Disaster at sea? No, I can’t help with that, call back later. (Crosspost)

Cross Post from r/talesfromtechsupport, it was suggested you guys may like this one:

So my last job in my old hometown, about 3 years ago now, was working for a well-known phone service provider, notable for it’s foul-mouthed CEO and lots of pink all over its graphics and advertising. Please, never work as a level 1 end-user support specialist for any cell-service provider, I only barely escaped with my sanity and I was supporting businesses.

While this is my favorite story, it’s rather light on the tech support, but while I was working there tech support was one of the things I was meant to be doing. Remove it if it doesn’t belong here please.

Anyways, here is my favorite story to tell people about my first day after my 1 month (useless) training for this company.

After being assigned a cubicle and workstation, I had sat down to start with my first unsupervised calls, During these calls I was expected to be both tech support and billing advisor. I had, with some glee, been informed by my colleagues that we were undergoing planned system maintenance and it would be 10 hours before we were able to work with our billing/ticketing systems again, so I was to inform 90% or more of the callers that they needed to call back later. Note that I started shift at 5:00am my time so imagine me coffee deprived and with the morning sun glaring directly into my eyes from the nearby window.


$me: Thank you for calling (Insert provider here), my name is Nohelpforu (oddly poignant here), may I start with….

$caller: Nothings Working!

$me: What’s not working?

$caller: Nothing! I can’t make calls, my workers can’t make calls, this entire ship can’t make calls! Since 2:00am (system refresh time) nobody has been able to use the phones we’ve contracted through you!

At this time I know its a billing issue, multiple people affected through the same account, all a at the same time, what else could it be?

$me: That is definitely a problem, can you let me know what the account name is so I can look you up?


So here’s where the fun begins. Currently I have a business calling me with over 2000 registered phones to its name with a monthly fee in the millions of dollars going towards our company. I have access to a read-only account that cannot be updated without breaking something on the back end (the read-only-ness was apparently somewhat lacking) and causing more trouble. None of these 2000+ people can use their phones on a major cruise line because they didn’t pay their bill for 3+months. And no-one in tier 1, 2, or 3 can do squat for them while the system is undergoing maintenance. Worse, its for a giant company, I have to consult a list of people who I can speak to about billing issues and that simply isn’t available during maintenance.

My brain shut down at this point, I’m afraid, as a newbie taking this with everything going wrong on my first call of my first real day, I probably blathered something about system maintenance and how they would need to call back later. However, I do remember eventually collecting myself enough to get them to contact a billing/communications manager to call us, as it needed to be someone on a pre-approved communication list for a company that large.

I also remember being ground-zero for the communications about this going forward. Even with millions of dollars on the line, the company only fast tracked the cruise line account 8 or so hours into the maintenance, meaning it was almost done anyway.

So no, this was not a post about me saving the day, or maneuvering around a hairy situation, this was about the worst possible thing to happen at the worst possible time for both me, the caller, and the company, that could have been avoided if this multi-billion dollar cruise line had bothered to keep up with its bills, that we couldnt sort out due to the system being down for hours and hours, handled by the least capable person in my company (me).

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Can you give me permission so that I don’t get arrested?

Apparently call center workers are too dumb to spell