Darker AOL Retainer Confessions

Working as an AOL retainer can kill you.

That’s the gist of this confession by a former AOL retainer who reveals some very interesting details about the commission structure behind “Saves,” which is when they successfully prevent you from cancelling AOL. The bonuses sum to usually less than three dollars.

Oh, and our confessor also claims that he worked in a call center for 6 months and, “at least three people killed themselves.”

As the chum churns, after the jump…


M. writes:

“You ever have a job that you dreaded waking up in the morning because you know you had to go to work, and as soon as you got off you had to drink yourself to sleep because you were so strung out? This is one of those jobs.

The AOL Retention specialists get an hourly base rate. When I started it was about 11.00 dollars an hour. Then they got 3 types of bonuses that were paid out every other week. The first type of bonus was called a 24 hour save. This is were you didn’t cancel an account or “save” it, and the customer didn’t call back for 24 hours. This was the lowest paying bonus, i don’t remember the exact rate but it was something like 0-100 customers there was no bonus. 100-200 was like $1.25 each customer and over 200 was almost 2.00 a customer. There were many people that were pulling down easily 300-400 a month just in this area alone on top of their regular pay.

The second type of bonus is called a 90 day bonus. This is were the customer doesn’t call back until after 90 days. As you can imagine this is the hardest bonus to get but it pays by far the most. I don’t think we were ever given a scale on how this was payed, but we’ll just say people were making 1100-2000 a month alone on these types of bonuses if they were really good and didn’t have a conscience. The ones like me that actually felt sick about it because you know your screwing the people that are calling you, we probably made anywhere from 500-800 dollars on these kinds of bonuses.

And at last the third type is a “no credit” bonus. These are bonuses that they in fact with different themes every time. The basis is, you save a customer and don’t give them any free months, cash back, etc. and in return they would give you 5-10 dollars per save whether they called back or not. They always encourage you to take as many calls as possible, but, there are underlying circumstances and guidelines they want you to adhere to.

Number one thing they push extremely hard is don’t give up. Keep asking questions until you get some information that you can input into MERLIN. I know you have already hit on MERLIN before but there are still some things that you might need to know. MERLIN is there database program that is tied directly to the phone systems and to the servers. Whenever you got a call MERLIN would automatically bring up the customer info. It would give you insight into the users usage of internet time, as in time online, as well as there calling in habits and why they have called in before in the past. Also, it would give you where the customer is calling from and a slew of check boxes depending on there answer to help you pitch ideas.

For example, a caller calls in from Oklahoma, you ask them why they want to cancel, they say they don’t ever use it any more. You select that check box and it brings up the usage for the account for the past year. This is how they catch a lot of people lying especially those that are using the free AOL CD’s. So you say to the customer well i show usage of XX hours yesterday. So you start over again getting more and more information until finally you’ve talked them to death and they are tired of arguing with you so they take a couple of free months or they say ok and call right back and get someone a little weaker to cancel the account. It’s a very vicious campaign were force of will is greatly rewarded.

They want you to take as many calls as possible. But they always look at this as sales, and being that its sales that want you to close the sale within 7-9 minutes. Any longer than that and they start getting red flags in there system and you can get wrote up and eventually fired. There is pressure number 1. Next, they want you to have on average a 60% retention rate. They see that 60% as the minimum and if you go below that line for a certain period of time it will also get you wrote up and eventually fired. That’s pressure number 2. Also they want you to take at least 45 calls a day. Which if your call times are over 9 minutes its impossible to do which once again will get you wrote up and or fired. pressure number 3 and 4 because this isn’t your typical call center. The reason I say this is because you literally get calls back to back to back. You don’t get break in between calls, it goes from one pissed off customer to the next for 8 hours straight. And if your not logged into your phone for at least 7hours and 50 minutes that will get you wrote up and fired, yet another pressure. And lastly, they micro-manage EVERYTHING you do. They record all phone calls, they record your computer sessions, they record your login times they record what is on your screen at all times and even have people monitor it. Needless to say again, this job was a lot of stress. And the stress really wasn’t from the callers, it came from unrealistic standards set forth by the company. Did you know that AOL has a 98% percent turnover rate. They can’t keep employees. They either fire them, they quit, they literally get carried out on a stretcher( like me at least two people a week have anxiety attacks and are sent to the hospital. once they get back they are usually fired for some reason or another)or finally they commit suicide.

It’s extremely sad, i worked there for 6 months and at least 3 people killed themselves.

I truly believe that AOL is an evil company. I’m not religious by any means but they are the devil. Well I got to get back to work and I’m drained already. I hope this is a good start for you, if you want anything else let me know.”

Comments

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  1. This AOL sucks thread you gents are following is, by the way, infinitely more rewarding than the Amy’s Ice Cream extravaganza earlier in the year.

    (Even though I really loved that one, too.)

  2. I guess it’s what we expected. But altogether, as M. tells it, that’s completely terrifying. To think, that’s likely the same at Comcast, the power company, magazine fulfillment offices.

    Ironically, as a consumer, I get way more out of hearing people like this AOL CSR vent than hearing, you know, other consumers.

  3. something_amazing says:

    Andrew, you make an interesting point, often times as a customer I really appreciate a candid tone from the CSR person I’m talking to. Those are the guys I remember.

    I hate it when companies pretend to be infallable, and I hate it when they train their CSR’s to act the same way.

  4. TedSez says:

    Caller: I’d like to cancel my account.
    Retention Guy: May I ask why?
    Caller: I just never use it.
    RT: Really? Because I see here that you used it for 27 hours just last week.
    Caller: Um… you can see that? Well, OK, I just don’t want it anymore.
    RT: I just want to make sure you understand that if you cancel, you’ll no longer have access to websites like “whorebangers.com,” or to chat rooms such as “adult men with very young girls.” Both of which I see you’ve accessed several times….
    Caller: WHAT?
    RT: And this e-mail you sent to Cindy3721 about helping her with her homework? You won’t be able to send any more of those… but maybe that’s just as well, as I see from her file that she was lying to you about being 18 and in college.
    Caller… CLICK!
    RT: Hey, boss… chalk me up for another bonus!

  5. etinterrapax says:

    For a long time, I didn’t think there could be a call center job much worse than the one I had where I got yelled at all day by irate New Yorkers whose prescription benefits had just been canceled by a chickenshit employer who couldn’t be bothered to tell them it was going to happen. Boy, was I wrong.