no need for the benefit.”

Under the suggestion of my mom, I call the general SSA number instead of calling the local office; it is after 4:00 pm on a Friday. I wait on hold for close to an hour before finding an agent who looks up my daughter’s account and instantly realizes what happened.

Agent: “It seems whoever input your wages also input the same wages for your daughter. But how is your daughter making a wage when she’s only six?” *After some typing* “I put a note to your local SSA office to correct the mistake.”

Here is the problem I have with my local SSA office: every time I go there, different workers have told me to do a certain action or sign some paperwork, and either the paperwork gets lost or is incorrect, or I wasn’t supposed to do the action they told me to do in the first place. As a consequence, I have to pay back an overpayment because of their misinformation. (I do not object to paying back what doesn’t belong to my daughter.) They sometimes send me paperwork that belongs to other people and even put another child’s name on a letter instead of my daughter’s. Because of all these problems, I try to deal with the SSA office as minimally as possible.

A few days later, I receive a letter from the local office with the same date as the first letter, saying my daughter’s wages and my wages are too high to receive benefits. I decide to call the local office to see if they made the changes to my daughter’s account. When I finally get through to a live person, I explain to her the situation. At first, she doesn’t see anything wrong. This goes on for a few minutes, until I finally get her to understand the problem.

Me: “My daughter is six and doesn’t make wages, but you have listed that she makes the same wages I make.”

Worker: “Ma’am, you need to understand how the letter is read. We break down your income and show you that you make too much for your daughter to receive SSI. We know your daughter doesn’t make wages. You need to read the letter carefully.”

Me: “Your letter says my daughter’s wages are [amount] for the month and my wages are [same amount]. Look. I already called the main SSA number and the agent already found the problem and wrote a note for your office to correct it. Where is the note?”

The worker became quiet, except for the sound of typing, and asked if I could be put on a brief hold. After a few minutes, the worker returned and informed me that whoever had input the wages thought that they had to input the wage information under both my daughter and me, being that we are a part of the same household. The worker informed me they had fixed the mistake and my daughter would continue to receive her benefits. When we did receive the benefits, it was only half of what was expected, so I had to call the local office again. I did receive the second half a few days later. I never did find out why the note that was sent to them from the SSA was never abided.

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You Should Not Have Contacted Or Contracted Him

, , , | Right | December 3, 2020

Because we are a social housing company, there are a lot of government laws that we have to follow. One of those laws had the intention to make things clearer, but in the end, made things confusing and only costs a lot of money for everyone. The government decides to cancel the law. Nothing changes for our clients, but we are obligated to inform them that the mentioned law no longer applies. 

Client: “Why did I get this letter?”

Me: “The law was cancelled, so we are obligated to inform you, but don’t worry; nothing will change for you. You won’t pay anything more or less because of this law.”

Client: “You are not allowed to change my contract without consulting me first!”

Me: “Eh, we didn’t change anything. The government did. The mentioned law doesn’t exist anymore.”

Client: “That’s illegal!”

Me: “The government decided the mentioned law should no longer exist. We can’t change that. But, like I said, nothing changes for you. You still have the same rights, but now you don’t have to contact a third party; we can help you ourselves now!”

Client: “This is illegal! You are not allowed to change a contract without my approval! You must change it back or I will contact my lawyer!”

Me: “I’m sorry, but the government cancelled the law. I can’t do anything about it.”

Client: “I will not accept this! Change it back, right now!”

Me: “You want me to apply back a law that no longer exists?”

Client: “You changed my contract without consulting me first and that is illegal!”

Me: “I’ll send your request to the department that dealt with this change. You will be informed within a few days.”

Client: “You will be hearing from my lawyer!”

I had no idea how to make it clear that you can’t reapply a law that the government cancelled.

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Always Check Before You Bring Cash

, , , , | Right | November 21, 2020

Due to the current health crisis, my office building has been closed to the public. In an effort to help customers with in-person transactions, we opened up a satellite office in a bigger building where social distancing and other safety measures can be used. My new “office,” however, is a closet transformed to be a customer service booth.

Due to the lack of security, we have decided not to accept cash payments. We prefer payments by check or money order. Customers can also use a credit/debit card, but there is, and has always been, a fee added on to the total amount paid. We don’t have any way of removing the fee.

There is a sign on the door of our usual building directing customers to our new location, and this sign says cash will not be accepted. There is a sign on the door of our new location that says cash will not be accepted. If a customer comes in in-person or calls on the phone, we tell them cash will not be accepted, as well as the options by check or card with a fee. Most customers have been understanding, a few have been frustrated but deal with it anyway. 

Also, we have one entrance door, the customer walks down a hallway to me, and then they exit out the door immediately to their left. There are BIG colorful signs and arrows pointing them to the exit.

This customer — in person — is a piece of work. She stands in front of my window, not saying a single word.

Me: “Hello, can I help you?”

Customer: “Dump tickets.”

Me: “Okay.”

I ask for her information and fill out the correct form.

Me: “How many do you need?”

Customer: “Four.”

Me: “Okay, that will be $200.”

I print out the passes and the customer wordlessly shoves two $100 bills through the window.

Me: “I’m sorry, we can’t take cash here. There are signs on the door. We don’t have anywhere secure to put it.”

Customer: “Well, what do you take? Do you take a card?”

Me: “We do, but there is an additional fee. We take checks, too, and there is no fee for that.”

Customer: “Fine.”

She storms out the entrance door. Twenty minutes later, she comes back.

Me:  “Hello there!”

The customer wordlessly shoves her credit card through the window.

Me: “Okay.” *Slides her card* “So, before I submit the payment, I just want to tell you the total. It will be $210.”

Customer: “Why? What’s the $10?”

Me: “It’s the fee for using a card.”

Customer: “Are you f****** kidding me?”

Me: “No. There has always been a fee for using a card. I explained that when you were in earlier.”

Customer: “You’re really going to charge me because you don’t take cash?”

Me: “No, we also take a check without a fee.”

Customer: “I don’t have a check. I can’t believe you are charging me because you don’t take cash.”

Me: “We don’t keep the fee. It goes straight to the bank.”

Customer: You are still charging me because you don’t take cash.”

Me: “No. Even if we were back at the other office where we do take cash, there is still a fee for using a card.”

Customer: “But you are still charging me because you don’t take cash.”

Me: *Fed up* “That’s not true. Do you want me to cancel the transaction?”

Customer: “No! I still need the tickets, don’t I?”

Me: “Okay, then.” *Submits the payment* “Here’s your receipt and your passes.”

The customer storms out the entrance door again.

Coworker: “Wow! You’re getting them all, aren’t you?”

Me: “Yep. I wasn’t even going to try to tell her she went out the wrong door.”

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