Shit Customers Say #2

Me: Okay, I need you to unplug the power cord from the back of the box, count to five, and plug it back in.

Female Customer: Well, okay, but I’m naked here, I don’t know if I can do this.

Me: It won’t affect the box, m’am.


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Yes, I’m gonna try to sell you someting…

…and really, I don’t want to, but I’m being forced to do it. It seems as though the cable firm I’m working for doesn’t have a good enough sales force that can go out and do their jobs effectively, or at least not a large enough one, so they rely on us tech people to do their jobs for them. Mind you, most, if not all of us in tech support have no desire to do sales in any way, shape, or form. Yes, we get a commission. No, it’s not as big as a regular sales commission, but, the bottom line is that we’re not sales people. If we were, we would have gone into it.

The big thing is selling you what are referred to as “PSU’s.” What do those letters mean? I have no clue, and no one has given me a straight answer. What they are essentially are one of the three big services, either cable service, Internet, or digital phone. If you have one, but not the others, I’ll be pushing you to buy one of them. You’ll hear leading questions such as, “Who is your long distance carrier?” Naturally, you may answer with, “Oh, I just use my cell phone, and don’t want a land line.”

Now, that is not an acceptable answer to the company. Certainly, it’s fine with me, but the company dictates that I have to ‘deflect your negative push back.” I’m sure you get the meaning of that. Essentially, I have to show you the virtues of having our digital phone, in addition to, or in place of, your cell service.

The problem is – as someone who only uses a cell – I know that it’s a bogus line of crap. Still I have to try and sell it to you, and of course the price I quote you, while attractive, will be considerably more after taxes and fees are added.

Here’s my advice: When you get approached to add a service you may not need, nicely, but firmly tell the agent the following: 1. – “I know you have a monthly quota to meet, but I’m sorry, I don’t need what you’re selling, and don’t wish to pursue this conversation any further.” 2. (Only if you really want something) “Okay, I’d like the entire monthly cost, including all taxes and fees. If you can’t give me an exact number, I don’t want to get what you’re selling.”

How do I feel about having to do this? A little like the guys in Glen Garry, GlenRoss, when Alec Baldwin comes in and berates them:

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Shit customers say #1

This was from a few years ago. It took all the professionalism (ahem…) I could muster not to burst out in a fit of laughter.

Helping a woman to activate her cable box, she realizes that her roommate has incorrectly connected it to her TV and VCR, and now she must maneuver behind a rather large entertainment unit in order to disconnect, then reconnect things, via my instructions. Her frustrations grow, as she must contort her body unnaturally in order to get behind said entertainment unit. Finally, after several expletives, and a liberal amount of, “I’m going to fucking kill her,” she finally, exasperatedly, says to me:

“I can’t do this! I’m not the butch in this relationship!”

My response? “I’m sorry, but I can’t comment on that.” I then muted my phone, put my head down on my desk, and laughed quietly.

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Things you need to know.

First: Cable TV, from whatever company you are using at the moment, is one of the biggest rip-offs you can possibly imagine. Why? Because the value that you get for the services you’re offered is incredibly overpriced, though I suspect that you may have already deduced that.Second, you’ll get cheaper and better value from using Netflix for your movies than On Demand (OD). On demand is about as big a rip-off as it comes, and the service can be notoriously unreliable in many markets. Keep in mind that OD is actually provided by a separate service that is contracted to your cable provider, and we’re at their mercy in many respects just as much as you are. Their movies are being broadcast over the internet, just as Netflix is, with the difference being that it’s going to the cable box that you’re paying an extra monthly fee for as opposed to a game system like Wii, or a Roku box, for which you’ve only had to pay once for. Yes, you have to pay for the Netflix, or possibly Hulu service, but you get so much more variety for far fewer cash.

Third, digital phone service for your landline is far less reliable than a POTS line. In telecom parlance, POTS stands for Plain Old Telephone Service. Why? Well, for one, if you have a home security system and your cable service goes down, so does your home security system, as it’s tied into the digital phone line. Granted, you can lose power to your home, and have the same effect, but you’re more likely to lose your cable service before your power these days. Second, even if you lose your power, your nice phone service on a nice copper line will continue to work! Yep, that’s true. Unless the phone company also loses power at one of their critical switching stations, your phone system will work irrespective of the fact that everything in your freezer has become a miniature example of global warming.

More examples later….

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Yeah, this is pretty close…

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What’s in your wallet? I could care less.

Here’s a question: Would you appreciate it if I were to complain about how much I was paying for rent, or car insurance, or just about any other facet of my finances that I had some reasonable degree of control over? No? Then why do you think I appreciate you whining to me about how much you pay for cable? I’m not interested in the fact that you’re paying close to $300 for all of the things on that account you feel are totally vital to your daily existence, when you know, or should know, that there are other options for you that might be better. Now yes, when it comes to the TV portion, there isn’t much choice in your area, as this company is the only game in town for TV, other than satellite. But, to start off a conversation with “Do you know how much I’m paying for you service?, ” does not exactly make me want to have much sympathy for you or your problem.

Besides, you know the answer to that question before you ask it. Of course I know how much, as it is right here on my computer screen! I know how much you’re paying, how often you’re late with your bill, and if you’re so inclined, how much pay-per-view porn you’re ordering each month. So please, don’t try to make me feel guilty with pronouncements on the enormity of your cable bill. You have only yourself to blame for it.

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Just a headset warrior in a land of stupidity.

Customer service. Tech support. if you’ve lived long enough in this world, you used one of these services from time-to-time. Hopefully, you had a good experience with the person on the other end of the line. If you didn’t, I hate to tell you this, but too many times much of that bad experience can be laid at the feet of one person: YOU! Yeah, you read that right. You. Now, I’m not suggesting that all bad experiences with tech or customer service reps (CSR’s, in the corporate lingo) are the result of your stupidity,  language or any other of the myriad of bad behaviors you may have exhibited over the phone, but sadly the bulk of the time, it winds up being you and you alone. You know that old saying that when you point your finger at someone, you have three more pointing back at you? Take a look at your hand. While you’re giving me the finger for a problem you’re having, you had best make sure you’re not the cause of it in the first place.

So, what kind of service/support do I do? Cable TV inbound (customers call me) technical support. It’s one of the major cable providers in the country, and like all of them, they’re fighting for survival in this changing telecom world. Why do I do this job? Well, for many years I was in another profession, one that gave me great satisfaction and allowed me to help people in need. I did that for over 20 years, but due to a set of personal circumstances, I chose to leave the field. Before you ask, no, I was not fired. I was simply getting burned out. Maybe I’ll disclose more later, but for right now, I’ll play the cards close to the vest. However, you should know one thing:

I hate this job.

Why do I do it? The basics come into play – food, shelter, and health insurance. That last one is a biggie for me, and while I pursue a different career that involves my writing abilities, I need this job to survive. The pay is horrid, the company is a joke, and the supervisory team there – all of whom are 20-30 years younger than me – have no concept of what it really means “to lead.” They are children playing in an adult world, have been put into positions of authority with very little time on the job, and they are expected to have the same judgment as someone who has been seasoned by experience. When I mean very little time, I have seen some of them promoted to supervisory positions in as little as six months. Plain stupidity.

The attrition rate for this field hovers in the 40% range, which is abysmal for any business, although it is regarded here as normal. What’s worse is that this is an outsourcing company that is contracted to the cable provider, so there is even more of a disconnect between the actual cable provider and the people representing them. The cable provider even has a say in the disciplinary decisions of the employees that work for my company. Mind you, my pay stub says I work for one company, not two.

So what is my purpose in writing this blog?  To vent, to be sure.  Also maybe, just maybe, to educate you as to what goes on at the other end of that phone line, so that hopefully you’ll learn what to do, and more importantly, what not to do or say when dealing with one of us. Most of the people I works with are in my same boat in this crappy economy, and given other circumstances, would rather be doing something else. We (and I) try to be as nice as we can, and as helpful as we can, because believe it or not, we do want to help you if you have a legitimate issue. We hate it as much as you do when you have been through three other CSR’s, each one of them possibly worse than the one before, who maybe made your simple issue worse, and now that you’ve come to us (meaning me), we have to clean up the mess someone else left and hopefully get your issue sorted out.

Fortunately, I’m only on the end of a phone line. If I were face-to-face with some of these nimrods, I’d probably be in prison for assault by now. Then again, I never looked good in orange, so I always keep that in mind when I feel the urge to threaten them with bodily harm.

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