The Dumbest Question: Letting The Secret Be Known

From Lon-Abel-Kelly

Working at call center, asking people to pay their old bills. Naturally some responded angrily.

Customer: 'So this is what you do all day? You just call people who haven't paid their bills?'

Me: 'Yes.'

Customer: 'So if I paid my bills you'd be out of the job?'

Me: 'If everybody paid their bills, then yes.'

Customer: 'Ha ha! Good. You just fucked up by telling me this. I'm going to pay my bills right away. When you're unemployed then see how you like getting calls about your bills!'

The futility of eradicating a job that relies on the existence of poor people by making me poor escaped them.


Doofus of the Unspecified Time Period: Types Of Tech Support Custys

TechTyger had a website (known as The Doofus of the Unspecified Time Period) where he posted stories from Call Center Hell. At our encouragement, he's submitting his stories for RHU's enjoyment!

TECHTYGERFrom: TechTyger

Types of custys:

The Reader

This one reads everything on the screen, whether or not you actually need it, and in the face of pleading to stop. Usually speaks at about 300 baud, and if you do manage to interrupt, and ask for just what the error message says, you usually get a testy "I'm trying to tell you!". Then it loses its place and starts over back at the beginning. By the end of the call, you're nearly crying with frustration, waiting for the droning voice to give you the one tiny piece of information you actually needed.

The 'Computer Literate.'

This one thinks it knows something about computers. It attempts to impress the support tech by using buzzwords, and sometimes even actual computer terms. Of course, it always uses them incorrectly. I had one monkey start a call with "I'm an MCSE", then he paused as if waiting for me to fall down in a faint.

Yeah, right. I obviously know more than he does, because he called me. And why did he call? He couldn't figure out how to create a shortcut on his desktop. And he's an MCSE. Do not try and impress us like this, we will laugh you out of the room and heckle you to death. Certifications don't impress me. I don't have any, but I know more than MCSE's and A+'s.

The 'Important.'

This one thinks that it is the most important person in the world and that everything and everyone is subordinate to it. As an example of this one, I once had someone call in, having lost an Excel sheet. They opened the sheet, saved it and gave it a name, worked on it for several hours, then closed Excel and answered 'no' to 'do you want to save your changes'.

The program performed its function and her work disappeared. She opens the file, and it is, for some strange reason, blank, and I WILL retrieve it for her, because she is $IMPORTANT_PERSON.

I explain that she has hosed herself and it is lost.

Custy phone 2The Important: "No, that's not acceptable. There is a way to retrieve this file, and you will do it. NOW."

Techtyger: "No, ma'am, there is no way to recover data that you told it to delete. If it had crashed, there is a possibility, but if you told it to delete, there is not."

She starts screeching, and [after other imprecations] says, 'I'll have your job!'

"You wouldn't want my job. It means I have to talk to people like you. [click]"

The Parrot

This one repeats everything you say. Every direction, it asks if it's supposed to do that, then fucks it up anyway.

Techtyger: "Ok, click on start, then find, then 'files and folders'."

The Parrot: 'Ok, I've clicked on start. Now what?'

Techtyger: "Now click on find, then 'files or folders'."

The Parrot: 'Ok, I've clicked on Programs. I see a bunch of files and folders. Should I click on them?'

The Jumper

This one doesn't wait for the instructions, it just goes ahead and does what it thinks you wanted it to do. Tell it 'click on the icon', and wait for confirmation, and you hear 'click... clickclick... typetypetype... click... type...'

"What are you doing?"

'Well, I thought I knew what you wanted me to do, but it doesn't work at all, now...'

The Know-it-all

This one already did that. It doesn't matter what you say, it always says 'I already did that'. If you repeat yourself patiently and repeatedly, eventually it will do what you tell it to, singing its song the whole way. Once you manage to get it to do the correct procedure, it will be utterly astonished that doing it correctly worked.

Surprise. If you LISTEN to the tech, the problem goes away. Imagine that.

Jason bored 1The Lonely

This one is lonely and the tech is its only contact with humanity. It wants to talk about sports or weather or how bad the programs are, it wants you to hold its hand while it does the most mundane tasks. One can often hear an annoyed 'User needs friend!' after a call...

The Minimalist

This one thinks that the name of the operating system is 'Window', and every time you tell it to open another window, it's got to close the first one, despite having been explicitly told 'leave that window open and...'.

The Whiner

This one complains because it's got all [three of] those passwords to remember, and isn't there some way to make it easier? It's so HARD to have to open the file when all it wants to do is read it...WHY is my computer so SLOW? The bastard child of Jerry Lewis and Urkel.

The Traditionalist

Whatever random dumb things they've been doing to the computer, now it's not working.

"But it worked like that before!"

No, it didn't. You can't plug a printer cable into the computer, print, unplug the printer cable, carry it across the room [making sure to hold the ends up, so the data doesn't spill out], plug it into the printer and have it print. And it didn't work like that yesterday.

The Unbeliever

"I work for the company..."

Yes, I know that. The person you talked to not five seconds ago took that information and it's in the record that I have here in front of me.

"And I have a "

Yes, I know that, too.

Carolanne call center"And I'm working in one of our custom programs, called..."

Yes, I know that as well. It's all right here.

"Are you familiar with that?"

No, I'm a janitor and happened to be wandering past when the phone rang. Why would a support tech answer the tech support line?

The Blatant Liar

This one is a combination of a couple of different types, but the overwhelming characteristic is that it exaggerates all out of proportion.

"Every time I call it takes four or five calls to get the problem fixed!"

[Checking its history of the last nine months, one single call has taken one callback to fix.]

"Last time this happened, you fixed it while I was on the phone!"

[No, we didn't. If Windows says it's missing a DLL file, either it's corrupted, or, more likely, YOU deleted it; in either case it can't be fixed over the phone, and nobody did it for you before, either.]

The Horrified Mother

This one is actually funny. Mom's kid uses the computer sometimes when she's not home.

"I have all these files named things like 'horseluv.mpg' on my desktop. How do I get rid of them?"

"Ok, I can help you delete them, but don't doublecl--"

Freddy custy[Sound effect: Whinny Whinny Moan Moan]

"Oh my GOD, that's DISGUSTING! I'm going to KILL that kid!"

The Inconsiderate

It's eating while it calls, usually something sticky or crunchy, with lots of smacking; or it has one of its maggots on its lap, indulgently letting it howl in my ears; or its yap-dog has seen a speck of dust land and is stridently announcing the fact; or the TV/radio is on at the top of its electronic lungs, or something similar, or any combination of the above.

I tend to get 'accidentally' disconnected from these people, or talk really softly so they can't hear me, suggesting they turn down the TV / muzzle the dog / strangle the brat / put down the Ho-Ho when they ask why.

The Cheap Phone

This one has either a cheap cellphone, or a bad speakerphone that sounds like they're shouting into a tin bucket at the bottom of an echo canyon far away.

[Not far enough...] "I'm [garble static warble noise]."

"What? You broke up."

"I said, I'm [garble static warble noise]!"

"You broke up again. Can you pick up the phone?"

"What, are you fucking deaf!?"

Regan hmph[Strangely, insults always come through.]

I generally start flipping my mute switch on and off randomly while I'm talking so he hears me breaking up and eventually picks up the handset like I asked, or hangs up and is off my phone, which is, after all, the point.

The Ventriloquist

Either the caller is not the one who actually owns the computer, or they do, but they can't afford a phone cord long enough to reach to where the computer is. So instead, we get to play 'Telegraph'. Say something to this person, they pass it to that person, garbling it completely in transition, then back again with the results.

I once told one "Click on Start" and heard...

"He said 'thickest part'!"

Then from the one at the computer, "Flicker dart? What the hell does that mean?"

The Deaf-And-Dumb

Despite being told precisely where the feature you're trying to get them to activate is, they can't find it and they argue with you over whether it's actually there or not.

"I do not have a start button on my computer except for the one on the bottom left corner..."

[Waits for light to dawn...




Thomas Edison lived in vain.]

The Forgetful

Can't remember anything for 30 seconds together. When given the problem number and explicitly told to write it down, it forgets in 10 seconds or less. After being told your name four freakin' times in a row it can't remember it for the duration of a two minute call.

On the other hand, this isn't necessarily bad...



Doofus of the Unspecified Time Period: Stupid Answers to Snappy Questions

TechTyger had a website (known as The Doofus of the Unspecified Time Period) where he posted stories from Call Center Hell. At our encouragement, he's submitting his stories for RHU's enjoyment!

TECHTYGERFrom: TechTyger

The theme: A simple question.

TechTyger: Hi, this is TechTyger, can I have your problem number, please?

And the chaos that ensues.

A: Huh?

A: [phone number with area code]

TechTyger: "No, the six digit problem number they just gave you."

A: "Oh, ok..." [phone number with area code]

A: They didn't give me one.

[Despite the fact that nobody gets past call entry without one. I ask their name and put them on hold for ~2 mins as punishment.]

A: [Launches immediately into problem description]

TechTyger: [interrupting] I need the problem number they gave you.

A: "But it's not really a problem, I just need to know how to..." [back to problem description]

A: [silence]

Jason hairI wait for a moment, figuring maybe they put the phone down, then say "Hello?"

A: 'Hello.'

TechTyger: [repeat original question with emphasis]

[usually goes into one of the above]

A: [letter, number, letter letter territory code]

TechTyger: "No, the six digit problem number they just gave you."

A: "Oh, ok..." [phone number with area code]

A: I didn't write it down because I didn't think it was important.

Maybe not to you, but we use it to get paid, thanks.

The theme: Another simple question.

TechTyger: Did you get an error message?

A: Yes.

A: Yeah, but I just clicked past it because it wasn't important.

A: Yeah, it said error something. Why? Was that important?

The theme: Yet another simple question.

TechTyger: What kind of computer do you have?

Note: This is after working on the problem and determining that some sort of hardware needs replacement.

A: Huh?

A: Why?

A: Windows.

A: Black / Grey / Tan

A: Word 2000.

A: Office 97.

A: Is that important?



Doofus of the Unspecified Time Period: "Luserboy Interrupticus"


TechTyger had a website (known as The Doofus of the Unspecified Time Period) where he posted stories from Call Center Hell. At our encouragement, he's submitting his stories for RHU's enjoyment!

TECHTYGERFrom: TechTyger

This monkey starts off agressive. It thinks it can browbeat me into fixing a problem that is not fixable over the phone. Wrong thing to try. Do not start with me, you will not win; I have a volume control and a much louder voice.

It is trying to download its physician data from the intranet. Its company has told it it is available; this is incorrect. [This is almost always incorrect. They send out messages saying 'your (foo) data is available' days in advance of it actually being put on the website.] I tell it that 'file not found' means that the file is not on the website, and --

It interrupts. I hate that. 'No, you people fixed this last time over the phone.'

TechTyger: "No, sir, we didn't. We have no--"

It interrupts again. [Something occurs to me while typing this. I check the area code; New Jersey. Why does this not surprise me?]

'Yes, you did. You had me go somewhere and right click something and choose properties.'

Way to give detailed directions, luserboy.

TechTyger: "No, sir, we did not. We do not --"

Guess what? 'Yes you did! You had me go into explorer then right click on DSS and choose properties, then you gave me a code to put in there and it worked!'

What it just described, for those of you not already laughing, is changing the name of the directory. Changing the name of a directory on one's computer has absolutely no effect on a file that is not on an entirely different computer.

TechTyger: "Ok."

It has described something that will not work. It has told the expert several times that he is wrong. It obviously knows better than I do. So I'll let it burble for a while, as I type the record.

Custy phone 2It repeats the above after 20 seconds or so of silence, when it realizes that I haven't been intimidated into giving up the sekrit k0d3...

TechTyger: "No, sir, that will not work. You need to talk to ETM in the mor--"

Luserboy: 'Is there anyone there who can help me?'

TechTyger: "No, sir, or I would have transferred you to them. You need to talk to --"

Luserboy: 'Fine. How do I get in touch with them?'

TechTyger: "You need to call--"

Luserboy: 'All right! How do I call them?'

TechTyger: "You need to call--"

Luserboy: 'I said alright, already! How do I call them?'

TechTyger: "You need to call--"

It tries to interrupt at this point again. As I said, I have a much louder voice, and just rode it down, getting louder as it tries to interrupt again.

TechTyger: "--If you will stop interrupting me for two seconds, I'll tell you! You need to call YOUR INTERNAL HELP DESK IN THE MORNING. IT IS THE SAME PHONE NUMBER, CHOOSE OPTION 1 THEN OPTION 2."

Silence. It's possible I hurt its ear. Somehow, this would not break my heart. After a moment, it hangs up. It is now off my phone, and that's all I really wanted. I type the record up, including the fact that the user would not follow directions and was argumentative. I'm sure that it's going to bitch to it's manager.



The Doofus of the Unspecified Time Period: I Don't Need Directions, I Need It Fixed


TechTyger had a website (known as The Doofus of the Unspecified Time Period) where he posted stories from Call Center Hell. At our encouragement, he's submitting his stories for RHU's enjoyment!

TECHTYGERFrom: TechTyger

This idiot works for the same company as above. It calls in, having removed both batteries from its handheld computer, and being surprised that it erased everything on it. [The handhelds use volatile memory and depend on power to keep their information. You can change either the backup or the main battery, but if you have both of them out at once, it's gone.]

It tells me a huge amount of background information that I don't need in this droning voice, in the face of my telling it I don't care. It doubleclicks when you tell it to right click, it right clicks when you tell it to doubleclick, when you tell it to restart the computer [Even after giving it explicit directions, 'Click on start. Click on 'shut down'. Choose 'restart'. Hit 'ok'.] it shuts it down, if you tell it to shut down it either restarts, or just shuts it off with the power switch, then you have to repair that.

I finally manage to focus it long enough to get the rebuild started to put its information back on the stupid thing, and only then does it bother to tell me that it's not a field rep. It got hold of this Sharp somehow, and should not have had it, but it likes to use it for its Outlook. It gives me five minutes of utterly pointless information ["Three weeks ago, I was using an Excel worksheet and it gave me some problems, but I got it fixed. Then Word had a problem, it wouldn't show any pictures, but I got that fixed..." [Yes, that was a direct quote. Things that are A) completely irrelevant to why it called, and B) had been fixed a month ago are deemed important enough to tell me, but the information that its system is not intended to have this function on it is not.]]

If it had bothered to tell me this at the beginning of the call, I'd have been saved half an hour of irritation and frustration, and just sent it to its company that would have told it to send in the thing to begin with, as it shouldn't have it. And worse, it will probably complain when the call is surveyed. I tend to get a little monotone after having to repeat the same simple directions ['Doubleclick the icon.'] six times in two minutes, and having it utterly ignored.