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Third party peon has to fight management to solve business customer’s ongoing issue

Back innaday (around the time that AT&T bought Cingular), I worked for a third party CSR company for a large cell provider. For the most part, we handled the bulk of their 611 calls by regular customers — we were cheaper labor than their in house help, so we did the grunt work.

I’d been there about 6 months (which put me in the top third seniority-wise) when a woman called in, clearly at the end of her rope. She was an office manager for a small company who had just gotten a bunch of phones and should have had free calls between them. They had been sold by the local store, and never got set up correctly (store commission was evidently sales based, not ‘doingyourjobproperly’ based), so in the three months this account had been active, it had collected a raft of minute charges for intergroup calls, and the bill was ridiculous. The notes were littered with three months of her calling in trying to get it fixed, and a load of CSRs from all over the company either booting her to someone else to preserve their call times, or making useless changes to the account.

So, knowing that my stats would survive a long call, I dug in. Ended up spending 45 minutes fixing her 12 phone lines so they’d work the way they were supposed to. I told her that she should see the changes on the next full cycle, and that the changes I had just done would likely be prorated into the current cycle (managing customer expectations, y0!), so her next bill was likely going to be jacked up. Then, I found an option to have paper copies of all of her bills sent to me, and with her permission I exercised it, with the intent of figuring out what she shouldn’t have been billed. I told her I’d do the work, and credit her account for everything I could document. She was crying when we disconnected, saying that nobody had given her the attention I was. I just told her it was part of the job, and I was glad that she had happened upon my terminal.

Two days later, I got a huge envelope full of three months of bills for a dozen phones. I spent the next three days crosschecking all the bills and marking off all the calls that should have been free, refiguring the bills accurately, and determining what the charges should have been. The next week, I called her and had her on the line while I applied 36 credits to her accounts ranging from a few bucks to a few hundred, explaining each one and why to her, and notating each thoroughly.

At the end of the current cycle, her bills were fixed, but some were still jacked up from before the fix, so I refigured all the ones I needed to, called her again, and wrote the credits. Again, she was in tears over the efforts I had expended, and again, I explained I was just doing what was right so that she would get what the company has promised her.

I checked the next month (full cycle) and everything was working, so I called her one last time and wished her luck in the future, suggesting that she try to find a commercial account representative to handle her account instead of trying to deal with the stores and CSRs.

About two weeks later, I checked the account to make sure everything was holding, and found notes from some midlevel manager complaining about my credits being incorrect and reversing many of them (with some crass directed at my third-party status). I reapplied them, restated why, and offered to show my notes to anyone who wanted to come see them and argue with me about them.

A couple days later I got dragged into the head cheese’s office and told that as a third party CSR, I had no business making changes to a big business account. I suggested that if I shouldn’t have access to those accounts, the phone system shouldn’t have put her on my headset and that the computer system shouldn’t have let me in. Then I was told that I didn’t have the authority to pull paper bills, which drew a similar ‘I just clicked buttons available to me” response. Then I was told that I shouldn’t have refuted or undone the corporate person’s work. I set the stack of bills on his desk and dared him to show me where I was wrong and corporate flack was right. He flipped through the multi-colored highlighted pages and finally said I shouldn’t spend so much time on one phone call. I offered that I wouldn’t have needed to if literally any of the dozens of actual corporate people she’d talked to over the last three months had fixed her problem, instead of pushing her off until some lowly know-nothing third party peon happened across the account and actually cared enough to do what the company was spending millions of dollars advertising….and that my stats were still some of the best in the building, because I know how averages work, and outgoing calls were not counted in them.

I was sent back to my cube and never heard another word about it. My credits never got re-reversed, tho.

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One that got me

“He had a foreign sounding name and was really rude”