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After That, You’ll Want To Drink A Shirley Temple

, , , | Right | October 4, 2021

The overwhelming majority of orders are placed online these days, with a percentage done via email or phone, and a teeny, tiny fraction of people who will still physically mail orders. These tend to be elderly people who either don’t have access to or don’t like to use modern technology.

Me: “[Company], this is [My Name].”

Elderly Caller: *Shouting, in the way of someone losing their hearing* “Did you receive my order?”

Me: “I can check for you. Can I get your name and address, please?”

This turns out not to be an easy task. His last name is very unusual, and it takes many tries to get the spelling out of him because he won’t use or respond to phonetic prompts — “Was that S like ‘Stephen’ or F like ‘Frank’?” — and instead goes off on random, unrelated tangents.

About six minutes in, I get the information I need, and it becomes clear he didn’t place the order through our normal methods. Digging through our system for the mail-in orders takes some time, mainly because it’s used so rarely that I’m not all that familiar with it.

Me: “Please bear with me a moment. I’m going to see if we received that in the mail.”

Caller: “Okay, that’s fine. Did I ever tell you that I was in the army?”

Me: *Searching* “Mmmm? No, sir.”

Caller: “They sent me overseas to shoot Nazis. I was on a special forces detail. I was sent on a secret mission to protect Shirley Temple. I was her personal bodyguard in Europe. I punched Hitler in the face once.”

The story goes on much, MUCH longer than I could possibly ever record, each claim more outlandish than the last. It honestly would be amusing if I weren’t at work. My call is at about seventeen minutes now — our average call time is 180 seconds — and I long ago determined that we have not received his order. However, I am unable to get a word in edgewise with the customer. I have no problem hanging up on rude or abusive callers, but I feel bad hanging up on this clearly lonely elderly guy.

Caller: “—and then one day, I was at a bar and saw Louise Brooks peeing in an alley, and—” 

Me: “Sir, please, I have to go—”

The caller is blathering on. My supervisor has noticed by now that I’m still on the same call and is standing nearby signaling, “What’s going on?” I put the caller on mute. He is still blissfully yammering away.

Me: “I can’t get this guy to shut up, so I can’t disconnect.”

Supervisor: “Just hang up. You have my blessing.”

I let my supervisor know he’s my hero and take the caller off mute. I have to shout over him, as he still hasn’t stopped talking.

Me: “SIR? WE HAVE NOT RECEIVED YOUR ORDER. WE WILL FOLLOW UP IN TWO DAYS AT [NUMBER ON CALLER ID] IF WE STILL HAVEN’T RECEIVED IT. GOODBYE!”

I finally disconnected. The call clocked in at twenty-five minutes and forty-seven seconds. I made notes about the request and sent it off for follow-up in a few days, with the following warning: “The customer is very talkative, mostly about unrelated things. Try not to let him go on tangents.”

I checked back on the request a few days later because I was curious. Turns out we finally did receive his order, but the credit card payment didn’t go through. The follow-up call was recorded at thirty-one minutes and twenty-two seconds.

I honestly felt a little bad; obviously, both times he was relishing the opportunity to speak to a human. I hope he’s found someone to keep him company… but someone who’s not a customer service representative just trying to do their job.

A Call-Back Attack

, , , , , | Right | October 4, 2021

I receive a call from a customer who is having trouble getting his car security system online. He describes an error code I have never heard of.

Me: “Give me about ten minutes to do some research and ask some ‘veteran’ tech coworkers that are known to make miracles happen. I’ll call you back.”

Right around the time I hang up, I look up to notice the department manager motioning me to come with her, as we need to discuss an unrelated pressing issue in her office.

About twenty minutes later after everything is sorted out, I return to my terminal to notice several messages from coworkers who are advising me about a customer calling them repeatedly and screaming that I had flat-out lied to him and said I would call him back but never did. Checking the profile of the customer I had spoken to earlier, I discover that it is indeed him, starting his tirade of phone calls exactly twelve minutes after our conversation had ended.

I receive an instant message from someone in the Spanish language department.

Coworker: “I have an English-speaking customer on the line and I’d like to transfer them to you.”

After I accept the call, the customer goes on a two-minute tirade.

Customer: “It was extremely rude of that other agent to transfer me to someone else!”

Probably because the agents on the Spanish line don’t speak English, idiot!

Customer: “This is the worst customer service I have ever experienced, and I am going to complain personally to the board of directors!”

The moron actually did perform some online sleuthing and somehow was able to find the email address for the company CEO, writing him a rambling email — which was intercepted by his assistant and simply directed to our department manager — and threatening to return his vehicle for a full refund if I was not fired by the end of the week for “blatantly lying to customers.” He further stated that he wanted a copy of my termination letter as proof. 

The manager simply forwarded me the email with a note saying, “Thought you could use a good chuckle.”

Voicing Concerns Over Your Phone Voice

, , , , , | Right | September 25, 2021

I’ve worked in the same job for almost five years, repeating the same things over and over again, so much so that I’ve perfected my phone voice.

Every now and again, customers may confuse me with cold callers as we sometimes need to call customers back who are having issues. Sometimes, I also get confused for a computer or robot instead of a person.

What is new is that when I asked a customer to tell me her date of birth the other day, instead of telling me, she started hitting numbers on her phone! It took me a few seconds to process what she was doing, and she was quite embarrassed when I asked her to tell me out loud.

The rest of the call went smoothly, though!

Stick Around And Get A Free Education!

, , , , , , | Friendly | September 23, 2021

Back in the 1990s, when only the police and 911 dispatch had caller ID, one of the most popular ways teenagers and adults with no lives would annoy strangers would be to call them and either sit and not say anything, ask for someone who didn’t live there, or call and immediately hang up.

At one point in time, these calls seriously became a nuisance to our home where every day, at 7:00 am sharp, someone would call and say nothing, and then at 4:30 pm sharp, they would call and ask for a “Sherry Slone.” Every… freaking… day. Picking up the phone and yelling, “F*** OFF!” did nothing but tickle the person pink and encourage them to call more often.

Then, my dad found a rather interesting solution.

Caller: “Hello, is Sherry Slone there?”

My dad pulled my science book out of my lap.

Dad: “Mitosis, a process of cell duplication, or reproduction, during which one cell gives rise to two genetically identical daughter cells. Strictly applied, the term mitosis is used to describe the duplication…”

The caller hung up. The next morning, they called again and my mother answered. They were silent.

Mom: “Oil painting is a hobby that requires both skill and patience. The supplies that I prefer using is a standard X size brush made out of—”

The caller hung up.

And surprise, all the calls stopped.

An Interesting De-Termination

, , , , , | Related | September 21, 2021

I’m chatting with my sister on the phone about the global health crisis. Unfortunately, I’ve been distracted by video games lately, particularly one where you play as an assassin.

Sister: “And there are some businesses that require a vaccine or else you can be terminated.”

Me: “Wow, that’s a little extreme.”

Sister: “What?”

Me: *Realization dawning* “Other kind of ‘terminated’. Right. Sorry.”

Sister: *Jokingly* “Either way, I guess you’re getting shot.”