I recently read a tale about a customer who had some overage issues and it reminded me of a call I took several years ago from a dumb woman that thought she was entitled to whatever she wanted.
Basically, I worked the retention lines at a major cell carrier that had offered unlimited data plans for iphones for a short while, and then stopped doing so because a handful of people were using way more data than they should have been, while most people weren’t using hardly any at all. You can see my thoughts on this at the end of the post. However, I took this call several years after unlimited iphone plans had been retired, and this customer managed to retain one by just buying devices outright and popping the activated SIM in them to keep the plan going.
So I do my normal opening “Thanks for calling BS&S, my name is u/jam3s2001 and I can help with anything you need.” go through the validation steps and everything is normal, she’s super nice. I’m working cancellations, so I’m thinking she was just going to drop service and go to a new provider or something to that effect. Haha, nope! Her data got cut off and she was immediately sent to cancellations because she’s one more plan violation from being cancelled on our side. I pulled up the billing system and found that she was averaging 80GB/mo usage, which is on par with what I use at home!
So I start talking through the issue, account shows obscene data usage, line is pending cutoff, she needs to curb her usage and maybe look at getting on a plan with overages if she wants to salvage the account. She goes from being nice to pissed almost immediately. “I NEED THIS SERVICE, I HAVE TO WATCH -NETFLIX- ON THE LONG BUS RIDE TO WORK EVERYDAY”
Holy shit! You’re using 80GB of data only on netflix? On 3G? How in the fuck is that possible? (it probably isn’t, but I’ve got to shift gears from being kind and informative to calm it down mode, so I’m not going to call her bullshit). “Well, ma’am, we didn’t offer unlimited data plans with the idea that it could be used to watch that much netflix through the course of a month. The reason it is unlimited is that you can download apps, browse, and get updates to your device without worrying about overages. I’m also seeing you’re using a Samsung, which means you shouldn’t even have an apple unlimited plan”
Cue a short rant about how the warranty wouldn’t cover her broken iphone, so she did what she had to – something I would have been willing to overlook, if she wasn’t now screaming at me, and just let the system catch it whenever it got around to doing so… If she was really nice, I may have just comped her a new iphone with a short contract to cover the cost, but those opportunities were long gone. So we go back and forth a bit, before I finally get tired of the nonsense and start inventing ways to get this call over with.
“Listen ma’am, the system doesn’t lie, and it shows you’re using an obscene amount of data. You’re abusing the terms of service and the network, and the reason you were transferred to my line is that the company is going to cut you off and you’re going to have to find a new carrier.”
I wasn’t prepared for what came next. “YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT ABUSE? YOU AND YOUR COMPANY ARE ABUSING ME! I WORK TOO HARD TO PAY MY BILLS AND I DEMAND THE BEST AND YOU HAVEN’T PROVIDED IT! HOW DARE YOU SAY I’M ABUSING ANYTHING” and on and on and on. Oh boy, I just threw some gasoline on the fire here. But at the end of that rant, she finally said those magic words “I WANT YOUR SUPERVISOR NOW!” the only problem was that the escalation queue was pretty heavy that day, average wait was about an hour. I pinged one of my favorite escalations reps on the side and asked what to do, he said to offer a callback. She declined, absolutely had to speak to a sup about how she has been mistreated. I wasn’t being tracked for AHT at the time, so I told her that the hold was about an hour, and lied that I had other calls to take -concurrent calls was a thing, but against the rules- so I wouldn’t be able to check in with her very frequently. She said whatever and that she’d wait, so I put her on hold and went to make a PB&J. Came back and browsed the web for about an hour while jamming out to awful hold music on my side waiting for the warm transfer. Finally got through, did a warm transfer through her screams, and let the sup take it. He ended up telling her the exact same stuff I did, and I’m pretty sure she tried to escalate further and got nowhere.
Now, I did say that I would talk about how I felt about the whole data thing. A lot of times, us folks in IT think that data metering is a bunch of nonsense, and a lot of times it is, but on the cellular side of the business, there are occasionally good reasons for it to still be a common practice – not always, but occasionally. In this instance, she was in the wrong for using her phone to do whatever it was she was doing with it, and I suspect it was a lot more than just netflix. Back then, voice services were transitioning from the 2G network to 3G, with 4G on the horizon. What this meant that data traffic and voice traffic were sharing the same network and there were a lot of QoS issues that were still being ironed out. I had taken a call previously that week or month from a woman who had claimed that her husband had been shot and despite having full bars, her phone could not get a call out to 911. This was a common symptom of a congested cell tower that wasn’t properly performing QoS (911 should always be highest priority over all other data and voice services). If the crazy caller from above was using her phone as a hotspot or some other nonsense, she could have easily been the cause of some other individual dropping voice calls or having poor data performance, and in that case, yes, she was abusing the terms of service and the network with her overages. These scenarios don’t apply so much anymore, although you still do run into those congestion scenarios where you’ve got full bars of 4G or 5G and somehow can’t get a freaking reddit comment section to load…