Work rant. Fuck this.

Allright, I need to get this off my chest. It’s a sordid tale of how my carreer took a major hit because some fucking douchebag in Columbus was having a bad day.

I took a call from some guy that was more important than God. I mean, this guy thought that through willpower he could alter dimensions, bend time and space, and reverse events that were already written in stone.

I was a bit impressed by his power and almost asked what flavor the Kool-Aid was that day. His immediate charm and charisma almost won me over.

Short story long, or long story short. Let’s see how it goes.

The store he is Lord and Master over had a minor glitch that caused him to have to manually enter the previous day’s sales. He had to do this yesterday, causing a brief (30 minute) period where he couldn’t take credit and debit cards. It’s an almost certainty in the situation he was in to have to do this twice. He didn’t want to accept his fate.

The call started out OK (in my world, which is based on reality), but I could tell he was on edge. Maybe having a bad day, maybe the douchebag he presented himself as to the next 3 techs he spoke to. Not sure. But I have an inkling as to which was the case on that day.

I connected to the system and checked a few things. There was no way this store was going to avoid manually entering the previous day’s info in order to bring the system to normal. Man, I’ve done a few things that were really not good choices in my life. I never thought doing my job would be one of them.

He started whining, which I took as a normal response to what I told him. So I didn’t think anything of it since most clients hate what they have to do, but they accept it as reality and get the job done. They act like professionals in the face of adversity. Or in the face of something that keeps them from having the world, physics, and software bend to their lives. I’m talking about the kind of person that just sits back and expects someone to fix the problem for them.

At the time, I knew he was whining, but as the professional I strive to be I kept trying to explain there was only one thing to do to correct the problem. I kept trying to be sympathetic and convey that I wish there was more I could do, but that the simple fact remained that he had to manually enter the info and lose cashless sales for 30 minutes. This could have have been done anytime between the call at 8:30 in the morning and 11 PM that night. I’m thinking that every other store can go 30 minutes, he should be able to find a slow time.

Nope. That wasn’t good enough. He wanted the problem fixed so he didn’t have to do what needed to be done. The whine got to a level that put to shame my neighbor’s crotch-rocket when he over-revved it.

He was telling me he “simply cannot do the function”, “I simply cannot, CANNOT! lose cashless for that 30 minutes!”. “I simply (yes, he said “simply” 3 times) can’t do another [function]”.

The way he was pleading made me feel bad for the guy. I knew that what he had to do was to him as attractive as me letting someone nail a staple through my nuts. I did what was available to correct the situation, but it just didn’t work.

I kept trying to tell him what needed to be done. He mentioned that it happened 2.5 years ago and a programmer was able to fix it. I tried to convey that 2 and a half years ago the software version was different, and the problem was not repairable as it was in the past.

He didn’t like that. And that’s the crux of the rant. I wasn’t around 2 1/2 years ago, granted, but even if I was, I have no control over what the newer release versions allow the programmers to do. And not to do.

This wasn’t acceptable to him as I tried to calmly explain that there was no other option than what he needed to do. I had no control over the software updates, nor the lost abilities to correct the problem he was having. There was nothing I could do other than tell him what needed to be done and assist him if he needed it.

Not good enough for Mr. Wonderful.

While doing my job in a professional manner (shouldn’t I deserve a modicum of respect since he called me for help?) he got more heated and started telling me that “well, two and a half years ago they fixed this problem!” When I tried to explain that was no longer an option, he told me (more aggressive) “But they did it then, you’re not listening to me, they did it then!”. Again I tried to explain that that was no longer possible due to the present release.

At that point he started screaming in a way it was breaking up. Some may know the volume level of screaming that would cause a phone communication to break up. Some may not. Trust me, you have to be pretty damn loud.

At that point I interrupted him and told him if he kept yelling at me in such a manner (while trying to help the douchebag) that I’d end the call. A Supervisor overheard it and, apparently, deemed me due for a dressing down.

After taking over the theme of the call (i.e. ending the verbal assault) I again tried to calm him and offered any assistance I could. He didn’t like the fact I forgot my Magic Wand[sup]TM[/sup] at home that morning so I transferred him to a desk that dealt with the hardware that caused the issue.

I kept an eye on the store, and noticed he was transferred back to my desk 3 minutes later. The next 2 techs he talked to told him the same I did. I found out later he was as big a dick to them as he was me.

The rant? Hold your hats folks.

That dressing down came about because I spoke firmly (taking control of the call) :rolleyes: I was called in 5 days later over it.

In the meeting where I was reprimanded, the first time in 14 months for anything written or verbal, I discovered that the promotion I was up for is moot. Three months I’m eligible, but told more likely in 6 months.

Also, I was told my job was “debated” over this call. The apoplexy was visceral. I seriously thought I was going to stroke out and head to a better place based on the headache I had for the rest of the day and the next.

I maintain I did nothing wrong and the write-up is unfounded. I took control of the call, maintained the service required, and refused to accept to be a whipping boy of someone that was having a bad day.

This wasn’t good enough. This wasn’t following my job descrition.

In the meeting, I was informed that there were a few things I just didn’t understand. I went into this job assuming that it was a professional operation. What I didn’t know was that the professionalism was one-sided.

I am to act in a professional manner to the client. However, the client can act at whatever douchebag-level they’re in the mood for at any given time.

I was told, and I quote, “Part of your job is to play therapist. If they’re having a bad day, or they’re stressed, you need to let them vent, and keep a positive attitude. Let them get the ranting out, then continue the call.”

Me: “So if some guy is having a bad day and wants to take it out on me, I should sit there for 20 minutes and listen to it before moving the call forward?”

The Powers That Be: “Unfortunately, yes. That’s part of the job.”

Me: “I didn’t know that was part of my job description, to take flak from people and sit and listen to their angst while the queue builds with paying customers that will actually listen to the t/s I offer as the contracts state. So I need to sit and listen to someone rant for 20 minutes at me for not fixing a problem after spending 5 minutes explaining there is only one way to fix it?”

TPTB: “Yes.”

Me: “So what is that going to do to CPH and the incentives based on boiler-plate numbers in place?”

TPTB: “That isn’t the focus. The focus is on customer (Corporate) satisfaction.”

Me: “If I have to sit and listen to someone berate me personally over something I have no control over for 20 minutes, all the while killing my numbers for the incentive, I have to just accept it?”

TPTB: “Yes. We’re a service to the stores.”

Me: “I must have overlooked that in the job description. I’ll be more submissive and try to accept that my job isn’t to assist stores, but to assist them AND let them take their frustrations out on me.”
Then the “meeting” took another tack.

I was then informed that because of this call, my job was “debated”. Maybe I should be lucky I wasn’t fired over this? First problem in 14 months, due to a fucktard that later that day acted like a douche having a bad day, and I’m suffering.

No incentives (heh, who the hell are they kidding?) for 2 months. No promotion, though I routinely mop up after people making more money than me and taking fewer calls. A severe hit to any advancement in my carreer.

All because this douchebag was having a bad day and I didn’t know my “Professional” position involved sitting on the phone and listening to him rant.

My $0.38 annual raise gave me a hint of how much the company values me.

My wife got a $0.50 cost-of-living increase. Plus a $0.32 base raise.

Tell me how much the company values a person taking every single call involving my skills, and how much the quality (until now, apparently) matters when less-trained techs make more than me because they hit insane bonus levels.

If I had declined being trained for more areas of the system being run, I’d have a much bigger paycheck.

By “going forward”, I went back. By being a better asset, I’m making less money than those limited in the problems they can solve.

Back to the main rant. That douche from Ohio cost me a promotion. Plain and simple.

His bad day didn’t affect his paycheck. His bad day didn’t affect his position with the company. His bad day didn’t affect any promotions he may be aiming for.
His bad day, however, completely fucked me. I had nothing to do with what he was going through that day. I refused to be screamed at. I even tried to later help him get resolution.

But it was for naught. I learned in the meeting that my promotion is null. There is no chance to advance. No chance for an incentive bonus of any kind. (Heh, at least I have no incentive to do well.)

Meanwhile, I get to mop up after people that make more money than me, work less than me, and …
Fuck it. Fuck them, and fuck it all.

Holy SHIT, duffer, are these the same people who wouldn’t let you go to lunch so you could take your meds?

What a bunch of assholes. Even with my worst managers, I never got in trouble for saying, “Sir/Madame, please don’t scream at me, or I’ll have to get a manager.”

Holy fuck man, I’m on your side. What shitty management.

Time to dust off the resume.

What are job prospects like in your field?

This is why I chose academic libraries over corporate. There is just no way I’m ever going to be able to take this sort of shit from anyone who doesn’t literally have the power of life over death with me.

In college, I used to hear the tired old litany of how someone “wasn’t tough enough” for the corporate or business world. I’ve seen and heard enough of that world to realize that kowtowing to complete pricks and bastards isn’t tough.
It’s stupid and pointless.

FWIW, I work circulation in an academic library which prides itself on professional treatment of the patrons, but if one were to shout, they would be out the door, either on their own or with a helping hand from a security official.

Tough break, duffer. You deserve better. :frowning:

Jesus, do you work for Dell? That truly sucks, dude. Truly. Good luck with that, man.

Yeah, Guin, same people.

I wish I could dust off the resume. Unfortunately, the only thing that is an improvement is this job. Not much happening here despite what Pomeroy, Dorgan and Conrad say. Granted, it isn’t their job to find me a job, but I’m getting sick and tired of the ads telling me how much opportunity I have here and why I should vote for them. (Ending the political stuff since it’s not really releveant to my situation.)

There is nothing else here that incorporates my training and experience that pays more than minimum wage. I don’t have the specific degree that is required for the positions I’m capable of, and the ones I am qualified for, in this town, require little more than getting through an interview without shitting myself.

There is a serious lack of opportunity here unless you’re a doctor, lawyer, professor or farmer. I am none of these.

I’d love to pick up and move on. But we have dogs. How often can you find a place without taking out a mortgage to keep your dogs?

Just a couple quick thoughts: Over the long haul, customers will work better with people they respect. Yes, sometimes that means politely telling them when they are wrong. They won’t respect people they can push around or mislead. As long as it is polite, I encourage people to do it. I teach people to do it. Otherwise you are open to a whole bunch of passive aggressive bullshit that will ultimately harm the customer / service provider relationship more than a frank conversation earlier in the process.

That said, to their discredit, your company subscribes to the misguided “the customer is always right” philosophy. You need to abide by their rules, or work somewhere else. The customer should always be treated with professionalism, respect, and even kindness… but assuming they are always right is trite BS, and whoever thought that up should be impaled on a fence post and burned alive.

I feel for ya, I really do. I got chewed out in 1999 when I told an engineer that I was sick to death of wasting my time supporting his antiquated ass along with all his DOS batch files and obtuse printer control codes, when he could just use the built in printer drivers and print better anyway. I was informed that he was special, and wasn’t required to do things like the rest of us, and that I couldn’t tell him to go to hell, in spite of the fact that he was an absolute retard whose computer know-how solidified in 1983.

But… doing tech support in North Dakota isn’t exactly the fast-track to IT success, as I’m sure you know.

I’d go look somewhere else- although the cost of living might be higher, the pay will be too, and so will the opportunities.

Most apartment complexes around here (Dallas area) take dogs, and maybe require a 300-400 dollar deposit. Expensive, but I figure it’s better than eating that shit sandwich they served you up the other day.

I’m a firm believer that sometimes you have to take big chances to get where you want to be- that’s why I quit my job and went back to grad school a few years ago. Hasn’t paid off money-wise yet, but the opportunities are infinitely greater than where I was at before.

I have to take a bit of a contrarian position on this one. As a front-line call center tech, you don’t take a firm position with customers and you don’t try to convince them that they’re fucked. You explain to them exactly what their options are, and what your options are (which you did). If the customer can’t deal with reality at that point, escalation procedures should take over. In an ideal call center, it should be possible to escalate a problem repeatedly until it gets to someone who has the authority to either fix the problem or tell the customer to get stuffed. You don’t have this authority, so you need to be escalating instead of fighting the customer, or you will find your ass fired. That’s life in the big city.

If your customer handling process doesn’t have an accessible escalation procedure, then I’m sorry for you, and you should leave that job if you can. This will be but the first of many similar heartaches for you. (or maybe not so many, by the sound of it).

I will join Brain Wreck in the contrarian position here. Yes, some people are assholes and yell and scream, but these assholes also give your company money. And your company gives you money to keep those people, assholes or not, that give your company money happy. If that requires being yelled at by an asshole for 15 minutes, then you do so.

I don’t agree with this at all. We’re not slaves - no job should expect you to sacrifice your basic human right to not be abused. If this is what they are asking of you (to be in a subservient position of having the customer be allowed to treat you badly), then you should not work for them any longer. You say you’re not in a position to find another job, Duffer, but you do have choices, even if you don’t see them right now. Once you make a decision on what you need to do for your health and sanity, the only questions after that are “how.”

I worked tech support for various “office machines and computer peripherals” for… far longer than I’d like to admit, but I can definitely sympathize with having to deal with the angry guy who believes you have a magic fix you’re deliberately keeping from him.

Does your company not have a set policy for how to handle the screamers? Yes, you’re going to have the near-contradictory instructions to control the call while bowing to their every whim, but most places have a specific instruction for what to do- whether it’s “anything to stop them from being angry, we can’t alienate customers” to “warn 'em twice and disconnect mid-yell, we can’t waste our time.” If you weren’t given at least that much training or at least a printed guide, (or if what they’ve told you truly is completely nonsensical) then I’d be concerned not just for my mental state working there but how long it’s going to be until the entire office implodes.

Yep. If your job involves playing punching bag, and you’re are literally punished for working to become a more useful employee to boot, then there’s not much you can do, because your managers are fucktards.

Hopefully there are better options elsewhere.

Exactly. Customer service is often unpleasant, but there is simply no reason for it to involve being treated that way. Any company that lets its employees be abused (and does the other fucked up things duffer mentioned) is a bad one, and I have a feeling that treating employees like mental septic tanks to be heaped up with whatever shit the customer can dish out is not really financially beneficial anyway.

First, man, I feel for ya. Been there and done that. I think the best it ever got for me was when I used to take escalated calls from pissed off customers and had the power to refuse a request to speak with anyone else (I was the end of the line) and if they were really vile, I could cancel their account. That was nice. One guy was so bad that I a) canceled his account, b) got a recording of the call and went to the G.M who put a note on his account and CC number ensuring that he could not get another account and c) put a note on the guys information that if he was to call the call was to be disconnected instantly. I lcecked a week or so later and the guy called 20 or so more times and everytime the call was disconnected. That was sweet.

Anyway, if you think you can do this without causing anymore problems I would suggest going to your boss and asking for, in writing, the exact policy on dealing with customers who are abusive. If they balk the magic words I’d use are ‘hostile work environment’. That ought to get your bosses attention.

Of course, if that is just going to make the situation worse don’t do it. But it might help you in the future. Or you might want to ask your H.R. department.

Being abused by customers is not acceptable. Though there is a difference between a customer who is yelling because the software broke (understandable, somewhat) and a customer who is yelling AT the tech. The first is going to happen a lot in support and you have to deal with it. The second is not acceptable.


I want to clarify I didn’t mean that one has to be a human punching bag either. For customers who won’t take “no” for an answer, there should be an escalation procedure, you shouldn’t let it get to the point of abuse. For the random customer that just wants to start uncorking on you, there should be a “disconnect” policy that your company will support you on. But random abuse isn’t what happened here in the OP… the OP could not help the customer and could not or would not escalate, royally pissing off the customer. If the OP would not escalate, that’s his fault and he should learn from it. If he could not escalate, that’s his company’s fault and he needs to try to change companies quicklike.

His level of anxiety suggests otherwise. He may already be gone.
You know, duffer, you will eventually have to leave.

You shouldn’t be expected to sacrifice your benefits and incentives – perhaps even your job – in order to do your job. And the company doesn’t expect you to. Not really. They expect you to get fed up and leave. Most large-scale helpdesk/callcenter operations are gristmills. Grind 'em up and spit 'em out. Keep the lower paid warm bodies moving through. When you do leave – and you will – no matter how much notice you give or how clean you keep your nose, you’ll likely find yourself on the Ineligible For Rehire list.

Duffer, it’s Sunday morning. I don’t know about you, but my Sunday paper’s about to hit my doorstep. If you don’t subscribe to one, go out and buy one. A company like that doesn’t deserve to have good, competent employees. Check the want ads, see what’s out there, and get out. Several people I know have had jobs or bosses from hell, including me, and we’ve all decided it’s best to leave them when we’ve still got some shreds of sanity and self-respect. This job doesn’t sound like it will leave you any.

Does your company have a mechanism in place for transferring customers up a level? Were you given any alternative to sitting back and letting yourself be verbally abused? If you weren’t, that’s one more reason not to stick with the company. I don’t know if anyone could have done anything to make your customer happy, but leaving him stuck with you wasn’t going to do it.

Good luck and get out!

You cannot “advance your career” in tech support, it is merely a road to Hell. Someday, perhaps, you might advance to the head of a company’s tech support department. At this time you will catch shit both ways - up from the escalated super asshole callers, and down from the executives who want quotas met on call length, problems fixed, and that nebulous “customer satisfaction” that they will try in vain to quantify, leaving you to run the numbers. Eventually tech support will be moved offshore and/or be handled by an outside agency, and then you will be unnecessary. If you seek employment with one of these agency tech support firms, you will experience the added frustration of being one step removed from the client company, making it more difficult to get training and current information on the products you’re supporting. Tech support might fall under the IT umbrella, but it’s pretty much on the bottom of the pile. Get the hell out of there.

  • sturmhauke, former tech support grunt

I used to work in a casino which had the strange ‘customer is always right’ idea. They would tell you to follow everything the customer told you to do, short of actually paying out to losing bets. The punters actually tried to tell me how fast or slowly I should deal the cards.

As to the OP, I now work in a call-centre. The policy there is you give them a warning like I do “If you swear at me one more time, I am disconnecting this call.” Then you are justified in hanging up if they swear again.
The posters here saying that it is a call centre worker’s job to be yelled at by assholes…give me a break. You sound like one of the assholes that tries to do it. You have obviously never been employed in such a position.
If you had you would know that no matter what kind of call centre, there are always those assholes phoning. 99% of the time they are whining about something that you cannot help them with, (or about something completely unreasonable) even if you wanted to (just like the OP). I am always saying to these people “I wish I could help you, but I cannot. These are your options…”