We Can’t Swear That You’re Not Stupid

, , , , | Right | November 16, 2020

I work in a call centre for an energy supplier.

Customer: “I don’t understand why I have a debt. I pay my monthly direct debit. I don’t see why I should pay more.”

Me: “Well, yes, sir, you do pay by direct debit, but you’ve only been paying [amount] and you’ve been using [higher amount], so your payments are not covering your usage. That’s why we will need to up your payments, both to cover your actual usage and to gradually pay back the debt.”

Customer: “I use [amount] and that’s what I pay. I’ve never had a debt.”

Me: “Sir, do you have your statement in front of you?”

Customer: “Yes.”

Me: “Can you read to me the first line?”

Customer: “Your balance on the last statement was [amount].”

Me: “You see, sir?”

Customer: “But that’s credit.”

Me: “No, sir, that’s debt. If it were credit, there would be the letters C and R after the number. If you look further down, it’ll show those letters near the amounts where we recognise we have received payments from you.”

Customer: “Look here. I have never had a debt. I resent the fact you claim I have debt. I made my payments and I can prove it!”

Me: “Sir, the issue is not whether you made payments—”

Customer: “Then what is wrong with my bill?”

Me: “Nothing, sir. The bill is correct; you just haven’t been paying enough.”

Customer: “How dare you?! Are you calling me cheap?!”

Me: “That is not what I said, and I’d appreciate it if you did not put words in my mouth.”

Customer: “Well, if you’re just making things up and trying to squeeze money out of innocent people, then why shouldn’t I?”

Me: “Sir, you provided us with a meter reading of [number] for [date], correct?”

Customer: “Yes, that’s right, but my bill is wrong; you’ve added extra charges!”

Me: “All we have done is bill you up to those reads. It is what you’ve used.”

Customer: “Then what are these standing charges, hmm?”

Me: “That is what we charge you per day for supplying your meters.”

Customer: “No, it isn’t. You’re trying to rip me off! My friends say I don’t have to pay standing charges.”

Me: “I’m afraid your friends are mistaken.”

Customer: “Other suppliers don’t charge standing charges!”

Me: “All suppliers charge a standing charge, sir. If you got a quote from another supplier, they would give you the price for it.”

Customer: “Well, maybe that’s what I’ll do. You money-grubbing liars aren’t getting any more money from me!”

Me: “If that’s what you feel is best, sir, you are within your rights to do so, but the bill is still valid and we do expect payment.”

Customer: “You close my account right now! I’m not having you be my supplier another minute.”

Me: “Sir, I’m afraid I can’t do that. That’s not how energy suppliers work.”

Customer: “What?”

Me: “Sir, what you’re asking is for us to close the account, which is not something we do, as that means you would have no gas or electric because we would have to disconnect you, which we won’t do as that prevents you from switching to another supplier. It’s also illegal for us to do that.”

Customer: “So what am I supposed to do?”

Me: “You can agree to a contract with another supplier and they start the process to take the supply, a process which takes two to three weeks.”

Customer: “You can’t trap me!”

Me: “I’m not saying that, sir. You just need to agree to a contract with another supplier if you want to leave us.”

Customer: “But you said that can take three weeks!”

Me: “Yes.”

Customer: “That’s ridiculous. Switch it from today!”

Me: “Sir, I have no power to do that. No one does.”

Customer: “Get a manager, then. You’re useless!”

Me: “A manager will tell you exactly the same thing.”

Customer: “Ah, for f***’s sake! Just get the f****** manager!”

Me: “Sir, if you swear one more time, I will hang up this phone and you can wait in that call queue for another half an hour to speak with someone else. You get one warning.”

Customer: “What?! I wasn’t swearing at you! I was swearing about the situation!”

Me: “Nevertheless, I haven’t sworn or raised my voice to you during our entire call, and I would appreciate the same courtesy.”

Customer: “What, you never heard someone swear before? You’re a grown woman! You’re just gonna have to deal with it!

Me: “Actually, I don’t.”

Customer: “What?”

Me: “I wasn’t lying. If you cannot be civil, I will disconnect this call. Now, if you can do that, I will log a complaint for you and get a manager.”

Customer: “Fine, but I’ll be mentioning your attitude. Never has someone been so rude to me.”

Our complaint procedure requires us to write them in the customer’s own words, and I follow this to the letter. When we reach the manager, I then have to give my view of events, all with the customer listening in. When I am about to finish explaining what I’ve told the customer and what he has said to me, the customer interrupts.

Customer: “Hang on, you’re making it out like it’s my fault!”

Manager: “Are you saying events did not happen this way?”

Customer: “She’s twisting it! I’ve done nothing wrong!”

Manager: “Sir, let me look at this and see if we can come to an understanding.”

I then listen as the manager apologises for any perceived rudeness and sticks by my decision to end the call if he becomes abusive. He then goes through the bills with the customer point by point, explaining how he’s using too much for his current payments, and no, we can’t switch him to someone else in twenty-four hours.

Customer: “This is ridiculous. I remember when it was simple and you could switch anytime. Now it’s all tariffs, standing charges, and contracts, and you have to wait weeks for something that should just be simple like pushing a button!”

Manager: “I’m sorry you feel that way, but the process is not that simple.”

Customer: “I shouldn’t have to go through this, anyway. I made my payments; you made a mistake. I’m not stupid!”

Manager: “No one said you were, sir.”

Customer: “You don’t have to. I hear it in your voice, and you’re patronising me by going through every little thing, like I’m thick, like I don’t understand the statements.”

Manager: “That was not my intention at all.”

Customer: “You’re liars and thieves.”

Manager: “Sir, I’ve explained everything to you. The debt is valid. We cannot do what you are asking.”

Customer: “Then f*** you! Liars!”

Manager: “Sir, we have already warned—”

Customer: “F*** you!”

Manager: “—you about the swearing.”

Customer: “F*** you, f*** you, f*** you!”

Manager: “Goodbye, Mr. [Customer].”

Customer: “F*** you! Wait, what?”

Manager: *Click*

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