Verbally Abusive Caller Blows Up Over a Joke

*For starters, I work in a call center that deals with health insurance, and my department is exclusively inbound calls. Typically, we speak to doctors or their assistants, and almost never the members themselves, but at the time this took place, we would often get calls from members of a different insurance company on the weekends, purely for the sake of taking a message. We had no access to any information, no way to do literally anything but note down the member’s issue, and we had to get all of their personal information in order to be able to submit the request for a callback on Monday.*

*Yes, that’s right. We were an answering service allowing that company to claim they had agents available 24/7, but in reality you wouldn’t be able to get any assistance at all outside of normal business hours, and in most cases you’d have been better off just calling back yourself. Understandably, many of these members were upset, and less understandably, many took personal offense to us simply doing our jobs, and acted as if we were personally responsible for them not getting assistance that same day.*

*So, I have one of these members call in that day, and while I can’t recall the actual reason for his call, and I certainly can’t recall the conversation word for word, as this was like five months ago, the exchange went something like this. Keep in mind, as “short” as this might seem, the call itself took well over 30 mintues.*


Me: Thank you for calling [Health Insurance Company], my name is [name], how many I help you?

Angry Caller (AC): [insert a decently long rant with the reason for his call here, note that the caller seems a little impatient already]

Me: Alright, so I do apologize, but there are no agents available to assist you at this time. If you would like, I can take a message to have someone give you a call back on the next business day.

AC: Am I talking to an actual human?

Me, very obviously joking: No, actually I’m a Martian.

*I still have no clue why, but for some reason, that joke pushed him over the edge and he blew up on me. Wasn’t the first time even that day I had made the exact same joke in regards to the exact same question, and every single other person had taken it well, because it’s very clearly just a joke, and their question is answered.*

AC: Oh, so you think you’re funny, huh? Well, *Martian Man*…

[AC continues to complain about his problem, interspersed with various comments about me in particular, and repeatedly cuts me off any time I try to speak]

Me: I do very much apologize, but-

AC: Is that all you can say? Stop apologizing and do something about this!

Me: As I stated earlier, there are no actual agents available. This is just an answering service, and I have no access to their system. All I can do is take a message.

AC: Alright, fine, take down my message, I’ve already told you what the problem is.

Me: Sir, to take down the message, I’m going to need to get quite a bit of information from you. To start, can I have the correct spelling of your first name?

AC: What’s your name?

Me: [First name], last initial E as in Echo.

AC: Oh, military talk, huh? I bet you think you’re so tough. Well, my name is…

*AC then spits out his name phonetically, with me not quite ready to start typing, and far too quickly for me to keep up even without the late start. As soon as he’s finished, he then begins taunting me again, calling me “tough guy” or “Martian Man” interchangeably as he goes. I just ignore this, and try to move forward, asking for his callback number. Again, he gives it very quickly, but I was prepared this time, and I manage to get it down. Before I can get any more information, however, he decides to say something else.*

AC, briefly sounding less aggressive: So I’ve just got to say, I *love* your buttery smooth voice.

Me: …Thank you?

AC, now in a mocking tone: How do you get such a smooth voice? No, really, I want to know why you’ve got such a buttery smooth voice. Is it because- [Insert a comment making very obvious suggestions regarding my sexuality, and proposing that the reason for my “buttery smooth voice” was that I gargle certain bodily fluids, of a distinctly male origin.]

*It’s at this point that I took off my headset and asked if I was allowed to hang up on the caller. I was of course told no, and to try and get the information I needed. So after a couple minutes trying to get permission to hang up anyway, and ultimately failing to get it, I put back on my headset. The caller is still on the line, and I attempt to ask for his name again, so that I can record it and try to take down his message to get him off of the phone.*

AC: Oh no, I already *gave* you my name, why didn’t you write it down? Isn’t that your *job*? Why aren’t you doing your job, *Martian Man*?

*At this point, the caller begins refusing to answer any questions I ask, instead either turning the question around on me, or asking unrelated personal questions, which I of course refuse to answer.*

AC: Well alright, where do you work?

Me: A call center.

AC: Where are you located?

Me: I’m not required to give that information.

AC: Oh, so you’re not required to give me your information, but I have to give you all of mine?

Me: I’m asking for the required information to take down a message and have someone give you a call back. If I don’t get this information, you won’t be getting a call.

AC: Well, judging by your accent, I’m betting you’re from the Northeast, right? Sounds like a Northeastern accent to me.

*Yes. He’s referring to the Northeastern United States. I’ve lived in the South my entire life, and have only left my state for maybe ten minutes, one single time.*

Me: I’m not going to confirm or deny that.

AC: Oh, you’re not going to confirm it, so that means I’m right, doesn’t it?

Me: …

AC: You know what, can I speak to your supervisor?

Me: I have no way to get you to an [Insurance Company] supervisor.

AC: No, I want *your* supervisor.

Me: My supervisor is not available at this time.

AC: Well what’s his name?

Me: *Her* name is Amber *(not real name)*.

AC: Oh, Amber, huh? I bet you know Amber *real* well, don’t you?

[Insert about a full minute of very blatant insinuations that I’m in a relationship with my supervisor, obviously not true]

Me: Sir, if you can just give me your information, I can submit this for you to get a callback.

AC: No. I can keep doing this all day, *Martian Man*.

[Insert him harassing me for another five minutes before I finally say screw it and hang up on him anyway.]

What do you think?

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