Your Accent Doesn’t Change As Quickly As Their Attitude

, , , , , , | Right | January 8, 2019

(I am British, but I have a really odd combination accent because growing up, I lived in places with vastly different dialects — Essex, Hampshire, Norfolk, and I even spent several years living in America, so on top of all those, I have a slight American twang, too. I am very used to people asking where my accent is from. Most are polite and just mildly curious. I am working in a call centre, though, when the following exchange happens.)

Me: “Hi. You’re through to [My Name] at [Company]; how may I help you?”

Customer: “Oh, your accent. Where is this call centre?”

Me: “It’s in Hampshire. I have a mixed accent because I moved around a lot growing up.”

Customer: “Are you South African?”

(This is a common guess; many people I speak to ask this.)

Me: “No, sorry. I’m British; my accent is just a mixture.”

Customer: “You’re lying. Why would you lie about being South African?”

Me: “I’m sorry, madam, I am not South African, but even if I was, it is irrelevant. Now, how can I help you?”

Customer: “I bet you’re foreign. Probably claiming benefits, stealing from taxpayers, and you’ve stolen that job from an honest British worker. You’re f****** scum, you know that? No wonder you won’t admit to being South African!”

Me: “Madam, this is your first warning and only warning. If you continue to use language like that, I will disconnect the call. However, if you will tell me what it is you are calling about, I will be happy to help you.”

Customer: “Oh, f*** off, you b****. I want to speak to a British agent, not some foreigner w***e like you!”

Me: “As previously advised, I am going to terminate the call. Have a nice day, madam.”

(I hang up the call and go and speak to my manager to inform her of the call, just in case. The customer did not even give me a name, so I cannot pull up an account to make a note on. However, as I am talking to my manager, one of my colleagues comes up and says she has a customer on the line demanding a manager, saying that some “foreign worker” called her names, was rude, and swore at her before calling her a b**** and hanging up. Evidently, the same customer called back as soon as I hung up. My manager looks at me and sighs.)

Manager: “Get back on the phones. Don’t worry; I’ll deal with this.”

(A few hours later, my manager asked me to come to her office. She informed me that she had listened to the call and found no issues with my conduct, and applauded me for my patience and tact with this particular customer. She then told me that she had informed the customer that she had listened to the call and found no indication that I had done any of what she’d claimed, but that, in fact, she had been the abusive one, and if she continued to do so, she would be barred from calling us. Then, the customer shouted abuse at her and she was forced to end the call. A few weeks later, we got a big complaint letter from this customer claiming that my manager and I had insulted her, called her several racial slurs, and called her a w***e. She demanded £100k as compensation. She never got it, but for months we kept getting letters. Each time she ramped up the story until eventually she was claiming that we’d made threats of violence against her, her family  — including claims that I, the “South African,” threatened to shoot them all — and that we threatened to add — in her exact words — a “£1000 b**** charge,” which I personally thought was hilarious. She also threatened to report us to the police, to tell the energy watchdogs about our “conduct’,” and to tell the papers about how our company hired and protected “South African terrorists.”)

Their Pink Dollar Is Not Worth As Much

, , , , , , | Right | October 25, 2018

(I work for one of the major energy suppliers in the UK. I get a call from a customer who hasn’t paid his bill for three years. He’s gotten away with it by setting up arrangements he never kept, booking appointments to fit a prepayment meter that he either called to reschedule at the last minute and then never remade, or just outright cancelling the appointment the day before. We have been given a warrant and are set to go to his property at the end of the week. As you can imagine, the customer is very unhappy.)

Customer: “Why did you get a warrant? Are you going to take my stuff? You can’t do that!”

Me: “We won’t remove your things; they’re not bailiffs. We need the warrant to gain access to your property to install a prepayment meter—”

Customer: “NO! I don’t want one. Cancel it!”

Me: “The only way I can cancel it is if you pay your balance in full today.”

Customer: “Oh, you’d like that, wouldn’t you?”

Me: “Very much, sir. The balance has been outstanding for three years now with zero payment. I can take a card payment over the phone.”

Customer: “No. I’m not paying. Besides, this is discrimination!”

Me: “I’m sorry?”

Customer: “You’re bullying me because I’m gay!”

Me: “I can assure you this is not the case. Besides, how would we know you were gay?”

Customer: “No, you are picking on me! You’re sending people to my door because I’m gay! That’s discrimination and I’m going to sue! I shouldn’t have to put up with this!”

Me: “Sir, are you saying you should be exempt from paying your bill because you’re gay?”

Customer: “No, I’m saying you shouldn’t send me all these nasty letters and send people to my house!”

Me: “Sir, those letters were sent because you haven’t paid us anything for three years yet you have continued to use energy. We send them to all customers who don’t pay.”

Customer: “Well, I’m telling you now, you can’t come to my house. It’s private property. If you come without my permission, it’ll be counted as trespassing and I’ll sue.”

Me: “We have a warrant issued by a judge; therefore, we have permission.”

Customer: “The judge only gave you that warrant because I’m gay! That’s discrimination.”

Me: “Sir… I can assure you this is not the case. For one, even if judges were allowed to do this, they would have no way of knowing you were gay. You would just be a name on a piece of paper along with hundreds of other names.”

Customer: “Well, I don’t want the meter. I’ll wait in and I won’t let them in.”

Me: “The warrant gives them permission to get a locksmith, which will add further charges to your account. It even allows them to request police assistance which, if required, would add yet another charge onto your account.”

Customer: “Oh, so, now you’re admitting you want to put charges on my account because I’m gay?”

Me: “No, sir. These would-be charges have nothing to do with you being gay. They are only if we require a locksmith or police intervention, not because of your sexual preference. Now, are you going to pay the balance, or are you going to wait for them to fit the meter at the end of the week?”

Customer: *pause* “I’ll pay now. But I’m going to complain! You can’t discriminate like this!”

Me: “I can assure you, sir, that [Company] couldn’t care less about your gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation; we just care that you pay your bills. Now, let’s sort out that payment.”

(The guy paid his bill in full, which was almost £2,000, all the while rambling about how gay people were constantly persecuted, how this would not stand, how he would go to the news and the papers, and how he was going to sue us for discrimination.)

Should Be Using Your Bank Card, Not Your Debt Card

, , , , , | Right | October 25, 2018

(I work for a debt collection company who mostly works on behalf of other companies. Basically, if a company has no luck getting a customer to pay, they get us to chase it for a short while. If we are unsuccessful, the account is passed back and usually goes to court, which is when bailiffs get involved. I get a call from a customer who is unhappy about getting letters demanding payment on a credit card balance; he hasn’t made a single payment in 18 months. Looking at the notes, we’re not the first company they’ve passed it to, but a note says if we don’t resolve it, this is going straight to court and bailiffs.)

Customer: “This letter says you’re taking me to court.”

Me: “If your debt cannot be resolved with us, then yes, [Company] will be taking it to court. If you can’t pay the balance today, I can set up a payment plan, but I will need a token payment today in order to set it up.”

(When accounts are marked as “high risk” — i.e. the customer has already set up but never stuck to payment plans with the original company — we cannot set up anything without some kind of token payment up front.)

Customer: “This is because I’m black, isn’t it?”

Me: “I’m sorry?”

Customer: “Yeah, because I’m black you think I’m going to steal stuff, so you’re getting a judge involved.”

Me: “First, [Company] will take you to court because you haven’t paid the balance owing. Second, how would they know you were black?”

(Please note that the customer has a very generic name like “John Smith.” I had no way of knowing his ethnicity.)

Customer: “Well, duh! The colour of my skin. Are you blind?!”

Me: “Sir, this is a telephone conversation. I can’t see you.”

Customer: *long pause* “Oh. Okay. So, uh… how much would I have to pay to set up a payment plan today?”

(I took a payment and set up a payment plan. Surprise, surprise, the customer didn’t stick to it. The customer made a complaint claiming I was a racist and called him a racial slur and threatened him on the phone in order to get him to pay. He also wanted the money he paid back. He demanded his balance be written off because of this. Obviously, the complaint didn’t go anywhere because the calls are recorded and proved it didn’t happen, but the customer still kept calling to say I was being racist. His account got passed back to the client, which meant only one thing: bailiffs were headed his way.)

Giving The BS-ometer A Real Workout

, , , , , | Right | October 25, 2018

(I work for a debt collection agency. We collect on behalf of other companies who are having no luck. Some of the most common debts we collect are old credit card balances and outstanding gym memberships. It does not matter whether you stop going – if you’re locked into a contract, you have to pay for however long you signed up for, whether you go or not. I’ve heard every excuse in the book. The worst one I ever got was this:)

Me: “Are you calling to make a payment?”

Customer: “I’m going to tell you what I keep telling [Gym]: I’m not paying!”

Me: “Our clients are looking to take legal action if your account cannot be resolved. May I ask why you aren’t paying?”

Customer: “Because they let paedophiles into that gym! I told them I wanted out because I didn’t want to go to a gym full of paedophiles!”

Me: “One moment, sir. I’m going to check the notes our client gave us.”

(I check the notes. The gym in question is members-only, and only accepts members over 18. In the UK, you are no longer a minor at 18; you are classed as a legal adult. The notes left by our client show that he has indeed been disputing the outstanding balance with the client and demanding early release from his contract, but his reasons were not accepted because: a) if there were a registered sex offender attending the gym, they still have the right to use the gym, especially as there are no children there; they are only barred from places with children, such as schools, b) the customer has refused at every opportunity to point out who all these “sex offenders” are, and c) the customer started doing this after six months, and had only attended the gym three times, all of those times in the first month.)

Me: “I’m sorry, sir, but as our client has told you on multiple occasions, that is not a valid reason to cancel your membership. If you have reason to believe these sex offenders are picking up children near the gym, or using the premises for illegal activities, you should report it to the police; however, they are legally allowed to use the gym. The debt stands, and you are liable for the remaining balance.”

(The man continued rambling about all the paedophiles in the gym, telling me I was enabling them and that I must be a paedophile myself because I was taking their side. I advised the customer of his options, and of the consequences if he didn’t take them, and when he continued to call me a paedophile, I terminated the call. A few days later a complaint came in. The customer tried to get me fired because he claimed I was a paedophile. This complaint was never upheld because the call was recorded and I could prove he was lying. This didn’t stop him from trying to report me, the company I worked for, and the gym to the police. Nothing ever came of that, either.)

Should Have Settled Down After The First Time

, , , , , , | Right | October 25, 2018

(I get a call from a woman who hasn’t paid her gas and electric account in twelve months. We are starting the process of taking the account to court to obtain a warrant to forcibly fit a prepayment meter.)

Customer: “Hi. I was calling to make a payment, but I wanted to ask for a settlement. My credit card company offered me a settlement; they took off 50%. If you take that off, I will pay you now in full.”

Me: “I’m afraid we don’t do settlements.”

Customer: “Don’t lie. Every company does settlements.”

Me: “I’m afraid not, ma’am. You can only get settlements on certain types of debt, and utility bill debt is not one of them. If you can only afford to pay half, I can put the remaining balance on a payment plan.”

Customer: “I’ll have to look at my finances and call you back later.”

(The customer hangs up. Thirty minutes later, she calls back and gets through to me again.)

Customer: “Hi, I was speaking to a young lady a while ago ,and I’m calling to take up her offer of settlement; she said if I paid in full today you would take 50% off.”

Me: “Ma’am, I’m afraid that’s not possible. We do not do settlements.”

Customer: “Well, that’s not what the young lady I spoke to earlier said. I was promised a settlement. If you promise something you have to do it; now I demand my settlement!”

Me: “Ma’am, there is no way you were promised a settlement.”

Customer: “Oh, so, you’re calling me a liar? I know what I was told. The girl I spoke to promised me a settlement if I paid in full today. So, you either give me what you promised, or I never pay a single penny.”

Me: “Ma’am, I am the person you spoke to thirty minutes ago, and I know for a fact that I told you several times that you cannot have a settlement on an outstanding utility bill. I am looking at my notes right now.”

Customer: “Liar! You promised a settlement.”

Me: “These calls are recorded. I can prove exactly what I told you.”

(The customer hung up. I made my notes and informed my manager of the call, because I suspected the customer would call back and try and pull a fast one. I was right. The customer called back all day trying to get through to a different advisor, each time claiming somebody promised her a settlement. She paid in full about a week later, but lodged a huge complaint, claiming that everyone was lying to her and that I should be fired for making false promises. She even tried to say one of the advisors called her a b**** when they thought they had put her on hold. Call recordings and extensive notes came to the rescue and we were able to refute every claim she made. Eventually she gave up.)

 

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