LTL, FTP, all that jazz.
I worked for a short stint at a call center providing customer service/Tier 1 support for a cellular provider in the US, one of the Big Three. This takes place near the end of my career, as I realized I’m just not as masochistic as the job requires.
It was a long call, so I’ll try to keep it as short as I can while not losing anything important in translation!
SK = me, CT = Clueless Teenager, CS = Chill Supervisor
SK: Thank you for calling *REDACTED*, my name is ShopKo! (Verification goes as well as it ever does.)
SK: Thank you for that information, what can I help you with today?
CT: My bill is waaay too high, I can’t pay that. Just close my account.
Disconnects are no bueno for Red Cellular. I go into my well-trained recovery mode, thinking I can probably save them with a better plan or something.
SK: Well, let me pull up your most recent statement and see what I can do here for you!
That’s when my palm made forceful enough contact with my face to shatter bone. Usually when I got these kinds of calls it was something simple, like late fees or suspension fees. NOPE. CT managed to rack up ≈$900 worth of international charges to Guatemala. I ping my supervisor, CS, knowing that we’ll have to go into damage control to keep this person.
SK: It seems you have about $900 worth of international calls to Guatemala, do you remember calling anybody there between X-date and Y-date?
CT: Yeah, I called my cousin. Listen, I can’t afford this. I’m still in High School, how am I supposed to pay for this?!
Around this time, CS swings by my cube. I put CT on hold and discuss options with CS. I’m a softie at heart, so I play the sympathy angle with CS. Dumb kid doesn’t know better, etc. Eventually get him to agree to waive a maximum of 50% of the charges. Side note, we’re supposed to start at 10% and negotiate our way up to the limit we’re given on waivers this large. I end the hold with CT.
SK: Good news! I spoke with my team lead about this, and I got them to agree to waive $450 off of your current bill, bringing the total to $X-450!
CT: No, that’s still way too much! I told you, I’m in High School and I can’t pay for this. Just close out my account now.
I’m not sure if I convey it as well in writing, but my ‘customer service’ persona is exceedingly pleasant and accommodating. One of my co-workers from training referred to me as ‘The Unflappable Man’, and it had nothing to do with my lack of upper body strength. But sometimes you just gotta cut the act and get real with people, ya know?
SK: Look, I get it. It’s a really big bill, and I would probably freak out if I got this in the mail. Technically, I can close this account for you. But let me tell you what happens after that. As the account is in your name and there is a current balance on the account, you are still legally liable for making that payment. If you don’t pay it, it goes to a collections agency. I’ve had an account or two of my own in collections, and it’s definitely not fun. I also see that you have a new FruityPhone on both lines on your account that you are paying for monthly. As they are outside the window for our returns policy, the remaining balance will be added to your final bill, bringing to total to roughly $1900.
SK: Usually in cases like this it’s my job to tell people that since they admitted to making those international calls, their bill is accurate and must be paid. What I’m offering you here is $450 off of a bill that you admitted is accurate. So we can go ahead and waive that for you or we can close out your account, which I’m suggesting not as a representative of Red Wireless but as a person to another person you do not do.
CT: …Is there any way you could take more off of the bill?
SK: Officially, I was supposed to offer you $90 and work from there. The $450 is the maximum amount we are willing to waive. I didn’t feel it was worth either of our time to go back and forth on the number, so I offered the maximum.
SK: Alright, give me just a moment to get this approved for you!
Put CT on hold to get the approval for the $450 waiver from CS.
CS: Did you get them to add on an international plan? You know this kind of thing needs a fail-safe so it doesn’t happen again before I can approve it.
CS: Okay, cool! It’s done.
Hop back onto the phone with CT.
SK: Alright, your current balance due is $X-450! Just in case, try not to call Guatemala from your phone in the future. If you have to, you can turn on Wi-Fi calling and make the call through your home Wi-Fi connection. As far as the billing system can tell, that’s a local call.
CT: Okay, thanks…
TL;DR: I get some clueless kid a bundle off of their phone bill, but to get them to agree to the exact number I had to play the bad guy and detail exactly what happens to accounts when they close and never pay their final bill.
Hope you all get a chuckle out of my pain!