Everyone in customer service has had those particularly abusive customers that hit a nerve in some regard. There’s a lot of variables that go into how we experience these instances, like how long you’ve been in customer service, what sort of customer service you’ve done, how much and what kind of abuse have you already encountered or witnessed, etc. This is about just-a-few-months-older-than-18 first-full-time-and-customer-service-job-having me.
TL;DR at the bottom
I was reading a post from another “Tales From…” page about a customer just tearing this associate down for no good reason, and it reminded me of the worst call I’d ever gotten at my first Grown-Up(tm) job. It didn’t really fit into that particular page, so I’ll share it here.
I turn 18, and apply for what is pretty much a guaranteed job to adults with a high school education: a call center. Seriously everyone that has done customer service in this city has worked at this particular call center. The contract my site had was with a big, well-known communications company we’ll call Verzzon (home, not mobile. same company, different services).
In training, we were informed that sometimes customers can be… upset. But they way they framed it was definitely not indicative of how frequent or abusive it could be. They even told a story about how a customer’s services were frozen due to overdue balances stacking up. The customer paid aaalmost all of it, just a few dollars short. Because they agreed to pay it in full and didn’t set up a payment plan, the company didn’t have to turn services back on until the full balance was paid. This customer and an associate end up on the phone together trying to get everything resolved. He wanted his stuff back on, she needed to collect what was literally less than $5. Before the call ended, he apparently said something to her to the effect of, “I hope on your drive home you get into a serious accident and flip your car. And I hope your injuries don’t kill you immediately.” Like WTF.
That was at the beginning of training, and training was like a million weeks long, and then we have a few more weeks of heavily supervised phone time until they let us out on the call floor on our own. So this story kind of faded to the back of my mind.
Within a few weeks after leaving the nest and flying solo, it’s the very end of my shift at like 9pm, I get a call that sounds like it’s gonna be an easy sale: new home account. This French couple definitely wants the best TV option, they’re flexible on internet, and if it will lower the total cost of the bundle, they’ll take the home phone too (sometimes your bill is cheaper when you bundle home phone into it for some reason?). Verzzon partners with a TV service provider we’ll call DrrrtTV in some regions. The DrrrtTV bundles have the best TV options but the other services offered in the bundles are less customizable.
I run them through the process of selecting a bundle that suits them, we get to the end of the process that generates an estimated monthly bill. It’s not out of their price range or anything, but they want to see how much different bundles cost comparatively. I have to start the whole new account/new services/new bundle ordering process over again at least a couple times so they could compare prices.
This already majorly sucks because our Average Handling Time is tracked and we get write ups and stuff if it’s too long. Ideal calls were 3min or under, we need to work to make sure calls never exceed 5 or 6 minutes. I was well beyond that. The couple started getting angry with me because of how inconsistent the bundle pricing was, which I don’t blame them, when Verzzon did the partnership bundles, there was no logic to their pricing scheme but we couldn’t be told why it worked the way it did because we weren’t DrrrtTV employees.
Because they are upset over confusing pricing, and because I couldn’t tell them why they were priced that way, they deduced that I was trying to scam them. After they got tired of yelling at me and accusing me, they told me to go hang myself and hung up.
At this point in my life, I’m “supporting” my abusive and manipulative boyfriend, grappling with deteriorating undiagnosed/untreated severe mental illness, and was pretty much on a schedule-like substance/alcohol abuse train.
It hit me like a ton of bricks because I struggled a lot at the time with suicidal ideation. But… Seriously…? You want someone to kill themselves over the price of a service they have no control over? It really speaks to how some people hold themselves, their time, and their money over someone else’s.
TL;DR Very early on in my first customer service job a couple tells me (an already suicidal/in a really bad place 18 y/o) to go hang myself because pricing is confusing.