Begin call:

Rep (phone rep):  "Thank you for calling _________. How may I help you?"

Customer: " Yeah, my phone number is ***-***-**** and—"

Rep: " I'm sorry, could you please repeat that? A little slower please?"

Customer: *repeats number*

Rep: " Thank you Mrs ____. And what can I do for you?"

Customer: " You people lied to me! I asked if I did the wall-fishing myself, could I save the wiring fee and you told me yes!"

Rep: " I'm sorry? You had an appointment today—"

Customer: " Yeah, the tech's still here. Says he's gonna charge me $40 to fish the cable line through the wall – and my husband already did that!"

Rep: " If you've run the cable line through the wall already, then you're right – there's no need for an additional charge. Let me speak to the technician and I'll see if I can clear this up."

Customer: " Hang on."

Tech: " Hello?"

Rep: " Hello, this is ____ in the ______ department. I understand you were going to do additional work for the customer and charge the wall-fish fee?"

Tech: "Yeah, it still needs to be done if they want cable in the main room."

Rep: " Mrs ___ says they already fished the line themselves. Was it done incorrectly?"

Tech: *snickers* "Ma'am, they didn't run cable line through the walls. They ran fishing line through the walls."

Rep: *laughs* " Fishing line?"

Tech: " Yup – same stuff you'd get off a pole."

Rep: *manages to stop laughing* " I see. Can you put Mrs _____ back on the phone please? I'll explain it to her."

Tech: "Sure thing."

Customer: " Well?"

Rep: " Ma'am, when we told you to 'run the line' yourself, we meant you had to run a cable line through the walls to where you want the outlet installed. That way, when you plug your TV into the outlet, it attaches to the cable line."

Customer: " How the hell were we supposed to know that? You said to run a line through the walls!"

Rep: " Cable line ma'am. That room is not currently wired for cable, correct?"

Customer: " Yeah."

Rep: " Therefore, we need to bring a cable line into that room, right?"

Customer: " I guess."

Rep: " That's why the tech has to charge you for the wall-fish – because you haven't done it."

Customer: " I still think that's dishonest! You didn't say it was cable line! Where the hell are we going to get cable wire?"

Rep: " Well, you can go to any hardware store and pick up a length of cable. Or, for $40 you can have the technician do it right now."

Customer: " No, my husband can do it – he knows all about that kind of stuff."

Rep: *blurts out* "Ma'am, your husband was the one that ran the fishing line."

Customer: " Well, no thanks to you not telling us the right information. I think the tech should do it for free – we already did most of the work."

Rep: " Ma'am, if you'd like, I'll tell the technician to honour the work you did and attach the outlet to the fishing line. If you can get cable from the fishing line, then that's great."

Customer: *mutters* " Fine. Tell him to do it."

End Call

Yes, my readers of this little vent-session – that was an actual call. Not mine, but definitely an example of some of the people we deal with on a regular basis.

For all of you who work in sales/billing/tech support/customer care etc, etc, etc for any company in the world, this is for you.

How we phone reps work, and why we tell you the things we do:

Departments are set up so that specially trained reps handle specific problems. These reps cannot do their work properly without the proper information. If you call the wrong department, it is not our fault we must transfer you.

i) The proper phone numbers for each department are usually located on your bill. If you do not call the right number after checking your bill, it is not our fault.

ii) Sometimes lines are busy. Large companies sometimes handle in excess of 100 to 300 calls per line. Hanging up and calling back WILL put you at the end of the line and you must wait even longer.

A) If you hang up and call another department because you know you will not have to wait there, it is not our fault if we can't help you. After all, we are not the correct department. You know we are not the correct department, because you started the conversation by saying " I know you don't handle this but—". This means you will have to hang up and call the correct department again. This means you will be at the end of a very long line again, when you might have been put through to someone already if you'd just waited on the line in the first place.

When we tell you that you must speak to the department that just transferred you, it is useless to get mad at us. Most likely, you did not explain your problem properly to the correct department in the first place, which is why they transferred you. 

i) We are not 'out to get you' when we tell you there's nothing we can do, and that you must speak to the proper department. Believe us – it is NO picnic for us either, to constantly be receiving calls for which there is absolutely NOTHING we can do.

ii) Additionally, we do not 'hang up' on you after telling you we cannot help you. Nor do we disconnect you every time you are on hold. There are hundreds of lines we use, and sometimes there are technical glitches. Proper call handling means that competent representatives do not just give up and hang up.

iii) All circuits are busy means that the lines are being flooded with so many calls that the lines overloaded. This means that we have as good a chance at reaching that department as you do. Demanding that we put you through to a line that is down will do you no good.

If you are experiencing technical problems, you need to speak to the technical department. Sales, billing and customer care representatives, nine times out of ten, are not trained technicians. A good many of us never touched a computer before we were hired.

i) Technical representatives have specialized programs that run scans and can check and see if there are outages in your area. Sales, billing and customer care reps generally do not have these programs at their disposal. Therefore, demanding that we check your modem/computer/telephone/television etc, is useless. We do not know.

A good many call centers are third party contracted, which means the odds of us being in the same CITY as the parent company is extremely remote. Different departments just might very well be each located in a different region. Therefore, it is unlikely that I will be able to leave my desk to 'march my ass over' and 'snag a technician' for you.

i) Also, we are lowly TSR's, the bottom rung of the call center. It is extremely unlikely that we will be personally acquainted with the president of the company. Therefore, asking us to tell the president of the company that you are not satisfied is useless.

ii) Nor can we give you the private phone number of the company president.

iii) When we tell you to write to the company to express your views, we can only give you the addresses we are provided to give you. As these are large companies, due to the volume of mail received, the address is usually a general one – a department branch, or a post office box number. Telling you that we don't have the boss's personal address is not us trying to be flip.

Lowly TSR's are trained to respect privacy and confidentiality. Therefore if you call us up to inquire about someone else's account, do not be surprised if we tell you nothing. After all, it is not yours.

i) This also applies to making changes. We do not care that you are the son, daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, niece, nephew, boyfriend, girlfriend, grandmother, grandfather, mother, father, step-relation, cousin, or their best friend since childhood. It is not your account. Rule number one among TSR's clearly states:

Thou shalt not add nor delete things to/on an account that does not belong to you.

ii) If you move into someone's home and all of the amenities are still on and in someone else's name, we cannot just switch everything to your name on your say-so. On the phone, we don't know Adam from Eve and we can't just 'take your word for it' that they moved out. New ownership requires proof of your new accommodations. We are not trying to make your move difficult – we are trying to prevent other people from having their accounts deleted for no reason. If a perfect stranger, feeling malicious, called us and gave us your phone number and told us to cancel everything, you would not be happy that we did so without asking for proof of identification, right? Why then, would you assume that it's okay for us to do that to someone else?

Nothing lasts forever. This includes promotions. All promotions have ending dates. When promotions expire, we cannot give them out again, as they no longer exist. It is not our fault that you 'meant' to call the day before. Nor does it count that you did call while the offer was valid but it was just for general inquiry – if you did not sign up, it does not count. While lowly TSR's possess incredible problem-solving skills, we still have not yet mastered time travel, and so cannot go back in time to give you that promotion.

i) If someone at a store, most likely working for commission, tells you of an offer to get you to sign up, and we have never heard of that promotion, it is most likely because that promotion doesn't exist. Sales reps are told what promotions exist so we can offer these promotions to customers. Faulty information given by stores should be taken up with the individual who first GAVE you that faulty information. TSR's are not omnipotent – we cannot just tap our keyboards and make imaginary promotions come to life.

ii) Some services require that you live in a certain area. Some areas are owned by other companies, and therefore we cannot offer you our services. As much as we would love to include you among our valued customers, lowly TSR's can't order the head company to go out and buy the other company just so that YOU can have service. We are not that powerful.

We understand that moving can be a difficult and tiring process. However, when you are trying to set up appointments to have your amenities turned on, it helps us to know where you live, so we can send the technicians to your home. While remembering your new address is confusing, please keep in mind that you might not be calling locally, and that we can't just send the technicians to the 'brick house on the corner near the 7/11, just past the tracks.' Sometimes things don't always work out the way they are planned. Sometimes appointments need to be cancelled or rescheduled. This is not due to the dispatcher sitting in their office like a malicious little demigod, with all the next weeks appointments tacked up to a dartboard, ready for striking out. Sometimes trucks have flat tires. Sometimes appointments take longer then planned due to unforeseen emergencies. Sometimes technicians are sick, or have family emergencies. They do not sit in their truck, peering around the corner, laughing at you as you stand on your front porch, looking at your watch.

i) If you are give a set time frame in which the technician can show up, you should allow for that entire time frame. For example, if you are scheduled from 12 noon until 2 in the afternoon, calling us at 12:15 to report that the technician is late will do nothing but give us a good laugh while we put you on mute or hold.

ii) As mentioned before, specific departments handle specific problems. Calling the sales office and demanding to speak to a supervisor regarding a technical issue is a waste of your valuable time. Supervisors are a mere 1 to 2 steps above the lowly TSR and while they have more power then us, they still are unable to magically handle issues for which they are not trained.

A) When demanding to speak to a supervisor, we ask that you keep a few things in mind. The average ratio of supervisors to TSR's is approximately 1:12. This means at any given time of their shift, supervisors are looking over statistics, checking for errors, reporting updates to team members, attending conferences and meetings with their bosses, answering questions, solving problems, attending payroll issues and of course, taking other irate calls. When you are on hold for a long time to speak to a supervisor, it is because getting a supervisor's undivided attention takes more skill and finesse then a pro golfer getting under par.

B) You may think that because we are lowly TSR's, we live in fear of upsetting you, the customer, and getting fired as a result. Not so. If you decide for whatever reason that you do not like a TSR, trying to get us into trouble will not work. TSR's and supervisors are a tight-knit community and we work hard for each other. We will do our best to help you solve your problems. But deliberately trying to hurt us or intentionally being difficult will only hinder progress being made on your account.

C) It is possible to resolve your problem using a conversational tone. Screaming obscenities at lowly TSR's is considered a form of verbal abuse. As such, we are not obliged to take this abuse from you. To handle this, TSR's are equipped with a button marked 'release'. If you cannot speak like a civilized human being, we will wish you a good day and disconnect. Should you call back again and continue verbally abusing the innocent TSR, we will again disconnect. Abuse is against the law. Please consider that when you call us for help. Barbarianism is not necessary.

The services we provide usually come at a cost. As we are expected to provide you with prompt and professional service, so too are you required to make payments for services rendered. If payments for service are not made, we are not obligated to provide you with these services. Getting mad at us for disconnecting your services, from a legal standpoint, is ludicrous. So is demanding that we ignore past disconnections for non-payment when discussing the terms of any potential deposits when trying to get services set up again, or trying to get back your deposit. By not paying your bill, you have proven you cannot be trusted. You have taken our money – we will take yours.

i) If you are unsatisfied with your service, there are many ways to rectify your problems. Deciding not to pay your bill, however, is not one of them. You may think that you are making a statement by refusing to pay your bill. You are not. What you are doing is damaging YOUR credit history, having YOUR name sent to a collections agency, and having YOUR services shut off. We do not care if you do not pay your bill – we still receive our salary.

10. At the time you call us, your problem is the highest priority we have. If you decide midway through your call to hang up on us to prove a point, keep in mind that once you are off the line, we no longer care about your problem, particularly if you are rude to us. If we cannot handle your problem because you hung up in anger, without giving us all of the pertinent information, we will not go out of our way to track you down. Most likely, your problem will be relocated to the bottom of the priority list, or even more likely, will be marked simply as 'customer hung up' and left at that. When you call back, you will have to start from the beginning all over again. TSR's like it when people hang up on us – it means we no longer have to deal with you.

11. With most call centers, there is both inbound and outbound work. Inbound work, means that you are calling us. Outbound work means we are calling you. Without a doubt, most TSR's prefer the inbound work. Believe us when we tell you it is not by choice that we call you during your dinner hour, nor do we enjoy interrupting you at…inopportune times with your loved ones. A simple 'I'm not interested' will suffice, rather then a hearty screaming session, and will result in us perhaps taking your name off our call back list without prompting from you. Otherwise, we can arrange to call again. And again. And again.

12. Finally, TSR's are human too. We have feelings – if you hurt us, we will get vindictive. We are lowly, but to you we are the best chance you have of getting your problems resolved. It pays to be nice. When we speak to polite and friendly customers, we will go above and beyond the call of duty to try and help you, because it makes us feel good. If you are rude, impolite, impatient, and/or verbally abusive, we can make your life a lot harder. It's amazing how easy it is to mix up escalations and continuously put yours back at the bottom of the inbox. Do keep that in mind, won't you?

Thank you for reading, and have a great day!

Comments?  Talk to me!