Boxes

Nov. 18th, 2016 04:13 am
quirkytizzy: (Default)
"Don't worry about the future...the real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 PM on some idle Tuesday." - Baz Luhrman, Sunglasses.

Ain't that the truth. I knew I was sick going into the ER that night. And even as I realized just how horrified the nurses were about my blood pressure, I figured they'd just tell me to cut back on smoking, take up exercising, and reduce stress. At most, I figured I would be diagnosed with hypertension and be sent out the door with blood pressure meds.

Not anywhere in my tiny little mind did I think that what'd be revealed would be life-changing, incurable, and include the failure and rebuilding of internal organs.

And there I was, blindsided at 11 PM on some idle Tuesday.

I still haven't pulled my box of things from work into my house. It's all still sitting in the box they packed it in, shoved into my car trunk. It's not so much that the box is heavy (thank God I didn't bring in my pewter bust of G'kar), but that I know pulling it out and putting things back is going to feel depressing as hell. End of an era.

It's going to make me feel like a failure. I was making over 19,000 a year with this job. I know that doesn't sound like much, but I've never broken the 10,000 yearly income before. The benefits were great, I loved everyone who worked there, and the work was easy and mostly satisfying.

There's plenty of good reasons as to why I couldn't keep up on the paperwork and flood of phone calls to keep the job, but that won't stop the shame spiral. I lost something that was really, really great. I let it slip and that box in my trunk stands (or sits, really) testament to that.

Still, it's a big box and it takes up a lot of room. I've got to move it eventually. Maybe I'll do that today.
quirkytizzy: (Default)
I am not a cursed pirate. I am the ghost of a pirate wreathed of nothing but curses. They waft from me, maybe in the moonlight they are beautiful, rising from opalescence, broken bones like smoke. In the daylight, they are only marks, ugly and open, the heat of hellfire scorching whatever I touch. Somewhere along the line, I died but was not given the mercy of a life fully ended.

So here I stand, here I write, half of my words proving where the blood once pumped, and the other half proving where the blood still falls.

I was fired from my job yesterday.

A thing I did not find out today until the pharmacy told me I was no longer covered. A call to HR confirmed. The failure to organize the paperwork needed, to keep in touch, not returning phone calls. The hospital visits and consequent, very short trips home were far too sedated, I could barely speak, let alone face the world that requires paperwork as proof of any experience.

I asked if I could simply rejoin the next training class. I asked for any solution, anything at all I could do. Any document, anything at all. Nothing could be done, he said. Kindly, mind you. Very kindly. Very kindly and with much finality.

It all led to a demise that meant nothing more than a box with my things in what was in my cubicle sitting behind the security desk.

My father was able to pay the 71$ needed for today's medication. I do not know what will I will do when the next bottle needs refilled.

Rayhawk, I was halfway through an email asking you for an early Christmas, birthday, next Christmas gift of a cheap computer that Pat had recommended, so that my communications here did not require four separate, difficult, decomposing devices.

Now money, or even what it purchases, seems so paltry, when my very health, my very life is at risk.

There are options. Tomorrow morning I head to the welfare office and take them for everything I can. I will file for backpay, see if there is any way I can find an advocate to regain my job.

Jobs are a dime a dozen. Jobs that have immediate health benefits are unicorns - and I am far from a pure virgin.

Survival mode has not been engaged. Survival mode is part of what got me in this trouble to start with, so many years ago when I decided that I'd never escape the claws of poverty. I don't know what is here now, but it is not panic. It is not a scramble. It is a thing I will come up against, a hurdle, that I will not make over gracefully.

The hurdle and I will both hit the ground. My knees will bruise, the scrapes will bleed. And I'll set it up again, back up again, and keep running towards at it, keep trying that last second leap, and eventually I will make it. The hurdle will stand as it was, upright, and I can begin running to the next one.

It'd be a lie to say that dragging what blood still pumps to the surface sounds comforting. It'd also be a lie to say that any blood that would seep through would solve anything - and I have no time, no room, for anything but solutions.

And bleeding is not a solution.

"But you couldn't hide, a heart made of glass
You put yourself together with all the strength you had

Listen, I know it's simplified from the other side
It's easy to gloss over all the messy reasons why
And it's easy to forget where you've been
I guess that's what the scars are for, huh?

Like let the record show who let it slip and who held it together

My self-hatred never took me where I wanted to go
At the end of the day, you know I still had to face
That I can pick at the pain, but I can't cut it away."
- Icon For Hire

I told Jesse I would try not to go too deep tonight, that I would try to keep the words to something that only skirts the edges of far too many knocked hurdles and scraped shins.

I don't know if I accomplished that tonight. But even if I haven't, I can sleep tonight knowing that I have done something far better than bleeding.

I wrote. I said something. I put the pain somewhere else than my skin. That's accomplishing something.
quirkytizzy: (Default)
CH: I couldn't access my online account. I knew I had a bill, but I couldn't get online to pay it. Could you waive that late fee and take a payment over the phone with me?

So I waive the late fee. I take their payment over the phone. I dig around in their user information to fix their online account. If it's a younger person needing this help, I feel a bit more patient with the process. But most often, these are folks who were born well before ARPNET screeched over anyone's modems.

What I REALLY want to say?

"Were you or anyone you know alive in the 80's?"

You know, where people didn't have the internet to pay bills. However in the world people must have paid their bills then, god only knows. A secret lost to Time itself, apparently.
quirkytizzy: (Default)
And the things I wish I could say to them.

* A woman calls in, needing help in order to pay her bill online. I check the notes and see that she has been paying online with us for six months. This happens with a truly alarming frequency - they manage to pay online every month, but every month they forget how to do it. So every month we have to walk them through getting them to the right site, putting in their personal information, getting to the right payment page, and then pointing them towards putting in payment information.

But whatevs. Happens all the time. You get used to it.

THIS lady, however, kept insisting that our system was broken because no matter what username or password she put in, it wouldn't let her into her payment account. I tell her to go to the same webpage she makes her payment at every month. She says she's on the right page.

She's not. They never are. I describe what the website page should look like. It doesn't look like that, she said. I give her the address to our website, spelling it out in full.

That's when this call fell apart.

She insists, and keeps insisting with increasing anger and hysteria, that she has NEVER paid with the site I gave her, that she has ALWAYS paid at the main shopping page, and that I am NOT BEING HELPFUL by telling her to go somewhere else to pay her bill.

This is impossible. You cannot pay your Amazon credit card from the Amazon website. You must go to our bank's personal website. Looking at her payment history, it's obvious she does this every month and still, still she says she's never been there before.

Thinking perhaps that what I'm dealing with is a case of slight Alzheimer's or dementia, I gently keep steering her to our bank's website. About six minutes into the call, the woman loses her shit.

"I know you THINK you know! BUT YOU DON'T KNOW. YOU DON'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT HOW TO PAY THIS BILL. YOU THINK YOU KNOW BUT YOU DON'T KNOW!"

What I so desperately wanted to say in return? "Ma'm, you are the one who called US. Obviously YOU don't know, and you think we DO KNOW, or else you wouldn't called us for help."

-----------

* Another woman called, incensed that we charged her 236 dollars worth of interest on an item she bought. She'd bought it under our six month deferred interest promotion, but then failed to pay off the item within that six months.

The whole deal is that you have six months to pay the item off without being charged a cent of interest. If you do not pay the item off in the six months, you are smacked with six months worth of retro-active interest. It sucks, it's jarring, but it's all clearly laid out when you purchase the product.

This is how it goes with just about any other special-financing purchase from just about any business. Used car dealerships to mattress stores - they all make sure to make mention of the fact that you only have so many months in order to pay off the item interest free.

This woman, however, said that we were criminal in charging her the interest at all. "I didn't think that when it said six months to pay before I got charged interest it meant I only had six months!"

And that's a direct quote. I wish I were kidding. God, I wish I were kidding.

I let the woman know that I'm going to check to see if she qualifies for a promotion extension. While I'm doing so, she's ranting to her boyfriend about how she's going to sue us all, raving about how no other company ever does this and that we were "screwing them behind their back".

What I wanted so desperately to say in return? "Oh no, ma'm! If I'm going to screw anyone, I prefer it to be from the front.

Didn't say that. Didn't say any of the things I really wanted to say.

I suppose the funniest part of calls like that last one (or calls where we've locked the card due to delinquency) is that they then scream that they're not going to pay the bill. "YOU WON'T SEE A PENNY FROM ME!" they scream.

I shrug and say "We're not going to force you to pay this bill, sir/ma'm. Non payment will affect your credit, but if you really do not want to pay the bill, we cannot make you."

That has a 50/50 chance of either completely de-escalating the call or else racheting it up to where they hang up in an outraged flurry of button pressing. Either way, the calm that ensues afterwards is a sweet, sweet balm.
quirkytizzy: (Default)
CH: I tried to use my card today and it said it was closed. Why?

ME: It looks like we closed the card because of a secondary review of your credit report. While this particular account performed well, it's standard for credit card companies to review your overall credit report to either increase, decrease, or close credit limit lines. I'm sorry, I know that's not an answer anyone wants to hear.

CH: Okay, so WHAT on my credit report was bad?

ME: I wouldn't know, sir. For security reasons they don't let the Front Line Associates have access to your credit report.

CH: Wait a minute. So YOU GUYS closed my card due to my credit report and now YOU CAN'T TELL ME why?

ME: I'm sorry, sir, but there are some very tight legal guidelines on who has access to that sort of information. I simply don't have that, which is good. You wouldn't want just anyone who works at a call center to be able to access your entire credit history, would you?

CH: WELL FUCK YOU, BITCH. *click*

-------------

CH: I need my credit card account number. I closed the account and cut up my card but now I need the number. Please give me the number.

ME: I'm sorry, ma'm, but federal guidelines prevent me from giving out full 16 digit credit card numbers, even to verified users. I can access your account and see if we could send a card to you, which would have your full account number.

CH: You aren't listening. I want you to give my card number.

ME: I'm sorry, ma'm, I really am. But federal guidelines are simply something that we have to follow - and that federal law says I cannot give you the full information.

CH: What you do mean, "federal law"?!

ME: I mean it is law that was passed down by the federal government. Congress, the Senate, and Supreme Court Justice rules have laid this down. Again, if I could get your information, I would be more than happy to send you a -

CH: I'M NOT GIVING YOU ANYTHING! Why would you need anything from me, anyway?

ME: You are calling from a store line, so there was no information provided to the computer system about your account. I don't even have a name. Even if I COULD give you that full account number, I'd still need your information to even pull it up. If I can get your information and get you verified -

CH: NO. NO. NO. YOU DON'T GET ANYTHING. GIVE ME THE CARD NUMBER. I DON'T CARE ABOUT FEDERAL LAW. YOU SHOULD DO THIS BECAUSE I SAID SO.

ME: Ma'm, I -

CH: Get me your manager. NOW. I'm going to tell her just how rude you're being. If you were a good customer service representative, you wouldn't care about federal law. Your customers are more important than that!

ME: Yes, ma'm. One moment while I transfer you to a manager.

------------

CH: I tried to use my card but it got declined. What's wrong?

ME: Oh, I'm sorry. The card was declined because the account is overdue. Looks like about two months. Let me waive these late fees for you and we can set up a payment so you can use your card.

CH: *very, very softly* I....you mean you just cut off my card? Because I didn't pay it?

ME: Yes, ma'm. It's standard when dealing with banks and personal loans, of which a credit card is. Pretty standard for most industries, really, that to continue receiving services one should pay for those services. I went ahead and knocked off 70 dollars off your total balance, which should make the payment a little easier. Would you still like to make a payment?

CH: *still very, very softly* I...I've never heard of this. I can't believe this. *louder* I've never had any company do this! *screaming now* GET ME YOUR MANAGER RIGHT NOW. THIS IS RIDICULOUS. I HAVE NEVER HAD ANY COMPANY EVER REFUSE ME SERVICE JUST BECAUSE I DIDN'T PAY THEM!

ME: Yes, ma'm. One moment while I transfer you to a manager.

----------------

ME: I understand you're calling to have a store reward re-issued. That's not a problem. How much was that reward?

CH: Well, like three months ago I wanted to buy a pair of shoes, but then my daughter went and bought them, and I was going to give her the coupon, but then her son got sick and she had to pick him up from daycare, and she doesn't have anyone but her neighbor to watch the kid since I was at work, too, and so I gave her the reward a few days later, but then her son was really sick, and I went to grocery store with the card and forgot that she had the reward and that I needed it back, but I was so busy since my mother-in-law was coming into town.....(I honestly lost track of the conversation right about here)

......Five. Minutes. Later.....

Oh! I think the reward was 40 dollars!

ME: No problem. Give me just a moment and I'll have that re-credited to your account.

---------------

I'm a motherfucking angel for putting up with this shit. Give me my goddamn wings.
quirkytizzy: (Default)
CH: I'd like to activate my credit card.

ME: No problem! Let's get you verified real quick and then we can get your card open for purchase. What is your first and last name? *ch gives name* Your phone number? *ch reluctantly gives phone number* And just your DOB and the last four digits of your Social Security Number.

CH: What? Why are you asking me that? Why do you need ANY of that? No one EVER asks me that.

ME: I'm sorry, ma'm, but as you didn't put in any information when coming through our automated system, I need the information to pull up your account. It's also for security reasons, We pride ourselves on customer protection and want to make sure that your card doesn't go to anyone else but you.

CH: I don't think so. I've NEVER had to do any of this. They always just let me into my account without all that bullshit. I'll just call back! *huffy gasp. Phone line goes dead

Thanks, lady, for confirming that you're a card thief. (Or else a terrifically paranoid bastard who thinks the rules should not apply to them. Either way, you ain't gettin' that card opened right now.)

----------------

CH: *ten solid minutes of ranting and raving about the evils of our company, as a small refund hadn't been returned to her account, which caused a late fee to be rolled onto her account*

ME: I'm so sorry, ma'm. I can go ahead and waive that late fee and credit you that refund immediately.

CH: NO! I want to close my card!

ME: Are you sure, ma'm? I can get you your money back - it'll show in less than 24 hours. I'd be more than happy to compensate you for this whole mess.

CH: I said NO. Cancel the stupid card.

ME: Alright, ma'm. *reads cancellation script*

CH: Wait a minute. You're going to just cancel my card? Just like that? Without even offering me something in return? *huffy gasp. Phone line goes dead*

I don't know what it is about these situations that render our callers unable to hear things, no matter how many times we repeat it. I imagine this is the phone version of "customers never read anything" that face-to-face customer service encounters.

--------------

I always get that when waiving the pay-with-representative spiel, too. Normally, to cover the cost that our pay-over-the-phone systems (check or debit), we charge customers 10$ for that. We CAN tell them to pay with our automated system, but we have no way of transferring people back to that system. We have to tell them to hang up and call the number back.

I think it's a little stupid to charge people, and then further inconvenience them with having to hang up and redial the number. So I almost always waive that fee, since I already have them on the phone.

The conversation ALWAYS goes like this:

CH: I want to make a payment with you but I don't want to pay the fee.

ME: No problem at all. I'll take your payment free of charge today.

CH: I just really don't want to have to call back. Can I make that payment today but not pay the 10$?

ME: Of course! I'll happily waive that 10$ fee-

CH: Because I REALLY don't want to pay that fee. Can you waive that fee for me?

ME: I can absolutely waive -

CH: I don't think it's fair to have to pay money to pay my bill. I want you to waive that fee!

ME: Yes, sir, I also think it's unfair to have to pay money to pay a bill. I'll waive that fee for you and take your payment for free. *mimes beating my head into the computer*

So on and so forth.

I figured out another trick to have a good day at work. When transferring, if I simply say to the other rep, "Have a good call day" it seems to perk me up. Perk me AND them up. Something about small acts of recognition helps. It seems to help A LOT.
quirkytizzy: (Default)
So here's the big fear: I go to the doctor's office, they do all the prepwork or whatever it is that doctor's do...and everything comes back normal. I go to the doctor's office and what I hear at the end of it is "This is stress related. You have to reduce your stress levels."

And I go "Okay, but I'm already (1)working out (2)eating better, (3)allowing distraction time with video games (4) meditating, (5) and writing. What else can I do?"

Because I'm afraid I'm going to TRY and do everything right and somehow mess it up. Which, if I can't reel in the stress of this job, means I am definitely doing something WRONG.

I'm almost hoping it is something seriously physically wrong, because then at least it's not my fault. If it's cancer or a thyroid issue or something, then that means that there's something outside of my control, instead of it being "Teressa just doesn't know how to deal with hard work without freaking out."

I mean, I know call center work is hard. I handle, on average, 100-120 calls a day. At least three of them a day are irate callers (yelling, calling names, berating) and several more callers a day are curt and rude. There are several hours a day in which the calls are literally back to back, without even a THREE SECOND pause between calls.

I keep hearing "Don't take it personally", "let it roll off you". So I do. Or at least I try. And I get frustrated because it's super easy to let one or two people calling you names roll off your back.

It's a hell of a lot harder to handle when you know you're going to get that at least 15 times a week.

There's no better jobs out there than this. Great pay, great benefits, close to home. My coworkers and managers are AWESOME.

So something is wrong with ME. I feel like I'm running out of things to do to help myself, which makes me feel defensive and defenseless. And the cognitive dissonance *itself* that I'm reaching is really beginning to stress me out.

Pat was very nice and took me headband shopping. Claire's was having the best sale - 3 for 3 on headgear. So now at least I've got something pretty to stick over the bald spots. For now, anyways. Even with two headbands and some pretty hefty side bangs you can still see SOME scalp. But with the headphone on at work, between the two or so headbands on my head, mostly covers it.

It's really sad when that's the good the news of the day.
quirkytizzy: (Default)
So many assholes. So many clueless assholes. So. Many.

CH: What do you mean I can't use my card if I'm past due?

ME: I'm sorry, sir, but we do require payment for continued use of the card. I can knock off these late fees and take a payment for you right now for free if you'd like.

CH: This is ridiculous! This is Obama fascism! Obama-Hilary 2016!

ME: Sir, if you can get Donald Trump to make credit card policy, then I can follow those policies. I'm fairly certain that payment for services existed before Obama, but even if it didn't, there's nothing I can do. We are bound by the current administration's laws.

CH: Forget it. I'm not doing anything for Obama! *click*

So. Fucking. Many. )

I swear to god, if someone ever invents a phone in which someone could reach through and strangle others, call center reps would be able to give just as damn well as they get.
quirkytizzy: (Default)
CH: I don't know why my payment bounced. It's bounced every time we've tried to pay on this account. Can you figure that out for me?

ME: Of course, ma'm. *checks the account, turns out we had to return the payment because we were unable to locate the proper checking account to debit* It looks like we couldn't find the checking account, ma'm. It's usually a typo of one or two digits, happens all the time. I can go ahead and take your payment from you, free of charge, and waive the late fee that came of the rejected payment.

CH: I still don't understand. I mean, my husband always goes back in and changes the banking account information to random numbers once I'm done, for security reasons, but I still don't understand.

ME: *pause* Ma'm, are you saying that your husband deliberately changes your payment information, and changes it to something completely random, every time you attempt to make a payment with us?

CH: Yes. He says it helps keep scammers out of our computer.

ME: *mimes banging my head on the desk* Unfortunately, payments are not withdrawn immediately after the "Submit Payment" button is pressed. I'd recommend giving it at least 72 hours - and checking each time to see if the payment has posted - before your husband changes any of the banking information we are trying to use to pull payments out of.

CH: He won't be happy about that.

ME: I understand, but it's imperative that we have accurate banking information if we are to be removing money from your bank account. We cannot apply payments to your credit card from random strings of numbers in place of your checking account.
quirkytizzy: (Default)
CH: I AM UPSET THAT YOU HAVE MY SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER ON RECORD! THIS IS ILLEGAL!

ME: Sir, it's federal regulation to record social security numbers with credit card applications. Section 326 of the Patriot Act requires this of us.

CH: I DON'T BELIEVE YOU. I'M WRITING TO CORPORATE!

ME: I can get you that address, sir. While you're at it, you might also want to write a letter to your duly elected Senatorial and Congressional representatives, as again, this policy was set into national law by the government.

CH: (sputters and hangs up)

-----------

This caller reached me, said the following, and then hung up.

CH: I know you hate your job, bitch.

ME: (before caller hangs up, as I realize that I am not the first one in the conversation to lose my cool) YES! I WIN! AHAHAHA!

CH: (audible sputter) (caller hangs up)

------------------


CH: I'm glad you waived that late fee. I was going to cancel my card if you didn't.

ME: Is there anything else I can help you with?

CH: Nope. You did exactly what I wanted you to do. After all, that's why they pay you, to do whatever we want.

ME: Well, it would have been SUCH a shame to have lost SUCH a mature customer who treats others in SUCH an egalitarian manner. Thank you for being SUCH a lovely customer. You have SUCH a lovely day, sir.

-----------------

CH: Can I do this application over the phone with you? I don't trust anything online.

ME: I'm sorry, but as Amazon is a purely online store, the application can only be done online. I can sit on the phone with you and walk you through it, if you'd like.

CH: Weren't you listening to me? I said I don't trust anything online. I don't even SHOP online.

ME: Ma'm, the card you want to apply for is Amazon, which is an online store only. All of your shopping will be done online.

CH: You aren't listening to me. I do not want to apply for a card online, shop online, or do anything online. Now, can you help me apply for this Amazon card over the phone or not?

--------------

And one not borne out of stupid customers, but some other dumb representative of our company.

CH: (in a very heavy, very strong Korean accent) Why haven't I received my credit card yet? Is everything okay?

ME: Could you verify your address for me?

CH: 123 Main Street Boulevard.

ME: (checking the fields, someone had typed in 123 Main Street BULAWARD, as per the caller's accent. Someone failed SO HARD at contextual clues in the conversation. )

ME: (facepalming so hard I nearly broke my nose) I'm so sorry, ma'm, it looks like we typed in the wrong address. Let's get that updated and we will expedite the shipping of your card.

-------------

I've been trying out ya'lls suggestions. Tweaking the diet. Meditation. The relaxation exercises. AND taking vacation days.

It's made a difference in the last week. A noticeable difference. I'm gonna keep up with it. My calls were far less stressful this week than before, even as the levels of stupid remained high as they ever were.
quirkytizzy: (Default)
* You never get your bills...until you get the one with the late fee attached to it. Somehow that statement always seem to reach you and your indignant mailboxes.

* In the time you waste arguing with me about how you don't understand policy and no one has been kind enough to explain it to you, I could have explained the policy in three different ways.

* How can you claim you never signed up for a card/don't remember signing up for a card? The application has, like, twenty fields that must be filled out. Are you simply that click-happy?

* The answer to the above question is YES, because you also never, ever remember that you clicked YES to: card security programs, credit protection, "free trials" and any number of added fees to your monthly bills.

* You also never read the two or three lines (always provided with a link explaining exactly what you clicked "YES" to) accompanying those clicks.

* You always expect telling me that you didn't read it will lead to a grand apology and an immediate refund, as if your refusal to learn what it is you signed up for is somehow a courageous stand for the common man.

A GOOD THING:

I took a call from an 85 year old woman the other day. The transferring rep said she was having difficulty with her online account. I groaned, as an elderly person having trouble with our website is usually a 30 minute call, bare minimum.

All this lady needed was her user ID. After that, she plowed on through the rest of the site, all without my help. She knew what she was doing. She was tech and net savvy.

I made sure to compliment her on it.
quirkytizzy: (Default)
Caller 1:

CALLER: I made my payment on Saturday. It's Monday. Why hasn't it cleared yet?

ME: It can take up to two business days for payments to clear. I'm so sorry, I know that's a hassle.

CALLER: Can you push the payment through?

ME: I'm sorry, sir, but the account is too young (opened less than a month ago) to release the payment. It usually takes about two business days for both our bank and our customer's banks to finish talking to each other. Your payment should be open tomorrow morning.

CALLER: This is RIDICULOUS! I have never heard of this before. No other financial institution makes a customer wait days for a payment to clear! You're not helpful at all! You're just acting like a credit card brat! I want you to call me back later to discuss this!

ME: Again, I'm so sorry for the inconvenience, but this is actual general policy for most banks. You must have a wonderful bank to immediately clear all transactions. Unfortunately, it does take a little time for us. It will be clear tomorrow morning.

Also, my system isn't set up for outbound calls. I can get you to an account manager who can arrange for someone to call you back if you'd like.

CALLER: NO. I WANT YOU TO CALL ME BACK.

ME: I'm terribly sorry, sir, but I won't be able to do that. It's only a few minutes wait for me to get in touch with someone who could call you back -

Mere moments after from being called a schoolyard name )
quirkytizzy: (Default)
I got some...I guess sweet advice yesterday from a manager. Sweet but utterly and completely not helpful advice.

I had a caller on the line requesting their full account number. Amazon we can do this with, so I told the caller that it would be no problem once the account was pulled up. I pulled up the account, looked at the notes, and paused.

The account had been filed as Stolen a few days ago, with several escalated calls back and forth to the Fraud department in the meantime. Another account had been opened in the meantime and had been used. This usually indicates that the actual account holder has received their new account and all is legit and good at that point. My caller had passed verification but with the notes on the account, I still wasn't sure. I put the customer on hold while I checked in with a supervisor.

When asked what steps I might take to double check the account, the manager replied "What does your heart say?"

I stammered and said I wasn't sure. She then told me part of the reason they chose her to be a manager was because she went with her gut and that I should do the same.

I thanked her, got back with the customer, and started pulling through the details of the notes on the account. While I was doing that, I tripled verified the caller, asking them every single verification question we have in the books.

In the end, the notes stated that Fraud had received paper documentation of her identity. This doesn't necessarily mean that the caller was actually the customer, but as she'd passed all verification and had notes on the account claiming the same, I was obligated to give the account number.

I get that any customer service job has a human element. This is important. But when it comes to people's money - AND identity theft (which can take months if not years to straighten out), I prefer hard policies to go by. Following your heart is a beautiful thing to do when you've got a cardholder who hasn't paid their bill because their spouse died.

Following your heart when trying to figure out if someone is legally allowed access to a credit card account?

Not so helpful. Not so helpful AT ALL.
quirkytizzy: (Default)
CARDHOLDER: I never received any kind of statement ever, so I had no idea when or what I owed. I need you to waive the late fees.

ME: No problem, sir, let me take care of that for you. *checks account, sees that there were regular, on time payments for three months and then three months of non-payment. I also check and see that due to the recent delinquency, his minimum due for the month has tripled*

ME: I do see that there is record of on-time payments. I can still waive some late fees for you, but can you tell me how you paid your bill previously?

CARDHOLDER: I called this number and got my balance and paid over the phone.

ME: So you were able to find out when, what, and how to pay previously, but after that you were unsure as to when, what, and how to pay? Was there an external circumstance? Did you move? *sometimes moving requires our cardholder's to send in their payments to other offices**

CARDHOLDER: No, I haven't moved. I just didn't know how to pay this bill. I didn't get a statement! How can I pay my bill without a statement?

ME: Were the previous payments initiated by you? The ones we received on time, even as you've never gotten a statement?

CARDHOLDER: Of course! What, do you think I don't pay my bills?!

ME: No, no, sir, nothing like that. Tell you what, I can waive the last two months worth of late fees for you. Unfortunately, as you were able to find the information to pay your bill on time previously, I won't be able to reduce the minimum payment.

CARDHOLER: I want to speak to a manager. There is no way for a person to pay a bill without a statement.

*sigh* tl;dr: Dude manages to pay bill on time for three months without a statement and then claims he has no idea how to pay a bill without a statement and wants a bunch of fees waived for it.

Maybe he was just covering up for some embarrassing home situation or some financial difficulty he was experiencing. I'm not sure.

It does add to my aggravation that so many people think "I didn't get a statement!" is a magical, get out of jail free card. I can get behind the idea that if you open a card and then don't use it, you might maybe sort of forget about it.

But if you've been using the card for months, I have a much more difficult time believing you've somehow forgotten the card's existence (and thus the bill.)

I'm also trying to learn some tech support tips and tricks. Our company has a separate site set up for online bill pay and thus we spend a good deal of the day walking people through that.

* Instead of saying "homepage", I now say "the page where you do your shopping."

* Instead of saying "link", I now say "the underlined words in blue that say - (insert words)"

Outside of coaching basic filling-in-fields, there's not much we can do, and so my job pretty much starts and ends at 'trying to explain how to navigate webpages'. But I have gotten people who don't know what an email address is or who don't know how to right click on a mouse.

As an aside, there was this one dude who was FURIOUS that we had his social security number on record. He insisted that he's NEVER given out his social and NEVER would and CERTAINLY not for a credit card.

I informed him that the law does require a social security number for credit cards, as per section 326 Patriot Act, enacted in October of 2002. He kept insisting he didn't.

What I wanted to say? "I'm so sorry to tell you, sir, but that makes you in violation of the Patriot Act, which was set up to help defund terrorism. Homeland Security will be contacting you soon."

I didn't. But I REALLY wanted to.
quirkytizzy: (Default)
CARDHOLDER: I know I paid this bill, but it still says I'm late, I'm so confused, how did this happen? I have a late fee, can you take that off?

ME: No problem, sir! I can definitely waive that late fee, as what happened here -

CARDHOLDER: I mean, I don't get why no one is explaining this to me. I pay my bills on time! I had to wait 15 minutes on hold just to get to a person who could help me figure out why this happened!

ME: It can be confusing, sir, so don't feel bad about that. I'm looking at your account and it turns out-

CARDHOLDER: Does no one in your company want to take even five minutes to talk to a customer?!

ME: I'm more than happy to explain what happened, since what happened wasn't your fault-

CARDHOLDER: Why is this taking so long? Are you able to tell me what happened or not?

ME: *hit mute button. Sigh deeply.*

We get major points knocked off if we interrupt a customer. Makes sense. However, "interrupting" is often noted as "the customer took a 2-3 second pause in which I mistakenly took for a break in conversation in which I could begin speaking".

After which, of course, the customer will break back in (usually offended that you've interrupted them) and then QA will mark you down as talking over the customer.

So now I'm going by the five-second rule. I will NOT make a sound after a customer says something for a full five seconds. Not a sound.

This rule also applies to people who rail for TEN SOLID MINUTES telling me how they haven't even ONE MORE MINUTE to waste on the phone.

I had to explain to a cardholder yesterday that your available credit is based on your current balance, NOT on your previous statement balance. Lady spent 800 dollars of her 850 credit limit last month and then couldn't understand why she only had 10 dollars left, as the statement she had in her hand for February stated she had paid her balance in full.

She, of course, became livid and insisted that no other credit card company does this.

This sort of thing is so common that I'm beginning to wonder if schools are abandoning teaching children the concept of how time moves in 30 day increments.

I'm beginning to take a great level of glee in the card-cancellation bluffers. The ones who feel that the best way to get unwarranted credits and consideration is to call in, shouting, cursing, and blustering, about how they want to cancel their card.

My company does not have a retention department. We are not bound by policy to try and "save" the account. We are taught that if the customer feels the best thing for them is to not have an account, that we are to politely cancel the card for them. So when they call in, screaming to high heaven that they will cancel the card if we do not give into them, I can say, in my brightest voice possible -

"I'm so sorry to hear that you feel that way! But we don't want to push a hard sale on you, so we can certainly close your card today if that's what you wish. It's less than a minute to take care of this for you today, as we don't want to waste anymore of your valuable time. I know sitting on the phone arguing is not any fun."

And then you just stop talking. Drop the pause righthere and wait. The way they sputter is so beautiful.
quirkytizzy: (Default)
I have been baptized as a woman in a call center. Metaphorically, of course, though I'm sure the caller wishes it were otherwise.

See, as a human with a feminine voice in a phone service position, you get hit on. Usually it's on the sweeter side. Aw, honey, you're so sweet, I'd marry you if I could. You're such a sweetheart, a shame you don't live where I do. The occasional "if I were 20 years younger". Whatevs. It's not a bother, having lived with that all my life, and damn if I haven't learned to make it work for me in de-escalating irate (usually male) callers.

I haven't yet got the creeper call, but I've been waiting for it. I'm a woman, there's no escaping it. Sad? Sure,but oh so true. Today I wait no longer.

The call is fairly normal, even as he guy is saying its a shame I don't live in California, or else he'd take me out to dinner. I smile and say that's nice of you to say, sir, is there anything else I can help you with?

"Well, he says, "you could come to California so I could go down on you. Free mustache rides, I'm really good at it. Women have complimented me!"

I paused for the briefest of seconds and then bust up laughing uncontrollably. I am laughing so hard that my cube mates are peering worriedly at me. In between fits of giggles, I tell him there are worse things and better things in the world. He insists that he's really, really, like REALLY good at muff diving and he'd love to show me.

I. Can't. Stop. Laughing. I don't even bother to put the phone on mute for it. Several hyena giggles later I tell him that it's always good to have something to be proud of. I ask him if there's anything i can help with related to the card. He says no. I thank him for his business with our company and then press mute. It reduces my handle time if I can get some note typing in before they hang up and mute is a good way to leave the line hanging for those few precious extra seconds of notation time.

He says, almost proudly at first, that he loves me. As I have the phone on mute, there is no response. He does not know if I've hung up yet, so what comes next is what had me taking a brief walk around the office afterwards.

In the tiniest of voices, as if he were a small boy who had just had his puppy taken away from him, as if his only and best friend in the whole world had disowned him, bleats "I really do love you. He hangs up.

That was just too much for me. Not too much in that I felt sexually harassed or somehow uncomfortable or put out, but that it was just SO PATHETIC. I logged out of the call que for a few moments while I walked around and talked to people about it. It just took that long to stop laughing.

My coworkers told me I could always warn them and then disconnect. Another told me that I could either laugh or disconnect or go deadpan but the key point was to NEVER sound uncomfortable. "They get off on you being uncomfortable. Don't ever show that."

(1) Kinda sad that the world exists in such a manner that such things ar so commonplace as to require a defensive technique. Even more sad that this is something that every woman already knows.

(2) Seriously, that shit is just too funny. I love you, too, man. I looooove you too.
quirkytizzy: (Default)
Today was a discouraging day. My boss and I had a pow wow and while I'm definitely making progress, my scores need to be higher. One of the areas where I need more work is in my apologies.

The company pushes empathy hard and I've been told I'm very good at expressing that to people who having a difficult time. I get high scores on how I handle those who are having a hard time, or who are in finicial difficulty. What I need to be is more apologetic.

Apologetic how, I asked my boss. She played a call for me in which the callers purchase had been denied because the caller hadn't paid their bill in three months. There were no extinuating circumstances, the caller just hadn't bothered to pay their bill. They were then upset at the lock we had put on her card and argued that no other bank does this. (She's had two other cards with us, both closed for delinquency.)

I did not apologize to the caller for the inconvience of her purchase being denied. I did not apologize for the lock on her card. I was friendly, offered to knock off two months worth of late fees, and got her set up on paying the past due so she could use her card.

But I didn't apologize. I didn't apologize because I felt that apologizing to a grown woman for the consequences of not paying her bills was counter intuitive to being a grown up. Both to myself and her.

I need to apologize, my boss said. I need to say that I am sorry and that I know how unfair this can all seem. That I need to connect with how frustrating it is for our cardholders to suddenly not be able to use their cards.

In other words, I've got to get better at lying. I understand that something like 98% of All Adult Interaction is Actually, Kinda Lying. Social tact. White lies. You don't tell the cashier at Walmart that your girlfriend just dumped you and your cat died when they ask you how you are. You smile and say "Boy, it sure is sunny outside," and you smile through your cracking teeth because "how are you" isn't a question. It's a socially appropriate nice noise to make to strangers as you briefly pass through each other's line of sight.

And that's okay that we have those things. Tact, social lubrication, it's of damn importance. I know and even embrace the fake ways that we need to be nice to each other.

It just feels like a lot to ask when I've got to lie to someone and tell them I know how unfair it is that we are requiring them to act like adults. That of course you can get six months of late fees waived on that 2 grand purchase you made because you didn't get a statement, how are adults supposed to remember when they buy stuff and then further remember that they should, at some point in a contractually obligated manner, pay that shit back? How am I supposed to ingratiate myself to that?

I know it's a matter of learning how to word it or learning how to fake it. Or learning how to think of it differently. But I think even more upsetting than getting yelled at can be, THIS part of the job seems actually depressing.

Jesse said to think of it "like not my kids." But that led me to further think about something. What happens when you have an entire nation whom is being told that it is somehow not their fault that they don't pay their bills? What happens to a nation when perfect strangers are paid to literally apologize for your mistakes?

Millennials aren't spoiled, and god knows if they are, we only have ourselves to blame.
quirkytizzy: (Default)
CARDHOLDER: Hi. I would like not to be charged this.

ME: Okay ma'm. What were you charged and when? I can certainly see if it's something we can dispute or refund.

CARDHOLDER: Oh, nothing's been charged yet. I just want to make sure I'm NOT charged.

ME: No problem. Can you tell me what you think might come up on your card so I can notate your account about it?

CARDHOLDER: Oh, I don't mean anything in particular. I just want don't want to be charged with anything.

ME: Okay. We can close the card today to ensure it's not used if you'd like.

CARDHOLDER: No, I mean, I'm perfectly fine with stuff being charged on it. I just don't want to be charged with anything I haven't charged.

ME: *brief pause* So you don't want us to charge you for anything that we haven't charged you for?

CARDHOLDER: *bright and friendly* Exactly!

ME: *another brief pause while my brain-hamster wheel spins* I can assure you, ma'm, that outside of late fees and interest, we do not charge you for anything that you haven't signed up for or else purchased.

CARDHOLDER: Thanks! I just needed to clear that up. Have a great day!

It took a few minutes to realize that she was asking about things like annual fees and whatnot, as I was very confused about why she would ask us to not charge her for things that we haven't charged her for. This job is certainly teaching skills for decoding conversations.

I had another very friendly call that was somewhat uncomfortable. It was a perfectly normal call until the end when the woman asked me if I'd accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior.

I paused. (There's a lot of pausing on this job.) I then said that I do have a relationship with the Lord but I try to keep it a private one. (And I do. A lack of a relationship could be, technically, described as a relationship.) She then asked me if there was anything I needed that Jesus could help me with.

I paused again and then said that he's been good to me and I try not to make too many demands on him, as blessed as I am already. She thanked me for my faith and gave a short prayer asking Jesus to watch over and bless me.

She was SUPER nice about the whole thing and I've long since learned that in a situation like this, it's always best to just deal with the weirdness for a few minutes rather than be honest about it all. Saying "No thanks, I'm an atheist" is always, ALWAYS, a segueway to an argument/debate. Even if you don't want it to be, even if there's no room or practical space in order to have that conversation at all. Not to mention, work is soooo the last place you want to get into that discussion about. Time, place, and continued paychecks and all that.

Overall, when people ask those sorts of questions, they are just trying to be nice. I figure as uncomfortable as it is, they are just trying to share positive thoughts with me. So I also thanked her and told her to have a blessed day.

I had another call that was so damn sad I had to step away from the phone afterwards. A woman called to let us know her husband died and that she needed to make arrangements to pay off and close the card. We get calls like this regularly, but this woman was near inconsolable. Her husband of 40 years had died just two days ago. She cried on the phone as she described what it felt like to hold his hand for his last breath.

It was so hard to not start crying on the phone myself. All I could do was listen and swallow back my own tears. At the end of the call, she thanked me for listening to her and told me to cherish every moment with my loved ones.

My boss gave me the nod to take a short walk around the office afterwards to compose myself. Sometimes it's an anonymous voice on the phone that remind us what's really important.

So among the living, those who still walk on this earth, those who type and have voices and still draw breath, please know that I cherish and love each of you. Please know that.

You guys are so important to me.
quirkytizzy: (Default)
There was a long call yesterday from a nice, old woman. She'd ordered a product online at Amazon. Since it's an online site, she was able to order the product but had not yet received a plastic card for it. We generally don't mail a card for this company as there is nowhere on Earth to physically swipe the card. But I told her I would be more than happy to send her a hard copy anyways. She'd called in because she had received the bill but was unsure of how to proceed to further.

I thought perhaps her memory was going, which is why I was able to keep my voice even when she asked, five different times in the conversation, who she should talk to to pay the bill. ("That would be me, ma'm. I can take your payment.") She then said she would like to mail a check but she didn't know how. I spent fifteen minutes explaining the process of mailing a check. Strange, but perhaps she was a widow and her husband always paid the bills. That sort of thing does happen.

At one point, her son got on the phone and (very nicely, which was wonderful) asked for the proof that she owed us any money at all, since they hadn't gotten the credit card. I paused and went -

ME: Did she order and receive the product?

SON: Yes.

ME: Has she paid for the product?

SON: No.

ME: That's how you know that she needs to pay for it. Since she paid with it using our credit card, she will need to pay us for the product.

SON: Oh! Okay.

I then spent a few minutes explaining to both the mother and son what a credit card was, as both were unclear about how she could have purchased anything without immediate payment. They were both very, very nice about the whole thing. In the end, she said she would have her son mail a check to us.

I wonder how people like this get cards. I wonder if people like this play dumb. Either way, though, the point is to stay calm and keep explaining. Outside of that, there is not a damn thing I can do. Recognizing where I have control (i.e - over my own voice, words, and tones ONLY) is turning out to be incredibly liberating about this job.

I also received comfort about my job in listening to a difficult call my manager had to take yesterday. The lady on the other end was so incensed that I could hear her voice through the headset five feet away. The caller was insisting that she was a federal agent with the highest level of government clearance and was going to sue us because we answer the phones with our representing companies names instead of our bank name.

So your pretty average, batshit crazy, but with an extra side of screaming and verbal abuse. It was hard on my boss. She was hanging onto every thread, every ounce of control through that call - and it was strained. It allowed me to see my manager as someone who also gets frustrated.

That's very helpful in keeping my own calm on my own calls.

Jesse struck upon a brilliant idea for keeping sanity and morale up in my call center work. Just as I often jot down the nutty calls to share with people, he suggested that I begin jotting down the GOOD calls, too. Something to help remind me that sometimes people are awesome and that I CAN do helpful, useful, and kind things for people at this job.

So yesterday, my best call started out as a very frustrating one. A woman's grandson had signed her up for a card at Wonder Woman's Website (that's just more fun to say than Amazon!) and she was having difficulty navigating it. She wasn't even sure what an email address was. As the conversation went on, she let me know what she'd LIKE her email address to be.

And that was (name)lovescats@email.com. The whole conversation shifted at that moment. While I was busy typing away at the screens on my end, we both began discussing our cats and why we loved them. That REALLY turned the whole call around.

Things like that make the difference. I must remember this.

MUST SHARE

Mar. 8th, 2016 03:42 pm
quirkytizzy: (Default)
So I got a call that started out pretty normally. Guy had some questions about a charge he was disputing. No problem, I pull up his notes and start looking at the case. The conversation veers into strange territory when he begins lamenting that he can't keep a girlfriend because of his crack habit. That's why he uses his card so much, he said. Retail therapy, he explained. This is strange but not the strangest I've heard on a call. I make sympathetic noises and continue searching through his notes. I finally find the dispute case.

And at that moment, my jaw hits the keyboard.

The guy had bought a bunch of things for a woman whom, in return, said she would sleep with him. The lady did not wind up sleeping with him. So he called in last month to dispute those charges, all the while being blatantly, perfectly, crystal clear that he was disputing these charges because she did not sleep with him.

The dude started a legal dispute with his credit card company over a woman not having sex with him. Aside from the prostitution aspect of the dispute, this is not something I would ever imagine anyone admitting to in any sort of legal capacity.

But there it was, all documented in the notes. God, to have been the original rep who put in the original dispute....

He was very, very nice. Completely calm, well spoken, otherwise an absolutely normal call. Without even touching what the dispute was over, I explained to him the dispute process. He listened patiently. At the end of the call, he thanked me. I thanked him in return and told him I hoped more peaceful days were soon in store for him.

Ten minutes later, I got the chance for some paid time off. Seeing that call as a potential omen for the day, I put in for it.

The guy was so super nice that I bear no ill will or annoyance towards him. Maybe just some sad, small bafflement. I really do hope his life improves. And I would kill to have been the original rep who had to file that dispute.

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