2+ Hour Call aka Impromptu Math Lesson

I work as an over-the-phone customer service rep for 20-50 banks throughout the US. The customers who call us don’t know we work for any other bank but the one they’re calling.

This is gonna be pretty long, I kept a LOT of the content out, but I had to keep some to illustrate just how painful this call was. So, without futher ado:

Yesterday, around 10 pm, this one customer calls.

It starts off and we immediately get off on the wrong foot.

Me: Thank you for calling Bank, my name is [Name-that-ends-in-the-letter-T, which i will write out as Namet from here on out], how can I help you?

“Your name is what?”

Namet, sir. N-A-M-E T-as-in-Thomas

“…Your name is T-as-in-Thomas?”

No, sir, its Namet.

“Then why did you say it was Thomas? I asked what your name was.”

Me, chuckling to try and indicate my subservience: Sorry sir! My mistake – most people mishear the last letter as “P”, so I’m in the habit of clarifying the last letter. My name is Namet.

“Your name is Namep?”

Cue internal sighing.

I get him verified, and he’s a bit abrupt but nbd, nothing I would call a red flag or anything.

He asks me for the interest paid on the account so far this year (YTD). I give him a standard “Sure, I should be able to check on that for you,” and I get a 7 minute lecture on how “no, you *can* check it for me, not ‘should be able’,” and further along those lines. Okayyy…..annoying, but still bearable.

I give him the info. He asks me to check the individual interest deposits per month. Sure.

The transactions show that he has 2 interest deposits in June, 0 deposits in May. One on 6/2 which is obviously for May. One on 6/30 which is obviously for June.

Anyone who works in banking can tell you that processing times can sometimes make things show up on the transactions a few days off from what they’re “supposed” to be. This isn’t a big deal. Usually a quick clarification is sufficient for customers.

Before I get into the rest of this, I’d like to give an extra detail or two: My voice is pretty cutesy – people on videogames call me an anime character when they hear me. I keep my tone very light/cheerful on calls and try to be very upfront and “real” with customers when they complain about stuff. You know, be a bro and all that. It’s in my best interests not to be rude, short, insulting, or anything vaguely resembling anything negative, because I will get punished by QA and/or my supervisor.

Customer asks me “What was May’s interest deposit?”

And things go downhill from there.

Me, unaware that I’ve angered some diety somewhere and am about to face my punishment: The interest for May was $123

“Excuse me, no, there were no deposits in May, you are telling me June’s deposit.”

Yes, sir. The interest for May was deposited on June 2-

“Yeah, I can SEE that, I’m looking right at it, you don’t have to tell me something I can already see.”

Me, on the wrong foot again, and a little confused: Of course! Sorry, I didn’t mean-

“Don’t *apologize* to me. I’m not asking you to apologize. I’m just telling you you don’t have to tell me something I can already see.”

Me, internally: if you can see it then wtf are you asking me for….

“Now, what was May’s interest deposit.”

That was $123 sir.

“No, that was June’s interest deposit.”

The interest deposit for June was $456, sir. May’s deposit was-

“There were no deposits in May!”

Yes, sir. May’s deposit was made on June-

“No, see, June had two deposits. There were no deposits in May. Why are you telling me there was a deposit in May if there are two deposits in June.”

I’m sorry, sir-

“I don’t want to hear that you’re sorry. I’m telling you there were two deposits in June, and you’re telling me there was one in May. Why are you telling me there’s a deposit in May.”

I was answering the wrong question, sir. I was answering that $123 was the deposit FOR May, not IN May. You’re correct, there were no deposits IN May, due to processing-

“No, I didn’t ask you for an explanation. I want to know what May’s interest deposit was.”

At this point, I’m pretty frustrated, but overall this isn’t a totally unusual call. Sometimes customers just don’t want to hear it, and you have to let them run circles a few times before they grasp what’s going on. He was a little more aggressive about it than most of my callers with this attitude, but whatever. I decide to let him run the conversation for a little if it will help him.

Boy howdy, was that a mistake.

The above conversation replays about 3 more times with a couple of minor variations throughout, and this guy is being incredibly condescending and mean the longer we go. I’m trying my absolute best to be nice, calm, and answer exactly what he’s asking me. If I try to add anything to my answer, or approach the answer from an indirect route, I get a 10-minute lecture about how I’m not answering him properly.

Finally, we start to move on, without any real resolution to the previous convo. Just imagine passive-aggressive smiley faces after all my lines at this point.

“Alright, do you know how often this account compounds interest?”

Not off the top of my head, sir, but I can find out-

“Not off the top of your head? What does that mean? Just say yes or no? How long have you been working for the bank?”

Oh, about a year or so, sir. If you give-

“A year? And you don’t know the answer?”

Well, it depends on the type of account and the brand you’re with-

“You’ve been there for a year, you should know.”

Of course, sir. I’ll should be able to find out for you in a moment.

“No, you *can* find out, not should. And if you get it wrong, I’ll let you know. I know how it compounds.”

Me, internally: then *why the f* are you asking me to check????

Externally: Alright sir, it looks like your interest is compounded daily.

“It looks like, or it is?”

It is, sir.

He then throws out this gem:

“Do you know how to calculate compound interest?”

At this point, we’ve been on the call for FOURTY MINUTES. I am starting to panic. Our handle time isn’t supposed to be more than 5 min on average. We’re not held to this stat at gunpoint or anything, but it’s still a stat we have to follow. Not to mention, I can see that we’ve got some calls in queue, and it being past 10 means it’s just 5 of us to take calls. And on top of all of that, this guy has been getting steadily more condescending and just plain mean, however, he hasn’t been explicitly abusive, so I haven’t been able to really do anything to fend him off.

When I tell him I don’t know the formula offhand, he has a lot to say about it. Why not? I should know since it’s part of my job (it’s not) and I should be able to calculate this for the customers (I’m actually not allowed to). How many years of school did I go through? Did I take algebra 1? Did we study binomials? Can you look up the formula? I bet you could look it up. How long will it take you to look it up? How long would it take you to calculate it? Can you look it up?

Anytime I try to interject, I get a 3 to 10 minute tangent about how I’m not answering what he asked, or he didn’t ask that question, or he doesn’t care about the protocol and he’s trying to teach me something, or whatever else. At this point I’m so worn out trying to follow all of my QA rules and being unagressive, and so worn out with all the tangent arguments, that I kind of go a little flat and start just complying with everything he asks for and just handing out “Yes, sir”s and “No, sirs.”

I don’t even remember half of what was said anymore. The next hour of the call was him demanding I follow along in calculations, and being incredibly belittling the whole time. Not because he wanted to know the answer – he’d already done the math and knew all the answers. He knew that the interest he was paid was correct overall, but the actual monthly deposit was incorrect according to him.

While I’m being subjected to an impromptu math lesson, I’m sending out SOS’s to my coworkers in the work chat. They’re telling me to try xyz to get him off the phone, but I’ve tried several times and just gotten bullshit arguments about it. The guy isn’t being explicitly abusive or swearing or yelling, so I can’t use that to end the call. None of our evening managers are responding to texts and there are no supervisors to help.

At one point, the customer does the calculation wrong, and I point out to him that the formula for the exponent should be (Years*Compounding periods per year) and not just (Days per month). He argues, and spends 15 minutes redoing the calculation before coming to the conclusion that “Oh, we were doing it incorrectly, the exponent shouldn’t be 31!”

At the 2 hour mark, one coworker finally gets ahold of a manager and explains what’s happening. He relays that I should tell the customer that I’ve answered his questions several times, and set up tickets for him, and that I was going to hang up now, have a nice night. But don’t be rude, and don’t interrupt him.

Ha, ha.

It takes me another 27 minutes to get him off the phone without breaking any rules.

My coworkers give me their blessing to duck out for a little bit to recover. I go downstairs and cry on my husband for 20 minutes.

An hour later, my coworker mentions that he just called in again and wanted to talk to me, but she told him I was unavailable. Apparently he “remembered something he needed to tell me” and absolutely refused to tell her what the info was or let her help at all.

He calls several more times, demanding to speak to me, asking when I’m “off lunch.”

She tells me to go take my lunch hour.

I come back and see an exchange between my two coworkers: He’s been calling the whole hour and, failing to get me, has started belittling them by asking questions and then being all upset when we give him the answer not exactly as he wants it.

We finally got permission to just hang up on him if he keeps calling.

I was afraid to answer calls from that bank for the rest of the night.

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