inter-departmental ping pong


this happened years ago, before the business got wise to the fact that customers don’t like being transferred unnecessarily.

so the call comes in, and it’s a customer who wants to cancel.
the account is suspended, due to non-payment, but not fully cancelled yet.
sadly, I can’t cancel the account. I have to transfer the call to our team that handles collections and deactivations for accounts that are in collection. so I call that department and brief the agent about what the customer wants, then conference the customer into the call, introduce the agent from the other department, then disconnect to take the next incoming call.

but it’s a pretty slow day.
and wouldn’t you know it, a few minutes later, I get a call.
and it’s the same agent I just transferred the customer to.
transferring me back the same customer.
because, as it turns out, the customer after I completed the conference, told the collections agent that they wanted to dispute a charge on the bill.
and you see, collections agents do not deal with bill disputes, they only deal with collections.
so that’s why the collections agent needed to transfer the call back to customer service.
I tell him I understand, and to complete the conference.

when it comes to bill disputes, if its a legitimate billing error we’ll adjust it no question.
but in this case, it was a totally valid charge.
back then, we could adjust even valid charges, at our discretion, within a certain budget for each customer.
however, with one exception: the system would only allow us to do this for accounts that were – you guessed it – not currently suspended due to non-payment. once the customer gets that behind on the payments, the company tightens its sphincter when it comes to giving the customer anything it isn’t obligated to.
so I have no choice but to tell the customer that it’s a legit charge and there’s nothing I can do to help with it.
at which point the customer reiterates that they want to cancel.
so…. I transfer the customer back to collections.
except it’s a slow day…
and lo and behold, the exact same collections agent answers my call.
I tell him the result of our discussion about the charge in the interests of making sure there is no misunderstanding so there is zero reason this guy should need to transfer back to me later. they should just cancel the customer and that’s it. I complete the warm transfer and think that’s the end of it.

a few minutes later, I get a call.
it’s the same agent from collections again.
apparently he had a silver tongue and convinced the customer to continue using our service, on the condition that they promise to pay the balance they owe.
so the customer agreed to this, and the collections agent resumed the service.
however, after this was done for the customer, the customer again changed their mind and wanted to cancel the service.
so this is why it was necessary to transfer the call back to customer service to process the deactivation (as collections only cancels accounts that are currently in collection, and this account was no longer in collection due to the promise to pay that was now on file)

so I cancelled the account for this poor customer.
all the while thinking that this customer was a human ping pong ball that had just been paddled between our two departments half a dozen times for basically no good reason.

I hope the customer found it amusing… maybe you did too?
thanks for reading my story of inter-departmental ping pong 🙂


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