"Do I have to report you to the Better Business Bureau?"

The holidays are Answering Service hell.

Me: Thank you for calling Healing and Cooling Company, My name is BV. How may I be of service?

Customer: This is Officer Douche, this is [Owner]’s heater repair service?

The introduction took me by surprise. We normally get calls from people who were cops calling in as customers. But never has any of them addressed themselves as “Officer [name]”.

Me: Yes, sir. The company is owned by [Owner] and he does offer repairs for heating systems.

Customer: Ah. Okay. So I received a 911 call from an elderly woman by the name of [Old lady]. She states she’s been without heat for some time and when she called your company yesterday, the employee said they couldn’t send anyone out.

Me: I understand. One moment, Sir. I need to pull up that message.

I search through the message history for the Heating & Cooling company. The Old lady had apparently called in Christmas eve around 11pm. She had stated she had been without a proper heating system for a month. She demanded an emergency technician be sent over, but was denied. The Agent had followed standard protocol, offering numbers to competing companies, shelters and the like. Of course, She didn’t want to hear it, berated the Agent then hung up.

Me: The previous message does state an [Old lady] called in last night, requesting an emergency technician. Unfortunately, emergency technicians will not be available until December 27th.

Customer: Yeah. I get that. But (scoffs) She’s forty-six and visibly shaken. Her skin is so pale and you can (breaths out heavily) see your breathe. Her health is seriously at risk. Can you send someone and bill her later?

Me: My apologies, Sir. I am unable to schedule an emergency technician as they are not available. I understand how frustrating this can be. But what I can do is schedule an appointment for the 27th, placing her as a top priority.

Customer: We need someone today. She is at risk.

Me: Again, my apologies. I am unable to send someone today.

There were a few moments of dead air, before the Customer replied back. But this time it was different. The tone in his voice had grown stern and demanding.

Customer: I don’t think you’ve heard me. Send someone out to fix this now.

Me: Sir, I am unable to send someone over as they are not available. Though I am unable to help with that, I do have other options. [Other company] has emergency technicians working today. Or [Old lady] can attend several warm shelters for tonight such as [Shelter 1] or [Shelter 2].

Customer: I’m not going to wait on hold with some other company for ten hours. And [Old lady] has every right to spend Christmas in the comfort of her soon-to-be warm home. Send. Someone. Now.

Me: My apol-

Customer: Do I have to report you to the Better Business Bureau?

Me:….. May I place you on hold, Sir?

The customer didn’t respond for over a minute so I placed him on hold.

For this company, they had special procedures when someone uttered buzzwords like “Suing” and “Better Business Bureau”. I was instructed to call the Owner and inform him of the displeased customer.

Me: Hello, Mr.[Owner]. This is BV with the Answering Service. My sincerest apologies for bothering you on a Holiday.

Owner: It’s no problem, BV. So how are you? How is Christmas treating you? Hope not too bad.

Me: I’m sorry, but I insist we skip the formalities. There is a customer on the line threatening to report [Company] to the Better Business Bureau. He says he’s a police officer.

Owner: (Sighs) What did [Technician] do this time?

Me: It’s not that. An elderly woman tried to schedule an emergency repair appointment yesterday but was denied.

Owner: Of course. It’s the holidays.

Me: I understand. Apparently she called the police and now the officer is demanding an emergency tech be sent out now. He says she is visibly shaking, pale and “at risk”.

Owner: If she’s that physically ill, why doesn’t he just take her to a hospital?

Me: I’m unsure…He says she deserves to spend Christmas at home.

Owner: (Sighs) I’ll take the call. But can you three way it, but mute yourself. I need this on a recorded line.

I conference the call, muting myself. The customer is muttering to himself about how long I was taking and how I was useless. Standard irate customer things.

Owner: Hello. This is [Owner] with [Company]. How may I help you, sir?

Customer: I need an emergency technician sent out immediately. This poor woman is freezing to death. She felt the need to call 911 because no one would help her.

Owner: I get what you’re saying, but I have no employees available today. It’s Christmas and they are spending time with loved ones. Now I can set up an emergency appointment with [Rival company] and even pay half the bill. As a formal apology.

A smart man would have taken the offer. The customer was not a smart man.

Customer: No. Send someone over now. Or I’m not only reporting you to the Better Business Bureau, but I will post online about this. About how you neglected the elderly on Christmas.

Owner: If I send someone over..You do know there are additional fees due to the Holidays. Getting a tech out there today would be very costly. I’m talking about maybe hun-.

Customer: I don’t care the cost, just send someone over here now! I’ll pay the bill if I have to!

Owner: Someone will be over right away.

Customer: Thank you. Was that so hard? (Hangs up).

I relayed [Old lady]’s address to the Owner from her previous message. The Owner sighed and wished me a Merry Christmas.


Today, I got called into Upper Management’s office. I felt anxious because there was someone from legal there. Apparently, the Owner had gone himself to repair the heating system. The Customer was present in uniform, waiting. The Owner had the Customer fill out some forms before he would start. The Customer didn’t read them, but instead signed and told Owner to get to work. The forms pretty much stated the Customer was going to pay outrageous fees for the repair. Legal and Management wanted my consent to use the recording of the call because the Customer threatened to sue. He wasn’t too happy about the bill.

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