Doing Business in a World of Idiots

in #life4 years ago (edited)

Have you worked in a business dealing with customer service and sales? It's a job that requires a specific personality type. The customer is the lifeblood of the business, but also the biggest threat. No matter how good your service, or how good the company you represent, there seems to be a deliberate conspiracy to destroy your sanity on the part of a certain segment of your customers.

According to the Pareto principle, 80% of the profits come from 20% of the customers. No one advertises the corollary that the other 80% of your customers are INSANE. For example:

client from hell

I used to work in a call center. Don't worry, I wasn't completely evil. I was "inbound calls," meaning people calling the 1-800 number from TV and radio commercials called me. I wasn't in the "outbound" department, so I didn't interrupt any dinners.

This was for one of the major US cell phone service providers. There were a lot of commercials, and a lot of calls. Many of the callers were idiots.

"Thank you for calling __________, my name is Jacob. How can I help you set up an account today?"

Yeah, gimme the deal on the commercial with the free phones.

"Yes, I can help with that. How many lines do you need?"

Just gimme the deal on the TV!"

"I can do that. I just need to ask a few questions so I can make sure I set up the plan that's best for you."


Another "fun" one was the scammer. Nothing ruins your day more than spending half an hour fine-tuning the plan, device, and other details only to find out it's an idiot with a stolen credit card.

Our fraud check system was good. However, we often knew it was fraud when dealing with such callers, so it was often something we could foresee. And on other occasions, the credit check was excessive paranoia, and some verification questions were asked and the sale was processed. Those were always a relief.

What was worse, though, were the people with bad credit. There's a reason the TV and radio ads say there's a credit approval threshold for their best deals. The "Free" $500 phones required a contract plan. You needed to qualify for such plans, because the cost of the devices was amortized as part of the service fee over those two years. But somehow it was MY fault they weren't aware of this fact, and MY fault they were in too much debt to qualify. And I can't fix that. Such people don't want to hear about prepaid stuff. They want free stuff.

I had the "privilege" of working with both business and consumer accounts. Business accounts... THERE'S a fun subject. I don't mean the employee discount programs. Those were usually OK. "I'm calling because I work for [well-known business] and I heard I can get a discount!" I could deal with that just fine. No, I mean the, "I wanna set up a corporate account" guy.

If I thought consumer account fraud was bad, corporate account fraud was far worse. So many wasted hours from people who wanted business lines with Blackberries (this was a few years ago...) and all the bells and whistles on such sketchy corporations ... shudder ... And it was almost always an arrogant self-important jerk with a "concert promoter" shtick or the like. New business means no history. No history means no credit. No credit means no corporate deal. And also, you sound about as legit as a real estate agent offering a deal on ocean view property in Kansas.

News You Can Use

  1. Pay off your debts, know your credit rating, and live within your means. Don't blame other people for the consequences of your choices.
  2. Better yet, go prepaid on your phones so credit is irrelevant. You'll probably save money, too!
  3. Don't attempt ID theft or other forms of fraud. Everyone loses, and you're a loser for trying it in the first place, douchebag.
  4. If you're calling any kind of call center, don't be an ass. You haven't been there, man. You don't know what it was like! [/PTSD]
  5. Turn off the TV, the stereo, and other loud noises in the background. Do not argue with your spouse while talking on the phone. For the love of all that is holy, do not hold a squalling baby while talking on the phone. Have mercy on us! We can't hang up, because it's our job to talk to you, you sadistic monster! BUT WE WANT YOU TO DIE IN A FIRE THE WHOLE TIME!!!

So what's your worst story about terrible customers/clients? Comment below!



I was an inbound CSR for a major cable company here in the USA. I did the grunt work for a year or so ( you need to pay the bill so the cable will be on again and please be sure the modem is plugged into the power outlet) and then moved up the chain to Tier 2, actual repair work.

I actually loved helping customers! In the 7.75 years I took calls I had so many amazing calls!

An elderly women collapsed in the midst of our troubleshooting her internet connection. We had a procedure in place for emergencies. So I grabbed another supervisor to call 911 in her town while I continued to try and get some response from her. Yes as sup I had to take a certain number of calls!
We stayed on the line until we heard the esquad arrive and they identified themselves, thanked us for calling it in. And yes, she survived!

But one of the funniest/ saddest was right after Hurricane Katrina. I had been at the call center only a few months.
Infrastructure was wiped out in that area, most of our techs had lost homes and family, and still they were out there trying to restore basic phone communications. Above and beyond the call of duty! A guy calls in, my screen showed him in the devastated area, but no way to know if his area was coming back online at that point. He chewed me up and down, made threats, told me where I could go etc. because the cable wasn't working. Listening to him I could tell he wasn't quite with us. I went through the basics. Is your electric power back on? Is your cable box plugged in... At which point he said no to everything." I'm in our RV, no idea where most of my house and stuff is. Lady, I just want to watch the wrestling match!" I explained to him that no power, no cable lines, and no cable box means no working cable. He hung up and reported me for not fixing his cable...

Yeah those calls determined who was meant for the job or not. After the Katrina disaster I was working for a mail in center (inbound back-end support.) When the mail finally started getting delivered it looked like dogs chewed every letter. It sucked but we had to close a lot of credits for customers because we didn't have the necessary paper work to validate them. Sometimes we would just get a piece of torn paper with our address on it.

Clearly your failure to overcome reality demonstrates a deep personal flaw.

Ha ha ha :D That's funny yeah I had a panic story like that! I am an IT guy and one of my client brought his laptop and said it's not working! I have noted a windows OS error there and asked him did you delete something? He said yes he tried to remove a file called as windows from C: drive :/
We have that kind of customers and we had to understand that is the nature of our job too :D


Have you had to help anyone who fell for something like the ol' "Delete the Windows System32 folder to speed up your computer" gag, or the older "del * . *" DOS command?

Someone people even don't know what is Windows :/ There is a big gap between employee age & computer literacy!

Yeah, there are some funny buggers out there! I've worked in all manner of call centres, customer service and sales roles. Nearly drove me insane. Nearly? ;)

Did you ever encounter a customer who asked, "Can I buy this with my food stamps card?"

When I was studying I worked at an electronics store part time. My weirdest customer was a guy that came about 5 times a week and told me that he wanted to buy a toaster that can also print pictures. I had no idea what he was talking about. It took me about 3 weeks until I figured out that he meant a scanner. Guess these people are everywhere... Great writeup!

Everyone should work in some sort of customer service position, then I think people would be a little nicer when something doesn't go exactly the way they think it should.

I always try to remind myself when I get less-than-par service, that everyone has a bad day. Everyone. Customer service demonstrates that most people really aren't paying attention. Sad but true.

I never had a problem with the customers. I loved them all, the good ones made me smile and the bad ones made me laugh. It was always the spineless management who gave impossible to achieve goals.

That and QC they were never native english speakers so they didn't understand rapport building beyond the one liners we were "suggested" to say nor did they understand accents and normal behavior of Americans. So I got written up until they fired me at every center I worked because I didn't fit their model of good customer service.

Ever-changing departmental policies too, I bet.

I sometimes had the pleasure of calling folks to inform them that because their account value dropped a quarter million from yesterday, I would need a check for 25 grand before 3pm so as not to sell out their stocks that were still dropping :)

I once contacted an organization to ask them how I could become a sponsor for their soccer league.

They responded to me by asking, "How can we contact you?"

The discussion ended there.

Entertaining post! I worked many years,( pre-computerisation) in a law office doing conveyancing. On occasion, the sale would be stalled because the land registry lost the property folio. The response when I informed the purchaser's solicitor was always 'when will it be found?' My attempts to explain the concept of 'lost' would always elicit the same response; 'But do you know who I am?'

Because the utterance of my name scares lost files into revealing their location!

Ha ha ha, got it in one!........ I'm so sorry sir, I didn't realise it was you. I shall have it found immediately, if not sooner. Sir.

Send out the bloodhounds, the indian scouts, the sherpa guides, and the Custeau scuba team!

Hahaha this made me laugh a lot :P Great post @jacobtothe

Thanks for sharing your story. The news that you can use is great advice.

Keep up the good work. Upvoted

I worked at an inbound call center once, too, and I know just what that's like. I also work in a vape store and we have our fair share of ridiculous customers.

What size bottle do you want to get, ma'am?
...what nicotine strength?
...alright then.

Imagine how bad it could be to deal with some people at the legal weed stores in WA or CO!