Ex-call centre worker here. Apologies for the length. I recently got let go from my last job and I believe that my manager set me up for failure. I worked in debt collection and for the most part, actually enjoyed it. I just hated being on my manager’s team.
She was 40 but acted like an excited 14 year old most of the time. Her background was in sales, so she treated debt collection like it was just that. She wanted our team to try and get as much money from customers as we possibly could, regardless of their circumstances (and a lot of them WERE in dire straits). She was obnoxiously loud and would shout over to you even if you were on a call. I ended up breaking my concentration a lot of the time because she kept doing that. She was sickeningly pally with one of my team members (who was just as awful as her) and also had a crush on one of the Legal managers, something she kept loudly making a point about whenever she could.
During my time at the debt collection agency, I suffered a bereavement that really took its toll on me (my friend committed suicide). It began to affect my performance on calls, but eventually I got better. I still got one failed call every month but I saw that as an improvement to how I was doing before. My manager started making a life a misery during this, sitting with me and listening into my calls, always telling where I could improve instead of telling me what was good. She started listening to my calls at her desk and would yell over to me ‘what I should have done instead’ in front of the rest of my team. This was embarrassing for me because some of my team members would ask me about it during my breaks. It was always the same: “You did X, when you should have done X – but at least you had a positive tone.”
There was also the passive aggressive comments too. She sat with me once during my calls and asked me what I was doing at the weekend. I told her my boyfriend and I were going out clubbing, to which she replied: “You don’t look like the sort of person who goes out.”
She also pulled me into her office twice to tell me that I had an apparent BO problem and needed to sort it out – despite the fact that I shower and use deodorant and perfume religiously. I couldn’t smell anything at all and even got a second opinion from my housemates, who told me they couldn’t smell any BO coming from me either.
Another passive aggressive incident that occurred is when she had to leave the office early to take her dog to the vet’s. The next day, we had a training session and were all gathered in the break room waiting to go in. She was telling the rest of the team about her dog, and one of my team mates, a girl I got on quite well with said “We missed you!”. Manager then yelled over to me “I bet YOU didn’t miss me, did you Lola?”, making me feel really awkward.
My manager gave me an ultimatum – I had to go a month without getting anymore failed calls otherwise I’d have to go. This probably would have been doable if she hadn’t kept hovering over my desk and shouting over at me ‘what I should have done’ in front of the rest of my team. She was beginning to put real pressure on me to the point that I was getting migraines, severe depression and hair loss. She NEVER put any of this pressure on any of my other team mates when they made a mistake. In fact, she’d talk quietly to them about it and say “Just remember X for next time, okay?”
The straw that broke the camel’s back was when I got a call from a couple who believed they had a settlement set up and wanted to know why it wasn’t going ahead. It turned out that the last person they spoke to had messed up and set it up as a normal direct debit. We have to take settlements to managers for approval, so I put the couple on hold and took it to my manager. She looked through the notes and said I was okay to set it up for them. Normally we have go through an income and expenditure form with customers just to make sure that we’re not going to put them in any financial difficulty, so I asked my manager if I should go through that with the couple. She said there was no need and left it at that.
A couple of days later, she listened to a couple of the calls I’d done and made her usual loud passive aggressive comments in front of everyone. She then sent me an email saying I needed to see her immediately as soon as I’d finished with my call. I went over to her desk, feeling horribly anxious because I knew I’d made some kind of mistake somewhere. She brought up the settlement call I made and said it was an automatic failed call because I didn’t run through an income and expenditure with the couple. I was aghast. I told her that I only did EXACTLY what she told me to do on that call. She made up some lame excuses such as “Yes, well, you still should have gone through it with them regardless, I understand it was somebody else’s mistake, but you should have fixed it.”
She told me we’d need to have an official meeting about my performance. Knowing what was going to happen, I didn’t turn up and went for a McDonald’s. I’d like to think I had the last laugh there.