Not interested.

About six or seven years ago now I dated a guy who had worked at, at least 3 call centers that made out bound calls. You know the ones you get at dinner, or right after you get home from work?  Yeah those.  He also worked at a few in-bound centers, like the ones that put you on hold when you have a problem with your internet service, or credit card.  While we were dating he gave me a few tips for dealing with both sides of the call center world and I've since found them to come in handy... unlike him.

I'm in a bit of a "sharing" mood today, so I'll let you in on some of what the call centers do not want you to know.

Ever wonder why the same call center calls all the time, to offer you the same shit you don't want?  You would think that by saying "I'm not interested", being rude, or hanging up, would be enough... but obviously it's not.   Even saying "you guys have called me 3 times in a week now... " won't work.
The reason being is, unfortunately to each of their many representatives, you are but a number on a list.  It's their job to call everyone on that list, and ramble off the same scripted sales pitch each and every time.  In many cases they do not even know what number they're calling, as a computer automatically dials the number for them.   Without saying the "magic words" (no, not the manners your mother taught you) that legally bind them to action, your name and number will remain on that list.  
You have to say 3 things in order for them not to call you anymore.
- I'm not interested
  This is the first step.  Most people would simply hang up after this, especially since the agent is trained to rebuttal twice (the legal limit in which they are allowed).  Don't hang up. Instead interrupt them again by saying;
- Please save the rebuttal.  
Without skipping a beat (because the agent will most likely try and get you off the phone at this point) say:
- Please either put me on your do not call list (if you have one), remove me from your call list, and opt me out of any further offers.
If they are a legitimate law-abiding company they will say ok, and will often mention that it may take a couple days for that request to be processed, and that you may receive more calls by then. 
If they do call again within that time frame, tell the representative about opting out right away.

You might ask, "well what about automated calls?".   Easy.  All you have to do is wait until the end of the automated message, where most legitimate companies will provide an opt-out option to those who are not interested.  It'll be something like "press 8 if you would not like to receive offers from such-and-such company"  all you have to do is press 8, or whatever they happen to say.  They may then ask you to dial your number to remove it from the list (you would think they would know).  Good thing is, you only have to do it once.   If they don't offer an opt-out option opt to speak with a representative, and you can then ask them to remove you from the list.  Good thing is, you only should have to do it once.

Dealing with customer service reps, especially for large corporations is a whole other beast.  The best you can hope for is to speak with a customer service rep, and even that could be difficult.
The first piece of advice I can give is to be polite and friendly.  First off, it's not that min-wage worker's fault that the PPV porn you ordered is not working.  They aren't there with you to asses the issue, so saying "the fucking thing is fucked" won't cut it.  We all know you're already beyond frustrated at this point (it's fucked, and now you have to wait on hold.. of course you're pissed).  Thing is, the agents on the other line just do not give a flying fuck.  They deal with many assholes just like you all day, everyday.   You cannot win by getting irate, and here's why;

- Agents have the right to hang up on irate customers, and they will, or they'll have a little fun by,
- Keeping you on hold longer than they have to.   It's a game my ex and the majority of his co-workers played on a regular basis.  You would too if you had people yelling at you about things that are beyond your control everyday.  A good way to tell if you're an asshole is to count how many times someone comes on after you've been on hold and says "Please hold".  They're simply trying to see how long they can keep you on hold before you give up. 

A very important tip I have for anyone calling customer service is to NEVER ask for a supervisor.  It's a total waste of time.   Thing is, anyone who isn't instantly satisfied with an agent will ask for a supervisor.  You won't get one, they cannot keep up with the demand for supervisors without promoting everyone in the building.  Instead, you'll get another agent who was trained to say the same thing.  That's another thing.

Many people would like to think that when they call customer service that they are contacting someone who knows all there is to know about their product or service.   When in reality you're calling an agent who sits in front of a computer that tells them exactly what to say.  In many cases that agent doesn't even work for that company, but a call center that has been contracted by that company.   When you say "my internet won't work" they type that into a computer which then lists off troubleshooting options one by one, in order from most common, to least common.  So, they will always ask you whether or not your modem is plugged in.   You can limit the stupid questions by giving them as much information as you can about the problem up-front.   Say "I checked all of the connections, but only the pc-link light is on.  This has been going on since yesterday".   If they ask you to hold so you can be transferred to the correct department, don't be pissed.  It's actually progress despite the fact that the new agent from the other department will ask you many of the same questions. It means that they know it's not one type of issue, but most likely another. Since those two agents didn't speak to one another about your issue, they don't know that you've been on hold for 20 minutes, or that you've already spoken to Linda, Jeff, and Carol.  Say things like "I was talking to the other agent and we tried this, this, and that, but it didn't work", and you'll get better results.

Some of you may be thinking "well that's all fine and dandy, but what if I can't seem to get anyone to answer my call?".   Easy, call their sales line.   Someone will always pick up right away, because new sales are a higher priority than past customers.... they already have your money, it only causes them to lose that money by hiring reps to deal with your problems.   Of course you're not calling the right department, but that sales rep will transfer you to the correct department, where you may be answered sooner.   I actually do this all the time, and it works. 

If all else fails, go online.  They may already have a frequently asked questions or troubleshooting page that has the answer you're looking for, or an option to email them about your issues. 

One last tip: DON'T ever try and get answers from the government (online or not) unless you absolutely have to.  If you do have to ask the government something, go to a service center like the Unemployment office and ask them.  They have a special phone number that goes directly to a trained representative that will answer your question right away.  Even I have a hard time navigating through the Canadian government website (that tells you to call numbers that then tell you to go back online to the same page I found that phone number). 

Hope this helps some of you.

Uploaded 03/12/2012
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