Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Some Of The Dicks I Had To Deal With While Working In Customer Service (Part 1)

There are a lot of assholes in the world, a topic that I think we've covered very well here. But people are always on a sliding scale of asshole. In our day to day life, while we walk the streets or bore away our lives at work, we might run into people who are slight dicks or maybe just mildly obtuse. But people out in the real world never quite hit a level of asshole that is shocking enough to talk about because they're out in the open, they're vulnerable to attack or retribution if they do anything wrong.

But if the numerous atrocities committed in all the wars and sea voyages that have happened throughout history have confirmed, people are at their most vicious and stupid when they out of the judgmental eye of authority. It's the obvious explanation for why the internet is mostly so fucking horrible, because when you're anonymous, you aren't susceptible to having your behaviour judged socially. Or at least in any way that will have lasting fallout.

So to get to the point, I used to work as a Customer Service Advisor for a company that handles health and fitness contracts. As you can imagine this is the perfect maelstrom of people not having to face up to you when being an asshole, while also being relatively anonymous enough to get away with it. After all, if Joe Bloggs calls up and treats me like shit over the phone, even if I have his home address and all of his personal banking information, what the hell could I even do.

I could send him a nasty letter, but it's not like I'll get any joy from him reading it. And if I steal money from his account, it'll be pretty obvious who did that, since I'm not enough of a criminal mastermind, or even a criminal competent to not get caught immediately.

So the best thing to do is be irritatingly polite and just take the shouting and threats, because talking softly to people who are yelling always produces an uneasy atmosphere. 

This isn't to say that everyone's a dick. In fact a lot of people are nice on the phone and I urge people to be more like them. But it's the twats that I want to shame today. Shame them in a way that keeps them and all their information completely anonymous.

So I think the best way to do this is to split it up into catergories, to document all the different species of moron there are, that make up the complex web of the asshole ecosystem that you get from customer service.


This person is such a rarity that they get a category all to themselves. But this isn't something to be proud of. Strangely, this did actually work for them and they were deemed such a sociopath that they got away with whatever it was they wanted. I wouldn't quote that as an insider secret, but I can't deny that it might not get you what you want.

Obviously it's advice that's only relevant to a very slim set of scenarios. Obviously if you've been tried for a crime of harassment or something and try to get out of it by sending shit to the judge, it probably won't put you in the best light on trial day.

But yeah, at the end of the day, pretty self explanatory. One day I came to open the mail and a piece of shit fell out. I can't confirm if it was from the person themselves or just from some random animal that they picked up off the side of the road, but at this point, neither is crazy enough for me to disregard.


Every now and again you have the joy of speaking to someone who has hit rock bottom when it comes to explaining themselves. What's always the most shocking about people with terrible reasons, is the fact that they called me. If I'd have called them and put them on the spot for a reason why they have to cancel, then I'd understand if their explanation is a bit shaky. But when they've had the time to think up their reasoning, plan it in their head and then call to have a discussion about it; sometimes it blows my mind about what people come up with.

As is standard with many gyms, you can cancel as long as you have a medical reason and can prove it. So one of my favourites is the person who called to tell me that their doctor had told them not to exercise because they were too fat.

That has to be the shittiest doctor in the world. His fatality rate must be hitting Shipman levels with advice like that. I can just imagine him recommending that they don't bother with chemo because there's just too much cancer.

What I'm most amazed about is how the doctor even managed to phrase that on the note, because I never got to see it. He's a damn word smith if he managed to pull it off without making it even vaguely sound like the most patronising thing in the world.

Another guy once called me to explain how his signature had been faked and that he hadn't even been near the area of the gym ever. That was pretty weird cause he lived just down the road from it, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt. 

He said the signature we had on file looked nothing like his. So obviously I asked if we could have proof of that, such as a driver's licence demonstrating his real signature and that I would be happy to sort it out. I even suggested maybe getting the police involved since an actual crime had happened.

He didn't want to do that and as I questioned it further, I got called a cunt more and more to the point where its increased use was hitting the rate of the fucking Fibonacci sequence. I was eventually hung up on, so I can assume either the guy was lying or he just really hates it when people try to protect him from identity theft.

One final example of people being mind blowingly idiotic was when someone called up to close their account. While I was closing it I realised there had been a mess up and in fact we had never actually taken any money. At this point then, I awkwardly told her this and asked for the money before closing it.

She was immediately outraged and asked why she had to pay, arguing that if she hadn't been charged by this point, that therefore she shouldn't have to. I had to pull about a thousand analogies out of my arse, explaining to her that just because you don't pay for a service immediately, that doesn't mean that you don't have to.

If you go to a restaurant, eat a delicious steak, leave the premises and have the waitress wave you off because they don't realise you haven't paid. Then when they run after you down the street for payment, you can't just rub your belly and shout “all gone”, as if that's the end of it.

Infuriated by my continued requests for payments she exploded and asked to speak to the manager, even at one point having the aneurysm induced mentality to ask for a refund. I asked her what I would even refund and then she hung up.

This one's actually a nice story. You know what the best excuse I ever head to cancel was. The member was dead. Death certificate and everything. Easiest customer I ever had.


There are actually a lot of people who have genuinely sad stories. Sometimes people are quite lonely and seem to need the required politeness of customer service to let out all their problems. I'm guessing they must be lonely and need someone to talk to, but don't have the money to get a therapist. It doesn't bother me too much, but that doesn't stop it from being slightly awkward. But then again, I'm also terrible at communicating with strangers or showing emotions normally. I always sound fake when I try to be comforting, so really it's my own problem. Still, it keeps me from having to work for a bit, so overall it works out as a positive.

But the really annoying calls are from the people who don't have a sad story to tell. Instead they want you to feel so emotional on their behalf that you'll do anything for them, since it's a very reliable technique. Unfortunately, they have such an uninteresting life and apparently are terrible at telling lies, that they have no good story to tell. So instead they just take something that isn't sad at all and try to act as if it is.

One particularly memorable event was when a woman called up to tell me that she missed a payment because she hadn't put money in her account due to having a miscarriage. I gave her my condolences, at which point she told me that it was fine since she wasn't too keen on having it anyway.

Fair enough. At least it takes the awkwardness off on my part to be extra nice. It was while I was taking her payment that she hit new levels by asking, “so yeah, cause it's like pretty bad and everything, could I like cancel on this or not”. I told her no and she got annoyed, asking to speak to the manager.

Apparently in the top trumps of life's emotional priorities, gym membership trumps dead baby.

Possibly the worst one was when someone called up asking if they could cancel because a death had occurred in the family. Unfortunately, this isn't a reason to do so, but I always sympathise that a death is a reason to give up on things. A husband. A child or possibly even a parent.

This person however had been stricken with the death of their cousin's friend. I shit you not. The worst part of this is, maybe you could say that they were close to this person. But then why call them their cousin's friend. If they were a friend, you'd call them a friend. I think if you can't even be bothered to lie that you liked someone to a random stranger, then you couldn't have given much of a shit about them.

When I disagreed that this was valid, I got called a wanker this time. But at least they hung up quickly. I love when they leave me alone.

So that was part 1 of some of the idiots, morons and assholes that I've had to deal with. I guess if there's an overall message to this, it would be to be nice to customer service people. At the end of the day, they're just bottom rung dwellers who are as shat on as you. They're not in charge, so in future, try to be nice.