Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Did you hear about Hugo and Kim?

Almost every day, funny things happen at the call center.

Management specifically tells us not to try to convince people to be interested in online college classes: either they are interested, or they are not, and either answer is okay. We just want to know.

People don't realize that, though. They think that we're going to pressure them to spend money or sign up for something, so they get really defensive. They just wanted their FREE! Dinner for two at Chili's! or FREE! Pair of jeans! Or to WIN! A laptop!!! and so they clicked some button saying that they were interested in college classes.

Occasionally, people will admit that they just wanted the free thing, and that they're not really interested. I commend their honesty. More often, people will say they "made a mistake," and that's okay too. (I've made a huge mistake!) Or they'll say that they don't remember filling the form out. Fine. [My personal favorite response is "Oh, I changed my mind. I'm not interested anymore." In that one, they're taking responsibility for having expressed the interest (however fleeting and related to incentive), and still communicating their disinterest politely.]

Other times, interesting things happen. Sometimes people (other than the ones that we're calling for) start interrogating us (sometime I'll have to post about the time that I actually was interrogated...). When it happens, it usually turns out to be:

1) A jealous spouse. (Sad. My husband and I will not have trust issues when telemarketers call.)
woman's voice: "Hello?"
me: "Hi, is John there?"
her: "Who is this?"
me: "It's [me] with the [Company], is he there?"
her: "Why are you calling?"
me: "He had expressed an interest in some college classes. Can I talk to him?"
her: "College classes?!"
me: "Yes..."
her: "And you're from where?"
me: [sigh.]

2) A concerned parent. Since people are kind of greedy, they sometimes try to maximize their share of FREE!* (*but not really) stuff by signing up their children for free stuff too.

"Hi, is Madison there?"
"Madison? What's the last name?"
"Yeah. Jones. Is she there?"
"Um. Well, this is the Jones', but...Madison? What does this regard?"
"Oh, I'm calling her back about some college classes she had expressed an interest in. Can I talk to her?"
"Who is this?!"
"It's [me]. She'd filled out a form saying she was interested--"
"College classes!! Madison is two months old!"
"Oh! I guess that's a little early to be starting college."
"Yeah, I don't know how that happened!"
(I do.)

In another variation of this, a kid actually does sign up, but they're too young and don't have their parents' permission. This is especially concerning to parents when my male coworkers call for their middle-school aged daughters.

3) A confused relative. This is actually a variation of #2.

"Yeah, is he there?"
"Um. Henry? What is this about?"
"Oh, I'm calling him back about some college classes she had expressed an interest in. Can I talk to him?"
"Who is this?!"
"It's [me]. He'd filled out a form saying she was interested--"
"No! College classes!! Henry is 293847239 years old!"
"Yeah, he's not interested in classes. I don't know how -that- happened!"
(I do.)

4) Something completely random.

We tell people that we're calling from the "Career Institute" and sometimes people misunderstand what we're saying. One time a guy got really mad that my coworker Joe was calling.

"Who IS this?"
"It's Joe."
"From WHERE?"
"The Career Institute."
"[much calmer] Oh! You had me worried there for a minute. I thought you said you were calling from the "Queer Institute."

Or another time, as an attempt to embarrass my coworkers, a guy pretended to be really friendly on the phone, but kept giving pornographic...instructions? to someone that was in the background. Really disgusting stuff. The high school kids who called him loved it. The called back again, and put the guy on speaker phone, and he did it again. I was already tired of their immaturity and lack of professionalism, and after that, I had them moved.

Yesterday, I heard a lady frantically tell someone on her side of the phone that there were police all around the house. She returned to our call and asked me if I could please hold for two minutes. I could, I told her. It took more than two minutes, but when she came back, she was really interested in online college classes. She wanted to take criminal justice classes. Didn't matter which degree, she said. I found that amusing.

Also yesterday, I called a nun. She wasn't there, but that left me with some questions. Can nuns take college classes? Do they use the Internet? Do they apply for FREE!* dinners and jeans and to become mystery shoppers? Do their relatives do that on their behalf? I just really didn't expect that from them.

Last week I kept calling a Mary Katherine. We keep the same papers, so I call each person up to four times (until I talk to them) and then the morning people will try four more times if I don't get ahold of them. WELL. I remembered M.K. because she had it set up so that it plays music while you wait for her to answer. We draw music notes next to the people that have those. Usually they're ghetto songs, but hers was lovely classical music that I enjoyed listening to. I had already listened to it three times when I called her on Friday. After the music it goes to her answering machine where she tells you in her southern accent that you've reached Mary Katherine and she isn't available, blah blah blah. On Friday, though, she answered.

"Hi, this is [me] with the [Company], how are you?"
"Ahblow espainyol." [WHAT? I was shocked. She had just told me in a thick American accent that she spoke spanish. I knew full well that she spoke English, but I thought I'd humor her...]
"Hablamos espanol!" [I told her that we spoke her language.] She hung up on me.

Yesterday I was rude to someone on the phone for the first time. And I think that's commendable, since I've been working there for a month. A lady kept asking me who I was. Over and over again. And I told her that I'm [me] and I was calling for Uzo. And she kept not understanding, and I kept asking if Uzo was there, and if it was the right number. And the lady was really rude. She said, "If you don't know who you're calling, just get off the phone." And she hung up on me! And I was annoyed. Because I did know who I was calling. So I called her back and said, "Listen! You don't have to be rude. If it's the wrong number, just say so!" And I hung up on her. And everyone around me stared, because I never raise my voice on the phone.

The end.

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