My Worst Call of the Day

From the dozens of idiotic calls I take each day as a customer service representative, I humbly submit the winner.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Are You Calling Me A Liar?

Nuttiest of all my callers today (and it is a full moon, so they were pretty freaking nutty) was a woman who called about an issue with her electric company. When I asked for her name, she stated that she preferred to remain anonymous, and I knew right then she was going to be trouble. She was upset that the company had asked for her social security number, in order to establish a new account. Well, she had probably been watching those damn Citibank commercials, and felt like her identity (such as it is) was in danger of being stolen by someone at the electric company.

I explained that the company requested her SSN in order to avoid identity theft, and not encourage it. The idea is to prevent someone from fraudulently initiating service in someone else's name, and requiring an SSN makes that harder to accomplish. However, the paranoid schizophrenic on the other end of the line wasn't buying it. She stated in her most righteous voice that she was not going to listen to these LIES I was telling her.

Mind you, I am a veteran customer service rep. This is my fourth job as a CSR, and I used to work at the DMV, so I'm used to taking all kinds of abuse from people. But being called a liar was, I confess, a complete shock, and I just sat there for a few seconds, stunned by her remark.

When I recovered myself, I proceeded to inform her (in a very cool but civil tone) that state law allowed the electric company to request her SSN, and that she would have a hard time setting up a new account without giving hers out. Now it was her turn to be taken aback, but my spunky little psycho caller came back strong with the following admonishment:

"I hope you know just what kind of a country you're creating with these policies!"

To which I replied: "I would be happy to document your concerns, ma'am, but first I need your name, phone number, and mailing address."

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Thursday, February 24, 2005

A Woman of No Small Consequence

Today's worst call involved a woman who was having problems with her phone service. She spoke to me in the slow, carefully modulated, patronizing voice I have come to identify as belonging to those who are deeply in love with themselves. The caller took great pains to identify herself as a pastor, a physician, and (most impressive of all) a notary public. The problem with her phone service did not lie, as I discovered, with her immediate provider, but with the company her provider leases the phone lines from. She wanted my agency to investigate her issue with the company that owns the phone lines, but as she was not their direct customer, we could not pursue the issue on her behalf.

This was a woman not accustomed to being denied, and she ranted and raved at me for close to half an hour. Toward the end of the call, she shrieked that she had been without phone service for six days. She asked me how would I like it if, after she had operated on me, she had left a sponge or other medical instrument in my body for six days. I should add that this was NOT a rhetorical question--she was actually expecting an answer from me. When I responded that I didn't really see the two issues as being comparable, she exploded into another shrill hissy fit and hung up on me.

Which was too bad, really, because I wanted to leave her with this parting shot:

While I may not be a doctor, you self-important cow, at least my phone works.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2005

King of the Douchebags

Today's "worst call" winner called me to complain that he was upset with his phone company. I hear that a lot, of course, but the reason for his complaint was rather novel. He was unhappy that his phone company offers particular benefits to its employees, including: 1) donating matching funds to organizations its employees contribute to, including (gasp) Planned Parenthood, and 2) that it sponsors a group for the company's gay employees.

This caller told me that the company's funding of these activities infringed on his constitutional rights (he omitted which particular ones these might be), and that he didn't want to see his money spent on things he didn't approve of.

Ultimately, since my manager frowns on me telling people to go get a fucking life, all I could do was explain that my agency has no jurisdiction over issues like this (frivolous and inane as they are), and suggest that he find a new phone company (preferably a Halliburton subsidiary) if he was unhappy with this one.

I weep for people with this much spare time on their hands.

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Introduction

As a customer service rep, I spend a good deal of time on the phone each day, much of it spent providing information to kind, reasonable, intelligent people. However, I also receive calls from the whiny, the arrogant, and those who are simply too stupid to live. As you may imagine, these calls tend to be more memorable, and occasionally, even blog-worthy.

To give you some background about the kind I calls I receive, I work for a government agency that regulates public utilities, particularly the gas, electric, and phone companies. I receive calls each day that vary from the serious: "Oh my God, they just shut off my heat and it's 15 degrees outside!"--to the ridiculous: "I think aliens are tapping into my phone line."

That said, welcome to the blog: my outlet, my therapist, and my antidote to the madness of my daily calls from Hell.