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The *Click* At The End Of A Story Was Never So Sweet

, , , , | Right | CREDIT: applesaurus772 | October 9, 2021

At my call center, we handle a specific benefit where members can purchase over-the-counter items with a credit that the plan gives. Mostly, we handle Medicare and Medicaid recipients.

My day is going all right and then this screaming banshee comes through the line.

Me: “Thank you for calling [Insurance Company]. My name is [My Name]. Who do I have the pleasure of assisting today?”

Caller: “My name is Mrs. [Caller], spelled—

She lists out the spelling of her easily spelled first name but doesn’t spell out her last name.

Caller: “—and I’m calling for my mother. Did you get that?!”

I roll my eyes to check on my few remaining brain cells.

Me: “Yes, Mrs. [Caller]. Is your mother available to give me permission to speak with you?”

It’s always easier for us to get permission from the member; otherwise, we have to call over to member services and see who’s on file simply because we don’t have access to it. That’s the plan’s choice, which we have no control over.

Usually, this is when important information comes up, like if the member has a physical disability or anything like that.

Caller: “Oh, fine. Here, talk to her.”

The caller hands the phone to her mother, and I hear garbled mumbling and a very choked, barely formulated yes. I start to give my recording script when the phone is snatched back.

Caller: “Did you hear her? She said yes!”

Me: “Unfortunately, I have to actually speak with the member in order to verify their identity.”

Caller: “Ugh. I’ve never had to do this before, but fine.”

She hands the phone back to her mother. I hear a garbled yes and indecipherable words and start to go into the recording script.

Me: “For security purposes, can you please verify your name?”

I hear mumbling and another yes before the phone is snatched back again.

Caller: “She had a stroke; all she can answer is yes or no questions! God, you have to make everything difficult. I just want to place an order!”

Me: *Rolling my eyes* “Yes, I’m sorry. I did not know your mother had a stroke. Let me go ahead and confirm with member services that you can speak on the member’s behalf. Can I get the spelling of your last name?”

She begrudgingly gives me the spelling while complaining. I put her on hold and call over to member services. Guess what? No power of attorney under her name is on file. Great.

Me: “I’m very sorry, Mrs. [Caller], but we do not have anyone by your name listed that can speak for the member.”

She starts cussing and screaming.


She then goes off somewhere with the phone. In the distance, I hear the mother saying yes again.

Caller: “She’s saying yes! Can you hear her? Now take my f****** order!”

Me: “I’m sorry, but since you’re not on file, I cannot take the order as the member, as you stated, cannot confirm their identity. In the meantime, you can use our website to place an order.”


Me: “Due to HIPAA laws, I cannot access her account. You will have to use the website.”


More screaming and cursing follow.

Me: “Ma’am, HIPAA has been around for decades. No one in my department would have given you access if you were not listed on the account or if the member could not verify their identity. You will have to use the website until you can send in your power of attorney documentation.”


Then, the phone changes hands.

Caller’s Husband: “Hi. What is the problem here? This is Mr. [Caller’s Husband].”

His name also is not on the power attorney form we have on file.

Me: “You’re not listed on the account and the member cannot verify their information. To protect the member’s health information, due to HIPAA, you are not allowed access to this account.”

Caller’s Husband: “This is ridiculous. Do we have to switch companies? Because we will cancel the insurance policy if you don’t place this order.”

Me: “I’m very sorry, sir, but no insurance company will allow you access to an account you’re not listed as authorized on. Due to HIPAA laws, if I granted you access, I would be jeopardizing my job, and there are criminal charges associated. No company is going to give you access. Now, again, you have to use the website. That is your only option at this time until we have a power of attorney form on file with Mrs. [Caller]’s name attached to it.”

Caller’s Husband: “I want to speak to your supervisor! This is the worst customer service I’ve ever seen! You just don’t want to do your job. Get me a supervisor.”

Me: “Unfortunately, without an account and without you authorized to speak on behalf of the member, you cannot speak with a supervisor.”

The caller takes the phone back.


Me: “Because you’re not listed on the account, you also cannot file a grievance. Now, as I’ve stated before, you can use the website to place an order until your power of attorney paperwork is filed. Otherwise, I cannot assist you.”


Me: “I’m very sorry about that, but I’ve given you your options. And you can stay on the call if you would like; however, I will not be able to assist you with this account.”

Caller: “Well, you’re f****** useless. I don’t have time for your bulls***! I want your name and your employee ID and your supervisor.”

Me: “For security reasons, we do not give out last names or employee IDs. My first name is [My Name].”

Caller: “I want your supervisor and last name. You have to give me that information.”

Me: “No, I do not. My last name is classified for my protection.”

Caller: “You’re such a b****. F*** you.”

Me: “Have the day you deserve.”

Caller: “Likewise, c***.”


That’s One Super Supervisor

, , , , , | Working | October 5, 2021

I’ve been off work for almost a week with a bad infection. Although I’m back taking calls, I’m still exhausted and I still have a headache, but I’m nervous about having been off so long because it’s my second absence due to one of my disabilities playing up, and I’m only just at my three-month probation review. It’s important to note that we’re all working from home. 

My supervisor calls me to do both the review and my return to work. We’ve discussed my symptoms, what I did to get better, and if I’m ready to return to work.

Supervisor: “Okay, you’ve told me you’re ready to come back, but how are you really feeling? Off the record.”

Me: “Honestly, I’m pretty wiped. My head’s still pretty fuzzy, and I know if you checked my call stats for today they’re not going to be great. This meeting’s been a nice break.”

Supervisor: “What time are you on until?”

Me: “Seven, unfortunately.”

Supervisor: “That’s nonsense. You’re just back from being ill. Give me a second.”

He goes silent for a while and I hear a lot of typing.

Supervisor: “Okay, check your schedule again.”

I refresh the schedule software, and straight after my afternoon tea break, I have forty-five minutes of training and am only on calls again for thirty minutes before my shift ends. 

Me: “What training am I doing?”

Supervisor: “Chilling out. When we were in the office, I used to send people out to fetch stuff and called it ‘helping colleagues.’ Now it’s ‘training.’ Let me know if you’re having a really stressful day and I’ll book a meeting with you or training to give you a break from calls. We all need it sometimes.”

Me: “Thank you so much!”

Supervisor: “Now for your probation review. No suspense: you passed. Your absences are higher than ideal, but you work well when you’re here so I’m not going to punish you for being sick. I know you were worried about it.”

If Only You Could Disinfect That Image From Your Brain

, , , , | Right | October 2, 2021

When I was working in food service, a family and their two kids came in. While they were ordering, the young girl with them put a bag on the counter and loudly threw up in it. The family still dined in, and my coworkers and I never found the bag so they must have taken it home. Gross!

We never saw them again, either. Maybe it was because I made it a point to visibly disinfect everything they touched.

We’re Glad Safety Standards Have Started To Ketchup

, , , , , | Right | October 2, 2021

My roommate of forty years ago related this to me. Remember, this was back in the 1970s. He once saw a woman going down the ketchup aisle, opening each, sticking her finger in, tasting it, then going on to the next.

I always check inner seals when I get home and have no compunction taking something back if broken. But that was before they started packaging with consumer safety in mind.

Only Halfway Into The Digit-al Age

, , | Right | October 1, 2021

Caller: “I need to pay for the order I placed yesterday.”

Me: “Certainly. How did you want to pay for that?”

Caller: “With my credit card. Hold on, let me get it.”

This, unfortunately, is not unusual; people call all the time specifically to pay for something, and then have to get their card from the safe, another room, their car out in the parking lot, after they’re done going through the drive-thru, etc. It’s annoying, mainly because it drives up our call times, which then comes up in performance reviews, even though we can’t control how unprepared a caller is going to be.

After a minute or two of shuffling…

Caller: “I found it. Let me see… Gosh, the numbers are small.”

Me: “Take your time.”

Caller: “It’s a [Brand]. I think the first number is a 7?”

It can’t be; the first digits for the major consumer credit card are 3, 4, 5, and 6.

Me: “Mmm, I’m not sure that’s correct. Can you try again?”

Caller: “Let me put it under my magnifier.” *More shuffling* “That’s better, I think.” *Rattles off eight numbers* “Oh, shoot, I just can’t read the last ones.”

Me: “Well, have you maybe used it with us before? I can try to find your last order.”

Caller: “No, I’ve never placed an order with you before. Gosh, there’s a glare, and these numbers are so small… and my bigger magnifier needs batteries… Let me turn on the rest of my lights.”

A couple of minutes pass.

Caller: “Well, that’s maybe a five… Nope, still can’t see the rest.”

Me: “Is there maybe anyone else nearby who can help you read those last numbers?”

Caller: “No, it’s just me for the moment.”


Caller: “So, are we good?”

Me: *Dumbfounded* “I’m sorry, but I need the last four digits and the expiration date to process payment.”

Caller: “Oh. Well.”

He reads off the first eight numbers again, with a few of the digits different.

Caller: “I really wish I could read these last four digits!”

Me: “I’m really sorry, but I think maybe you’ll just have to call us back when someone can help you read the number or when you have another payment method you can read in full.”

It still took several more minutes to convince him the first eight digits just weren’t good enough. Honestly, I’m sympathetic, but I have to wonder, what was his plan?