Ah, Yes, The Old “Ignore It And Hope It Goes Away” Strategy

, , , , , , , | Working | May 4, 2020

I am fourteen years old and not very assertive. I go to a rollerskating rink with a friend who’s a year younger than me. My friend spots a few friends of hers and goes off briefly to skate with them, but while she’s gone, I trip on the skating rink and end up hurting my elbow. My friend comes up, and I tell her that I think I’ll be okay. I sit at a booth on the edge of the rink, but the pain doesn’t fade and feels pretty bad.

I approach the concession stand. Half a dozen employees are there, and they all pause to look at me.

Employee: “Hi. What can we get you?”

Me: “I fell on the rink and hurt my elbow…”

The employees immediately scattered and started doing other things. I stood there for an instant, hoping they would come back to me, but they didn’t.

I left and sat back down, unsure what to do. I eventually got back up, went back to the stand, and specifically asked for some ice. They gave me some in a cup. I sat back down and waited for my friend’s mom to pick us up.

When I told my dad about it later, he suggested that the employees didn’t want to be liable for my accident, so that’s why they ignored me. I wonder why the employees would expect a fourteen-year-old girl to sue them.

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Don’t Take A Page Out Of This Page’s (Really, Really Neat) Book

, , , , , , | Working | May 1, 2020

The pages at our library mostly work by themselves, but we team up an hour before the library closes at 6:00. We have a new page, and I’m training her about our closing duties: straightening the books on the shelves, picking up books that patrons left on tables and chairs, etc. She’s working pretty slowly, so I go over to check up on her.

Me: “Okay, good job! Just keep in mind that while we want the books to look nice and neat, it doesn’t need to be perfectly lined up.”

This is my indirect way of telling her she needs to speed up.

New Page: “No! The very top row needs to be brought all the way to the front! The edges need to be flush! This is the correct way!”

I’m surprised by her backtalk.

Me: “Well… yes, ideally. But this is a pretty big library, so if we try to make each shelf perfect, we’ll never get done, and half the library will still be a mess. Anyway, just keep the time that we have in mind.” 

She seems to take the hint and tries her best to keep up with me. I expected her to work slowly, so she actually does well enough on her first day, and I figure she’ll only improve. The second day, we work with another page, [Coworker]. Because there are three of us, we start later than we usually would. However, [New Page] is working much more slowly than before. My supervisor, who has other things to do and never performs closing duties with us, comes over to baby the new page a bit, giving her some tips to help her work faster before leaving her in our hands.

Coworker: “[New Page], when you finish those shelves, move on to the nonfiction section. The two of us are starting from the end close to the audiobooks, so just come find us.”

[Coworker] and I move on to the next area and speedily work together to get it cleaned up. When we’re halfway done, we realize something.

Me: “Wait, where’s [New Page]?” 

We look for her and find her still in fiction, going over shelves that have already been done and trying to make them perfectly straight.

Coworker: “[New Page], those books are straight enough! Come on!”

We drag her to the next section and I work alongside [New Page] for a while, keeping an eye on how she works and trying to coach her into working faster. I leave to finish up the rest of nonfiction, and she’s stuck on the same row of shelves.

Me: “Okay, [New Page], the reference and foreign language sections are next. Join us over there when you finish that shelf.”

[Coworker] and I go to those areas and start working as fast as we can to make up for the time we’ve lost babysitting [New Page]. We’re concentrating so much on our work that we don’t realize right away that she’s missing again.

Coworker: “Oh, God… Where is she?”

We backtrack to the previous section, and sure enough, she’s “fixing” the shelves that are already straightened.

Me: *Really frustrated* “[New Page]! I told you that we had to straighten up reference and foreign language next! We’ve already gone over those shelves!”

We drag her over to reference so that we can finish up while she barely does anything. It’s running really close to 6:00, and two more sections still need to be cleaned up.

Me: “[New Page], can you go over to health and science and help [Coworker]? I’ll go over to the young adult section.” 

[New Page] follows me like a lost puppy. I decide, “To heck with it; she can help me, instead.”

Me: “[New Page], can you handle those shelves over there while I do these?”

She doesn’t. She hovers about asking me questions.

New Page: “Do I have to clock out right at the hour?”

Me: “No, you don’t have to. You actually have seven minutes after 6:00 before you absolutely have to clock out, but no one stays that long unless it’s really messy. Anyway, I want to keep you a couple minutes after just to quickly show you how we do sorting.”

New Page: “Okay.”

I continue working as fast as I can while she idly stands by and watches.

Me: “Okay, finally done here. We don’t have time to actually do all of the sorting, but I can at least show you–”

New Page: *Frantically* “But it’s 6:00! I need to clock out!”

It was actually still a few more minutes until 6:00, but she ran off to the back room anyway so that she could wait there before clocking out. [Coworker] and I did as much as we could in the sorting room before heading back. Even though it was after 6:00, [New Page] is still there. She left only moments before I clocked out.

The next day, after we spoke with our supervisor about her poor work ethic and utter lack of teamwork skills, it was decided that [New Page] would be stuck in the fiction section. For a long time, the only thing she was ever responsible for was putting away fiction and closing that area by herself; however, she worked so slowly that we often had to help her finish up. She never really got any better at her job, but she was never fired.

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Going The Distance To Be Lazy

, , , , , | Working | May 1, 2020

A coworker is always late in the morning; her excuse is the distance. We live along the same train line but her station is 25 minutes further away from mine; it takes me an hour to get to work on a train that takes me directly to the town we work in.  

One day, my coworker asks me which train I catch as I am always at work on time.

Me: “I get [Train]; it’s pretty quick as it only stops at [Major Stations] before it gets to the city.”

Coworker: “Oh, that one leaves my station too early for me and I don’t like stopping at all of the stations because it makes the trip so much longer for me.”

Me: “But isn’t that the last train that will get you to work on time?”

Coworker: “Yeah, but I hate all those stops, so I wait for [Express Train] which gets me into the city without stopping; it only takes 45 minutes and I am there not long after your train goes through.”

Me: “But that still makes you late, doesn’t it?”

Her train terminates at the station, so she has to get through crowds to change platforms and then wait for the next train to take her to our station which is four stations past the city.

Coworker: “[Manager] understands because I live so far away; he always lets me go home ten minutes earlier, too. Anyway, I am moving soon and will be closer.”

She moved a couple of weeks later and was still arriving twenty minutes late every day. This went on for six months until she forgets some keys. I was working reception when her manager let me know that they would be out of the office for two to three hours because he needed to drive her home to get the keys which were vital to his work.

Less than fifteen minutes later, they were back, and her manager looked even more pissed than he’d been when they left. It appeared that she’d neglected to tell him that she had moved to a place just ten minutes’ walk from work. She thought it was funny that she had been able to get away with it for so long.

She didn’t stay with us much longer, quitting because her unreasonable manager would insist on picking her up each morning half an hour before starting time, and she did not like getting out of bed that early.

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Fair Warning: This Story Will Make You EXHAUSTED

, , , , , , , | Working | April 30, 2020

When my two siblings and I first got phones, we were under our mother’s contract. Every month we would just pay via bank transfer into her account the amount each contract was for each sibling. For reference, we had been with the exact same provider for many years and we were happy with the services… until this happened.

With her first job, my older sister decided to treat herself to a new phone and have a new account set up. To do so, she had to take a new number. Our mother called up to have her old number removed and then passed things to my sister to set her new account up.

We were assured that this would be sorted and her contract would be sent within twenty-four hours via email. They also said our mother would receive an email in the same time span confirming the disconnection of the old number. Twenty-four hours passed and we received nothing, but it was the holiday season so we just assumed they were maybe backed up and we would give them another day. 

A few hours after this, I received an email — all our separate emails were attached to each separate number on the account — saying my number had been disconnected, but as I had not finished payments on my phone they would like to know how I would be paying the remaining balance. 

My mother called them, rather annoyed but assuming it was an honest mistake. The person she got seemed nice, reconnected my number then and there, and assured us that the correct number would be disconnected this time.

We thought nothing of this until twenty-four hours had passed again. My sister had still not received her confirmation email that her old number had been removed. Instead, it was my twin who then got the email I had gotten.

Mother called again, angrier, but still trying to remain patient because she hates being one of “those” customers. My twin received confirmation that his number was reconnected again and we were assured again that the issue was resolved. Another twenty-four hours passed, and my sister had still not received the email. Instead, it was our mother who received it. Immediately, she took my phone and called them. This time, she was rather irate.

“I don’t know who is screwing up on your end,” she said. “I have asked for my eldest daughter’s number to be disconnected as she has now taken out her own account. We were told to wait twenty-four hours for confirmation emails. Firstly, my other daughter’s number was cancelled but the eldest’s was not. We called and we were assured this would be rectified. Then, my eldest son received confirmation that his number was disconnected and still not my daughter’s.

I called again and was once again assured the issue had been resolved. Well, guess who has just received confirmation of a number being disconnected? Me! What is so difficult?!”

As she didn’t have it on speakerphone, we could not hear what the poor person in customer service was saying. 

“No, you listen,” my mother continued after a minute. “I explained multiple times which number was to be disconnected, so don’t hit me with that ‘the numbers are similar’ tactic. Three different people have cancelled the incorrect number despite actually confirming said number on all calls. Get the issue sorted and now.”

We all waited in silence for what was to be said.

“Thank you,” my mother said finally. “Now send that email as soon as possible, please.”

Mother huffed in annoyance once the call was disconnected and handed me my phone back. Once again, twenty-four hours passed. This time, my sister finally received confirmation that her old number had been disconnected and our mother’s was reconnected again. Thinking the issue was sorted, we left it at that… until the mother’s direct debit came out after my twin and I had done our normal monthly bank transfers into her account to cover the cost for the month.

“Are you serious? They’ve charged us all double what they’re supposed to!”

We were all furious, so once again, my mother called up. This time, though, she put it on speakerphone so we could all hear.

“I can see here that there was an issue with a disconnection,” said the customer service representative. “Unfortunately, disconnection charges cannot be reversed—”

“Listen,” my mother said sternly. “My eldest’s contract had run out; she was just paying a month-to-month tariff. According to your terms and conditions, no disconnection fees are charged. Anyway, your disconnection fees are £45 per number. My contract is £14.50 per month, and my twins are £42 and £35.50 per month. Why have I been debited £250? That’s an extra £23. Oh, and it was your screwup that incurred disconnection charges. You made the mistake; you remove the charges.”

“Disconnection charges cannot be removed,” the representative explained. “As for contracts, I can see here your twins’ contracts are valid for a further twenty-three months at those prices, but yours is now £40.50.”

My twin and I looked to one another, shocked. Last we’d checked, we only had four months until our contracts ended.

“Excuse me?” my mother said, incredulous. “At no point did I agree to pay £40.50 per month. And last I checked, which was only a couple of weeks ago, my twins had four months left. Why has this suddenly changed to twenty-three?”

“When a number is reconnected, you are automatically placed into a new two-year contract—”

“Well, cancel said contracts,” my mother instructed. “We will be taking our business elsewhere. Not at one point in any of my previous calls was I aware of this, nor did either of us receive any confirmation email saying so. We did not agree to new contracts. I will also be disputing the charge with our bank.”

“Would you like me to cancel your account, ma’am?”

“Indeed, I would, and do not offer me anything,” my mother said. “I have been a customer for over a decade, and my twins have never been with another provider, but that will be changing. Remove the disconnection fees, charge us what we agreed initially, and do not add any more fees.”

“I apologise for everything that’s happened,” said the representative. “I will get that processed right now for you.”

Our mother hung up and immediately made a call to another company. They were appalled when they found out the circumstances of our switching. They were able to offer us very similar tariffs to what we’d had previously, we could keep the same numbers, and they were cheaper. Immediately, we signed up and thought that was now the end of it. 

After the chargeback was reissued to our mother’s account, she immediately cancelled the direct debit so the previous company could take no more payments from us.

One day, I came home from classes to find a bulky letter from a debt collection agency. Furious, mother called them.

“Hello, I have just received a letter saying I owe this amount for unpaid bills,” my mother explained. “I cancelled all contracts with [Phone Company] for multiple screwups and I have been with another company for weeks now. This is the first I’m hearing of this being owed.”

Once again, she didn’t have it on speakerphone so we only heard her side of things.

What?!” my mother suddenly exclaimed. “I was assured that they had cancelled all our contracts weeks ago and I was told that all disconnection fees would be removed. I was also told I’d get a refund of the extra they charged me for a contract they signed us up for without making us aware it was happening!”

This went back and forth for nearly an hour, our mother getting more irate as time went on. From reading in between lines, we figured out what had happened. The phone company did not remove the charges, did not refund the £36 extra they charged our mother, added three more disconnection charges for the three cancelled contracts, and did not even process the cancellation in the first place. Therefore, they were still trying to charge us. 

Once our mother was off the line, she immediately let out a scream and got on the line to the phone company. The poor representative didn’t even get out a hello before she let rip.

“Listen here!” my mother started in. “I don’t know what is going on here but I am getting nowhere. I called to disconnect my eldest daughter’s account but you cancelled the wrong number. You then reconnected hers and again you cancelled the wrong number. I was assured that this would be resolved and again the wrong number got cancelled. After this, it seemed like it had been resolved, but then my direct debit came out, which included three disconnection charges which should not have been on there because you screwed up.

“Also, without our knowledge, you put us on to new contracts which we did not agree to, nor did we sign. I called up to cancel and I was told that all disconnection fees would be removed, as well as the difference of the cost on my phone which almost tripled due to your screwup, and no other disconnection fees would be added.

“I just received a debt collection letter and I called them. You guys never cancelled the contracts and did not remove the charges! We have been with another provider for weeks now, so you will cancel the accounts with immediate effect, all charges will be refunded, and you will let the debt collectors know it was your mistake.”

My mother listened for a moment and then launched back in.

“What do you mean, there are no notes about calls I have made? Are you telling me none of the people I spoke to left any trace so they wouldn’t get in trouble?”

When my twin and I hear this, our jaws drop in astonishment. They’d made it look like we were the ones at fault.

“I understand that on your side it looks like we screwed up, but you record all your calls, correct?” my mom asked. “Because, if so, I don’t delete call records from my phone. I will find exact dates and times for each and you can listen in on them all.”

The representative agreed to do so and to call us back once he had finished. Two hours later, we received the call back, which we were surprised about as we didn’t expect it.

“I am so sorry this happened,” the representative told us. “It’s not enough and I completely understand why you switched because I would’ve done so, as well, if that were me on your end. Two of the representatives you dealt with are in my building, so I have sent an email to their manager with the dates and times you gave me. As for the third, I’ve done an employee search and they no longer work for us.

“I have gone on myself, after receiving approval from my manager, to make sure that all charges will be removed. I have sent an email to you which you should receive within a couple of hours. I have also filled out a request to the team who directly deals with debt collection agencies to make them aware. Once they receive this, they will give you a courtesy call confirming that everything has been dropped.”

We all breathed audible sighs of relief at hearing this. It was obvious from the representative’s tone of voice that he was extremely annoyed with everything. A little over an hour later, we received the email he’d sent us which confirmed that every charge had been reversed. Logging into the account confirmed that this was the case. The next day, we received the courtesy call from the debt collection agency and we thought nothing of it until months later.

After my twin and I turned eighteen and our contracts were up with our new provider, we followed in our sister’s footsteps and made a separate account. Unfortunately, their system rejected it due to us failing a credit check. Neither of us had ever missed a payment for anything, so we asked where it had come from. You guessed it: our original provider. 

We all sent scathing reviews to their corporate offices at this, to which we were told the most they could do was to add a note to the report that there was not a missed payment and it was an error, but it would remain on the account for the whole five years it takes where we live for these to disappear from a report. Luckily, this small change allowed my twin and me to make new accounts, but now we can’t get cars, mortgages, etc., for at least five years.

All this because my sister got a new number.

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Getting The Runaround… Drivearound?

, , , , | Working | April 29, 2020

The only idiot in this story is German bureaucracy. I have to renew my driver’s license and then promptly lose it. I go to our village council building where I got the last one.

Employee #1: “Oh, no, you have to go to the district office. Why did you come here?”

Me: “Because I got my last one here.”

Employee #1: “Oh. Well, you need to go there, but you also need a new picture.”

Me: “Can’t I just use the last one? I still have three left from last time.”

Employee #1: “Oh, no, they are older than six months; it has to be current.”

I drive to the only place that still takes passport pictures in our area, which, of course, is a village in the opposite direction of the city I then need to go to. I have to wait for half an hour, and since the only coffee shop is closed that day, I just sit in my car and wait. In Germany, you can only get these photos in batches of four, so now I have six pictures that I don’t need.

I then drive to the city and try to find the district office. My car doesn’t have satnav and I don’t own a smartphone. No problem, though; there are signs everywhere. Well, until suddenly there aren’t, leaving me lost in a part of the city I have never been to. I finally manage to find the right place — after discovering that there are apparently two district offices, but only one of them does driver’s licenses. I go up to reception.

Me: “Hi, I need to see someone about my driver’s license.”

Receptionist: “They just started their lunch break and will be back in two hours.”

Two hours later, I’m finally in line to talk to the right person.

Me: “Hi, I lost my driver’s license and need a new one.”

Employee #2: “Do you have a copy of the police report?”

Me: “What police report?”

Employee #2: “You need to report the loss to the police and then come back to apply for a new license.”

The police station I need to go to is… in the village where I got my photos. So, one and a half hours later, I’m standing in front of a police officer.

Me: “I need to report the loss of my driver’s license.”

Officer: “Great, we have a trainee who needs to learn how to do that.”

After spending thirty minutes watching the process being explained to the trainee, I finally have all the documentation I need. By now, it is far too late to drive back to the district office since they close at five, so I put everything in my glove compartment and promptly forget about it. Six months later, I remember that I still need to get a new license and, because I need to go to my village council building anyway, I decide to try them again.

Me: “Hi. I lost my driver’s license. I have a copy of the police report and a photo. Can I apply for that here?”

Employee #3: “Sure, no problem. You can pick it up in one week.”

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