Hey hey. My name is Dan, and I used to work in a call centre. We used get people every day yelling and screaming at us as if thier problem with the company is OUR fault. It's not, so I used this here space as a place to let y'all know what it was like. Now, as of late July 2005, I work in a record store. Which means more of my rants, and this time with extra VVVVVOLUME!!! Woooooo.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Back from the dead, and broke

music: Devil Gate Drive Waking Up For the Enemy

No, I haven't died. I've been living in Auckland, with no horrible customer service nightmares to textually dramatise for your bemusement... Just day upon day of not having to answer phones, applying for new jobs, and depleting my bank balance.

Just when I thought it was all over (ie $1000 past over...) I got a call today from a record store while standing across the road from the National Bank on Queen St, that was cordoned off by the police in order to investigate a suspicious package that looked remarkably like a homeless man's belongings. So the call means that as of next week I'm a minimum wage slave at a record store in town... YAY!!! Man, this rules. It means I can adjust the angle of this blog to not only be about customer service, but the crap music the customers purchase! YAY!!! No more moaning about money... which to be honest, you loyal readers all missed out on. YAY!!!

I'm off to adjust the crap about power companies and call centres, etc.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

seven days to go

music: REM - the Finest Worksong

My REM-predicted finest hour could perhaps be in approx 7 hours time, when my cellphone alarm fails to go off, as a result of my not pluggin the battery-drained thing in. It would be my finest hour of sleep, followed by the finest Spanish-esque Inquisition.

I have seven more days at the call centre; ie less then 60 techincal hours listening to you fucks. When company HR departments and recruitment agencies talk about 'customer service careers' you surely know it's an oxymoron, equivalent to, 'Red Bull makes you fly'?

Sorry, I did have much more to say, but got tied up in explaining how to dl some Queen songs from a particular Russian website from some peeps who can't speak Russian. No, I can't speak the Queens English backward either, but a little common sense god has distributed rather thinly.

Yep, Star Wars opens today. For achieving a random and arbitrary mark 3 months running, I have been 'awarded' a $10 voucher to see what economically amounts to 2/3 of a movie. I'm assuming 'Revenge of th Sith' will be 3 hours long, therefore providing money for ("donated") value; therefore worthy of the lame, grammatically inspired re-arrangement in the paragraph above.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

probably not the end

music: Ryan Adams; Love Is Hell, pt 2

I can say what I want now. Well, I could before, and I'm not really going to change anything, but the fact is... I can say what I want now. To a certain degree... I'm leaving the call centre, you see. But not yet. I still need them as referees, so I'm still gonna be tight-lipped over specifics. Like it even matters! Haha.

Yes. My gf and I are vacating the H-town for the big A-town. It's not the capital, but it may as well be. She's got a big flash high-paying job in some far flung section of some central call centre whose primary purpose I shall not yet reveal; and I, well, I don't know. My plan involves getting to Auckland, spending whatever annual leave pay I have accrued, and only THEN getting a job. Call centre jobs are a dime a gazillion up there it seems, so if I get stuck, there shouldn't be a problem. IF I GET STUCK. There wouldn't be this blog though, would there?

ANYWAY. So it's getting really busy at work, so the management are trying to encourage people to turn up more often, to help relieve some of the pressure of those who do actually come to work 99% of the time. Firstly, yes I'm serious, they actually have to use more to get some people to regularly come to work than, "YOUR INCOME, STUPID."

They do this rather than hire more people... Well, they've hired a few, but most of them quit before they've been on the phones long enough to actually know how to do anything. Why? Cause it's so freakin' high pressure, all the time. Almost EVERY day now is classified a 'busy day' and off-the phone activities are cancelled; so the next time a call centre rep promises they'll do/follow up something for you, and they don't, remember it's probably not their fault. Nope. They've just got 15 other people's accounts they're following and updating, with the measly 10-15 minutes a day they have allocated to doing this. The other seven hours and twenty minutes (taking breaks into account) are spent talking to and adding new customers to that evergrowing list...

That and the fact that the general population's IQ seems to drop with every passing month. I mean, when do you call a contact centre for a major energy company, with customers all over the country you service? When the power is out? When your meter has been read wrong? When you move house? Yeah, fair enough. But do you call them when you want to know how many dollars it costs to run a bath? Umm.. probably one tenth what it cost the power company to take your freakin' call, lady. In other words, NO.

And when you call us, what is it you're usually after? Answers to questions you have about your strange account? Services rendered by network contractors? Yeah, great. Swell, even. But if it is to tell us you want to punch us in the face, or that nuclear power is fantastic, or that you think the electricity industry was much better in the 1960s when everything was run by local councils, or you simply just locked yourself out of your house... call someone who cares, quite frankly! Or better yet, get a friend. They'd love to talk to you about disfiguring the faces of common enemies, the Cold War, public services and unfortunate mishaps. Don't get me wrong, I love talking about those things too... TO MY FRIENDS!!!

The only time I want to discuss the Cold War with complete strangers is when I've been drinking. Actually, now that I know I'm quitting, and as do most of the management, I probably could do this. OK, so the only times I want to discuss the Cold War with complete strangers is when I've been drinking, or I'm getting paid by the hour for it! Excellent. To hell with saying, "I'm not here to discuss public policy in 1960s New Zealand with you," as I have on more than one occasion...

So yeah. I'm leaving... sometime in May, most likely. My gf starts her job in mid-May, I'm staying here till we have a place confirmed. What do reckon I should do? (a) Get another fulltime job in a call centre, easily, lots of money (compared to the other options, initially), but no time... (b) get a part time job in a call centre, easy to get, not a lot of money, but free time to pursue becoming a rock star/work on my underapprecited masterpieces... (c) get part time work in call centre, as above, but use my free time to study librarianism... (d) don't get a job until I find something awesome - no money, lots of time to do whatever, possibly not happy girlfriend,but possibly awesome in the end... or (e) something else?

Thursday, March 10, 2005


music: graham coxon - 'freakin' out'

This past week has been freakin' weird. (Oh yeah - not dead and stuff, just not blogging as often as I initially intended, etc). It's been ridiculously busy; like, I've read articles about the demands on call centres rising a certain double-digit percentage exponentially each year, but this is, err, ridiculous... so to speak. You know why it is? People ringing for such frivolous reasons. Not only that, but wanting to discuss them for 25 minutes, then exiting the call thinking they haven't got a satisfactory answer, and calling back half an hour later to take up the debate with a more-tolerant-of-imbecilicity rep, who'll inevitably screw up and let them off the hook. If there even was one!

I had one of the classic "I've paid my account, so I want my power back on RIGHT FUCKING NOW," customers; it only takes 5 seconds to point out that there's a usual turnaround time from our end of approximately 6 hours, then 30 minutes to explain to them our contractors aren't wizards capable of magicing their power on RICHT FUCKING NOW. And that it took them 8 months to pay US, so why should we have to serve them right away?

But that's just usual. But this week, for example, I had a customer who rang and asked if she could skip over one of her direct debit payments. It's not a service we normally offer, but I went over the account and decided this one time I'd let it go, and advised her as such. Her response? "Are you THREATENING me?" Err, no... just doing (a) what you asked... and, um, (a) what you asked... She ended up speaking to a manager and laying a complaint against me; at which my manager had a good chuckle. 10 minutes, that one took.

Then there was the guy who rang to complain that we refunded him the bond he paid us in late 2003, but failed to inform him as such. A thousand other times I've had to explain to disgruntled non-payers that we have to charge them a bond cause they don't pay their accounts, much to their dismay; not this guy. He paid his accounts just fine, so we refunded it, then he stopped paying, so we disconnected him, and now he's complaining that he has to pay it again; his logic being that if we never refunded him his original bond, he wouldn't have to pay one now. Odd, cause (here we go again) (a) we DID inform him we were refunding him his bond, the month we did so; and (b) if we hadn't refunded the bond when we did, he probably would've failed to pay the account that month, and been disconnected THEN. 25 minutes.

Here's a suggestion for anyone out there who's a caller, not a callee; NEVER use "I've been X number of universities and am highly educated," as an argument in a conversation with a call centre rep. Firstly, you never studied "how to access an indoors meter" at university; secondly, who's to say I haven't studied at X number of universities more than you? Thirdly, going to university for a semester and a half in 1981 doesn't qualify you to get free electricity for the rest of your life. I had a guy today who had an account for $516, then paid $112 off it in two $56 instalments, then had a new account with an opening balance of $404. He couldn't understand how we came to this sum, despite being university educated. Thrice, apparently. How people manage to live to the age of 85 without being able to add, I'll never know. If someone arranged the candles on his cake in a rectangle, he'd probably complain that the number of candles lenghtways multiplied by the number of candles the other way didn't equal the number of candles on the actual cake. PS: Kindergartens ain't universities, buddy.

Jebus, what an awkward maths-based burn. Last time I try one of those. 25 minutes.

Sometimes you've just gotta hang up on people. If they're not listening to you, there's no point, really. Many times a 'customer' has begun yelling at me, when really they should be yelling at the Terms And Conditions, so nowadays I just say something like, "am I allowed to speak?" Inevitably, they say "No!". Last time this happened, I thought to myself, this customer can suck mine before I listen to them speak anymore, so responded, "then there's no point in continuing with this conversation in that case, is there?" and disconnected the call. Man, once you reach that point, it's so liberating. No longer do you have to listen to the inane shit people come up with.

Speaking of the Terms And Conditions, they are a GODSEND to us in the call centre. If ever there is a 'customer' arguing something, and you're pretty much all out of arguments (moral and logical), you jsut need to ask, "have you read the Terms And Conditions?" You know they haven't, so you cna pretty much now say what you want. 99.99% of the time, they haven't read them, and will argue as such; and we just say, "they were posted out to you when you joined." And the best part is, almost anything you can come up with to rebut a customer's fanciful claim can be found in the Terms And Conditions! They're like a moldable Ten Commandments, forever shifting to reflect whatever policy it is you happen to need. A Ten Thousand Commandments, if you will. Like, Thou shalt not complain about not recieving an acount more than three days after we have billed it as by now we have assumed you have recieved it. Or, Thou shalt not bill ANYONE for ex-frozen meat when the power goes out, because ultimately no one is responsible but the Lord himself. And my favourite, Even if thoust meter is buried by a landslide and protected against your will by dragons, thou mustest provide access or we'll charge you estimated accounts upwards of $1000 a month and thou shalt payeth them, or we'll cut off your power. In sticky moments, that's a goodie.


get off my case

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Electricity is NOT transittable via radio waves.

music: the cricket, actually. NZ v Australia.

Sometimes, you just have to shake your head in disbelief. I had this call once, from the representative of some kind of building company no less, who were removing an office block from its location, with the intention of relocating the entire building. Down the street somewhere. You'd assume they, being a company who deals with this kind of thing, would've organised everything they needed to have had organised prior to removing the building completely from its foundations with a crane; but nooooooooooooooooooooooo.

They forgot to get the power disconnected. And I don't mean just turned off; they forgot to DISCONNECT THE PHYSICAL PREMISES FROM THE METER AND UNDERGROUND SERVICE LINE.

So they had this building hanging from a crane, attached to the ground by a 3-phase electrical cable, unable to be moved any further. We don't employ electricians in the actual call centre, cause electricians are all out there being, err, electricians, so when the lady on the phone asked me if they could get a paid of shears and cut the dwelling free, I advised them it wouldn't be a good idea, and I couldn't probablyreally recommend it. They'd have to get the network out to do a permanent disconnection and get the meter removed, basically.

There's a 24 hour turnaround time on a permanent disconnection, the network advised me. They'd just have to wait till the next day, when someone would be available to detach the airborne office from its earthly, electrical shackles.

I followed up on the account a few days later, and the hapless (hopeless...) company hadn't called back to try their luck with someone else, so they must've waited. Idiots!

Monday, January 24, 2005

Master Cock

music: rem you

Ha! I bet you thought this blog was stillborn already. Burn.

So I think it's about time I begin; I've been back at work a couple of weeks now, so yeah. Yeah!

I'll begin with the story of he who I shall refer to as Master Cock. Why this name? Well, he calls up, and I ask him for his full name, as that's one of the things we do to verify account holders where I work. He says his full name with the prefix Master. Master?!?! Isn't that the title box you ticked all through primary school, because you weren't a Mister, because you weren't all tall and hairy and stuff, but you still wanted to sound important? I wasn't aware it was actually used, by people, referring to THEMSELVES, past the age of, err, 14. Or less.

And why 'cock'? I'm not one to call a person a cock. In fact, I don't think I've called ANYONE a cock, ever. But sometimes there just aren't any other words to describe a person, and in thius case, that was the only word that came to mind. Which is really... saying... something.

Oh yeah. Not only was he a master, but he had a hyphenated name. I bet one day he decides to update his account (and therefore social standing) and calls us to change it to Prince.

So Master Cock rings up for the express purpose of informing the company that "any further correspondence from ******* will be constituted as harassment." ******* is kinda obviously the name of the company I work for. By proxy. I won't bother explaining that part, as it's irrelevant, really.

I take a look at this guy's account, and it seems he rang us in November to set up a payment arrangement - ie, he had an overdue bill, and is paying it off over a number of weeks. He's recently recieved a letter telling him he missed a payment, so therefore the arrangement has been broken, and therefore cancelled, meaning he must pay the remaining overdue balance within seven days; or risk disconnection.

Of course, as most retards who don't pay their accounts*, he disputes he broke the arrangement. In fact, he disputes he ever MADE the arrangement. And it's just a coincedence that for the past two months he's been paying the exact amount per week required of him by the arrangement. Until this payment. Hence the broken arrangement. And of course, he wants to speak to a manager, because they apparently have that magical ability to reverse time. Or break company policy. They're kinda the same thing, sometimes.

So we come to a standstill; I won't give him the 'special treatment' he demands; he won't pay the bill that we demand. I arranged for a senior rep to give him a call, and note his account number so I can follow it up a day or so later; AS YOU DO when someone as ridiculous as this comes along.

I look at the account a couple of days later, and wow. Master Cock has hired a Private Fucking Investigator to investimagate his account. BUT... he won't give the P.F.I authority to access and discuss his account and situation; nor will he himself speak with anyone lower than, um, God, basically.

In our company, God has a name it turns out. But revealing that would be revealing the name of the particular energy company I work for :p

Till next time. Sooner than the last time.

get off my case

* I say don't as opposed to won't, as it's well known that we can send out reminder after a reminder until some poor tree has copped it fully, and people won't pay; but as soon as we call them to tell them we're going to err, cut off their supply, suddenly they have wads of cash just lying around, and the $1000 owing is suddenly and mysteriously paid the next day. It's something Mulder and Scully should look into. Not. People are just stingy.

Monday, January 10, 2005

back to work '05

music: oasis supersonic

Well. It's back to work today... what positives can I take from this... umm... well, this blog'll get fired up, fo' sho'. Yeah. I wonder what my first day back after summer will bring... 500 emails probably. And loads of Gentrack errors no doubt...

So be sure to tune in, on this bat-website, any bat-time, and see what's going on...