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Your Attitude Is Off-Balance

| Right | April 14, 2017

(I work for a third party debt collection agency. We collect debt on behalf of other companies, but we don’t buy the debt. We are a last-ditch attempt – if we can’t claim the debt they will usually take it to court. As you can imagine, we aren’t popular with our callers, especially those who owe large amounts. One such call sums up my experience.)

Me: “Hi, you’re through to [My Name] at [Company]. Are you calling to make a payment?”

Customer: “Oh! How presumptuous. You certainly are full of yourself.”

Me: *ignoring her snide tone* “How can I help you today?”

Customer: “That’s better. I’m calling to query my balance.”

(I take the customer’s account number and confirm various details for security. As I do, I see the debt is for a credit card. The customer maxed out the balance in the first few months but has never made any payment towards it.)

Me: “Okay, I have your account up. What was your query?”

Customer: “Well… I just don’t know why my balance is this high.”

Me: “Your balance is high because you accrued a balance on your credit card but have never paid any of it. Because of this, you have accrued interest and charges for non-payment.”

Customer: “I beg your pardon?”

(I repeat myself.)

Customer: “How dare you! You are so rude!”

Me: “I’m sorry, madam. I merely answered your question.”


Me: “Of course, madam. Give me one minute.”

(I go and get my manager and explain the situation. He then takes the call. I am standing behind him the whole time and can hear the customer screaming through the headset. He tells her multiple times that she does not need to shout and that if she doesn’t control her volume, he will disconnect the call. This seems to help and the customer quiets down. My manager nods and takes notes.)

Manager: “Based on what you’ve told me, I cannot see an issue with the call, but I will listen to the recording and call you back.”

(A few hours later my manager comes and collects me. He is going to call the customer back and has invited me into his office to listen into the call with him. He advises me I’m not in any trouble and he found no issues with the call.)

Manager: “Hello, is that [Customer]?”

Customer: “Yes, this is [Customer].”

(My manager quickly goes through security before continuing. He also advises that I have been invited in with him to listen to their conversation. The customer is happy with this.)

Manager: “Thank you for that. Okay, [Customer], I have listened to the call.”

Customer: “Okay.”

Manager: “There was nothing wrong with the call. I did not feel [My Name] was rude. You asked a question; she answered it. What about the call did you find rude?”

Customer: “Well, answering right away with assuming I was going to pay. That’s just rude.”

Manager: “That’s part of her call script. She must ask that every time she answers a call. We’re a debt collection company. People call us because they have an outstanding balance. It’s not unreasonable to expect people might be calling to pay something.”

Customer: “Yes, but it’s rude to assume.”

Manager: “I’m sorry you feel that way, but that’s the script and we’re not going to change it. Now, was there anything else you felt that was rude?”

Customer: “Well, what she said. It wasn’t right to say I hadn’t paid.”

Manager: “Have you paid?”

Customer: “Well, no, but it’s rude just to come out and say it like that!”

Manager: “You asked why your balance was so high.”

Customer: “Yes, but she didn’t have to say it quite like that.”

(My manager looks at me. I can see how frustrated he is.)

Manager: “Okay, how would you have preferred she answer?”

Customer: “Well, she didn’t need to mention I hadn’t paid.”

Manager: “So when you asked why your balance was so high, you didn’t want her to mention you hadn’t paid?”

Customer: “That’s exactly right.”

(My manager pauses and looks at me.)

Manager: “Madam, I am afraid there are no issues with the call. Your only options are to set up an arrangement to pay, or pay the balance in full.”

Customer: “See – that was much nicer. Why didn’t that girl say that before?”

(My manager made no comment and instead wrapped up the call. The customer promised to call back and make an arrangement in the next week – she needed time to look at her finances. The customer did not call back, nor did she answer any of our calls or letters. It got passed back to the credit card provider so they could take it to court.)

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