Thursday, January 17, 2013

Conversations with a call centre

I got a call from PC Financial last week saying that one of their merchants had had a security breach, and they were sending me a new credit card. I'd signed up only a month earlier, so I was slightly annoyed, but identity theft would have been more annoying. I said thank you and checked the mail every day looking for the new card.

In a furious attempt to show my body who's boss, I haven't been eating the last few days until after I go to the gym in the evening. Dysfunctional but effective: I've lost 3.5 pounds already. As a result, I was starving yesterday on the way back from a marathon gym session, when I finally found the card waiting in our mailbox. I decided to do the card activation while microwaving my supper, since it should be quick. This is what happened (the caps are me yelling...):

Automated system: "Welcome to PC Financial. Stay on the line for service in English." (Pause). "Enter the 16-digit number on your card."

I type in the number.

Automated system: "Enter the month of your birth, followed by the last two digits of your birth year."

Me: "What?" (Pause while my food-deprived brain slowly figures this out). I type in the number.

Automated system: "Enter the security code on the back of your card."

The card is still glued to the paper it came on, so I quickly pull it off and flip it over. As I type the first number...

Automated system: "You have not entered the correct security code."

Me: "For fuck's sakes, give me a second!" I finish typing in the number.

Automated system: "Enter your access code and then select a PIN."

I type in the number.

Automated system: "Type in your PIN again to verify."

I type in the number.

Automated system: "Invalid PIN entry." Me: "What the hell?" Phone begins ringing and is answered by a call centre rep, who blitzes through his name and several identity verification questions.

Rep: "While your card is activating, let me tell you about the insurance products we have available with this card."

Me: "I'm not interested." Rep ignores me and continues talking.

Me: "This is a replacement card and I just heard this information. I'm not interested."

Rep: "I know this is a replacement card, but why wouldn't you want this product?" Starts rhyming off sales pitch again.

Me: "I.am.not.interested. Is my card activated or not?"

Rep: "Why don't you want this insurance? You need it to protect yourself and have peace of mind. Here are the benefits..."

Me: "I am an accountant who works at an insurance company. I have adequate insurance already. Is my card activated?"

Rep: "Disability and job loss happen to everyone, ma'am. I don't understand why you don't want this product. The features are outstanding!"

Me: "All I want to know is whether my card is activated or not, and whether my PIN went through properly. Can..." Rep interrupts me to start telling me about the insurance again.

I hold the phone out to my husband and ask if the rep is still talking. When he finally stops five minutes later and there is blessed silence, I say hello again.

Rep: "So I'm going to send you the contract and you can sign it and send it back."

Me: "I haven't heard anything you said, because I wasn't listening. I told you I wasn't interested, and you kept talking, so I put the phone down. I just need to know whether my card is activated and..." Rep interrupts me to start telling me about the insurance again.

Me: "STOP TALKING!  Do NOT interrupt me..." Rep starts talking. Me: "I said, STOP TALKING! Is my card activated?"

Rep (sulkily): "Well, you wouldn't let me talk, so I couldn't tell you. And I don't know anything about your PIN."

Me: "I'm done talking to you. Transfer me to your supervisor." Rep starts talking about the insurance again.

Me: "I SAID, TRANSFER ME TO YOUR SUPERVISOR! THIS INSTANT!" Rep continues babbling.

Me: "TRANSFER! TRANSFER! TRANSFER! TRANSFER! TRANSFER!"

Supervisor: "Hello?"

I'll spare you the play-by-play of the next 20 minutes. The supervisor told me my card was activated, but she didn't know about my PIN and she would transfer me to customer service. After going through the log in process above for the second time, the automated system told me in great detail all about my credit limit, current balance and date of last payment, down to the pennies and seconds. At the end of the message, the system told me, "Thank you for calling PC Financial. Unfortunately the offer you were calling about has expired. Goodbye!" and disconnected.

My reheated food was now cold, so I re-started the microwave, before searching for the customer service phone number. After going through the log in process for the third time, the system began telling me about the latest PC Financial products until I freaked out and began pressing "0" and "*" over and over, while beating the cordless phone against the counter in helpless rage.

Automated system: "Transferring you to a customer service representative. Please hold."

Approximately 40 minutes after I called the activation line, I was finally told that 1) the card was successfully activated, and 2) the PIN I picked was successfully activated as well. I have not yet used the card to find out whether or not this is true.

If it was painful for you to read this, think how much worse it was for me to actually experience it. Gah.

30 comments:

  1. Holy crap, that's bad. I've never had to get that mad with a real human being, thank goodness.

    I will admit to yelling "REPRESENTATIVE!!!" multiple times into my phone while stabbing at the zero button to escape from the robots.

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    1. Haha! I've yelled at the automated system too.

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  2. UGH! I cannot believe the hoops one has to jump through! I usually just end up playing ditz and saying, "That sounds interesting but I'll have to dicuss it with my husband and call you back. Until then, can you tell me if my card is activated?" At least it makes them stop and I only hate myself a little after. *sigh*

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    1. Now that's an idea. I don't know if it would have worked on this guy though. He was hard-core.

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  3. Customer service lacks on many levels. I have had many experiences like this lately. I feel for you!

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    1. I hate being a mean customer. But sometimes I feel like I'm bending over backward to be pleasant or at least polite, and they're just stomping all over me in return.

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  4. Why wouldn't you want that insurance policy, it sounds like an excellent product. If I were you I would call back and see if you could still access their special offer and...hello...hello...HELLO...so rude.

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    1. Haha!! It was bizarre. They must be working on commission.

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  5. I HATE that. Customer service lines are the worst.

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    1. Yup. Sometimes I wonder if they get any actual customer service training at all, or just sales training.

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  6. You have way more patience than I do. Pretty sure I would've melted the card in the toaster and blasted a fog horn to the customer service rep. I HATE customer service because it doesn't exist.

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    1. I was amazed at how calm I remained for how long. There have been much nastier altercations in the past.

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  7. Terrible! I hate it when they try to sell you stuff you have no interest in. It should NOT take 40 minutes to activate a credit card!

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    1. I kept thinking, "Is this really happening?" When I hung up, Jay just stared at me in bewildered awe of how the most simple tasks complicate themselves when I'm involved.

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  8. Oh my word. I feel your pain. You handled it well. I've thrown the phone at the wall for far, far less than that. Props to you.

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    1. Yeah, this was probably the best I've behaved in this kind of situation, so I thought I should document it.

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  9. wow!! i worked customer service for Verizon a few years ago (worst job EVER) and if we would've ignored a customer's request like that-- we would have been fired! seriously-- that rep sounds like a dickwad!

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    1. It seems like you either get someone who is completely fantastic or a dumbass like this guy. Where are the normal people? It does seem like a dreadful job, which is why I tried to be polite for as long as I did.

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  10. I can't stand it how these past few years any time I call customer service with just about any company they try to sell additional, useless stuff to me. I dread calling, period. Automated systems take forever and I'm on hold or deal with sales pitches with reps.

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    1. It made me really mad that they were holding me hostage with this card activation thing. Normally I would just hang up, but I couldn't because I needed to know whether I could use my card or not.

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  11. Congrats on the weight lost! I actually do not think I could work in a call center like this. I know they got to pitch their stuff, but a "no" is a "no" is a "no". That they have to understand I do think.

    betty

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    1. I worked in a shoe store when I was younger and I was so uncomfortable with the stupid scripts they made us say, and trying to sell people purses to go with their shoes. Some poor girl would come in to buy sneakers and I was supposed to try to talk her into buying a sequinned handbag "to go with it."

      But if the customer said no, I didn't harass her for the next 20 minutes while refusing to process her actual transaction. I would have been fired!

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  12. I got twitchy just reading that. Those are the worst!

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    1. When I read the post, I feel twitchy all over again too!

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  13. I have nominated you for the Leibster award. http://eskimokisses4u.blogspot.com/2013/01/leibster-award.html

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    1. Thanks! I love getting awards! I'll stop by and check it out.

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  14. Oh my GAWD!!! I feel your frustration because I've been there. But now, since we have cell phones and opt out of telemarketing calls, we get door to door solicitors. One came to the door today and the first thing she said was, "Hi! I'm so glad you're smiling! I could hug you!" That is not a sales pitch, that's creepy. Time for a No Soliciting sign.

    www.mommacandy.com

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    1. OK, that is disturbing! I don't answer the door ever if I'm home alone, and we've recently stopped answering it at all if we're not expecting someone. It has made life much more peaceful.

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  15. Um. I'm pretty sure I would call back and cancel the card.

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    1. I was so tempted to just hang up and forget about it. But I really wanted the grocery points that come with this card - that's why I signed up in the first place.

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Lend me some sugar!