Wednesday, May 5, 2010

It's Not Revolutionary to Be An Asshole to the Working Man


I really hate it when people get all "Whoo! I'm a culture warrior!" about being rude to some poor customer service agent/waitress/secretary.

Let me give you an example. When I worked at the Fleet Bank call center (back when there was a Fleet Bank), we weren't allowed to say anything when people sneezed, not "bless you", not "gesundheidt", nothing. The rule was enacted to keep us from offending anyone, and ruthlessly enforced. That just about killed me, because personally, the compulsion to say "bless you" when I hear someone sneeze is so strong, that were I being tortured to death, I would probably say it to the person torturing me.

Anyway, most callers would sneeze, pause a second, realize they weren't getting blessed and keep talking. Some people, however, would launch into a tirade about how rude I was and how dare I and blahblahblah. Hello, I'm not getting fired because you sneezed. Get over it.

My point is, the person who answers the phone is not the person who makes the rules. Ever. Don't yell at them for company policy, they're just trying to pay the rent and put food on the table. They may well agree with you about the policy, but they can't say it or they will lose their job. Just let it go.

Unless you're a Christian, in which case you should torment Census workers and brag about it.

dirtdartwife left this as a comment:

I filled in our census form and mailed it in. I made sure to put "American" for the race of all in my family. We got a call over the weekend to "verify that the information is correct". My husband ruined my good fun because he was asked if anyone was black or latino and he says "No" and then the person asked "so you're white" and my husband responds "yes". ugg... I wish I had answered the phone. Than again, he said the person couldn't read the script he was given because he was told "Thank you for your precipitation."

Please feel free to leave your stories here. Maybe we can gather them for a book. . .Chicken Soup for the Census, anyone?


Look, you know as well as I do that "American" is not a race in this situation. Just leave the poor script-reader alone. He's making a little over minimum wage to talk to assholes like you all day long. He doesn't make the rules concerning the Census. As for "Thank you for your precipitation", let me tell you something, jackass. When you say the same thing over and over and over again, all day, 5 days a week, you don't even know what you're saying anymore. When I answer the phone at work, it's a vague approximation of "Good morning/afternoon, law offices". I never get the time of day right. Sometimes I've heard myself say "paw officers". Some people think it's hilarious to tell me it's not afternoon yet- yeah, whatever, you're a comedian. Asshole.

So, I guess we'll know the Christians by their love- of being mean to people on the phone.

24 comments:

  1. Hell, I've been known to get my own name wrong when answering the phone. And mine rings about once a week. If that.

    My first boss (at an auto repair shop) once answered his home phone with, "J&C Central..I mean, hello."

    Of course there's the problem that comes from dealing with the phone people themselves: that they're pretty much there to make sure that nothing gets accomplished. I've had to deal with this at AT&T repeatedly, where I call up because I need them to do something. They tell me it can't be done. I know it can be done, so I have to basically work my way past the front-line phone people to get someone else. Unfortunately it's difficult to not come off like an ass when doing that.

    My personal favorite was Time Warner Cable, though. I tried to get internet and TV from them when I first moved. They managed to lose my information and sent a guy out to install my stuff in New Braunfels, TX, which is a good 200 miles from where I actually live. Attempting to call customer service to get it fixed resulted in me talking to an automated system that would eventually inform me that I wasn't calling from San Diego or Los Angeles (no shit) and it hung up on me. I finally called the sales line and managed to get them to connect me to someone in customer service.

    Then, when I eventually got so frustrated with their inability to do anything I tried to cancel and had to go through the same damn thing. I was obviously pissed and deeply frustrated and I flat out said, "I can only get to customer service this way. I want to cancel and never hear from Time Warner again." The guy said, "Okay, I'll connect you, but first would you like to hear about this offer?"

    I know it's not the fault of the people in the call center. But the call center is basically designed to make people want to give up in frustration as best I can tell.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Trust me, the guy on the other end is as frustrated as you. He doesn't want to say things like that to you, but he has to, or he'll get in trouble.

    I used to have to try and sell things to people who were screaming and cursing, and the whole time I was literally cringing in my seat, but hell if I was getting written up for not doing so.

    And don't get CSRs started on the automatic phone system. Those things just ensure that by the time somebody does get through to you, they are completely frustrated, so the slightest thing you do is guaranteed to set them off.

    Then there's the complete lack of training. When I worked at CIGNA, I got one day of training on claims (health insurance company). 90% of the calls we got were about claims, and I didn't have the slightest idea how to help those people. After 6 weeks of being reduced to tears on a regular basis, either by my own frustration or by the person yelling at me, I walked out mid shift.

    The best way to handle it is to ask for a manager first thing, they have much more access and experience, however, when you get the manager, make it absolutely clear the CSR did nothing wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I worked Tech Support for Cox Communications. We never had an actual script but we had to answer the phone a certain way. You start doing it without even thinking, I answered my home phone like I was at work. People who tried to get all indignant and pissed with me would get asshole behavior back. I would still keep a friendly tone while I fucked with them and the company was fine with that, they didn't care what we said as long as we kept a friendly tone and didn't curse or call the customer names. We also got a month of training before being put on the phones. Of course tech support is different than sales too.

    ReplyDelete
  4. During the summer between high school and college, I was a telefuckingmarketer. All day long, I sat at a cube and read a script as cheerily as possible while the computer phone system thingy AUTOMATICALLY called people, one right after the other.

    Pursuant to policy, the person we were calling had to say they weren't interested at least three times before we were allowed to say "okay" and stop trying to make a sale. (I sucked at that, btw. Sometimes, no really does mean no).

    I used to pray, in an atheist way of course, that people would just hang up so I wouldn't have to pester people who were obviously uninterested.

    So yeah. You're not taking some big stand by telling off someone who answers phones (or makes phone calls), you're just tormenting someone who's just trying to make a living.

    ReplyDelete
  5. So yeah. You're not taking some big stand by telling off someone who answers phones (or makes phone calls), you're just tormenting someone who's just trying to make a living.

    Absolutely. It's the equivalent of the playground bully picking on the one scrawny kid who has no friends.

    Even when I'm at my most pissed off with customer service people I try to make sure I stop and say, "I'm not mad at you, I'm made that [this thing is happening]." Because, yeah, they didn't make it happen and they probably can't do a damn thing to fix it, anyway. They just want to get home and watch Lost or whatever.

    This, too, is why I have a rule against hitting on waitresses, baristas, or bartenders. It's like that Seinfeld episode: "They word for tips." There's, like, a 99.9% chance they're not actually interested in you and every single time you go to a new place is not going to be that one-time exception. They're being nice because it's their job and they get hit on by skeezy assholes all the frickin' time.

    So be nice, treat them like people and not, y'know, pieces of meat, and tip well. Chances are they'll like you more for it. But that still doesn't mean they want to end up in your bed, it just means they'll treat you well the next time you stop in.

    I really don't understand why guys don't get that.

    ReplyDelete
  6. "They word for tips."

    I think they've also been known to work for tips...

    ReplyDelete
  7. But only if they're bloggers!

    I know this guy who swears that every waitress, barrista and cashier is totally into him. It's really sad.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I know this guy who swears that every waitress, barrista and cashier is totally into him. It's really sad.

    I actually know a waitress who may well be in to me. And when I was in Galveston a couple weeks ago one of the bartenders at this awesome seafood place I enjoyed visiting both nights seemed to be hitting on me.

    Beyond the, "It might be," and, "Seemed to be," though, I've no urge to really explore the possibilities. Because, again, it might be that slim chance coming through. But it's likely not. And not being a skeezy creep is way better than whatever the other option is.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I do realize that telemarketers have no choice if they want to keep their job; but I have a job to do too, often involving juggling hot glue and sharp tools, and they are keeping me from doing it. So I am not willing to sit through their spiel. As soon as I ascertain that someone is trying to sell something I say, politely but firmly, "no thanks, I'm not interested" and hang up.

    ReplyDelete
  10. *************************************************
    how about I believe in WHATEVER I want - even in the FLYING SPAGHETTI
    MONSTER! - and you have nothing to say!
    *******************************************************************

    let me show you the end results of this particular *ONE-DIMENSIONAL SCIENTIFIC MODE*
    of thinking that is called *CRITICAL THINKING*, which is completely divorced from
    any human objectives...

    this style has been perfected by dawkins, pz, randi and the other *NEW ATHEISTS*
    **
    THE BOOBQUAKE - 911!
    ***
    hey, atheists don't even BELIEVE IN BOOBIES!!!
    they thought BOOBIES had no effect... WRONG!

    see, I just want to make it clear to the rest of you:
    jen is unable to see that there is a CONFLICT BETWEEN EROS & SCIENCE....

    http://www.blaghag.com/2010/04/in-name-of-science-i-offer-my-boobs.html

    http://www.blaghag.com/2010/04/quick-clarification-about-boobquake.html

    see how we take a term and convert it into its AUTHENTIC POLITICAL DIMENSION - THAT
    OF LIBERATION - not just merely harmless expression...

    Visit for the BOOBQUAKE:

    http://dissidentphilosophy.lifediscussion.net/philosophy-f1/the-boobquake-911-t1310.htm

    ReplyDelete
  11. can i just say HOW WEIRD it is to see DM talk about the FSM?!?!?!


    erm. topic.
    i used to work phone sex.
    [in a "baby-doll-cheerleader-wispy-CUTE-SEXY" voice] "Hi, thanks for calling the Girls, my name is [can't share, sorry, sigh], have you called us before?"
    because, see, if they weren't calling on the 900-line, that meant they paid us by the minute by check or credit card. for only $1.99 instead of $3.99

    i worked there for OVER 3 YEARS

    it took FIVE before i stopped answering the phone that way - and i STILL apparantly slip into "phone persona" if i'm on the phone too long...

    ReplyDelete
  12. ALSO:


    GEDS - where WERE you, man, when i was younger?! sheesh, not fair!

    what i MEAN is: thanks for saying all of the above, and doing your damnedest to live up to your standards. it's a LOT rarer than you think - not just the "living up to", but the even HAVING those standards. even most of my male FRIENDS can seem to see non-friend women as PEOPLE, just things-to-conquer. sigh.

    [which DOES explain me-and-Pete, because Pete is one of maybe *4* guys i know who has standards in how he treats everyone, and lives up to them. and treats EVERYONE the same. and two of those 4 people are gay, one gay man, one gay woman, and the OTHER is related to me...]

    ReplyDelete
  13. GEDS - where WERE you, man, when i was younger?! sheesh, not fair!

    Couldn't begin to tell you, since I don't know the time frame of which we're speaking.

    even most of my male FRIENDS can seem to see non-friend women as PEOPLE, just things-to-conquer. sigh.

    Yeah. Many years ago I came up with the phrase, "Women are people, too." It honestly sounds offensive to me to even say it, but so few people seem to get that. It's odd.

    The weirdest thing about it, too, is that not only am I a guy, I grew up Evangelical. It was a somewhat less sexist environment than the stereotypical, but all the pastors were men, most of the pastor's wives didn't work outside the home and the ones who did were teachers or worked with children in some other capacity (not that there's anything wrong with that. It's just that the wives weren't business executives or lawyers or anything, they were in the traditional, acceptable roles for women). And the general attitude was that the man provides and the woman should be caring for the children.

    I suppose it helps immensely that my mother was the primary breadwinner in my house from about my eighth grade year on. And when I wandered out in to corporate America I tended to have women as bosses (I've directly reported to 8 women - 1 of whom I didn't like at all and 1 of whom I like as a person but not so much as a boss, 3 of whom I really liked working for - and 3 men - all of whom I liked working for - in my corporate career and of the four companies I work for 1 had a female CEO and one had a female CEO and Senior VP/2nd in command, but that one was long after I'd cemented my attitudes).

    I think it's fear and resentment that fuels misogyny, honestly. If men feel that women are overtaking them and taking what (they think) is rightfully theirs, then they'll be far more likely to be giant pricks about it. And I'm guessing that they'll be more likely to believe that women SHOULD serve them, so they'll be more likely to mistreat the women who have to work in those customer service roles.

    For me a mixture of women and men of varying levels of capability have been the norm. So I simply work under the assumption that women and men are equally likely to be capable as they are to be doofuses. Gender isn't a determining factor.

    ReplyDelete
  14. My dealing-with-phone-stress method: talk nicely and cheerfully to the people on the other end, but the moment I'm put on hold, or talking to a machine, I start growling and muttering profanity. I've gotten really good at switching between the two modes.

    "-Fuck-fuckin-fucker-fuckshit-fuck-fuck-Hello, how are you? I'm just calling about my internet connection..."

    As far as waitressess and others go, we in Australia don't have the tip-culture that you guys in America have. I believe it is a result of a higher minimum wage: we know that their wages are high enough to mean that they aren't reliant on tips. Tips for them are a happy bonus, not a part of their stable income.

    A friend told me once about working in a resturaunt: the various service people would keep an eye out for American tourists, and be abnormally nice to them, as a way to get extra cash.

    But as far as treating them like people, I've never understood people who don't. How the hell can anyone suspend their empathy enough to deliberately be that creepy to someone else? Do they not realise how they come across?

    And if I want to be a skeevy asshole, I'll do it to people who deserve it. Hey there DM. How you doin'? [bats lashes]

    ReplyDelete
  15. aw, Geds, i wasn't being totally serious :) i'm thinking like a decade+ ago, lol. but i was mostly saying that because DAMN it's RARE to run into guys who were "raised a certain way" and then were able to throw it off. and become a feminist [or ally - semantics depend on audience, sigh].

    i just wish we could, i dunno, clone you and install you in every middle-school to teach boys that "girls are people, too", ya know?

    Quasar - careful, i bet DM bites lol

    ReplyDelete
  16. "Quasar - careful, i bet DM bites lol"
    Ooh, kinky!

    Don'tmakeajokedon'tmakeajokedon'tmakeajoke...

    I wonder if he also- NO! NO! [bites tongue]

    ReplyDelete
  17. Having worked in some fairly menial occupations (newspaper carrier, McDonald's and industrial dishwasher), I empathize with those who work at call centres. However, I don't have time to deal with these calls and what we really need is no-call legislation with some teeth. We are working toward this end in Canada -http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/telemarketing.htm

    Our legislation has plenty of exemptions and when I receive telemarketing calls, I immediately and politely ask them to please ensure that my number is removed from their list.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I'm really curious to hear how DM deals with telemarketers...

    ReplyDelete
  19. i just wish we could, i dunno, clone you and install you in every middle-school to teach boys that "girls are people, too", ya know?

    Yeah...I don't really think we want too many of me running around. I consider it my service to the world that I haven't yet reproduced and don't seem to be getting around to it too quickly...

    ReplyDelete
  20. All non sequitur and tangents deliberate:


    ***********************************
    The Death of telemarketers at hand!
    ************************************

    Telemarketers don't even believe in *SALES*!!
    Lacking completely *ANY GROUNDING* in economic theory!

    **
    The Premium package is a Lie!
    ************

    This package has nothing wanted *BY CONSUMERS* simply being an upsell item boosting REVENUE without actually givng anything!

    Saleseople, see the folly of the SHAKY GROUND you stand on. The *ECONOMY* of your method of business could come CRASHING DOWN at any moment...TODAY!

    If I were as ugly as *JOHN MEYNARD KEYNES* I'd believe in active fiscal policy too.

    The CONFLICT BETWEEN KEYNSIANISM AND MONETARISM destroys the very ethos of the telemarketing!

    ReplyDelete
  21. The Premium package is a Lie!

    I've heard that about the cake, too...

    ReplyDelete
  22. epic win, Eternal Critic. Epic... Fucking... Win!

    ReplyDelete
  23. I worked at a call centre for all of one shift because I couldn't handle it. I couldn't believe the amount of abuse I copped. Though I do still laugh at the guy who said "SPEAK FUCKING ENGLISH! YOU'RE IN NEW ZEALAND! I WANT TO SPEAK TO A NEW ZEALANDER WHO SPEAKS ENGLISH!!" - The only language I speak is English...And while I was born in Australia I grew up in NZ and I have the strongest Kiwi accent EVAH.

    ReplyDelete
  24. *************************************************************************
    how about I believe in WHATEVER I want - even in the FLYING SPAGHETTI
    MONSTER! - and you have nothing to say!
    *******************************************************************************

    let me show you the end results of this particular *ONE-DIMENSIONAL SCIENTIFIC MODE*
    of thinking that is called *CRITICAL THINKING*, which is completely divorced from
    any human objectives...

    this style has been perfected by dawkins, pz, randi and the other *NEW ATHEISTS*
    **
    THE BOOBQUAKE - 911!
    ***
    hey, atheists don't even BELIEVE IN BOOBIES!!!
    they thought BOOBIES had no effect... WRONG!

    see, I just want to make it clear to the rest of you:
    jen is unable to see that there is a CONFLICT BETWEEN EROS & SCIENCE....

    http://www.blaghag.com/2010/04/in-name-of-science-i-offer-my-boobs.html


    see how we take a term and convert it into its AUTHENTIC POLITICAL DIMENSION - THAT
    OF LIBERATION - not just merely harmless expression...

    Visit for the BOOBQUAKE:

    http://dissidentphilosophy.lifediscussion.net/philosophy-f1/the-boobquake-911-t1310.htm



    ***************************************************

    FSM....

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Spaghetti_Monster


    http://i766.photobucket.com/albums/xx302/AtheismPics/fsmlogo.png

    *****************************

    DOUBLE!


    FOR THE WIN...

    *******************************************

    ReplyDelete

Comments are for you guys, not for me. Say what you will. Don't feel compelled to stay on topic, I enjoy it when comments enter Tangentville or veer off into Non Sequitur Town. Just keep it polite, okay?

I am attempting to use blogger's new comment spam feature. If you don't immediately see your comment, it is being held in spam, I will get it out next time I check the filter. Unless you are Dennis Markuze, in which case you're never seeing your comment.

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