Saturday, December 29, 2012

Pay attention to details!

No, I will not refund interest charges that were accrued as a result of your mistake. We already fixed YOUR MISTAKE so that you won't be charged any interest on this balance in the future. This was done as a COURTESY, meaning favor, help, or generosity. As in, we had absolutely no obligation to do this but we did it to be nice so quit being so ungrateful. Your attitude of entitlement will get you nowhere with me.

This is a transaction that the bank is not going to make any money on from this point forward. Sometimes we'll do this as a courtesy to the customer because it builds good customer relations and hopefully you will complete more transactions with us in the future. Lose the attitude and show some gratitude.

Kindly go fuck yourself, accusing us of  hacking into your online account and changing the rate you had selected. You already admitted that this was not a bank error, but now that we're holding you responsible for your finance charges, you want to try a different tactic? Not happening, asshole. Nobody here is going to commit a federal offense over 60 fucking dollars in interest. Personally, if I'm going down, I want to go down in a blaze of glory, not for some fucking chump change.

Also, I'm not stupid. I know the reason you refuse to speak with tech support is because they will prove you WRONG. So yeah, get bent.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Ashamed, the finale

I told the manager that I felt like a failure and maybe I'm not cut out for this job. She asked me not to quit just yet, especially while I was still upset. “There’s attitude, and there’s aptitude. We can teach aptitude; we can give you additional training and teach you the skills that you need for this job. We can’t teach attitude, though. The right attitude is something you either have or you don’t, and you do have it. You have a lot of potential to do well here.” 

She told me to go home for the day and that she would set me up with some one-on-one training with more experienced associates and give me a break from the phone. She’s not denying that we have some shitty customers or saying that I just need to suck it up and deal, which I really appreciate. She’s just hoping that I can learn to ignore them and not let it bother me so much, which would be nice.

When I got home, though, I still felt panicky. I couldn't get myself to calm down. I felt completely exhausted, mentally and physically, which is actually pretty common after a panic attack. I went to sleep around 8 pm but I felt just as bad when I woke up the next morning. I ended up calling in sick to work, too drained to worry about the consequences at the moment. I went back to sleep, thinking maybe I would go in later (I work 10 hour shifts) but I didn't wake up until after 2 pm.

My team manager called to check on me and see how I was feeling, which was a nice surprise. Don’t get me wrong, he is a nice guy. I’m just not used to management actually caring enough to call an employee at home and see how they’re doing. He asked me if I was still coming in on Monday and reassured me that they had me scheduled for training instead of being on the phone by myself.

I feel like if they’re willing to go out on a limb for me and set this up to help me, I should give it another shot. I really do feel like this could be a great company to work for and I don’t like to give up, especially on something I know I can do really well. I’m normally really good with people, and I love working in customer service. 

I'm not ashamed of myself for being human and having feelings, but I do need to learn to distance myself emotionally from these assholes. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Ashamed, part 2

By the time my supervisor returned to my desk to check on me (two minutes, tops), I was hyperventilating as I wrestled with the decision to hide in my cubicle while I made a feeble attempt to get my shit together, or make a run for the ladies room and risk running into more witnesses. I am an “ugly crier;” there’s no hiding my red, splotchy skin and puffy, bloodshot eyes under those fluorescent lights. Luckily my sup made the decision for me and ushered me off into the nearest private office and closed the door while she tried to help me calm down.

I told her that I couldn’t handle this shit. I cannot deal with people screaming at me and verbally abusing me on a daily basis. She tried to assure me that I don’t have to put up with it; when a customer acts like that we’re allowed to immediately put them on hold and find a manager or supervisor to take the call. This is great, but what’s the limit? I can’t be transferring calls every time someone yells at me. I’m trying to prove myself, so I keep trying to do a good job while waiting for this bullshit to stop getting under my skin and bothering me so much, but it’s just not working.

She got me calmed down and told me to take a break, splash some cold water on my face, and go back to my desk when I was ready. I did just that, and walked around outside for a bit, but I just couldn’t seem to catch my breath. Thankfully, I knew that my lunch break was scheduled in about 15 minutes anyway, so I figured I should just take a few more calls in the meantime because the longer I put it off, the harder it was going to be.

When I got back to my desk, a coworker had left me a message that said, “Don’t feel bad, it happens to all of us.” I thought that was sweet and I really appreciated the sentiment, but I was still fighting back tears on every call. I didn't even bother trying to sell anyone a single product or service. I just wanted to get off the phone. Just tell me what you want so I can get off this phone. Thank God my lunch is an hour long.

I started to feel a little better during lunch. I must have looked like shit. The nice lady who runs the cash register in the cafeteria told me I looked like I could use some comfort food. The same coworker who left me the message came to check on me and make sure I was okay before she left for the day. She gave me some really good advice about things that she does to deal with difficult customers. “Last year, I decided I’d had enough. I wasn’t going to let it upset me anymore. I wasn’t going to let it make me sad. I wasn’t going to let it make me feel sick.” And I appreciate that but I don’t know HOW to do that, how to just shut off my reaction like nothing happened.

Toward the end of my lunch break, I checked the clock and realized I had 15 minutes to get back to my desk. Normally I would be happy about that; I had a nice meal and I still have plenty of time to kick back and relax. We have a really nice break room with a large TV and comfortable couches and I always feel reenergized at the end of my lunch. Today, though, as soon as I saw the time I started to panic. I only have 15 more minutes before I have to get back on the phone. I could feel my heart start racing and beating harder. My throat and chest felt tight and I could feel sweat pooling under my arms. Just the thought of getting back on the phone was filling me with dread and making me feel nauseous.

Suck it up, buttercup. As I made my way back to my desk, the supervisor I had spoken with earlier waved me over and asked me, “Are you feeling better?” I just shook my head. “What’s wrong?” I asked her if we could speak in private, and she led me back to an empty office and closed the door.

As soon as I started talking, the tears started again. I told her that I needed to know what my options were, if any, to remain with the company but transfer to a different department. I know that the policy is that you’re not eligible for a promotion until you’ve been in your current department for at least 12 months, but I wasn’t sure if that applied if you were willing to “downgrade” or be demoted or whatever. “I really want to work here, but I don’t know if I can make it through 9 more months of this.” She told me to wait while she spoke with the department manager who I think is in charge of HR or something like that, and then sent me over to her office.

I repeated my concerns to the manager, crying the entire time. She didn’t bring up the 12-month policy, but she did tell me that right now there just isn’t anything else available for her to transfer me. I told her that I don’t think I can take this daily onslaught of verbal abuse. It’s not just once in a while, it’s every day. Every single day and not once has it been because of anything I’ve done wrong. People are just rude and nasty and I’ve been screamed at every single day for every reason imaginable, and none of them have anything to do with me.

“I like working here. I think this seems like a great company to work here and I had really high hopes of making this a career, but I can’t deal with this shit. I could understand if I had done something wrong, but 9 times out of 10 it’s not even something the bank has done wrong. People make mistakes with their accounts or don’t pay their bill on time and get charged a late fee or don’t understand how interest is calculated and somehow that’s my fault and they’re screaming at me.”

This isn’t a customer service issue, either. I’ve worked in customer service in various positions in different industries for 18 years. I’ve never had a job where I wasn’t somehow in customer service. I’ve never been treated this poorly at any other job, and experiencing it every single shift makes me anxious and sick to my stomach. People exhibit behaviors on the phone that they would never show in public. If you walked into a bank branch and started screaming and cussing at a bank teller, you would be asked to leave or forcibly removed by security, so why do you think it’s acceptable on the phone?

Friday, December 21, 2012


This actually happened yesterday, Dec. 20. I'm still processing what happened and writing it all out. Here's Part 1...

I let a customer make me cry today.

To be fair, it was a string of shitty customers, all morning long, and by the time I answered that call my nerves were already worn thin. 

Before I had even finished my standard, cheerful (ish?) greeting, he launched into a tirade about some mistake that had been made on one of his accounts (which account? I don't know because he hadn't even given me his name let alone his account number) and he had to wait on hold for 20 minutes to get a person on the line who finally told him that she would fix the issue (not even close, bitch) but then for some reason told him that she would need to transfer him to another associate (lucky me!) and "WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT THIS?!" 

I don't like being yelled at, and I certainly don't appreciate being yelled at for absolutely no reason. I could feel heat on my cheeks and a slight tremor in my hands as I informed him that I would not be able to give him any information about this account without first verifying his identity. He was completely hysterical, yelling that he had already given me that information (sorry I missed those four digits somewhere in the middle of you screaming at me!) and making a huge deal out of "repeating" himself to me like I was a complete moron.

"Do you need my full social security number? Would that help you to be able to do your job?" followed by more of the same, with me unable to get a word in edgewise.

I pulled up both of his accounts, identified the problem immediately, and went to work rectifying the issue while listening to him complain to someone in the background, insulting my intelligence and accusing the bank of depositing into the wrong account on purpose, hoping that he would just forget about it until we could steal his money. The whole thing was just fucking laughable, but laughing at a customer and calling them out on their stupidity is not actually permitted in this business. I did try, as tactfully as possible, to explain that what he was suggesting is illegal on a federal level and simply not possible under current banking regulations, but that only brought forth more yelling, because, "WELL THEN HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?!"

Nothing I said had any effect on calming him down, which wasn't really a surprise since he wouldn't allow me to finish a full word before interrupting me to yell some more, let alone complete an entire sentence to speculate what may have happened and offer to research the issue with the assistance of a manager. When he finished his third outburst with a condescending, “You probably don’t even know anything about this, but I really would appreciate an answer!” I replied, “I can get you an answer, but I’ll have to put you on hold for a moment while I research this for you.”

The truth is, I already knew exactly what had happened: a simple and honest mistake involving a merchant issuing a refund credit to his old (now closed) account number, the only number that the merchant had on file. Normally that refund would have automatically transferred to his new account, but shit happens. Computer systems are not infallible. There was no nefarious plot by The Big Bad Bank to defraud him of approximately $200 by hiding it in an old account that he’s still able to view online.

Thankfully my manager was nearby and I was able to get his attention pretty quickly. Fighting to maintain my composure, I could hear my voice waver and go up an octave as I asked him for clarification on this issue. Don’t you dare cry; get your shit together! Manager was a bit distracted and basically confirmed what I already knew. Suddenly I couldn't face the idea of getting back on the phone with this customer. I could feel my resolve crumbling as I begged, “Then can you please explain that to him? I can’t take any more of this guy screaming at me. He’s angry and he’s accusing us of stealing his money and I just can’t take this right now,” and then I burst into tears. “I can’t take it!”

To my manager’s credit, he finally made eye contact with me and rushed a supervisor over to help me as soon as he saw my face. She told me to take a deep breath and transfer the call to her phone as soon as she got back to her desk. I struggled to calm my breathing while I waited for her to log in, and in that 30 second time-frame that motherfucker hung up the phone.

I could not stop crying, and I was mortified at my lack of self-control. I hate myself so much when I get that emotional, and the fact that there were witnesses only made it that much more humiliating. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

I don't want to talk to you, either!

I work in a call center for a major financial institution. We get a lot of calls from customers who just want to activate a new card or make a payment, and they're surprised when the call is answered by an actual person. Some of them handle it better than others.

I had a guy cut me off during the verification process today. "I just want to activate this card!" he snapped at me before I could even finish my greeting.

"Wonderful, sir. I can take care of that for you. Can I get your name and the last 4 digits of the card you're calling about?" I get assholes like him on the phone every day but I'm still courteous and professional.

So I'm trying to be nice to this guy and he's grumbling through the whole verification process. I activate his card and ask him the same general questions we have to ask every caller, simple things like signing up for payment alerts. I think I may have offered him a promotion for bonus points on his rewards card (which is a FREE offer, BTW). He's just an asshole the entire time, and then he interrupts me to say:

"I just wanted to activate my card! I don't understand why it didn't go through to the computer. My account is in good standing. Why do I have to talk to you?"

I'm so sick and tired of customers acting like it's such a horrible thing to talk to a live representative. Normally, we're supposed to placate them by saying something like, "Because you're such a valued customer, we want to make sure that you're receiving all of the benefits and features available on your account," or, "We try to offer personalized service to our premier customers." Blah, blah, WHATEVER, you suck. For some reason, this dude just got under my skin a little bit. So I replied:

"Sir, it isn't a negative reflection on the status of your account to be able to speak with a live representative in the United States...Is there anything else I can help you with today?" 

Thursday, December 13, 2012


For as long as I can remember, people have told me things that are none of my business. Complete strangers, or acquaintances I've barely spoken with, will tell me their deepest, darkest secrets. Sometimes I wonder why, but I usually don't think much of it. I'm a good listener. I give advice when I'm able, but for the most part I keep my mouth shut and I don't pass judgement. Sometimes people just need someone to talk to.

I took a call today from a female customer. She made a payment on her account and I asked her a few routine questions. General account maintenance. She asked me if I could reset her account preferences for the bank to stop sending her an electronic copy of her statement. She wanted to receive a copy in the mail only. Pretty routine stuff.

Suddenly she blurted out, "I just found out my husband is having an affair."

Her voice cracked as the words spilled out. Her husband is cheating on her and she wants to make sure that he doesn't have access to her account. I double-checked and assured her that he is not authorized on her account. I went through her entire account while she told me her secrets.

He never wanted her to have her own credit card in the first place. He's always handled the finances, as The Man of The House, and he was angry when she opened the account. She tells me that he warned her, "You're going to ruin your credit. If you make one late payment, we'll lose everything. We'll lose the house!" But she applied for the card anyway, because, "I've always heard that a woman should have something of her own, just in case." Her voice sounded small and fragile, so I tried to give her some of my strength even though it makes me sad to hear someone cry.

"Absolutely!" I agreed. "You never know what's going to happen. You have to be prepared to take care of yourself."  

He knows that she knows something is going on; he recently asked her a lot of questions to find out how much. She's purchased some recording equipment with her credit card and she's afraid that he'll get into her email and see the charges on her statement. If that happens, she won't be able to prove what he's done.

I told her how to change the password on her email and online banking accounts. I told her when her paper statement will be sent in the mail so that she can get to it before he does. I gave her words of encouragement and wished her the best of luck.

But mostly, I kept my mouth shut. I don't judge. She just needed someone to talk to, and I'm glad that I was able to answer that call.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Are you this distrustful of everyone?

 Like I said, we're expected to up-sell "products" and services on every call. Obviously the bank is looking to make some money, but these are things that honestly do benefit our customers as well. They're designed to save the customer money, making it more likely that you'll use our credit cards instead of another bank's, which benefits the bank in the long run. The bottom line is that these are some good deals for YOU; I don't give a shit if the bank makes any money. Well, maybe a little bit. I've got bills to pay, too. Anyway...

Instead of you racking up interest charges on your purchases, I can deposit the money directly into your checking account, interest-free for the next 12 months. Are you paying a higher interest rate on another credit card? I can transfer that balance over to this card, no interest for the next 15 months and even after that promotion ends, our interest rate is still lower than what you're paying now! Bam, I just saved you some more money. You're welcome.

Even with the transaction fee, it will save you money. I have some awesome calculators that can prove to you exactly how much, if you could give me two minutes of your time to explain this. Personally, I think the bank has enough fucking money, and I'd like to see some of that go back to the customer. I might be working for the man, but I am a sneaky little bitch and I will try to save you a dollar any way I can. 

One thing I can't do, though, is waive that transaction fee. That shit is required by law, unfortunately. People get so pissed about this, they would rather pay twice as much in interest every month on some shitty credit card that doesn't even have a points program on it than let me do a balance transfer that would save them hundreds of dollars. Idiots.

We also have quarterly promotions where we offer bonus points or cash back on our cards. These offers are completely free of charge and are designed, pure and simple, to entice you to use this credit card. If you already have a rewards card, why wouldn't you want to get 2500 extra points just for using a card you're already using? Or even better, you don't have a rewards card? Here's some cash back in the form of a statement credit, just to thank you for using this card. Personally, I think that's pretty awesome.

Here's the problem, though. People are so fucking paranoid and distrustful of banks that they absolutely refuse to believe that this shit is for real. They think that if they let me sign them up for some bonus points, I'm going to raise their interest rate as soon as they hang up the phone. Because that's perfectly legal, right? Or they think that I'm going to charge them some kind of hidden fee after the fact. Some of them won't even let me explain the offer before they snap at me and hang up the phone. 

I can see how much you use this card, and I'm guessing that you have a rewards card for a reason. You could have had 3 points per dollar instead of 1, jackass. Honestly, I don't know why I even care. Maybe I'm just pissed because I have shitty credit and I can't get one of the cards for myself. I wish someone would offer to give me a few cents back every time I bought something!

Not everyone is out to get you!

You know those blank checks that you get in the mail with your credit card statement? Sometimes they have promotional rates, even zero interest, for a set time before the remaining balance goes back to your contract interest rate. All of the terms of agreement to use those checks are printed directly on the same page, and honestly it is pretty consumer -friendly language. If you have any questions, PLEASE call and ask! The bottom line is, this is a check that YOU write and YOU cash and you have no one to blame but YOURSELF if it's not paid off in time. Nobody tricked you into whipping out that pen and borrowing $3000 from your line of credit.

I am not responsible for how YOU make YOUR payments. The manner in which we allocate your payments is regulated by, you guessed it, the feds. This information is available in writing in a number of places, and is required to be read VERBATIM for any transaction performed over the phone. Yes, those calls are recorded. If I miss anything, the transaction will be cancelled by quality control. 

Don't call me after the promotional rate expires and you're being charged interest because you didn't pay off the balance in time. It certainly didn't help that you kept making purchases on the card, increasing the total balance on the card. It's not my fault you can't math. Nobody sold you some magic beans over the phone and ripped you off. You were sure as hell able to read the part where it said zero interest for 10 months...suddenly I'm a crook because you "didn't see" the part advising you how payments are allocated if you have multiple balances with different interest rates? And no, it is not "fine print."

As far as promotional offers are concerned, yes, I am required to "up-sell" certain products and services if they are available for your account. Not a single one of these offers will raise or lower your credit limit, raise your interest rate, cost you points or cash from your existing rewards program, spam your inbox with junk email or subject you to telemarketing sales calls. We offer promotions which are genuinely to the benefit of our customers because, damn this economy sucks! We want our customers to use our cards, but we understand that times are tough and people need a damn good reason to use their credit line. 

We honestly do reward our customers for their loyalty, but when I suggest a "sale" to some customers, OMG you'd think I just punched a baby in the face! People are so paranoid that there's gotta be some catch that, instead of letting me explain the offer, they cut me off, yell in my ear, and hang up the phone. We send the complete details out in the mail. Don't bother calling back later when you realize what a mistake you've made, Mr. "saving all my points for that plane ticket to Cabo". Once I click "not accepted" that offer is GONE. Go fuck yourself and your bonus points!

You're an idiot and possibly a criminal

Please stop asking me to do things to your account which are illegal. No, I cannot transfer your outstanding balance, which is a debt you have incurred on your credit line, onto another card at a lower interest rate. When you made those purchases or spent that money, you did so under a contract with an existing interest rate which you agreed to pay. Don't call me a crook and accuse me of refusing to help you...well, I guess I am refusing to help you, because what you're asking is not possible! I can transfer your AVAILABLE credit to any number of accounts in multiple ways, but that existing debt needs to be paid under your contract rate.

No, I cannot waive your transaction fee and credit your account the amount of money you were charged as a late fee from a different bank! This woman actually DEMANDED that I do exactly this, because she had given us the wrong checking account number for a direct deposit and the transaction was rejected. As a result, she didn't get her money in time to pay off some bill (which she should have had paid as a balance transfer, but I digress) and received a late fee. That account number was verified at least twice before the deposit was processed; whose fault is it that the number wasn't even close to the actual account she wanted to use? I CANNOT waive that transaction fee (except in extreme circumstances like for customers effected by natural disaster, but even then a manager has to fix it) and are you even serious asking us to pay you back for a fee from ANOTHER BANK?! STFU AND GTFO!

I'm surprised you know how to use a phone...

The degrees of stupidity, distrust and outright paranoia that I deal with on a daily basis is just ridiculous.

I don't even know where to begin...

I had a caller who refused to verify the security code (CVV) on the back of his card because he felt that it was "suspicious" of me to ask. His opinion was that if I actually worked for the bank, I should already have that information. First of all, this is an incoming call. I didn't call you at random to solicit information. Secondly, we actually do not have that number preloaded in the system. We enter in the number you give us and either it works or it doesn't. This is part of the identity verification process. So now I have to transfer this idiot to the fraud department for that associate to ask him 6 different personal, identifying questions before I can get into his account. You don't mind giving us all sorts of personal details, but you can't give me a 3-digit number?!

He wasn't even the only one. I had a woman who had pretty much the same reaction and asked me where I worked...fucking Card Services, bitch; are you serious?! Again, YOU called ME! She said I was asking her some very unusual questions: the last 4 digits of her account number, the expiration date, and the 3-digit security code. 

That is the bare minimum information we need to get into an account, and that's IF you're calling from the home number listed on file. If not, then we need other information like your mother's maiden name, DOB, SSN, email address on file, other account info, etc...this is for the protection of your account! I can't take your word for it that you are Joe Smith just because you're too lazy to get the card out of your wallet, and no, it doesn't matter if you're just looking for the balance or you just want to make a payment. This shit is regulated by the federal fucking government and I am not costing my bank a hefty fine and losing my job for some asshole.

Call Center Hell

I received a negative survey from a cardholder who called in on my first day and claimed that I became exasperated with him and was unable to help him with his account, to the point that he had to end the call. I remember that ass-clown  I was so nice that motherfucker! I offered him multiple options to resolve the issue. He declined every one of them and said that he would make the changes online. He was a complete idiot who was clueless about every detail of his account.  That may have stemmed from the fact that his wasn't the only name on said account. 

Here's a clue: if you are the primary cardholder, maybe you should be more careful of who you authorize for access to your account. BTW, they have access to your entire credit line as well...

I have people yell at me during the identity verification process, daily. I'm so sorry that we are trying to protect your account from unauthorized use. This goes double for people who are calling about an account on which they are not authorized. Yelling at me isn't going to change banking regulations that are regulated by the federal government!

Oh, you wanted to use the automated system? Well, that's too bad. You're stuck with me...and trust me: I'd rather not be talking to you, either. Next time, why don't you call from a phone number that's attached to your account? It might also help if you had your card; that security code on the back sure comes in handy!

I had a woman decline to make her payment over the phone because an actual human had answered the line. "I don't feel comfortable giving out my checking account information to a's too dangerous." Bitch, if I wanted to steal your identity and rack up a bunch of credit, I'm already looking at your full name, address, phone numbers, SSN, DOB, and the full account numbers of every credit card you've ever had with this bank, including the one you don't want to pay right now. They fingerprint us through the FBI database for a reason.

I had a doctor call in and immediately ask me to hold...because he was in the middle of treating a patient. I would so super pissed if my doctor stopped in the middle of my appointment to call and activate a credit card! He verified the account and asked me to speak to his wife, who snottily asked me what else I needed. Umm? You called me. "We only wanted the card activated!" (cue saccharine sweet voice) "I apologize ma'am...your husband didn't mention that!" 

Fucking idiots...see you next Tuesday, bitch. Then there was the dentist who called while he was drilling someone's teeth in the background. Nice.

People get angry because they are traveling and their card gets declined because they never notified us and the charges get flagged by fraud prevention for the protection of their account. How pissed do you think they'd be if we approved every single charge that came through if the card had been stolen? Oh wait, we have a zero fraud liability policy...It takes 3-5 minutes to call us and let us know that you're going to be traveling, or that you'll have an unusual purchase amount coming through. You don't have time for that, yet you have time to scream at me for 20 minutes after the fact? Fuck you, too.

You know how people act all bad-ass on the internets (the comments sections on Yahoo and Youtube alone have made me lose my faith in humanity) because they're really a sad loser who's stuck alone at home on a Friday night and you just know they would never say that shit to anyone's face in real life? I talk to those people on the phone all day long.

Thank you for calling Card Services...

I recently started a new job in a call center for a large financial institution. Specifically, I handle incoming customer service calls for existing credit card customers. There is also a sales component because we are expected to up-sell "products" and services on every call.

I just completed my 90 day probationary period and I'm already about to lose my shit.