Let me preface this by saying I’m not cut out for call center work. I hate it so much, and I’m not very good with people.
Anyway, this story was a couple months ago while I was working at a large cell phone carrier in the United States. For some background, the company switched their billing system completely back in 2013. When they did so, all the accounts that were in collections were sold off to the debt collector’s and they didn’t carry over to the new system. We couldn’t look up account numbers, phone numbers, nothing. They weren’t there.
This customer calling in about some debt he owes us. He says it is from 2011, and he wants to pay it or get the information of the collection agency. This is the interaction between Me and Irresponsible Customer (IC).
Me: “Unfortunately, we cannot look that up at this time. All of the debt from before 2013 was sold off when we switched our system. I do apologize for the inconvenience, but the name of the agency would be on the credit bureau’s website if you want to take a look there.”
IC: “What? You mean it’ll be on my credit report for 7 years, but you guys can just get rid of it? Do you think that’s fair?”
The tone of his voice implied that he really wanted to know my opinion on the matter, as though he was so sure I would think it was unfair that I would just agree with him. I didn’t agree with him though. The debt was 6 years old, and and soon as it’s in collections it’s out of our hands anyway. We can’t do anything but tell you who it’s through. Maybe take care of your debt before it’s 6 years old?
Of course, I didn’t say all this right away. I didn’t really know how to respond at first since disagreeing with the customer on something like that could lead to a bigger argument. That’s not how he interpreted the silence.
IC: “Well, I guess you’re not allowed to say how you feel about the matter.”
I finally decided to speak up. I didn’t want the company to seem like it was trying to silence me, and it really annoys me when people gripe at us because they’re indebted to us.
Me: “Actually, I just don’t think it’s unfair. There are other ways to look up what collector has your debt and we can’t do anything if we have the account besides provide you with that information. We aren’t legally obligated to keep it, though we do when we aren’t making a huge system switch. I’m sorry, but there’s nothing we can do anyway. We no longer have the account information.”
IC: “You don’t think it’s unfair? Really? You don’t think it’s unfair that I have to pay you guys, but you don’t even have to keep record of it?” He ranted on for longer than that, but I’ll spare you the tirade.
Me: “Not really, no.”
IC: “Well, you’re an idiot! Goodbye”
Then the customer disconnected the call. Looking back, I maybe could’ve been more professional about it, or just shut my mouth to begin with. It just got tons of calls every day cussing me out because customer’s don’t pay their bills and that’s my fault somehow. I just don’t know how you can put of paying a debt for 6 years and still expect everything to be all hunky dory when you finally decide to pay it.