One Simple Trick (to be promoted to Customer)


Working in a call center, you have a lot of corporate rules bull to deal with. The vast majority of it is dumb (like stats, QA, attendance) but liveable; you can find yourself taking the walk of shame but it takes some time. Or at least that’s how it was in our shop.

There was really only two rules that would get you boxed up *pronto*:

1: Don’t touch employee accounts, and

2: If somehow rule 1 was too hard, REALLY don’t touch *your own* account.

The bean counters would watch this. Like hawks. Managers could handle some emergencies, but they had to basically write a novel to explain what the rush was, and why the employee group wasn’t contacted.

But they only really kept track of things in one place: the biller. Because money was the main concern, after all, and we already got a fairly generous concession to make sure we carried around the gadgets that had the company logo on it. They didn’t want to lose any extra beans from us.

This was also in the era where ringtones for your phone were the thing. And by and large, the company let third parties deal with providing those services (too busy counting beans to deal with music licensing I guess). And those third parties sent those charges in on a bit of a delay, and we got a web portal that would let us deal with those charges, sometimes faster than they’d get to the biller. And that’s where some folks decided that two bucks a pop was a bit too rich, and found what they thought was a little loophole that would let them have their Cake and consume it for free.

Thus, a small ring of brazen folks got to work. You’d buy your overpriced music snippet, and the guy across from you would go in, and refund it, saying it didn’t work. And you’d do it for him. A few cut that part out and did it all on their own. And for a while they thought it worked.

Except for those damned bean counters. They started noticing that things weren’t matching up with the billing for the third party stuff. Not sure exactly what tipped them off, but I’m gonna guess that there was probably a lack of variety when picking reasons, or making notes, that raised some eyebrows. And so, quietly, the investigation began. Reminders were given in team meetings about crediting and refunding and, of course, the two rules up yonder. And maybe if the hint was taken, it would have ended there with some better audit trails coming available, and what have you. But it didn’t. And one day, folks started getting pulled for coaching. But not to their manager’s cube. It was actually pretty quiet until the number of empty desks grew for a bit.

I don’t remember how many exactly, but I want to say at least two dozen folks (in a center of about 400 at the time) got that greatest of all promotions: the promotion to customer. Management never directly told us why they went, but several of them told us what happened. But I’m also pretty sure that mistake didn’t end up repeated (until they changed the employee plans to something less nice, and the rules loosened up a bit. You still didn’t want to mess with any of your own stuff, though.)


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Angry luxury traveler

I got lucky and had a customer come to me again after a complaint