I’ve had these stories for a long while but never found the right place to share them… until I found you r/talesfromcallcenters
Obligatory this happened a few years ago when I worked in a call center.
Background: My college university was so large they couldn’t handle answering their own phone calls so they opened a student run call-center (everyone that worked there was a student, including me). All major departments sent their calls to the call center. The actual departments didn’t need to answer bullshit questions like whether an admission decision had been made, if your grades were posted yet, if your roommates were yet assigned, or what your financial aid package was, etc, etc, so we were given access to every student file in order to answer calls for them. We could tell you anything you wanted to know by pulling up your file. Of course, there were very clear limits on what information we could provide and what we could not. There are a few federal laws in place, too, that prevented release of certain information. However, every once in a while someone thought the rules/laws didn’t apply to them.
There was one student we all knew about. None of us had met him but his mother would call at least once a week looking for his information. She’d switch up which department she was calling each time, too. One time it was Financial Aid, the next was Registrar, etc etc… she didn’t realize that all calls were routed to the call center so she thought she was crafty and getting a different person every time. Whoever was lucky enough to answer her call would briefly mute the phone and yell out ‘Guys, I got so-and-so’s mom!’
Every time she would start off being pleasant… says she’s calling on behalf of her son. She’d give his full name, SSN, and student ID number to pull up his file and… Lo’ and Behold… his file is tagged as CONFIDENTIAL. When a student file is tagged as confidential, it means that no information is given out. Nada. Nothing. Do not pass go. Full stop. When a file is tagged as confidential, the standard response is “I’m sorry, but I have no record of this student attending this university.” We couldn’t tell the caller the file was confidential because that meant we were admitting the student attended the university. So as soon as she gave us the student name, we’d knowingly pull up the student file only to give her the standard response. I’ll be Me, the mom will be… Mom.
Mom: What do you mean you have no record? I KNOW he attends there. Try it again! His name is xxx his SSN is xxx his student ID is xxx.
Me: (pretend type) I’m sorry, but I have no record of this student attending this university.
Mom: You’re doing something wrong. I KNOW he attends, I have a letter from the university! I need to change his address, can you tell me what address he has on file? Is it XXX? Everything needs to come to me!
Me: I’m sorry, but I told you that I have no record of this student attending this university.
Sometimes I’d troll a bit and ask if she was sure she had the right information or even if she was calling the right university all while staring at his file. She’d often ask for his on campus address to send him whatever or his dorm phone number to call him to make sure he was alright (he hadn’t called her in a while). Nope and nope. When she realized she wasn’t getting anywhere, she’d start screeching. Once that happened:
Me: I’m sorry but I will not be spoken to in that manner. I must ask that you call back after you’ve had a chance to calm down so that we may have a productive conversation. Alternatively, if you believe there is an issue you can submit a request in writing or come into the office, the information is available on our website. Thank you for calling and have a great day. CLICK.
This was a weekly occurrence which almost always ended up in a hang-up. She eventually found out her son had made his student file confidential so when she’d call she’d start off saying she knew he made his file confidential but she was allowed to speak on his behalf. Nope, that’s not how it works. Receive rage from her. CLICK. Repeat next week.
One summer day I answered a call and it was the son! He gave me his information and because his file is confidential, I gave him the standard response of “I’m sorry, but I have no record of this student attending this university”. He tried to beg/plead for information, he tired providing information that only the student would know to prove its him, basically tried everything to get information. After a while he became quiet and said in a calm tone that he knew his mom had been calling for his information and he was calling to test the system to make sure nothing was given out. Of course I could not confirm/deny any of this but I just listened. He said that once she found out what university he was attending, she tried to get his admission withdrawn. When that didn’t work, she tried to mess-up his financial aid. All in order to prevent him from attending the university. At some point he removed her from all his information, ceased contact, and blocked all his records.
Remember when I said we answered calls for a bunch of different departments? Well when she demanded to be transferred to another department, we transferred her without hesitation… but to a department that we also answered calls for. As soon as I’d transfer her and hang up, we’d all wait to see who’s phone she would ring at. Hot potato hot potato! That person would then answer, knowing I had just shut down to the hell-beast, and they’d repeat the entire conversation. There was NO way she was getting any information she wasn’t supposed to have.