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(Slate)   Call center employees discuss the worst things that have ever been said to them   ( slate.com) divider line
    More: Awkward, customer service, crude voice recognition, customer service line, customer service rep, Want, menu options, cable box, quality control  
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895 clicks; posted to Discussion » on 11 Sep 2017 at 12:20 PM (13 weeks ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



48 Comments     (+0 »)
 
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2017-09-11 11:52:11 AM  
Well this isn't the worst thing ever said, but since it's 9/11 today, of all days, I have a weird story to share about working in a call center on 9/11. Specifically, exactly a year AFTER 9/11.

So it's a regular day at the office, and I'm doing PC tech support and this guy calls up. We have an automated CRM system that generally identifies who is calling and why, but we have to verify their caller information, callback number, address, and then we go on to assist the caller. So I verify the guy's number and name, and then his address pops up. 2 WORLD TRADE CENTER, NEW YORK, NY, 10007.

I skipped the address verification that day.
 
2017-09-11 12:00:53 PM  
Fark Call Center.
 
2017-09-11 12:03:49 PM  
I had a guy tell me he was going to rape me
 
2017-09-11 12:09:21 PM  

plushpuppy: I had a guy tell me he was going to rape me


"Sir, thank you, I've just verified your address. Now would you like to hold one moment while I call the police, or would you prefer I come to your house in the dead of night and murder you in your sleep? Which would you prefer?"
 
2017-09-11 12:13:18 PM  
Someone was going to give me Woot Stout.
 
2017-09-11 12:25:33 PM  
The death threats were the worst. Here is a more fun one though.

This guy calls and demands I credit his 1000 phone bill because we caused his divorce. He had one of our phones, and had managed to butt dial his wife while having fun with his mistress. His wife, of course, divorced him over it. He said since it was our phone it was our fault. By that point I had spent 10 years on the phone, there wasn't much that left me speechless. But, that did it.
 
2017-09-11 12:34:49 PM  
I had someone threaten to kill me because I'd hung up on him for swearing at me after I warned him I'd disconnect.  He didn't, I hung up, he called back and got me again.  Then he threatened to kill me.  The reason he'd called?  Unsolicited magazine subscription offer in the mail.  He thought it was a bill.

I did receive a very impressive screed in e-mail about how my company is an American company and should only ever use English in communications and having a French translation (which was after the English orginal) was wrong and so on.  It was longer than the combined length of the both versions of the original message.  And as a note, the original message went to our customers in the US and Canada where we have a fairly large presence in Quebec.  We chose not to reply to the message.
 
2017-09-11 12:36:46 PM  
We'd like to offer you the job as a call center employee.
 
2017-09-11 12:40:33 PM  
Did a quality assurance listen-in at a newspaper once:

Rep: Hello, customer service.
Caller: I didn't get my paper this morning.
Rep:  We've sorry to hear that, we can
Caller: Thanks!  ..click..
Me: Did she have caller ID?
Rep:  Nope, "Unknown caller".
Me: She should have called the psychic hotline instead.
 
2017-09-11 12:43:37 PM  
I had a guy threaten to hunt me down and murder me. I was calling on behalf of his car insurance company as they were having us do brief feedback surveys about the body shops customers used to repair their vehicles post-accident. All he had to do is say he wasn't interested in participating and I would have moved on to the next person, but he decided to get aggressive and angry instead. Insurance company was informed so they could handle it from their end.

On a lighter note, I was surprised at the number of car vs deer accidents. One guy had 3 in a single year.
 
2017-09-11 12:47:05 PM  
In other news, some people still answer their phone.
 
2017-09-11 12:54:36 PM  
A blast from the past (NSFW language)
Steven Thrasher Canon Helpdesk Call
Youtube kYKAzjT0e_8
 
2017-09-11 12:57:19 PM  
Another satisfied customer (NSFW language):
Customer Service Meltdown (non-edited)
Youtube RVdNobKNMig


Good Lord!
I don't do much phone support but I had to pause this one a few times as my anxiety level was rising...
 
2017-09-11 01:02:00 PM  
I once had a woman threaten to kill me because I called her and told her that her blood sugar was in the 400's and Dr. recommended she get to an ER now.

I never did figure out how it was my fault, but *eh* sick people can be cranky.
 
2017-09-11 01:06:05 PM  

bighairyguy: Did a quality assurance listen-in at a newspaper once:

Rep: Hello, customer service.
Caller: I didn't get my paper this morning.
Rep:  We've sorry to hear that, we can
Caller: Thanks!  ..click..
Me: Did she have caller ID?
Rep:  Nope, "Unknown caller".
Me: She should have called the psychic hotline instead.


This is why I take any online reviews with a big grain of salt.

"I told them I didn't get my paper and I still didn't get my paper. I waited two hours."
 
2017-09-11 01:14:28 PM  
A guy called in and canceled his wife's insurance because they were going through a divorce. She had Stage 4 cancer.

My late wife had stage 4 cancer. Those bills were pretty hefty even WITH insurance.
 
2017-09-11 01:21:27 PM  
Working for a 401k administrator call center.  A guy called in said he was 60 and thought he better start saving in his 401k.

When listing off some of his options stated there was a Standard and Poor's index fund,   He said he thought it was stupid to invest in anything that had Poor in the name.

Had a lady send a letter in when there was a bad quarter so the market was down,  In the letter she said she needed her money back and that she had contacted the FBI and wants all her money returned.  She included the letter the FBI sent back to her.  The letter basically gave a short economic lesson on the stock market and to stop bothering them.

Worked at an electronics company.

One guy called and said he couldn't pay his bill because Mars was in Retrograde and it was bad luck to pay for electronics when Mars was in Retrograde.
 
2017-09-11 02:04:12 PM  
I was once yelled at for not knowing if a baseball game was being cancelled due to rain. I worked at a book store.

Another guy was highly displeased with the directions I had given to get to the store. He kept demanding to know if we were north or south of a particular road, which happened to run north/south. I guess west was a foreign concept to him.
 
2017-09-11 02:21:57 PM  
"You're hired."
 
2017-09-11 02:42:10 PM  
I dunno that first one seems kind of understandable.  Yeah its not the call center rep's fault but if I just had a 5 year old die and I thought my insurance was farking me around I'd probably be pissed at the face (ear?) of the business too.
 
2017-09-11 02:50:25 PM  
Angry BT Customer
Youtube RLUexMKVZ50


Very NSFW language.
 
2017-09-11 03:05:59 PM  
Besides the 5 yr old death one I'd heard them all before.   Worked in a call center out of college where people called us for quotes.  If they quote was too high occasionally they'd hang up but every so often they curse you out & then hang up.   I started calling them back & apologizing that the line was disconnected & asking them to continue.   The majority of times they would get flustered & either apologize or not know how to take it.

/Got promoted pretty easily there but the burnout rate was high.
//Had a woman on my team who had a guy call while watching porn in the background & going to town.   She started laughing at him & he hung up on her.
///fun job as there were a lot of young people but every other aspect sucked
 
2017-09-11 03:12:13 PM  
I'm always civil to call center people, but I'm quite evil to Tech Support scammers and the IRS scammers.
 
2017-09-11 03:13:14 PM  
Nobody grows up thinking that one day they'll be a call center employee. But there they are.
 
2017-09-11 03:36:10 PM  
I worked for a place that processed judgements for garnishments on credit cards and auto deficiency loans. At least once a month we had to have an officer sit outside our office, or chase someone away. People were usually incredibly angry that they actually had to pay that money back. Since I was on the phone side I got a fair amount of "I'm going to track you down and kill you".
 
2017-09-11 03:47:50 PM  
Dell support used to lie to me.  After the second time I started recording the calls [Maryland is a one party recording state].  Never used harsh language, knew what the remedy to make me satisfied was, and had all the waterfowl neatly aligned.  They still lied.
 
2017-09-11 03:56:32 PM  
When I was managing a flower shop I hung up at a guy who swore at me. He called back demanding to know why. I said "you swore at me". He said "yeah that sounds like something I'd do". He was totally civil after that.
 
2017-09-11 04:07:10 PM  
"fark you. I don't have time for these silly ass games. fark you. fark your company. fark your family. I hope your kids get kidnapped and raped."

All because I asked him to check whether or not his PC's power cable was connected to a working electrical outlet.
 
2017-09-11 04:14:51 PM  
Crank Yankers - Shoulda Sent It Sooner..
Youtube s_9WN_9D2nY
 
2017-09-11 05:12:25 PM  
Customer was ranting about the previous call agent he had hung up on because he assumed she was in India and couldn't speak English well enough for him.  I saw in the notes it was the lady two desks down, so I waved her over and she said 'hi'.  We live in North Dakota and she had a slight accent because her parents were immigrants.
 
2017-09-11 05:15:41 PM  
One of my call center-related CSB's involves a call being recorded.

This call was a three-way-call between the Caller, myself and an Interpreter (the Caller said that he needed an Interpreter but he spoke English very well). The call turns into two hours of "the process is 1-2-3-4... no, you can't do 4-3-2-1... no, it doesn't matter what the Internet says").

Towards the end of the second hour the Caller casually announces that he's been recording the call from the beginning. I get ready to launch into my prepared speech about recording of our calls. TL;DR Version™: the Caller and I were in One State Consent States and he was supposed to tell me that he was recording the conversation; it's one of those things I have to say to cover myself and my organization.  But before I can launch into said speech the Interpreter cuts in very sheepishly and informs me that she was in an "All Party Consent" State.

I had to mute my line and take a deep breath. In the meantime the Caller is already arguing (in English!) about how his right to record his call trumped reality itself. I come back into the line and tell the Caller to be very quiet. I thanked the Interpreter for her time and dismissed her from the call. As the Caller starts arguing about needing an Interpreter I did like Superman when he was fighting Darkseid: I seized a rare opportunity to cut loose.

I informed the Caller, very nicely, very slowly, and very firmly that he had violated both Federal and State Laws regarding recording phone calls between multiple parties across State lines (complete with all the pertinent legal citations!), that I had no choice but to report said violations to my Supervisor (along with the eventual transcript of our two-hour call), and to have a nice day.

The Caller spent the next three days calling everyone he could find in my organization (including my Supervisor) demanding that my organization sent him an official letter stating that he was not going to be prosecuted for what turned out to be an illegally-recorded phone call. The organization's general response was: "Sorry, that's not up to us."
 
2017-09-11 06:33:59 PM  
I worked at a nationwide help desk call center for 3 years.  I learned that people from the Midwest were unbelievably nice on the phone.  People from NY, Boston, heck any major city were pretty nice since they knew I was trying to help them out.  I even picked up some Cajun slang from the nice folks in Baton Rouge.  For whatever reason, people from North and South Carolina were the biggest shiatheads ever.  There are a-holes everywhere, but we noticed a coorelation between the Carolina area codes and angry callers.

The worst caller was this teenager who told me to go fark myself and graphically told me which way I should shove things up my arse.  After he hung up, I waited a few minutes and called him back.  His mother picked up the phone and I told her about the call with her son.  She then told me to go fark myself and less graphically told me which way I should shove things up my arse.

To this day I hate answering phones.
 
2017-09-11 06:51:26 PM  
A doctor in NYC pissed me off badly enough that I carried his address in my wallet for years afterward, in case I wound up in NYC.

Never made it to NYC, and I lost the address eventually.

Best call I ever had was with a Spanish woman with the sexiest accent I've ever encountered.  At the end she said "Thank you, bthom37, you were magnificent".  I wish I had a recording of that.
 
2017-09-11 07:17:11 PM  
CSB

Closest I've come to losing my cool with customer service: the cable company (who would have guessed?!) accidentally sent me two modems. Plugged one in and followed all the instructions and it still didn't work. Called for help. They couldn't fix the problem, but told me to bring the extra to the address of an office that had been closed for weeks. When I found the actual open office a few miles away, they said "our system shows a modem with serial number xyz is operational in your home right now". Frustrated, I pointed out that a modem with serial number xyz was currently sitting on their desk, disconnected from the internet and power, and that I didn't live in their office, which didn't have the right address on their website or their support line. After much harrumphing and talking on the phone with what I can only assume was actual tech support, a manager fixed it.
 
2017-09-11 07:45:35 PM  
From the NSS help line, be nice to the poor schmuck that has to take your call and you'll get better results.

The poor schmuck you're talking to probably has no power to fix your problem.  But they probably know who does, and knows how to direct you to that person.

Remember people, the poor schmuck you're talking to is not responsible for your 20 minute wait until talking to them.  They are not responsible for asking "did you turn it on/off, is it plugged in, does your house have power, etc etc".  They are working from a script that you need to bypass (assuming you know what you're talking about, which is maybe 10% of the folks the schmuck talks to every day).

This doesn't really matter if the schmuck is in India or Oklahoma, the same principles apply.
 
2017-09-11 08:28:57 PM  
bark_atda_moon I worked at a nationwide help desk call center for 3 years.  I learned that people from the Midwest were unbelievably nice on the phone.  People from NY, Boston, heck any major city were pretty nice since they knew I was trying to help them out.  I even picked up some Cajun slang from the nice folks in Baton Rouge.  For whatever reason, people from North and South Carolina were the biggest shiatheads ever.  There are a-holes everywhere, but we noticed a coorelation between the Carolina area codes and angry callers.I've been in claims for several years and I've always had good experiences with Nationwide folks when I had to call on them.  Right up there with USAA in the friendly/trying to help category.  I don't think people have the slightest idea how brutal those CSR jobs are.  Lots of stress, incredibly high turnover.I don't know if a higher percentage of angry people would be found in the Carolinas, but I've long suspected N.C. either has incredibly poor schools or there is something in the water.I don't know
 
2017-09-11 09:00:15 PM  

Botkin of the Yard: I don't think people have the slightest idea how brutal those CSR jobs are


Most people get burned out, but a small number do it for years.  Hats off to them.  I can't imagine how the foreign CSRs do it.  Sometimes I would get an angry caller that would immediately warm up to me when they found out I was American.

I would rather clean the floor of an adult movie theater than answer phones for a living.
 
2017-09-11 09:06:24 PM  

bark_atda_moon: Botkin of the Yard: I don't think people have the slightest idea how brutal those CSR jobs are

Most people get burned out, but a small number do it for years.  Hats off to them.  I can't imagine how the foreign CSRs do it.  Sometimes I would get an angry caller that would immediately warm up to me when they found out I was American.

I would rather clean the floor of an adult movie theater than answer phones for a living.


It's a more noble calling
 
2017-09-11 09:22:55 PM  
I worked at one for one day. ONE. It was tech support for a cellphone company based in the Southeast US. Everyone who called in was pissed off, sounded stupid AF, and with their accent I could barely understand what they were saying.
 
2017-09-11 10:16:03 PM  

weddingsinger: Customer was ranting about the previous call agent he had hung up on because he assumed she was in India and couldn't speak English well enough for him.  I saw in the notes it was the lady two desks down, so I waved her over and she said 'hi'.  We live in North Dakota and she had a slight accent because her parents were immigrants.


Where in North Dakota?
 
2017-09-11 10:30:36 PM  

jayfurr: weddingsinger: Customer was ranting about the previous call agent he had hung up on because he assumed she was in India and couldn't speak English well enough for him.  I saw in the notes it was the lady two desks down, so I waved her over and she said 'hi'.  We live in North Dakota and she had a slight accent because her parents were immigrants.

Where in North Dakota?


Im in Grand Forks.  Amazon call center here
 
2017-09-12 01:22:28 AM  
I worked in call centers for 10 years for auto insurance, banks, and the phone company, and what finally made me quit was not the customers yelling at me, but the stupid hoops I had to jump through to get good ratings on my reviews.

shiat like: You didn't sound happy to help when that customer called you and your mom a farking retard, and Why didn't you try and get the customer who had his rate go up by $300 a month on autopay? he could have saved $5!!
 
2017-09-12 07:18:09 AM  

Hooker with a Penis: I worked in call centers for 10 years for auto insurance, banks, and the phone company, and what finally made me quit was not the customers yelling at me, but the stupid hoops I had to jump through to get good ratings on my reviews.

shiat like: You didn't sound happy to help when that customer called you and your mom a farking retard, and Why didn't you try and get the customer who had his rate go up by $300 a month on autopay? he could have saved $5!!


Oh, dear gods, THIS!  I work in property tax servicing.  One of the items on the call review checklist is "verify the assessor's property ID from a tax bill".  Just asking "Can you verify the property ID we have on file?" will send a lot of people absolutely through the roof; "You've been paying my farking taxes for 10 farking years.  Why do I need to verify this?  I don't get my tax bills, YOU DO!!!!!!"  If I hear wind noise on the call like the person that phoned in is outside or driving, I'll flip the script and say "We show that the local tax assessor identifies your property as XXXXXXXXXXXXX, can you please tell me if this sounds correct?", hoping they pick up the clue to say "Yeah, I guess so."

The biggest issue for most everyone in my department is the annual analysis of the escrow account, which is performed by the lender, not the company I work for.  If there's a big jump in taxes or insurance, this means the mortgage payment will go up because the escrow account needs additional funding.  It's made worse if the account was seriously underfunded (usually new construction and the previous taxes were for bare land) and the account was short enough the lender had to advance funds to the escrow account.  I've had calls where folks bought houses with an original mortgage payment that was too high for their income and freak because the payment went up $100 a month because the taxes increased by $600 a year, so the bank is getting their $600 back and making sure they don't need to advance that $600 again.
 
2017-09-12 11:24:03 AM  
There is a world of difference in customer support when you are dealing with money vs. just solving a problem.  I haven't worked a phone job involving invoicing since 1999 and I am so glad for it.  The sheer anger people can show if they don't feel they are getting what they paid for is an amazing thing.  My last job where I was directly involved with the exchange of money for goods was with magazine subscriptions.  This was where I really first learned how twisted people can get in wedding preparations.

One of the magazines we handled was a massive quarterly publication.  Now I have to say, unless you're in the industry (as many subscribers were) I am not sure I really grasp subscriptions to wedding related publications, it seems more of a newsstand type publication for the masses.  However if you're going to do it, I can see where the policy this publication had would be irksome.  Again, this was a quarterly publication. If an issue was missed or damaged, CSRs were only allowed to extend the length of the subscription, no replacement issues were ever sent under any circumstances.  The response was along the lines of that being worthless as the wedding was before the compensatory issue would be received.  The variance in responses was with the amount of yelling, swearing, crying or combination of all three you would have included.  More often than not it was the mother of the bride to be on the phone.  We could go as far as extending the subscription and then canceling with refund so they weren't out any money, but that wasn't taken much because they NEEDED the magazine.  It was amazing rage and all over a magazine that retailed for less than $10 and was carried at most grocery stores.
 
2017-09-12 03:19:29 PM  
I spent nearly a decade in a tech support call center.

It was nice because (in most cases) I actually was the person who was going to be fixing the problem, not just following a script, so when people started condescendingly going "Just transfer me to the person who can actually fix my problem" I got to say "I am the person who can actually fix your problem.  You just have to tell me what it is"

Not too many horror stories either - I maintained control of almost all my calls, and had little patience for abusive language.  Non-directed profanity (this f---ing sucks) I didn't mind - people were calling because things were wrong and when things are wrong we get upset - but directed profanity (f--- you) got one warning before I'd hang up.  Management was usually pretty good about backing us up on that too - if the customer called back in and complained about being hung up on, the manager would review the recording, and then give the customer a talking to about appropriate language.

I did get in trouble once, for telling a customer who claimed their website being down for 20 minutes cost them a thousand bucks I didn't believe them; "If your site going down really cost you that much income, you'd be paying more than $10 a month to host it"  Not too much trouble, because I did get the customer's site back online, and mostly the "trouble" was a lecture about how I should have used that as an opportunity to try and upsell the customer.

/As if the ones who lie like that would actually buy more expensive services
 
2017-09-12 06:16:27 PM  

plushpuppy: I had a guy tell me he was going to rape me


I had a debt collector say this to me.  What a scumbag.  The worst part was he was collecting for a bottled water unit which I supposedly never returned but did.
 
2017-09-12 10:14:46 PM  
I worked in a call center doing internet technical support, dial-up and DSL mostly. I yelled at 50-70% of my callers; mostly because they would not do what I asked them to do. I only had a few threats that I just sidestepped with things like, "That's up to you sir, but do you want to fix the problem?" I had a few complaints but it's hard to stay mad when you fix their problem.
 
2017-09-12 10:58:34 PM  
People are shiat.
I didn't start out in life believing that, but after more than a decade in a call center I know that is the greatest truth.

One of the worst calls was a guy who kept screaming that he'd rape my mother. I said she was dead. It was true, but I mostly told him that thinking he would be remorseful or shut him down in some way.
His response was that he was going to dig her up to fark her bones.

Four or five times a week I get the 'choke on my dick' guy.

The goddamned ignorance is the worst. People will ask you one question and then scream and swear at the top of their lungs if you answer that question. They're too farking stupid to know the question that they want the answer to.

When they say "Who are you" and I answer ''Cathy" and the question they're really trying to ask is "why are you calling my loser son", they lose their minds.
 
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