"I’m not trying to make this a race issue but…"

So this was awhile ago as I haven’t worked in a call center for about 6 months now. I was working at a US school picture company (I’m not sure if I can say the name on here but close to the name TouchLife). At this time I was as close to a manager as we had for this department and nobody else was available to take the call as a “supervisor.” This isn’t the exact dialogue but the same info that was being said. TLDR at bottom.

A little back story: This company has a pretty big monopoly over school photos and I was working in the yearbook department. In the call center we have no control over the yearbooks other than we can send a message to the printing lab/sales rep to get a reprint issued. The school is the one who makes the yearbook so any errors are done by the school. In this case the student of the parents was a minority is a majority white school.

Me: me Cx H: Husband Customer Cx W: Wife Customer

Me: recorded intro Thank you for calling TouchLife, this is me, how can I help you?

Cx H: screaming This is some f**ing bullst. I am ready to sue your a*es for being so damn disrespectful.

Me: (I am pretty taken aback as this is the first thing this call starts with) I’m sorry you’re upset sir, can you tell me what happened?

Cx H: still screaming Yeah, you messed up my daughter in the yearbook and now she’s going to be made fun of by all her classmates.

Cx W: trying to calm her husband down Babe, it’s not her fault she’s just a call center worker. Yes ma’am, our daughter was out in the wrong class for the yearbook.

Me: I am very sorry about that. Can I get some informa…

Cx H: slightly quieter yelling and starting to cry You better be f***ing sorry. You ruined her entire year.

Cx W: holding back tears while trying to stay calm Our daughter was placed in the special needs class in her school but she’s not special needs. realizing how bad that sounds Not that there is anything wrong with special needs but she’s not one and it made her feel bad. Again, we don’t have a problem with that class it’s just that she’s not in it.

continues saying the same thing over me as I try to get the school’s info and emphasizing there is nothing wrong with “special needs” (their phrasing) classes

finally get the school info to look up the yearbook

Me: I have the school pulled up here. I’m not able to change the yearbook myself but if you would like…

Cx H: That’s unacceptable. My daughter didn’t do anything wrong! She is in (young elem grade). How can you not change the yearbook when you are the ones who made it?! I don’t wanna make this a race issue but she is the only child in the wrong class. And if you guys are going to discriminate against my child I’ll take your a** to court.

Me: trying to not have my brain explode before my break I do apologize for the situation, sir. TouchLife actually does not design the yearbooks, we merely print them. Any designs, such as student placement, was done at your school by your yearbook adviser or principal. I am unable to even see the yearbook on my end, all I can see is your order. If you would like I can contact your school rep with TouchLife and give you their name and email address.

Cx W: sheepishly now that they know it’s the school’s fault Yes, that would be great, thank you.

I finished up giving them the info and sent the rep an email. I wasn’t scheduled for break for another 1.5 hours and I went early.

TLDR; Minority student in a majority white school was placed in a class for students with disabilities in the school yearbook. Parents were very upset and suggested it might be a racial issue when I told them I couldn’t change the yearbook personally. They finally stopped interrupting me long enough to learn the school makes the yearbook INCLUDING PLACING THE STUDENTS IN THE CORRECT GRADE and take the information I’ve been trying to give them for 15 minutes.

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