Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Joy of Working in a Call Center

Call center in Florida. It looks a lot like the one I work in.

On one of my favorite chatting websites, we often talk about our jobs, what sucks about them what rocks about them, how we like/dislike our managers, how that annoying person down the hall not only makes us annoyed to hell and back, but also seems to be great for a story to pass on.

Last night we started discussing call centers briefly. Because I work in one, It is an outsourcing call center, so I am not really allowed to say what contract I work on. So, please forgive me. This is my list of things I noticed while working in a call center, or things that don’t happen at normal workplaces.

1. People are generally morbidly obese, or really excruciatingly thin. There are not many that are in between. The ones that are obese, tend to walk around taking one step at a time and hold themselves up with the walls and anything around that they can grasp. The too thin ones are likely on meth. At least that’s what they look like.

2. Everyone is a gamer, is married, seeing a gamer, or has recently broken up with a gamer for another gamer. 8 times out of 10, married employees have met their S.O. on the internet, World of Warcraft online, or at work.

3. People have no shred of understanding about normal hygiene. “Bathe more than once a week” is foreign to them. “Use deodorant” is another oddity. Put a bunch of really large people together that have not bathed or used deodorant in a while and you have a fire hazard.

4. Speaking of stench: the bathrooms. I don’t know if it is the way these people eat, or if it’s just that they are filthy beasts. The bathrooms are impossible. People smear poop on the walls, and I find used tampons/pads in the corner, they don’t flush, and most of the time, they don’t wash their hands. I see little wads of toilet paper or towels stuffed in the corners of the stalls, they pee on the seats. I could go on…

5. The employees usually do not dress for their size/figure. I often see large bellies hanging out under t-shirts, muffin tops and people who look like they can’t breathe, because their pants are so tight.

6. There is often the smell of freshly smoked pot filling the air when my co-workers come back from their breaks and lunches.

7. The larger people are up in arms every time the elevator breaks down.

8. We have an extraordinary amount of transgendered people working here. Often you can’t tell which sex they are currently. Even when they go into the restrooms. Women with full beards, men with large breasts. It’s all very confusing.

9. Someone once actually pooped on the carpet right outside a manager’s cubicle.

10. People spit everywhere. Especially right where other people are walking or standing. Mostly in the smoking section.

11. No social or driving skill exists here.

12. People with terrible teeth work here. So bad that it hurts to look at them.

13. Someone once brought his girlfriend up the stairs by a spiked collar and a chain leash. She wore a wedding dress to work. They claimed to be vampires.

14. People that work in call centers more than 80% of the time have the most annoying voices. And the ones that have the most annoying voices, tend to yell a lot.

15. Farting is commonplace. And never excused.

16. This place is a breeding ground for disease and illness. Most people don’t cover their mouths when they cough. That’s probably how the TB broke out here last year.

17. Everyone seems to have sex with everyone else. It’s pretty gross. If you aren’t sleeping with someone here, you are either married to someone (and most of the time that doesn’t stop people) here, a prude, or you will have gossip started about you.

Then, there are the callers.

1. More often than not, we get yelled on an hourly basis. Sometimes, we get calls from really nice people, but most of the time, we are threatened, screamed at about how horrible we are – not the company, but us, personally. Especially if we can’t fix their problem.

2. Customers do strange things on the phone.

3. I had a customer start having sex with her S.O. while on the phone with me. Once I figured out what they were doing, I hung up.

4. I have also had people that were hiding from their ex-spouses.

5. I heard one woman getting beat up by her husband/boyfriend. I have also heard children getting threatened by their parents.

6. I don’t think customers realize how much we hear over the phones and how much things are amplified. Washing dishes, or using the restroom can really hurt our ears. Same with filling a glass with ice cubes.

7. We can hear you talking to other people about how retarded you think we are. Why did you call us if you know more than we do?

8. The wind in the phone is not conducive to me hearing you well enough to understand you. Same with speaker phone. While sometimes, I understand that you need to put us into that situation, please don’t do it for long and don’t do it if not necessary.

9. If I can identify what movie your child is watching, it’s on too loud. If I know what kind of traffic you are having by the news that you have on your TV, it’s too loud.

10. Please don’t run the garbage disposal next to the phone.
Please don’t yell at people, or cough or hold anything beeping up to the phone when you are talking to me.

11. If you have a fire alarm that needs a new battery, fix it. That is a really quick way to get an angry tech that is not so willing to help you.

12. If American English is not your first language, do not get angry because we can’t understand you. We are trying our best, just speak slower and we may be able to decipher what you are saying. Or pick the Spanish version of our call at the prompt.

13. As soon as you don’t hear anything, don’t start screaming Hello, Hello into the phone. We will greet you if we are given a chance.

14. Do not call me baby, doll, sweetheart or try to get me to fly out to your area for a date and don't pressure me to leave my husband for you.

I didn’t mean to make this into a rule book on how to talk on the phone, but most of this is common sense. You’ll get much better service.

As for how it is in the workplace, from what I understand, this is fairly commonplace. It doesn’t excuse it, but…. We do what we can, I guess.


sans serif said...

I guess it really matters where you work. a lot of these things don't happen at my call center :) I guess i'm lucky to have escaped from stream.

tracey said...

I am not grossly obese or remotely too thin, and I'm not now nor have I ever been a vampire, but I desperately want to get a job at a call center (not actually work there, just visit it like a museum) so I can see all the freaks and geeks!

Josh said...

I really enjoyed reading this. It's nice to hear stories from people who have worked in call centers like I have.

Some of the things you put down here are astonishingly like my own rants.

Technofied said...

Hi I really enjoyed your article. Damn acll center guys over there surely has some fixing to do with their lives!

Michael said...

I liked the article, and I agree with most of what you said there. It is funny as to how it's mostly like a high school for special and obese people that like to have sex with each other. As for the cust abuse, I've learned pretty quickly how to deal with that. And if your more pleasant to the rep you'll get more done. I had to call my phone/internet provider to dispute a $70 charge which I figured would take an act of congress and I just asked for an explanation explained that I didn't sign up for that and if I did I asked for the details on how it was signed up for and the lady took it right off. It's crazy how being a call center rep you learn how to get your way in a lot of situations now :)

Anonymous said...

I loved reading this. I laughed so hard, I cried a bit.
Thank you for a much needed laugh.
(I've been working at a call center for about a month now, but I don't think I am going to last.)

Tink said...

I don't know if I'm glad that people understand or sad. But I'm really glad that some found it funny. It's true, but it is also strangely hysterical... ;-)

John Franzen said...

I was thinking about getting a job at a call center, looking for articles, this was pretty funny! :)

Anonymous said...

Pretty offensive how you talked about transgender people like there was something wrong with them. They are people too and the rate of suicide is very high because of how badly people treat them. Because job discrimination is so common quite a few end up in sex work just to survive.

Jennifer Fox-Williams said...

it wasn't meant to be offensive. It was an observation. It does get confusing sometimes. I've seen transgendered people get reamed for being themselves. That's not me. Of course, I also may have evolved in my acceptance in the last 5 years.

There is a lot that I could say, but I don't quite no how to word it. Please just understand and believe that no offense was meant, and it really was just an observation - because this was the first place that I had ever worked with or had actually seen a transgendered person.

Missy Ann said...

I dont see anything offensive about the comment. Dont be so sensitive.